St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
tampabay.com

printer version

Golf

Overton has a shot at exemption

Palm Harbor player trails Dave Barr by 1 at Ace Group Classic.

By BOB HARIG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 16, 2003


NAPLES -- The abundance of birdies and the series of red numbers after his name are the only thing Jay Overton has in common with others atop the ACE Group Classic leaderboard.

Unlike Overton, Champions Tour players such as Dave Barr, Vicente Fernandez, Rodger Davis, Jim Thorpe and Tom Watson have security. They have a place to play this week regardless of what happens today.

For Overton, however, the only way he is assured of a spot in the Verizon Classic on Friday is if he wins today.

Anything short of victory means a trip to Fox Hollow Golf Club in New Port Richey on Monday, where more than 150 players will attempt to qualify for the three available spots. A win today would mean a year's exemption on the Champions Tour, formerly the Senior PGA Tour.

Overton, 52, qualified Tuesday for this field, surviving a five-man playoff for three spots. He took advantage Saturday by shooting a course-record 9-under-par 63 at the Club at TwinEagles to trail Barr by one stroke heading into today's final round.

The former director of golf at Palm Harbor's Westin Innisbrook Resort, where he is a consultant, Overton has attempted to play the tour for three years with moderate success despite limited access.

Last year Overton finished 51st on the money list with $345,903 despite playing in just 14 tournaments. He had five top-10 finishes, including a tie for ninth at the ACE Group Classic. But only the top 50 money winners -- he missed by less than $2,000 -- have any status. Overton returned to the national qualifying tournament, where his 13th-place finish was worth tee times in perhaps 10 to 14 events this year, if he's lucky.

"On a very personal basis, sure it's frustrating," Overton said. "But you know that before you get into this thing. I've been as candid and nice about it as I think I can be. This is for PGA Tour players who spent their life on the tour. It's their ball and their bat. Guys like me, we have to go out and play our way in. I'm trying to do it. ... I've been treated well by these guys. I don't feel like an outsider." The Champions Tour is designed to reward players who had PGA Tour success. Those who amassed high career earnings are almost always assured a spot. The top 31 on the combined career money list are exempt every week, as are the top 31 money winners from the previous year.

There are eight fully exempt spots available at the qualifying tournament each year. That means a club pro such as Overton has to play really well to become a regular part of the scene.

Other club pros such as Jim Albus, Tom Wargo and Dana Quigley have had their share of success on the Champions Tour. But their stories are rare.

Barr, who won last weekend's event in Key Biscayne, shot 65 to complete 36 holes at 133, 11-under par. Overton followed his opening 71 with 63, tied with first-round leader Fernandez (68). Davis (65), a long-time fixture on the Australian and European tours, was another shot back at 135 with Thorpe (68). Watson (68) was tied for sixth, three back.

Overton made nine birdies and credited his caddie and son, Jason, 19, for helping read the greens.

"I've got a real set of young eyes reading greens for me," Overton said. "He read everything absolutely perfect." There were nine players within four shots of the lead, which means winning likely will require another low score today.

"I don't think you go out and try to win," Overton said. "Whether it's Monday or qualifying school, with these guys and these courses you have to be very aggressive and just really think about birdieing all the holes. Then you add them up and see what you've got. It's not such thinking about winning or losing. You just have to play as hard as you can."

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright
 

From the Times sports desk
  • John Romano: Martin thinks he's a success, even without title
  • Hubert Mizell: ESPN needs less entertainment, more conscience

  • College basketball
  • Volunteers smoke out the lackluster Gators
  • Salukis watch
  • USF avenges defeat 62-47
  • FSU survives 2nd-half falloff
  • Wisconsin keeps IU reeling
  • Seton Hall's aspirations lead to upset of No. 7 Pitt
  • No. 4 LSU needs 3 OTs for victory

  • Motorsports
  • Is it a tall tale or truth?
  • Top teams bury the hatchet
  • Junior is 3-for-3 at SpeedWeeks

  • Briefs
  • QB Couch's career as Brown may end soon
  • Rant...
  • Trust N Luck moves to Derby contender

  • Running
  • Warm weather a curse? Yes, at marathon today

  • Baseball
  • Jeter turns tables on New York media
  • Reds let troubled Nash go

  • NHL
  • Slapshots
  • Hoglund's last-minute goal lifts Leafs

  • Sailing
  • Alinghi grabs 2-0 lead

  • NBA
  • Bulls snap losing skid, nip Nuggets

  • Golf
  • Time to stop talking, start playing
  • Barr's hot streak continues with 65 and the lead
  • Overton has a shot at exemption
  • Woods, Mickelson will find out who's 'inferior'

  • Preps
  • Tornadoes capitalize on Devils' cold touch
  • Pinellas Park runs away with crown
  • Robinson overwhelms young Freedom
  • Recount awards title to Gators
  • Rams win fifth straight crown
  • Pride wounded, Wildcats whip Rams
  • Timely 3-pointer gives Warhawks the title
  • Wildcats' shooting woes help Lions win
  • Okpaleke lifts TBT past Armwood
  • Shorecrest can't keep Panthers from title
  • Lakewood puts up little fight against Southeast
  • Cougars, Eagles set standard
  • Leesburg's D defends
  • Eagles put away Gryphons late
  • Hornets beat Cougars for another title
  • Dominant Tornadoes blow past Patriots

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report
  • Surf dreams lead to a must read

  • Your turn
  • Make a move Lightning

  • Rays
  • Piniella's big challenge is getting things sorted out
  • Gomes waited for his chance

  • Bucs
  • No waiting to test prospects

  • Lightning
  • Tampa Bay sends a message


  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts