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 Frys.com 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.”