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LONNIE'S GREAT ADVENTURE

A weekly update of Former Crag Burn Golf Club Director Of Golf 
Lonnie Nielsen's first year on the Champions Tour.

 

 

Week One:  Royal Caribbean Classic-T23

If it weren't for the front nine, Lonnie might have had a great week.  Here are the numbers:  +7 on the front, -5 on the back.  Lonnie twice played the front with four bogies, and still found a way to finish in the top 25.  Scores of 71 and 72 placed him in 20th, and a 75 in Sunday's third round dropped him to T23.  

Best Hole Of The Week:  18-Birdie every day.
Worst Hole(s) Of The Week:  5 & 6-2 bogies of 3 days.
Birdies:  10
Bogies:  10
Doubles: 1

Week Two:  The ACE Group Classic-T10

There is only so much you can do after setting the world on fire.  Lonnie went absolutely nuts from 9-18 on Friday.  How does this sound:  
birdie-birdie-birdie-par-eagle- birdie-birdie-birdie-par-birdie

From nine to eighteen, he was minus nine for ten holes.  Back nine-28.  Scorching.  Round two, less memorable:  77.  Final round of 71 brings total to -5, t-10th finish.

Best Hole Of The Week:  13-Eagle-Par-Birdie.
Worst Hole Of The Week:  12-Par-Par-Double Bogey.
Eagles:  2
Birdies:  11
Bogies:  6
Doubles: 2

 

Week Three:  Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am-T55

Day three brought a front nine ten strokes higher than day two.  Not good.  Finally birdied his nemesis, #14.  Day two was another up and down.  A two-over front was mitigated by a flawless, four-under back nine.  Day one can best be characterized as "up and down."  Don't know if he scrambled a lot, but eight pars in eighteen holes means lots of birdies, bogeys, or both.  In fact, Lonnie had five of each to finish at even par.  More after round two.  The key to his round  will be the par five, 14th hole.  Lonnie would be five off the lead with pars on the hole, where he has gone bogey-couble bogey.  

Best Hole Of The Week:  3-birdie-birdie-par
Worst Hole(s) Of The Week:  9-Bogey-Par-Double Bogey
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  13
Bogies:  12
Doubles: 2

Three-Week Recap:

First-year jitters aside, Lonnie is playing pretty well.  He proved during his time in Buffalo that he was a birdie machine.  When he gets familiar with the routine (and the courses) again, there will be fewer bogeys and doubles.  His earnings to date indicate that he is positioned to have a solid rookie season on the Champions Tour.

Week Four:  The Mastercard Classic-T65

Lonnie must have encountered Montezuma's Revenge, as he struggled from the beginning in la capital.  Rounds of 79-76-76 placed him t-65, his worst finish of the young season.  When you make almost as many 'others' as birdies, you can't keep your hopes up.  Much like the Sabres, he went bad in patches (+6 for six holes on Friday, +5 for five holes on Saturday, +5 for nine holes on Sunday.)   Solution for Mexico City-2005:  hire a translator to read the greens.

Best Hole Of The Week:  2-birdie-birdie-par
Worst Hole(s) Of The Week:  6-Par-Bogey-Double Bogey
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  7
Bogies:  13
Doubles, etc.:  4 

Week Five:  SBC Classic-T27

1:  Two birdies, two bogeys and a double make for a pretty blase round in Valencia, CA.  After his torrid start, perhaps we came to expect too much from someone who is A) returning to the touring life after 20+ years as a director of golf; B) experiencing the Champions tour courses for the first time; and C) competing with and against the best players in the world.  
2:  Now that's more like it.  Five birdies, two bogeys.  Shoot -3 everyday and not many players will pass you.  What will Sunday bring?
3:  It's never boring with Lonnie, not when fewer than half his holes (8) were pars.  Six birdies, three bogeys, and a double.  For the second time the 8th was his undoing, as the par four cost him two strokes.

Best Hole Of The Week:  9 (-3)
Worst Hole(s) Of The Week:  8 at +3
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  13
Bogies:  7
Doubles, etc.:  2

Week Six:  Toshiba Senior ClassicT6

Normally 67 would be a pretty good start, unless someone else shoots 60, which happened today.  Four birdies and fourteen pars got Lonnie a tie for eighth after round one.  If he can put two more 67s on the board this weekend, he'll have his second top-ten finish of the year.

Round Two brought more consistency, along with Lonnie's first bogey of the week.  Two-under dropped him one slot to T9, although only five strokes off the lead.  If he could time another 63 (see week two) just right, he might walk away with a title on Sunday.

Boo-Yahh!  Six more birds, two bogies, another 67, T6.  Sneaking along under the radar, Lonnie finished the week only five strokes out of the lead.  His finish moved him up from 46 to 32 on the mondey list.

Best Hole Of The Week:  15 (-2)
Worst Hole(s) Of The Week:  10 (+1)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  13
Bogies:  3
Doubles, etc.:  0

Week Seven:  Blue Angels Classic11th

After a four-week lay-off, Lonnie and the other Champions returned to action in Milton, Florida.  Nielsen opened with a one-under 69, the product of a 1 bogey/2 birdie round.  He trailed the leader by four strokes after one round.   A second consecutive 69 moved him into the top 21.  A final-round 67, highlighted by birdies on four of five holes, brought Lonnie to solo 11th. 

Best Hole Of The Week:  10 (-3)
Worst Hole(s) Of The Week:  3 (+2)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  10
Bogies:  5
Doubles, etc.:  0

Week Eight-Bruno's Memorial ClassicT11

Our guess is that this is the last year that Lonnie will not be in the Legends Of Golf field.  He could not tee it up last week, but is making up for it in Alabama, during the Weekend At Bruno's.  Six birdies, one eagle, and two bogeys gave Mr. Nielsen a second-place perch after round one, two off the lead.

The man who fell from grace with the sea is Lonnie today.  Two birdies, three bogeys and a double will not keep you in second place.  The 14th is KILLING him this week.  Sunday has to be better.

Best Hole Of The Week:  13 (-2)
Worst Hole(s) Of The Week:  14 & 15 (+1)
Eagles:  1
Birdies:  6
Bogies:  2
Doubles, etc.:  0

Week Nine-FedEx Kinko's ClassicT45

One bad hole can derail the express, and number eight seems to have done that to Lonnie on Friday.  Cruising along at -2, a triple bogey ocho knocked him off course.  He recovered with one birdie on the back to finish even for the day.  Day two brought a diverse round of five birdies, three bogeys, and a T-40 placement at the end of the day.  Sunday has been a welcome day for Mr. Nielsen; let's hope the pattern continues.

Lonnie started Sunday well, going 3-under for the first six holes.  The well went dry, as he played the remaining 12 at +3, to finish where he began the day, at +2, good for t-45.

Best Hole Of The Week:   Six of them at (-1)
Worst Hole(s) Of The Week:  8  (+4)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  9
Bogies:  8
Doubles, etc.:  1

Week Ten-Allianz ChampionshipT51

Up and down, up and down.  Not for par, but from -2 to even to -2 to even to -1 to even.  That best describes Lonnie's first day at the Allianz Championship.  Five birds and five boges will have you grinding your teeth at night.

Nine birdies versus eleven bogies is never good, but when you toss in two doubles, the week is a lesson in patience.  Lonnie went 78-70 on the weekend to finish t-51.  He is currently in 32nd place on the money list with $200 K and change.

Best Hole Of The Week:   11 at (-2)
Worst Hole(s) Of The Week:  13 at (+3)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  9
Bogies:  11
Doubles, etc.:  2  

Week Eleven-Senior PGAT31

Valhalla will be remembered primarily as the hall of the Norse Gods.  It will also be remembered as the site of Tiger's victory over the indelible Bob May in the PGA championship.  Lonnie tested this fine course in his first Senior major championship, and survived a tough week with a decent finish.

The senior majors are the only events on the Champions tour with a 36-hole cut, so Lonnie had to survive that initial test, doing so with rounds of 74 and 70.  The weekend brought closing rounds of 72 and 76 over the par 71 layout, leaving our man with an eight-over total of 292, good for a t-31 finish.

To his credit, there were not many low scores on Sunday, so the 76 was not that uncommon.  A triple bogey on the 16th was followed by a birdie-par- birdie finish.  One thing about Lonnie; he's no quitter.

Best Hole Of The Week:   16 at (-2)
Worst Hole(s) Of The Week:  10 & 15 at (+4)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  13
Bogies:  16
Doubles, etc.:  2

Week Twelve-Farmers Charity ClassicT26

The ups and downs continue for Lonnie.  On a course where -8 leads, Mr. Nielsen starts the week with a four bogey, three birdie effort for a middle of the pack 73.  Birdies are out there, so let's hope that he gets on a run in Michigan.

Round two went a bit better for our man, Lonnie.  Six birdies offset two bogies for a fine 68, bringing him to -3 for the week.  A mid-sixties round on Sunday could vault him into the top ten.

Round three was more of the same-- patches of birdies were offset by untimely bogies.  A look at his season-long stats tells the good and the bad (7th in birdie conversion-good) (64th in driving accuracy and 51st in total driving-bad).

Best Hole Of The Week:   1 at (-2)
Worst Hole(s) Of The Week:  18 at (+2)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  13
Bogies:  9
Doubles, etc.:  0  

Week Thirteen-Bayer Advantage
Celebrity Pro-Am
T11

Ups and downs?  Well, sort of.  More downs than ups, which is a good thing on tour.  Lonnie played six holes in birdie, three in bogey, and nine in par for a nice 69, placing him four off the current first-round lead of good friend John Harris.

A solid second round kept Lonnie in the thick of things for a top ten finish.  Bouncing back from a potentially- disastrous double bogie 7 on the second hole (what is his deal with par five holes?), Lonnie recorded four birdies to finish at -2 on the day, -5 for the tournament.  When the final round thundered away, Lonnie had a near-top-ten finish, at t-11.

Best Hole Of The Week:  #18 at (-2)
Worst Hole Of The Week:  #2 at (+3)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  10
Bogies:  3
Doubles, etc.:  1  

 

Week Fourteen-Bank of America ChampionshipT54

When you are nine strokes off the lead after one round, the bright side is, there's no place to go but up.  

After a round like Friday's, Lonnie should be grateful there are no cuts on the Champions Tour (except in the majors), as he finds himself stuck in 63rd place.  He found a few birdies, but almost as many double bogies, which flat out kill a round.  

Even though his driving accuracy was up (71 %, t-12), his greens in regulation seemed to be down (67%, t-28) and the putter was on leave (32 putts).  If he drives it well again, makes a few putts, hits a few more greens, he's on his way.

The second round was better than the first.  No bogies or others, two birdies, that's it.  The third round brought two birdies, three bogies, and a T-54 finish.

Best Hole Of The Week:  #5 at (-2)
Worst Hole Of The Week:  #12 at (+3)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  7
Bogies:  4
Doubles, etc.:  2  

Week Fifteen-Commerce Bank Long Island ClassicT59

T11 is not a bad place to be after round one.  Four birdies were offset by two bogies for a two-under par round of 68.  Round two brought two birdies, one bogey, and fifteen pars.  This is the consistent Lonnie that we like to see.  He's 7 back after two, but with a nice final round, he might sneak into the top ten.

All the good work of Friday and Saturday came undone on Sunday, as Lonnie initially overcame an opening double-bogey with three front nine birdies, to get to -4.  From 9 to 15, he went five over par with five bogies, finishing tied for 39th.  Of all the weeks to date, this may have been the most frustrating.

Best Hole Of The Week:  3 & 7 at (-2)
Worst Hole Of The Week: 1 & 14 at (+2)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  9
Bogies:  8
Doubles, etc.:  1  

Week Sixteen-Ford Senior Players ChampionshipT46

The woes continue for Lonnie.  The courses are tougher, and he just can't seem to stem the tide of bogies.  In three of four rounds this week, our man started with birdies before bogies, but could not avoid the black numbers.  He finds himself in the top 40 money winners as the season turns toward the home stretch.

Best Hole Of The Week:  12/13 at (-2)
Worst Hole Of The Week: 11 at (+3)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  9
Bogies:  10
Doubles, etc.:  1

Week Seventeen-Senior British Open Championship T22

So, Lonnie shoots +9, makes the cut by a stroke, and finishes tied for 22nd?  Must be a major.  This was Lonnie's guttiest performance of the year, and he should be applauded for simply grinding it out.  With a week off from the tour (he did not qualify for the US Senior Open,) our man now prepares for the final push toward keeping his tour card.  Let's hope for the best.

Best Hole Of The Week:  2 at (-3)
Worst Hole Of The Week: 4 & 6 at (+3)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  9
Bogies:  14
Doubles, etc.:  2

Week Eighteen-3M ChampionshipT36 

Golf is such a frustrating game.  Imagine 17 holes at -2, to finish with a quadruple-bogey nine on the par five 18th.  Send him your good vibes, because he'll need them to sleep tonight. 

Lonnie's 2nd round brought more headaches, as three birdies were nullified by three bogies and a dreaded double.

Round 3 soothed the nerves, as five birdies were tempered by one late bogey, bringing a t-36 finish.

Best Hole Of The Week:  #6 at (-2)
Worst Hole Of The Week: #18 (+4)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  11
Bogies:  5
Doubles, etc.:  2

Week Nineteen-Greater Hickory Classic At Rock BarnT10

First-round jitters accounted for the three birdie-three bogey performance.  

A tidy 2-under round placed Lonnie in a tie for 15th place at the start of the third round.

The finish that we've been waiting for took place today, as our man played a bogey-free round of 69 (-3), closing with birdies on 14, 16 and 18.  His hard work paid off with his first top-ten finish since his sixth event.  Keeping his card for 2005 is still uncertain, but this is the way to do it.

Best Hole Of The Week: 14 & 18 at (-2)
Worst Hole Of The Week: 5 at (+1)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  10
Bogies:  5
Doubles, etc.: 0

Week Twenty-The Jeld-Wen Tradition-T45

First-round jitters again in Oregon as Lonnie made three bogies and two birdies for 73.  Second-round calm as the bogies nearly went away, with one offset by four birdies.

Any way you slice it, nine  bogies on the weekend will do no one any good.  Lonnie missed a golden opportunity to move up the money list, as he went 4-over on Saturday and Sunday.  Two rounds of 70 would have moved him into the top 20 for the week.

Best Hole Of The Week: 15 at (-3)
Worst Hole Of The Week: 4 & 14 at (+2)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  11
Bogies:  13
Doubles, etc.: 0

Week Twentyone-The First Tee Open-T9

In atypical Lonnie fashion, he got better as the weekend wore on.  An opening 73 was followed by 70 and 69, as Lonnie moved patiently up the leaderboard.  His comfort at Pebble Beach was evident, as he has played there for years each January in the Spalding Invitational.

Best Hole Of The Week: 4, 6, & 18 at (-2)
Worst Hole Of The Week: 5 different at (+1)
Eagles:  1
Birdies:  10
Bogies:  6
Doubles, etc.: 1

Week Twentytwo-Kroger Classic-T34

Great first round, shaky second round, solid third round.  Year one seems to be a question of Lonnie learning how to score low, then score low again, then score low again.  As he is learning (or remembering), it takes three great rounds to be in the top five.

Best Hole Of The Week: 8 & 18 at (-3)
Worst Hole Of The Week: 1 at (+2)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  15
Bogies:  10
Doubles, etc.: 0

 

Week Twentythree-SAS Championship-T5

Is the glass half empty or half full?  If Lonnie had not bogeyed 18 on Sunday, he would have had a T3 finish and his first six-figure paycheck.  Then again, he played great all week long, including appearances in final-three groupings.  Playing with good friends John Harris and Jim Thorpe had to help, too.

Best Hole Of The Week: 14 at (-2)
Worst Hole Of The Week: 3 diff. at (+1)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  12
Bogies:  5
Doubles, etc.: 0

 

Week Twentyfour-Constellation Energy Classic-T17

A good week for Lonnie.  His game is showing a consistency that was absent for a large part of the year.  He has always been able to make birdies, but those risky shots that he missed, often resulted in bogies or worse. His climb up the money ladder has been slow and consistent, not a bad way to go through life.

Best Hole Of The Week: 2, 5 & 11 at (-2)
Worst Hole Of The Week: 4 diff. at (+1)
Eagles:  0
Birdies:  11
Bogies:  4
Doubles, etc.: 0

 

 

To Keep Up With Lonnie's Official Tour Stats, Visit This Link.

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