Hallberg tearing up tour with no regrets

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 1, 2012 - 9:06 PM
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Gary Hallberg impressed his peers last week with a round of 63 at the Senior Open, and his second-place finish ensured his tour exemption for 2013.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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Fed up with the state of his golf game, Gary Hallberg contacted a pair of insurance companies to inquire about obtaining a license. The three-time PGA Tour winner was set to go into sales.

"I had the little voice in my head that said, 'You know what? You have to have some other things to think about,'" Hallberg said.

He ultimately decided against it, went to Champions Tour qualifying school last fall and tied for second, earning exempt status for this season.

The way Hallberg has played recently, that has turned out to be a fairly wise decision.

Entering this week's 3M Championship at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Hallberg has six top-10 finishes on tour this season. He had seven combined the previous four years.

Asked for an explanation, Hallberg requested an hour to think things over -- then came up with one in much quicker fashion.

It was an answer straight from the heart.

"Believing in myself helps," he said, admitting he can get "whiney" on the golf course. "Confidence has been something I haven't had. I've been told to not try and hit great shots, just hit good shots. I can't go thinking I have to hit this 4-iron 2 feet from the hole through a crosswind over water every time. You don't. Play smarter, safer. Just play good shots."

Hallberg made plenty of those last week at Turnberry in the Senior British Open. While other players fizzled down the leaderboard during a furiously windy Friday second round, Hallberg fired a 7-under-par 63 to take a three-shot lead.

Bernhard Langer called it "the round of the year."

Hallberg eventually came in second, a shot behind Fred Couples. But the finish secured a top-30 spot on the money list that guaranteed him exempt status for next season.

"I'm finally realizing what I have is good enough," Hallberg said. "And that's a big thing."

Speaking of wind, Hallberg said it will be the wild-card factor this weekend in determining how low players can score. The winning mark has been at least 15 under in each of the past five years.

However, the air probably won't gust like it did last Friday at Turnberry.

"I had curly hair in the morning and look at me now," the balding Hallberg quipped.

Minnesota nice

Minnesotans Don Berry, John Harris and Dave Tentis are grouped together for Friday's first round. They are scheduled to tee off at 12:30 p.m. on No. 1.

Tee times begin at 10:20 a.m. off Nos. 1 and 10. Two groups off No. 1 feature a trio of major championship winners: Mark O'Meara, Larry Mize and Hale Irwin at 11:20 a.m. and Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Kite and Nick Price at 11:50 a.m.

Another Minnesotan, Tom Lehman, a co-designer of the course and leader of the Charles Schwab Cup points race, tees off at 11:30 a.m..

Lehman tied for second last year, his first appearance at the 3M. If he were to win, Lehman would become the first player to be victorious on a course he helped design since Hubert Green won the 1998 Bruno's Memorial Classic at the Founder's Course at Greystone in Hoover, Ala.

An ace for the am

Amateur Paul Steece, playing with Bobby Clampett, had a hole-in-one using a 7-iron on the 158-yard fourth hole during Wednesday's pro-am event.

 

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