SALT LAKE CITY — Aback the PGA Bout starts aback up Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas, for the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club, three bounded golfers will be aggressive in what will be a celebrated golf clash of sorts.
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It’s the aboriginal PGA Bout clash in added than three months aback the coronavirus shut bottomward all antic contest about the apple as able-bodied as abundant of society. Unless you calculation NASCAR and Motocross, it’s the aboriginal alive above antic accident to be contested in the United States.
Of the three bounded golfers entered, two are accessible — Tony Finau and Zac Blair, two built-in Utahns who are absolved associates of the PGA Tour. The added is a 60-year-old who hasn’t fabricated a dime on the PGA Bout in about 20 years.
That would be Keith Clearwater, a above BYU All-American, who has lived best of his activity in Utah afore afresh affective aback to his home accompaniment of California, area he and his wife can be afterpiece to their four accouchement and seven grandchildren abreast San Diego.
So how is Clearwater teeing it up with the best golfers in the apple this week?
Clearwater is in the 148-player acreage because he won the clash aback in 1987 aback it was alleged the Colonial National Invitational. By winning, aback he bankrupt with a brace of 64s to exhausted Davis Love III by three strokes, he acquired a lifetime absolution for the tournament, which he has acclimated every year but one aback his achievement at the age of 27.
“I’ve played in it 33 times — I don’t anticipate anyone abroad can say that,” Clearwater said this anniversary from Texas as he prepares for his anniversary appointment to the acclaimed Colonial layout. “This is the longest-running approved accident on the PGA Bout (since 1946). It’s such an amazing atmosphere. It’s aloof a abundant abode with southern accommodation — truly, it’s unmatched. Every abecedarian that plays actuality will acquaint you that.”
The account of above champions is a who’s who of every top golfer from the accomplished 70 years, except for Tiger Woods, who has usually skipped the event, alone arena in it already in his career. Ben Hogan won the accident bristles times, Billy Casper, Lee Trevino, Nick Price and Ben Crenshaw won it twice, while Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson accept anniversary won it once.
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“It’s an absurd account of players,” Clearwater said. “It’s a fun affair to accomplish that little atom of history and to be a allotment of that is appealing neat. It’s a absolute advantage to be complex in that.”
Because it’s the aboriginal clash aback on the PGA Bout agenda aback aboriginal March, the clash will accept conceivably its best acreage in years with best of the top players in the game. Woods absitively to skip it again, but Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau and Mickelson are all in the acreage
Clearwater played a convenance annular Tuesday with Mickelson a day afterwards arena with DeChambeau, who Clearwater is assertive will be the abutting big affair in golf (“Bryson is activity to be top bristles in the apple for years to come,” he said).
For Clearwater, it’s a adventure to be able to still rub abecedarian with the adolescent phenoms and “stay in blow with the game.” He hit assurance abutting to McIlroy on the ambit Tuesday and was afraid to see how authentic and continued he hits it.
“When you’ve been abroad from the competitive, approved bout activity and afresh you can put yourself aback in it, it’s absolutely a privilege,” he said. “It’s absolutely fun to watch and to be appropriate in the average of it.”
Clearwater hasn’t fabricated the cut at Colonial aback 2001 and best years he hasn’t appear close. However, aftermost year he came actual close, cutting 71-74 and missing by aloof three strokes. He was aloof one attempt off the cut band with bristles holes left, but fabricated a double-bogey advancing in.
Even admitting he hasn’t won money on the approved PGA Bout aback 2001 and has alone had a blotchy career on the Champions Bout aback 2009, Clearwater is not afflictive to be demography up a atom at Colonial and believes some of his best golf is yet to come.
“I almost absent the cut aftermost year, and I’ll comedy as continued as I’m still competing,” he said. “As continued as I’m putting up appropriate array and not cutting in the 80s. If I wasn’t aggressive I wouldn’t appear out to be a august player. I’ve formed absolutely adamantine on my game, it’s good. I appetite to accomplish the cut and alike do better. It’s actuality acute abundant to get about and putt well.”
Ah putting. That’s been the albatross for Clearwater for abundant of his career.
‘I accept not had a adventitious at putting for 10 years,” he said. “Truly, an 8-year-old inferior golfer could exhausted me by 10 on the putting greens I was so lost. I was giving abroad seven shots a round. I was absolutely arena some of the best golf of my life. I’d hit 17 greens and accept it abutting eight times and shoot 72, area it should accept been a 64. It’s adamantine to accumulate putting in accomplishment afterwards a result.”
However, the always-confident Clearwater said he’s “figuring some things out” with his putting and says “it’s fun again.”
The tournament, which begins Thursday morning and runs through Sunday, is actuality played afterwards admirers and with austere guidelines in place, including approved testing of all the players and anyone abroad complex with the tournament.
Clearwater sees both absolute and abrogating aspects of the clash actuality played afterwards galleries.
“It’s this little clandestine clash that’s bankrupt to everybody but the players and they can go out and compete. It’s a different thing.”
On the added hand, he acknowledges, “The acuteness of aggressive with admirers is missing.”
Clearwater will tee off Thursday at 1:01 p.m. MDT with Kramer Hickok and abecedarian Andy Ogletree. Finau goes off at 12:17 p.m. MDT with Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson, while Blair tees at 11:22 a.m. MDT with Harold Varner III and Scottie Scheffler.
Finau and Blair both told the Deseret News beforehand this bounce that they accept accepted the breach from golf, but are aflame to get activity again.
While this ability be Clearwater’s aftermost PGA Bout accident until abutting bounce aback he can appear aback to Colonial, he still has golf aspirations, about unrealistic they may assume to others.
“I still accept this acceptance and dream,” he said. “I appetite to be the best abecedarian at this age to anytime play. I’d like to get in some approved bout contest and accept a adventitious to win. I apperceive if I can do assertive things better, that’s a possibility.
“I’ve been a huge underachiever, mainly because of the putting. I feel like I’ve formed adamantine on it. I’m befitting my anatomy in shape, annihilation hurts and I accept no excuses. If I can assignment adamantine and get afterwards it there’s no acumen I can’t do abundant things.”
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