Open is good and getting better, and The Ghost will get his payday

For the third straight year it rained. Yes, a Tiger Woods-less tournament meant there were less people, way less, in the gallery. Some of the more recognizable names in the field – Justin Leonard, John Daly, Trevor Immelman, Mike Weir and Ricky Barnes – weren’t around for the weekend. But, boy, did the Open final round again deliver the drama, or what?

The weather out at the spectacular CordeValle Golf Club was phenomenal on Saturday and Sunday. Three players tied the course record of 9-under, 62 during the week. And once again, the fun Par 4, 17th factored into a down-to-the-wire finish.

Tour rookie Jonas Blixt buried a 7-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to give him a one-stroke lead over clubhouse leaders Tim Petrovic and Jason Kokrak. At one point it looked as though six players might be involved in a playoff, beckoning memories of the 2011 six-hole extra session between Bryce Molder and Briny Baird. Molder finally closed the deal. Blixt’s victory makes it the second time in as many years that the last man standing was a first-time PGA Tour winner.

In that is what has made the Open a unique event over its first three years in San Martin. Being part of the PGA Tour’s Fall Series, many of the players are trying to earn enough money to keep their Tour cards. Some are hoping to build momentum for Tour Qualifying School.

The tournament has garnered enough respect to be moved to the start of the PGA Tour’s restructured schedule next year. The Frys will lead off the 2013 season, and FedExCup points will be dulled out, one week after the President’s Cup, which will be at Muirfield Village in Ohio.

That assignment is sure to attract top-25 caliber players. And as tournament president Duke Butler said Sunday, “We will have an advantage with our new position.”

Robert Guerrero finally attracted a big payday fight. Gilroy’s Ghost will earn seven figures – for the first time – when he goes toe-to-toe with former WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto on Nov. 24. Good news, too: the fight will be in Ontario, just six hours from Gilroy.

It may not be Floyd Mayweather Jr., but this bout carries just about as much clout, considering where it will lead Guerrero’s career should he beat Berto. Guerrero has climbed – slowly at times, but patiently nevertheless – the ladder of success. Each rung that much more important. He has treaded through adversity with steadfastness that is unmatchable. No longer a wiry featherweight, Guerrero has proven he can adjust to whichever weight he enters. He has shown he can hang in there with punch-happy heavy-hitters and exchange shot for shot. But as boxing goes, your next fight is what people remember. Guerrero again will need to prove his worth. And he will.

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