SAUCIER, Miss.--For Gary Hallberg, Saturday's second round of the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic felt like old times. Good times. Uncomplicated times.
"I've been talking to different players," Hallberg said after a 66 at Fallen Oak, "and they say, 'Gary, just go out there and play. Just hit it. Don't think so much.' I have a tendency to think too much."
Hallberg, a four-time, first-team All-American at Wake Forest from 1977-1980 (the first player to earn that distinction), was once going to be golf's next big thing. So was Bobby Clampett, an All-American at Brigham Young from 1978-1980. Hallberg won three PGA Tour events, Clampett a lone title before going into broadcasting.
The old amateur rivals and longtime friends reunited at Fallen Oak, where Clampett, 50, is making his debut on the Champions Tour, which Hallberg, 51, has been competing on since 2008.
"We played a lot of golf, we competed a lot, and yeah, we didn't have the careers that we thought we would," Hallberg said. "Our lives, we had lots of great things. We had families and done a lot of things. The golf, it was a struggle. I think we both were overly technical and thought too much about it. At one point we didn't, and then we started to go down those roads. We talked about it yesterday. This could make up for a lot of lost time--come out here and just kind of get it back you used to. Start having guys go, 'Hey, nice round today,' instead of walking past you like you're not even there."
Hallberg's 66 in windy conditions was impressive, the result of keeping things simple. "I ask a lot of players, 'What was I like back then?' " Hallberg said of his potential-laden younger days. Mark Wiebe reminded Hallberg how non-technical his approach used to be. "The beauty of the last couple of days, this was the first week I said I'm just going to go out and play ... I'm trying to let it go an be free. But it's really hard. I hope I can keep doing that."
-- Bill Fields