GOLF: Ellis ties for 24th after up-and-down final round in Open

John Ellis tees off at hole two at CordeValle Golf Club Tuesday

Novelty of PGA Tour event has worn off for Live Oak graduate,
who is still hungry to prove he belongs playing at top level every
SAN MARTIN — John Ellis’ final round in the Open touched on all emotions.

He tossed his putter toward his bag after a tough 10th hole, raised his arms after draining a 3-foot putt for birdie on No. 16, and smiled and nodded at the gallery after checking the status of a wayward approach shot that landed between an officials’ tent and a videoscreen to the left of the 18th green. It was playable.

When it was over, his 6-under finish in the books, the Live Oak High graduate still looked like he was in match mode while signing autographs, shaking hands with friends and family and sharing a kiss with his wife, Shannon, as rain fell lightly at CordeValle Golf Club.

“I always want to play well for myself,” he said after tying for 24th with a 1-over-par 72 Sunday. “When your friends and family are out there, you never want to let them down. I battled as best I could today.”

Other than the homecoming aspect of this week, the novelty of playing in a PGA Tour event has long since passed for Ellis, 30. He has tried to make it a weekly occasion for years, languishing in PGA Tour Qualifying School despite boom seasons on the Canadian and Nationwide tours. He begins his next run in Q-School this winter.

Fallout rounds like Sunday’s have discouraged Ellis most. he was tied for 18th after a shooting a blistering 4-under Saturday.

“I was far fetched to win, but top 10 wasn’t out of the question after I got off to that great start, so it’s frustrating right now,” he said. “It’s really tough after the start I had.”

Playing in a threesome with Paul Goydos and Tom Pernice Jr., Ellis birdied the second and third holes Sunday but lost track on the next two, four-putting for a double bogey on No. 4 and three-putting for a bogey on No. 5.

“I can’t remember the last time I did that on back-to-back holes,” he said. “That four-putt really took the wind out of my sails.”

Ellis rebounded with birdies on the eighth and ninth to climb back to 1-under but did not enjoy a birdie again until the 16th. He shot even in his final two holes to finish at 72 and cap an impressive tournament run.

Ellis went out with a cheer on No. 18, chipping onto the green and sinking a 5-foot putt.

“Even though I haven’t been here full-time yet, I think I proved myself to a lot of people this weekend,” he said. “Proved to at least a couple of players that I belong at this level.”

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