CT Golf News


Week of Dec. 21, 1997

Bobby Gage measures up at Q-School


By John Torsiello
After six excruciating days and 423 golf strokes that left no room for error, Winsted's Bobby Gage could now breathe easier.

"I'm finally here," Gage said to himself as he looked at the final leaderboard of the 1997 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.

At last, after knocking around golf's hinterlands for nearly a decade, Gage is heading to the Big Show. The 32-year-old Nike Tour veteran who learned the game on Green Woods Country Club's nine-hole layout near Winsted earned his PGA Tour card for the 1998 season at the event commonly known as Q-School.

For Gage, it was the end of a long grind that began back in October. He was one of only 11 golfers to make it through all three stages of the qualifying process, which claimed as its victims other golfers with Connecticut ties, such as Ken Green, Brian Claar, Jack O'Keefe, Jay Williamson, Tim Petrovic, Kevin Gai, among others, some of whom were exempt from the first and second stages.

Gage shot rounds of 69-77-66-69-70-72 over Grenelefe's 7,301-yard, par-72 West Course and the 6,700-yard, par-71 South Course. He was 9-under on the West Course and 3-over (including the 77) on the South Course.


PGA Tour photo

Winsted's Bobby Gage is the newest member of the PGA Tour. A final-round, even par 72 gave the 32-year-old Connecticut native his Tour card -- by a stroke.


But it was his third-round 66 that probably put him on his way to the PGA Tour. "My third round 66 really got me back into the hunt," he said.

Gage, a native and longtime resident of the Winsted area, didn't take up the game until he was 16. He began playing golf during his junior year in high school and learned quickly, pushing his handicap into the single digits by the time he graduated. He played often at Green Woods Country Club, and was a student of longtime pro Stan Staszowski, who recalled that Gage was "always a hard worker."

Gage attended East Tennessee State University where he earned All-America honors. He later attended the San Diego Golf Academy and then launched a professional career.

"I always thought he was going to be a pretty fair golfer, but he just exploded at East Tennessee State," said his high school coach Mike Gamari. "To have a guy from Winsted get onto the Tour, it's pretty amazing. We're all very proud of Bobby."

Gage later played in an assortment of Nike and mini tour events with an occasional appearance in the Canon Greater Hartford Open or the Connecticut Open. Along the way, he had to cope with the death of both his parents within a five-year span from 1985 to 1990.

Gage spent two years on the Nike Tour, the first as a conditional member in 1993 and then as a full member in 1995. That year, he was among the top 30 money winners before injuring his shoulder. The injury forced him out of action for several months.

Gage played this year mainly on the Golden Bear and Jordan mini tours with some success. "I dedicated myself to getting in top shape this year, eating right and working out," he said. He credited his coach, Adrian Davies, and trainer Randy Myers with helping put him in the proper mental and physical condition.

He was a consistent top-20 finisher in Golden Bear events, earning about $26,000 -- a good sum for a mini tour. "I didn't win, but I played real well this year. I just focused on what I had to do to improve. My short game has gotten much better, and that has saved me lots of shots around the green," Gage said.

Going into the final round at Q-School, Gage said he knew he had to shoot par or better. But rather than focusing on the leader board, he concentrated on hitting greens and staying away from mistakes. He made two birdies and two bogies during his solid final round.

"I had no idea coming down the stretch where I was. I waited around afterwards. It was just awesome when I found out I had made it," he said.

After Q-School, Gage's next stop was Ponte Vedre Beach, Fla., for PGA Tour orientation. After a short break, he began training in earnest for the Tour's 1998 season beginning in January.

"This proves that I can play out here," he said. "Thirty-two years old and a Tour rookie -- amazing."


John Torsiello is a Torrington-based golf writer.


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