Franklin Langham, a golfer without a tour last year, is back in the big time, on the PGA Tour. It's a place the Thomson, Ga., native plans to stay.
Langham debuted on the PGA Tour in 1996, but lost his playing card at the end of a disappointing season. Needing to finish among the top 125 money winners to keep his card, Langham was 171st.
In 1997, Langham played a few Hooters Tour events (he won the first two of the season) and was able to play much of the second half of the Nike Tour season, based on his conditional status for winning on that tour in 1993.
The former Walker Cupper regained his PGA Tour playing privileges by finishing tied for fifth place in the PGA Tour Qualifying School tournament in December in Haines City, Fla. He shot 72-71-68-68-66-72 -- 414 in the gruelling 108-hole test.
It was the fifth time Langham had gone through Q-School, but the first time he'd earned his card through that avenue.
"You can't imagine what it's like if you haven't been through it," Langham said. "You've got your job riding on six rounds of golf. I was excited to make it through, but I was more relieved that I had that weight off my shoulders."
Langham is making his 1998 debut in the Bob Hope Classic, which started Thursday. He is ...........
"I'm happy to get another chance," Langham said. "My first year out there I was getting lost going to the golf courses. I didn't know where to stay. When you're uncomfortable in your environment, it's going to reflect in the way you play.
"I wasn't intimidated the first time," Langham said, "but I was overwhelmed. There were huge galleries every week. It was kind of a circus out there at times with the TV crews. The main thing I learned is your main goal is to go out there and play golf and keep your focus."
Now that he's familiar with the courses on the tour, Langham plans to pick and choose whenever you can.
"Some courses out there didn't suit me as well as I would have liked," Langham said.
The second time around, Langham also has a different set of expectations.
"I went out there before saying I'd just like to keep my card," Langham said. "That would be a great thing to do, but I don't want to limit myself. I want to play well and be in contention. I'd like to have a chance to win a couple of tournaments. I'm trying to build myself into a better player."
Langham had already adopted that mindset for the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.
"I went down there trying to win the thing," Langham said. "I have to think like the best players do, even though I'm probably not one of the best players right now."
In the back of Langham's mind is the realization that a win on the PGA Tour would be his ticket into the Masters Tournament.
"The Masters will always be special to me," Langham said. "I grew up working on the scoreboard there and I've always gone to the tournament. It would be a fairy tale to play. I don't have a sense of urgency. I think I have plenty of time to get there. I really believe I'll play there one day and I think I'll play well."
MR. PERRY'S: The dates have been set for the annual Mr. Perry's Pro-Am and Mr. Perry's Invitational at the Club at Jones Creek. The Pro-Am is scheduled for March 13 and the Invitational will be March 14-15. The Pro-Am entry fee is $75 while the Invitational entry fee is $125. Invitations will be sent out to former participants this week. Other golfers can enter by calling Jones Creek at 860-4228.
THREE-MAN LAUDERDALE: Looking for a tournament to play in during the winter? The Waynesboro Country Club's Three-Man Lauderdale is scheduled Feb. 21-22. Entry fee is $150 per team. For more information, call (706) 554-2262.
Holes in one
GOSHEN: Irene DeBarge recently scored her fifth career hole-in-one. Her latest ace came on Goshen's 108-yard 14th hole with a 9-iron shot. Her husband Ray was the witness. The only par-3 at Goshen that DeBarge hasn't aced is the fourth hole. In order, her career aces have come on the 13th hole at Forest Hills, the 17th at Goshen, the 14th at North Augusta Country Club and the seventh at Goshen. DeBarge, who has been playing golf since 1970, also has holed out fairway shots eight times for eagles on par-4 or par-5 holes.
FOREST HILLS: Carl Turner aced the 195-yard 16th hole with a 5-iron shot. The witnesses were Craig Beasley and Steve Whitfield.
Rob Duregger aced the 207-yard seventh hole with a 5-wood shot. The witnesses were Jason Irwin and Justin Irwin.
PINE RIDGE: Robert Gillespie Sr. aced the 140-yard fifth hole with a 5-iron shot. The witnesses were Danny Jernigan, Mike Stone and Glenn Rowland.
HOUNDSLAKE: Harold Yerger aced the 130-yard eighth hole on the Dogwood side with an 8-wood. Dave Weisser was the witness.
WOODSIDE: Bill Scruggs aced the 140-yard 17th hole on the Jones Course with a 9-iron shot. The witnesses were Chuck Grodehl, Tom Reed and Lowell Tripp.
JONES CREEK: Blair Cook aced the 115-yard 15th hole with a 7-iron shot. His witness was Robert Dalton.
GREEN MEADOWS: George Teasley aced the 131-yard third hole with an 8-iron shot. The witnesses were Mark Teasley and Leon Masters.
PERSIMMON HILL: Dave Werts aced the 200-yard 15th hole with a 3-wood shot. The witnesses were Harry Langford, John Wertz, Mike Guess and Scott Crouch.
ROCKY BRANCH: Barry Acord aced the 125-yard eighth hole. The witnesses were Doug Wright, Dave Craft and Michael O'Neal.
THREE OAKS: Fred Boeck aced the 247-yard 13th hole with a driver. The witnesses were Charlie Blakey and Chad Boeck.
Eagle on par-4
AUGUSTA GOLF COURSE: Tom Hornsby eagled the 310-yard, 13th hole. He holed out an 80-yard sand wedge second shot. The witnesses included Jimmy Holmes and Larry Harris.
HOUNDSLAKE: John Clark eagled the 305-yard second hole on the Dogwood side, holing out a 7-iron shot. The witnesses were Bill Parish, Chet Velett and Dick Spawnburg.