Former Husky Alex Prugh off to fast start on PGA Tour
Alex Prugh, a third-team All-American at Washington, has two top-five finishes in his first three events on the PGA Tour.
Seattle Times staff
It would be hard to find a golfer any happier on the PGA Tour these days than former University of Washington star Alex Prugh, less than three years removed from his college career.
And good luck trying to find another player who has finished in the top five in two of his first three PGA Tour events after turning pro, a feat Prugh accomplished with fifth-place finishes in the Bob Hope Classic and the Farmers Insurance Open the past two weeks.
Tiger Woods didn't do it. Neither did Phil Mickelson, nor Jim Furyk. In fact, the PGA Tour isn't sure when, or if, it has happened before.
"To an extent, I'm surprised," the 25-year-old Prugh said of his fast start. "I didn't think I necessarily would start this well, but that's why you tee it up, to compete and try to win. I definitely knew I could compete."
He has been doing just that since learning the game as 5-year-old from his father, Steve, who is a pro at Manito Golf & Country Club in Spokane. Alex said he was breaking par occasionally by 10 and was a scratch golfer at 11.
In the UW golf media guide, you will find Prugh in the "Husky Golf Legends" section. He was a third-team All-American in 2006 after a 15th-place finish in the NCAA championship. He also had 12 top-10 finishes in a career that spanned 2004-07.
"I am very proud of being a Husky," said Prugh, a Ferris High School graduate. "I still talk to (UW golf coach) Matt Thurmond a ton. I've gotten so much from UW, and it's nice to see them succeed."
After leaving UW, Prugh turned pro and had moderate success on the Nationwide Tour in 2008. He followed that with a breakout season last year, finishing 16th on the Nationwide money list with $233,325 to earn his PGA Tour card for 2010. He won the Michael Hill New Zealand Open last March for his first pro win.
In three weeks on the PGA Tour, he has easily surpassed what he made last year, standing 14th on the money list with $396,778. Maybe even more valuable than the earnings (which will make it easier for him to get entries into future PGA tournaments) was the experience he gained at the Bob Hope Classic.
Prugh shared the lead entering the final day of the five-round event after leading through three rounds.
"I do admit I woke up early (before the final round) without my alarm, but I didn't feel a lot of pressure," he said. "I knew if I played my game, I'd be just fine."
On a course where the scores are low, Prugh knew he would still need to make quite a few birdies.
"The most frustrating part was knowing you had to do that, and I was 1 over on my first seven holes," Prugh said.
Prugh, who has former UW teammate Zach Bixler caddying for him, rebounded with six birdies the rest of the way. He was fifth by himself, two shots behind winner Bill Haas.
"If someone had told me that I would shoot 5 under on the last day, I would have taken it," he said. "I wouldn't have expected it to take 8 under to win when I was leading."
Prugh proved it was no fluke last week at Torrey Pines in San Diego. He finished tied for fifth after a final-round 66 moved him up 21 spots. He was two shots behind the winner, Ben Crane.
Thurmond has been paying attention to Prugh's success, as have some current Huskies who played with Prugh at UW.
"It has been pretty exciting," Thurmond said. "He doesn't have a lot of weaknesses and I imagined him doing well. He has confidence and is not uncomfortable succeeding.
"But I don't know if you could expect this from anybody, two top fives in three events."
Prugh is hoping to sustain his momentum this week at the Northern Trust Open at famed Riviera Country Club outside Los Angeles. He was at even par after 17 holes when Thursday's first round was suspended due to darkness.
Prugh, whose goal is to be among the top 30 players who advance to the Tour Championship late in the season, sees no reason to take a break.
"I'm definitely not getting tired," he said. "It's early in the year, my confidence is high and I love playing. I am making a living doing what I love — what's not to like?"
|Alex Prugh has two top-five finishes in his first three events as a pro on the PGA Tour. Here's how Prugh's start compared with some PGA Tour stars in their first three Tour events as a pro.|
|* Missed cut|
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