July 28, 2008–If you are down today, or think the glass is half-empty or your theme for the week is "Life sucks and then you die,", you should probably take a cue from former UNLV Rebel Golf All-American Bill Lunde, who yesterday chipped in for birdie (click here to watch the video of the shot and listen to Lunde) on the final hole to win his first-ever Nationwide Tour event. About two years ago, Lunde, at least when it came to his golf game, shared that gloomy outlook, especially when things went wrong. But after quitting the game for about a year, and playing in charity scrambles at Las Vegas golf courses, Lunde changed his attitude and everything with his golf game started to change for the better. He won six of 11 times on the 2007 Butch Harmon Vegas Tour, parlayed that success into an expemtion for the Las Vegas FRYS.com Open PGA Tour event where he finished in a tie for 44th, and then went to Q School and qualified for the 2008 Nationwide Tour. "Attitude is an amazing thing," said Lunde, minutes after holing his chip to win the Nationwide Children's Hospitals Invitational.
Lunde, who was a member of the 1998 UNLV team that won the NCAA Championship, struggled to final-round 73 at the Scarlet Course in Ohio (Ohio State's home course) but didn't let the tough conditions or some tough breaks derail his chances at winning. Lunde, who played the Nationwide Tour in 2004 and 2005, double-bogeyed the second hole on Sunday and in past times, that might have been all she wrote.
"I had chances to win when I played the tour out here in 2004, 2005, and I was easily, you know, if I would have doubled the second hole back then, I would have no chance," said Lunde, who bested Dustin Bray by one shot for the victory. "I would already be mad and here we go again type of thing, poor me. But today, all could I think of was, you know, is we're going to make a double; unfortunatey I made it on the second hole. (I thought) I have 16 holes to make up for it and hang in there and see what happens."
Lunde has now earned more than $248,000 through 17 events and stood 7th on the Nationwide Tour money list. He has put himself into position to earn full playing privileges on the PGA Tour in 2009. The top 25 Nationwide players move up to the PGA Tour for the following season.
Lunde says that working on his attitude has been a lifelong pursuit, and the time-off changed his perspective on things. Especially working at a desk job (in sales and marketing for the Las Vegas Founders, the group that organized the Las Vegas PGA Tour event for 25 years), and playing is charity scrambles.
"Obviously I've been trying to work on it since I was ten years old, so 22 years later, I think I'm getting the hang of it," said Lunde, laughing. "When I wasn't playing golf, I got invited to play in a lot of charity events around town, and I think we talked about this the other day, I would be in the charity events and have an easy 9-iron into the green and pull a 20-yard lob and for some reason, the first time did I that, I kind of laughed because I had no expectations of hitting a good shot and when you don't play and practice, you're going to do things like that.
"Somehow playing in charity scrambles actually helped me to get here, kind of as crazy as it sounds. So I learned to laugh at bad shots and kind of move on. There was no expectations, and obviously when I was playing before, my expectations were too high. I was always trying to play perfect golf and golf isn't a perfect game. If you think everyone hits a perfect putt, perfect shots all the time, you're crazy. Even though the best players in the world don't hit great shots all the time."
Lunde also said that he has a new outlook about the opportunity that he has.
"I appreciate it a lot more than I used to," said Lunde. "Before, it was just something I've been doing for so long, and I think I stopped appreciating what we got to do. And so from being on a desk and coming out and playing golf every day, it's a big difference, and I think I made the right decision."
PHOTO: Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational
Read on for the complete post-round news conference with Bill Lunde
MARK WILLIAMS: Well, congratulations, Bill Lunde, Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational Champion, how does that feel?
BILL LUNDE: Pretty awesome.
MARK WILLIAMS: Pretty a amazing finish. Have you experienced anything like that before?
BILL LUNDE: No, no, between Josh holing from the fairway like he did it, and he had a great lie and ran it in there was pretty awesome, and for me to follow up with a chip shot to win, that was pretty cool.
MARK WILLIAMS: I heard you say earlier after he holed out, you were giving him some grief because yesterday he chipped in three times.
BILL LUNDE: Yeah, he had a hat trick, and yesterday he chipped in three time. And we have a mutual friend who lives in Las Vegas, so joked with him all day, got to call this guy, Jim, and let him know how you're playing.
MARK WILLIAMS: Would you talk about the putt on 17 for par and how long that was?
BILL LUNDE: Right, well, I made a great putt for bogey on 15 to start because I kind of made a mess around the green and 3-putted next hole, which is obviously very disappointing.
But I've been putting good all week, and just wanted to get in there and kind of do the same thing without over thinking it and just kind of get in there and do the same routine and give it my best shot and it went in.
Q. How long was it?
BILL LUNDE: Probably about seven, eight feet.
Q. And the chip on 18, did you hit that perfect?
BILL LUNDE: The way the grass is, you kind of have to pick it. You can easily kind of stick the club in the ground, and the-ball-goes-three-feet-in-front-of-you, type of thing, so I was just trying to catch it real clean. Kind of in the back of my mind, kind of make sure we give it a chance and it might go in. More than anything, I was trying to give it a good shot and if it went in, so be it, and if not, go to a playoff.
MARK WILLIAMS: How did you feel after the second hole, you double-bogeyed there, what were your thoughts there?
BILL LUNDE: I thought it was a bad break because I really hit the tee shot well. That hole, you have to — you have that whole fairway, but you've only got half of it to work with from — because I draw the ball, so I landed it kind of in the right half in order to be in the fairway because the bunker is on the left.
So I just kind of hit it really solid and just hung it out to the right just a hair and it hit that tree solid and kicked back to the right and left me in jail; I had no shot. I tried to do the right thing without being heroic, chip it on the fairway and knock it on to make a bogey and move on. But chipped it in the fairway, landed on the green, missed the putt, and even though I tried to do the right thing, I still made double. I walked up to the green thinking, might as well try to be heroic, who knows, punch it through the trees and could have made double that way.
Q. What you've been through, did you ever think at all today during the course — did you ever find your search getting ahead of yourself and thinking about, oh, man, this could be the day?
BILL LUNDE: Right. I kept hanging in there and knew it was playing tough. Even though I was a couple over par, I still was near the lead or one shot ahead. No one was really playing well. So I knew if I could keep hitting fairways and greens and making pars, that was all I was trying to do and maybe stumble upon a birdie out there. I think I only made two birdies today.
But you know, I had chances to win when I played the tour out here in 2004, 2005, and I was easily, you know, if I would have doubled the second hole back then, I would have no chance. I would already be mad and here we go again type of thing, poor me.
But today, all could I think of was, you know, is we're going to make a double; unfortunate I made it on the second hole, and I have 16 holes to make up for it and hang in there and see what happens.
Q. Is it as easy as you explained it the other day, for the lack of a better word, to let the temper go? You probably had to work on changing.
BILL LUNDE: Right, right. Obviously I've been trying to work on it since I was ten years old, so 22 years later, I think I'm getting the hang of it. (Laughing).
When I wasn't playing golf, I got invited to play in a lot of charity events around town, and I think we talked about this the other day, I would be in the charity events and have an easy 9-iron into the green and pull a 20-yard lob and for some reason, the first time did I that, I kind of laughed because I had no expectations of hitting a good shot and when you don't play in practice, you're going to do things like that.
Somehow playing in charity scrambles actually helped me to get here, kind of as crazy as it sounds. So I learned to laugh at bad shots and kind of move on. There was no expectations, and obviously when I was playing before, my expectations were too high. I was always trying to play perfect golf and golf isn't a perfect game. If you think everyone hits a perfect putt, perfect shots all the time, you're crazy. Even though the best players in the world don't hit great shots all the time.
Q. Looked like you — inaudible — the Top-25, a really good examination, is that something you appreciate?
BILL LUNDE: Yeah, it's a great opportunity to get your card through the Nationwide Tour. I think the Nationwide Tour itself has proven that they produce good players. I mean, there's so many — I think I saw a commercial today, like two-thirds of the PGA TOUR have played on the Nationwide Tour. I don't know if that's exactly right but you bet you it's close if not right on.
MARK WILLIAMS: It's 67 percent.
BILL LUNDE: It proves that guys coming through this tour can be successful on the PGA TOUR.
Like I said, it is a great opportunity to have the whole year to play well; not just one week. You get in the final stage after playing well, get in first and second stage and then you have to play six great rounds of golf. I mean, heck, in Q-School last year, I was inside the number going into the last day, shot 72 and ended up missing by two shots.
I played well all week and I still didn't get it done, and you just never know. Out here, like I said, you have 30 weeks to get it done, not just one.
MARK WILLIAMS: Do you have a feeling that it's kind of redemption now for the decision you made to stop playing?
BILL LUNDE: Yeah, you know, even though I stopped, I'm so glad I did to kind of get a new perspective on working and how fortunate we are to play golf for a living and to travel around and play these great golf courses for a living. It's a special thing we get to do.
So I appreciate it a lot more than I used to. Before, it was just something I've been doing for so long, and I think I stopped appreciating what we got to do. And so from being on a desk and coming out and playing golf every day, it's a big difference, and I think I made the right decision.
MARK WILLIAMS: Now it looks like you'll probably be going to the PGA TOUR next year. Do you think you'll hang out with Charley Hoffman more?
BILL LUNDE: I'm sure I probably will. We don't live too far away from each other in Las Vegas.
Q. Have you had a chance to check your phone yet; have you heard from him?
BILL LUNDE: No, he texted me last night and all he said was, "Get it done." I mean, Charley is to the point. It didn't surprise me, it just laughed it. Just said, "Get it done."
Q. And how many of those tournaments did you win when you played on the Butch Harmon Tour?
BILL LUNDE: I won six out of 11.
Q. And other than that, during the course of your professional career, how much success have you had anywhere winning tournaments?
BILL LUNDE: I won one tournament on the Hooters Tour, and I won on the Gateway Tour over in Phoenix. I've had some success winning.
Q. And lastly, what did your caddie do for you this week?
BILL LUNDE: You know, I meet Jeff in Richmond, a mutual friend, he wanted to come out and work and a little change of pace for him. You know, it was just another week and we were able to win here in his hometown and I know he'll have some fun with that.
It's just the same thing every week. You don't really approach weeks differently whether it's a big purse or a smaller purse. It's just kind of a routine thing you do playing professional golf and so it was wasn't anything different. We like the golf course and I think we both agreed that it suited my style to play well, and you know, fortunately it worked out in the end that I came out on top.
MARK WILLIAMS: Are you planning on playing the next couple of weeks?
BILL LUNDE: I'm playing next week at Omaha, and I'm taking Wichita that off.
MARK WILLIAMS: Let's go over the card. The second hole, you talked about that already, double-bogey there. How long was the putt that you missed there?
BILL LUNDE: Probably a 10- or 12-footer for bogey. Parred 3. 4, the par 5, I hit in the green-side bunker and knocked it to probably six, eight feet and made it for birdie, which was nice after the double.
11, I hit a great drive down the middle of the fairway and picked the wrong club, 30 yards short of the pin in the bunker and actually hit a great bunker shot to have a good chance of making a putt and had a 10-footer and missed it.
12, I hit driver down the middle and hit a 4-iron, kind of landed on the back third of the green, skipped through and chipped it up there to probably five feet and made it.
15, I hit it right in the middle of the fairway. Was kind of in-between clubs, so I was doing the right thing, close the longer one. Really thought I hit a good shot there and I came up just short and rolled into a bunker, didn't have the greatest lie in the bunker; in my opinion, a poor rake job and had a big pile of sand behind my ball. And when I hit it, it bounced and caught it a little thin and scurried right over the green and made a great up-and-down for bogey just to keep the momentum and kind of hang in there.
MARK WILLIAMS: How long was that putt there?
BILL LUNDE: It was probably six, eight feet.
MARK WILLIAMS: And then 3-putted next.
BILL LUNDE: 3-putted the par 4. Made a great up-and-down on 17. Hit kind of a so-so bunker shot to eight feet and made the putt.
MARK WILLIAMS: 30-footer from the last just off the green.
BILL LUNDE: Yeah, chipped in from 30 feet.
MARK WILLIAMS: How long was the approach on 18?
BILL LUNDE: 150 to the pin, so I was trying to actually land it about 135.
MARK WILLIAMS: Thank you, congratulations.