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Lee Janzen makes an unusual tour stop

April 26, 2012

When the U.S. Open returns to the Olympic Club in June, it will be impossible for the name Lee Janzen to not come up. After all, it was Janzen who held off Payne Stewart by a shot at the San Francisco venue in 1998 to claim his second major championship, and the most recent major at Olympic.

Janzen, who hasn't won a PGA Tour event of any kind since, is unlikely to crack this year's Open field. But it won't be for lack of effort.


Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Now 47, Janzen is still grinding away, even if his grinding style of play -- which led to his two most famous wins -- isn't what it used to be. How determined is Janzen to recapture some of that old magic? This week, for the first time since 1990, he is teeing it up in a Nationwide Tour event.

Following that last win in 1998, Janzen enjoyed some steady years on tour until a precipitous fall to No. 155 on the money list in 2005. He's only finished in the top 125 once since (No. 99 in 2009), and has failed to regain full exempt status at Q School the past two years. Through partial status and sponsor's exemptions, he's managed to play seven events in 2012, making five cuts, including a T-29 at the recent RBC Heritage.

But this week, while the PGA Tour is in New Orleans for the Zurich Classic, the former Ryder Cupper had a 1:35 p.m. Thursday tee time in the South Georgia Classic. It's an odd spot to find a one-time star, especially when you consider his playing partners: David Lingmerth and John Kimbell. Never heard of them? That's probably because neither have ever even played in a PGA Tour event. But through his struggles, Janzen seems to have gotten used to playing in different situations than what he dealt with in his heyday.

"Panic doesn't do you any good," Janzen told CBSSports.com's Steve Elling in October 2009. "You really have to check a lot of things. Your attitude is probably the most important. When you think about what you are getting ready to start on, is it worth the price you have to pay to get back to where you want to be? That's the question you have to ask."

Two-and-a-half years later, Janzen's answer to that question clearly remains the same.

-- Alex Myers