Originally created 03/09/02

Road back can be difficult



NORTH AUGUSTA - Life is certainly different for Jack O'Keefe and Vance Veazey these days.

After getting the royal treatment from the PGA Tour in 1997 and 1998, O'Keefe and Veazey are slowly working their way back on the National Golf Association/Hooters Tour.

Both golfers are tied for 21st place with 13 other golfers at 2-under-par 140, nine strokes behind tournament leader Elliot Gealy (65-66-131) in the Kandy Waters Memorial Classic at The River Club. Veazey shot 67-73-140 and O'Keefe has 70-70-140.

"Sure I would love to be back on the PGA Tour, and hopefully next year that's where I will be," said Veazey, who played on the PGA Tour in 1998. "But you have to play where you are and be satisfied."

"I enjoyed it tremendously but just didn't play well," said O'Keefe, who played the tour in 1997. "It was a good experience and I'm just trying to get back out there."

Veazey and O'Keefe brought a lot of knowledge back to share with the contingent of PGA Tour hopefuls after playing with the likes of Tom Lehman, Lee Janzen and Greg Norman.

"On the PGA Tour, you learn to focus on one shot and learn to not to get caught up in the other stuff that's going on around," Veazey said. "You just have to go out and play good."

O'Keefe said the professionals don't really tell you any secrets on life on the tour, but "you watch what they do around the greens and how they hit some pitch shots."

Veazey will play several tournaments on the Buy.com Tour this year. He first started in 1995, and has been a regular since 1999. He won the Shreveport Open in 1998 and finished as high as 28th on the PGA Tour.

O'Keefe, the NGA Hooters Tour Player of the Year in 1995, will be heading to Uummannaq, Greenland, on March 18-25 to test his skills at ice golf in the 2002 Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship.

"I've never played on ice before, so this will be something different."

Each player has tasted being at the top. Despite their struggles now, each has his own motivation to getting back to tour.

"I have to learn to be a more consistent player," Veazey said. "When I'm on, it's good. It's a totally different environment out there. Even though it's just golf, you have to go out there and play well each day."

"It's the best place in the world to play golf for a living," O'Keefe said. "There are a lot of good players out here but we just don't have the sponsors or the money that they (PGA Tour players) play for. So I want to get where they are and make a better life for myself and my family."

FRIDAY'S SCORES

Kandy Waters Classic

NGA/Hooters Tour At The River Club North Augusta, S.C. Second Round

Elliot Gealy 65-66-131 -11
Chad Collins 67-67-134 -8
Daniel Stone 63-71-134 -8
Zach Johnson 69-66-135 -7
Mark Side 68-67-135 -7
Rod Perry 70-66-136 -6
Brooks Blackburn 69-68-137 -5
Ben Curtis 69-69-138 -4
William Lanier 69-69-138 -4
Bill Lunde 70-68-138 -4
Chad Lytton 70-68-138 -4
Matthew McDougall 68-70-138 -4
Josh Broadaway 67-72-139 -3
Jamie Broce 68-71-139 -3
Bobby Cochran 69-70-139 -3
Steve LeBrun 67-72-139 -3
Greg Parker 68-71-139 -3
Todd Pinneo 68-71-139 -3
Sal Spallone 74-65-139 -3
Travis Womble 66-73-139 -3
Blake Adams 67-73-140 -2
Curtis Boyer 70-70-140 -2
Tim Cantwell Jr. 69-71-140 -2
Michael Connell 71-69-140 -2
Kris Cox 71-69-140 -2
Michael Flynn 70-70-140 -2
Jarrett Grimes 69-71-140 -2
Jered Gusso 70-70-140 -2
Ned Michaels 69-71-140 -2
Mark Northey 70-70-140 -2
Jack O'Keefe 70-70-140 -2
Dwayne Randall 69-71-140 -2
Vance Veazey 67-73-140 -2

Others of interest

Vaughn Taylor 71-70-141 -1
Scott Volpitto 74-68-142 E
Michael Webb 74-70-144 +2
Jack Fulghum 77-76-153 +11

Reach Miguelangelo Hernandez at (706) 823-3304.