Inglemoor High School graduate Jeff Gove is back on the PGA Tour after finishing 10th at the PGA Tour qualifying school in December.
Jeff Gove figured he would be getting ready for another season on the Web.com Tour about now.
“But in professional golf, one week can change everything,” Gove said.
And so it did.
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The Seattle native and Inglemoor High of Kenmore graduate finished tied for 10th at the PGA Tour qualifying school in December, earning one of 26 PGA Tour cards. So Gove, 41, finds himself in Southern California this week, playing in the Humana Challenge, where he shot a 69 on Friday after an opening-round 73.
Don’t expect Gove to be intimidated. He has been on the PGA Tour in 2000, 2002, 2006 to 2008 and 2010.
But remaining on the Tour by being in the top 125 on the year’s money list has proved much more elusive than getting there in the first place. But each time Gove has lost his PGA Tour card, he has returned to the Web.com (formerly Nationwide) Tour and excelled.
“I’ve never lost confidence in myself that I can do it,” said Gove, who missed the cut in last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii, the first full-field PGA event of the season.
Despite that, Gove said his confidence has never been higher. Last summer, he began working again with Brian Mogg, the Tacoma native and a nationally acclaimed instructor.
Mogg said Gove made a couple of swing adjustments and he started playing better, capped by the 10th-place finish among 172 players at the grueling qualifying school.
“You can’t luck your way through that tournament, and fortunately, I played well all week,” Gove said.
Mogg said Gove has the talent to not only win on the PGA Tour, but to do it multiple times.
“He’s one of game’s best from tee to green,” Mogg said.
But there’s the rub. He has struggled once he reaches the green.
Gove said while he has never had an issue with short putts, he hasn’t made enough in the 8- to 20-foot range.
“The guys that win are the guys who make those putts,” Gove said.
Mogg said he has been working on getting Gove to move less while he is putting, but what the two have really focused on is changing Gove’s mindset.
“Brian told me, ‘You’ve got to be more competitive,’ ” said Gove, who lives outside San Diego with his wife and three children (a son, 8, and daughters 6 and 4) but still considers himself a Seattleite. “He told me I had been doing it my way for a long time, and that it was time to change.”
Mogg said Gove worried too much about the technical aspects of his swing while playing, and was not focusing enough on what it takes to shoot a low score.
“It sounds easy, but it’s easier said than done,” Mogg said.
Gove shot low scores in May when he returned home to play in the Washington Open, which he won by a record 11 shots. He closed with back-to-back 6-under 65s for a score of 200 over three rounds at Glendale Country Club in Bellevue.
It’s not the first time Gove made headlines at the Washington Open. In 1985, he caddied when his uncle, Mike Gove, a former PGA Tour player, won the event. In 1995, Jeff Gove won it at Glendale Country Club, the first of his two Open wins.
In the summer of 1995, Gove shot a course-record-tying 61 at Overlake Country Club in the final round of the Ernst Championship to finish second behind John Cook in the event Fred Couples hosted in Medina.
That showed the talent that Mogg believes can translate into wins this year.
“He’s one of the good guys on the Tour, and everyone wants to see him do well,” said Mogg, who works with several Tour players. “He’s friends with everyone, and you want to see a guy like him have success.”
Gove said he is particularly excited about this stint on the PGA Tour because his children are getting old enough to understand what his job is all about, and he expects the family to travel a lot with him in the summer.
The first goal for Gove this year is to do well enough to retain his PGA Tour card, “and then go from there.”
Gove has made $2.12 million on the PGA Tour and nearly $1.5 million on the Web.com tour, but said the past couple of years he basically made enough to just cover expenses, “and it would be nice to be able to save some money again.”
He knows that one good week on the PGA Tour could change everything, with a win meaning not only about $1 million but also a two-year Tour exemption.
“This is what I dreamed of doing, and I’m still riding the ride,” he said. “I don’t know when it’s going to end — maybe never — because it’s all I’ve ever done. I’ve made a lot of great friends, and I feel very lucky.”
|These are the six players with local ties who will play full time on the PGA Tour this year:|
|Troy Kelly||Bremerton, UW|
|Richard H. Lee||Bellevue, UW|
|Kyle Stanley||Gig Harbor|