"Big Break’ contestant seeks fifth straight trip to Stage II
DAYTON – Benoit Beisser is one of the more well-known players at this year’s Stage I qualifier at Dayton Valley Golf Club.
Not only because he’s advanced the past four years to Stage II out of Dayton Valley but because he was one of the contestants on Big Break: Mesquite back in 2007.
Beisser, who is at 4-under-par 140 after 36 holes, said the TV appearance helped him more socially than it did his golf game.
“People started to recognize who I was,” he said after his second-round 71. “People would come out and root for you. When that happens, you can feel the vibe. It helped get into some clubs.
“It also helped I was able to tune out (distractions, noise) a lot. When Big Break was being filmed, there were always 50 or 60 people moving around and working.”
Beisser explained the process on how he got onto the show.
“I sent in a resume, and if they like your resume, they call you for an interview,” he said. “You hit a couple of golf shots. My sister was on the show for two years, and the producers and directors liked her.
“Right after the show aired, I couldn’t go anywhere without somebody recognizing me. I definitely flaunted it. I got a lot of VIP treatment.”
Beisser missed by a stroke each of the last two years of getting to the final stage, a situation he hopes to rectify this year.
Beisser currently sits at 140, five shots behind co-leaders Derek Tolan and Gregor Main who are at 135. Main shot the low round of the tournament with a 7-under-par 65. Main had birdies at 1, 5, 6, 8,11, 12 and 14.
“A lot of birdies,” said Main of his bogey free round. “They were out there for the taking today. It was benign in terms of the wind; not much wind. A lot of fairways and greens. I putted a little better today than yesterday.”
Tolan had four birdies and no bogeys n his round of 68. Tolan, a former Colorado University golfer, played at Dayton in 2009 and failed to advance finishing tied for 50th at 3-under. He played in the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage as a 16-year-old.
Two shots back at 137 were last year’s medalist Ryan Yip (69), Matt Marshall (69), Richard Lee (70), John Lepak (67) and Nick Delio (70). First-round leader Stephen Hale shot a level par 72 and sits in a tie for seventh place at 138 with Wil Collins (68) and Mike Pearson (67), a pair of Dayton veterans. Hale was tagged with a penalty stroke on No. 2 when his ball moved on the green.
The 22 low scores and ties after Friday’s final round of the 72-hole tournament will advance to Stage II qualifying at six sites around the country. Players advancing to the second stage will play to make the third stage where they will vie for a spot on the PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour.
Yip said he didn’t see a lot of difference in the course.
“The greens were a little faster that’s all,” he said. “The course is right in front of me.”
Marshall, who played at Dayton last year, is in his fourth year of qualifying. Between the Canadian Tour and the Gateway Tour, he’s made more than $16,000 this year. A Reno native, Marshall’s father, Bob, was director of golf at Incline Village from 1981-86.
Marshall, who shot 69, had birdies at Nos. 5, 8, 14 and 18. His only bogey came when he three-putted the par-3 13th. He was pleased with his effort.
“The greens are fantastic,” Marshall said. “They are firm and fast. They are the best greens I’ve putted all year. They are definitely faster and firmer than last year especially when you are playing downwind.
“It’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. I feel good about my game right now.” Marshall missed the third stage last year by five shots, and he’s hoping to break his drought.
Carson City’s J.T. Cockerill shot 1-under-par 71 and moved into 40th place at 1-over-par 145. He’ll most likely need back-to-back rounds in the mid 60s to have a chance. The projected cut is expected to be between 6 and 9-under-par.
“It was a little bit better,” said Cockerill, who rebounded from his opening 74. “I didn’t put any balls in the water. That’s an improvement.
“I had a chance (to score). I missed so many putts today. I probably missed six putts inside eight feet.”
Cockerill had birdies on Nos. 3, 8 and 15 to go with bogeys on Nos. 7 and 17. On Tuesday, Cockerill doubled the par-5 8th when he put two balls in the water.
Action continues today starting at 9 with the leaders teeing off at 11.