After a long road, Dan Halldorson finally captured his 1st win
Dan Halldorson had a strange feeling settling in his stomach as he made the turn near fiver other players in the final round of the Pensacola Open. It was Halldorson, Tom Kite, rookie Gary Hallberg, Bob Mann, and Lyn Lott all locked in a tie as they made the turn. But one by one they dropped like flies and the man who was persistent above the rest was Halldorson.
The Canadian had a great start to the back nine by collecting back-to-back birdies to separate himself from the pack. It was he and Tom Kite who still remained level entering the 13th hole. When Halldorson hit an approach to six feet and birdied while Kite bogeyed it was the three stroke swing that secured the title. He received $32,000 for the win out of the total purse of $200,000 and finished a career best 36th on the PGA Tour money list that year.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]It was a big enough lead that I could bring it in
He became the 11th first time winner on the PGA Tour in the 1980 season. The other first time winners include: future Masters Champion Craig Stadler, Jeff Mitchell, Doug Tewell, Mark Pfiel, Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch, Golf commentator Peter Jacobsen, Don Pooley, Phil Hancock, and Mike Sullivan who would finish runner up in this event.
The struggle of the PGA Tour player
Another storyline of this season ending even was players tour exemptions for the next season. Halldorson had his exemption locked up which was essential to him closing out this event. He had lost his Tour playing status a few years earlier due to poor performance. The system the PGA used was the top 60 money earners remained exempt. Rex Caldwell was sitting in the 60th spot and Lanny Wadkins was in the 61st spot entering the event. Caldwell missed the cut while Wadkins finished in 10th place enabling him to leapfrog Caldwell and become exempt for the 1981 season. It would take two years for Caldwell to dig out of that hole.