It is quite a common occurrence. A player on the reserve list gains a place in a tournament due to an 11th hour withdrawal – or tees up when not feeling well – and at the end of the week, having perhaps had limited expectations and been more relaxed than normal, they find themselves hoisting the trophy and happily clutching the winner’s cheque.
On this occasion, Australian Rod Pampling gained entry into the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on the US PGA Tour due to a clerical error. With the event moving this year from October to November, Tour officials decided to cut the field by 12 and limit it to 132 players, to accommodate the reduced daylight. The change was not inputted into the computers, however, and 144 players were officially informed of their playing status.
"They realised the mistake, but at that point there was nothing they could do," said tournament director Patrick Lindsey.
The result was that 12 players, including Pampling and Spain’s Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño (both of whom have returned to the PGA Tour this season thanks to strong performances in the Web.com Tour final series), were able to tee up in an event for which they did not initially qualify.
Forty-seven-year-old Pampling, whose previous Tour win had been 10 years before, took immediate advantage with an opening round 60 (he missed a four-metre birdie putt on the last), remained near the top of the leaderboard over the next two days, and eventually secured a two-stroke victory, the $1,188,000 champion’s prize and a two-year exemption that will take him up to his 50th birthday and eligibility for the senior Champions Tour.
And the other lucky 11? Seven made the cut, with the next best finisher Ryan Blaum at 31st (Fernández-Castaño was 48th).