Date: December 07, 2019
Author: John Huggan @ The Australian

THE CHASER: Tringale stays in Open mix

Cameron Tringale will start the final round of the 104th Australian Open with only one man – Matt Jones – above him on the leader board. Which is a big deal for the 32-year old American on his first visit Down Under.

A professional since 2010 on the back of a stellar amateur career that saw the California-native gain All-American honours three years in succession at Georgia Tech University and line-up alongside Rickie Fowler on the 2009 US Walker Cup side, Tringale has only once won a tournament while playing for cash. And even that was a team-event. In 2014 he paired with Jason Day to win something called the Franklin Templeton Shoot-out.

  None of which was bothering Tringale during a third round 69 at The Australian, one that took him to 10-under par and three-shots back of the 54-hole leader, Matt Jones. Four birdies dotted the Tringale scorecard — the last courtesy of a neat recovery from sand alongside the elusive 18th green — outnumbering two dropped shots at the third and 15th. 

  “I managed my round pretty well,” he said. “It was tricky at times in the wind. It was swirling pretty good. So I did the best with what I could do. A few shots had me scratching my head. But I was able to recover most of the time. I’m pitching, chipping and putting well, although I hope I won’t need so much of that tomorrow.” 

  In truth, Tringale’s career has forever been one of ups-and-downs. Twice he has saved his card at the PGA Tour qualifying school; twice more his reprieve came via the Korn Ferry Tour finals. Don’t feel too badly for him though. In 270 PGA Tour starts – his best finishes a trio of runner-ups – he has earned more than $11m. And this year has definitely represented one of his “ups.”

After ending 2018 ranked a subterranean 585th in the world, Tringale has already risen a remarkable 329 spots.

  So the management graduate’s presence at the sharp end of Australia’s national championship isn’t exactly a huge surprise. This is a man who is playing nicely — and has been for a while. In all six of the events in which he has competed during the still-fledgling 2019-20 PGA Tour season, Tringale has made the cut and played on the weekend. Three times he has finished in the top-20. And in 21 of those 24 rounds he shot par or better. 

  “I’ll need a good score tomorrow, but it depends on the weather,” he continued. “A couple-under was a good round today, so you never know. And yes, I’ve been playing well recently. I’ve chilled-out a bit. My whole game has really improved, especially my driving. Tee-to-green I’ve just been so much better. Which has given me confidence, especially when the wind is blowing like it was today. I know I can hit the shots I need to hit.

  “I’m excited about the final round. I see it as a great opportunity for me. This where I wanted to be and hoped to be. I’m looking forward to it, even if most of the crowd will be in Matt’s favour. I’ll just try to enjoy it play some good golf.” 

  One last thing. Win or lose in the final round, Tringale will forever be a man of honour, one worth barracking for over the closing 18-holes. Back in 2014, five days after thinking he had finished T-33 in the U.S. PGA Championship at Valhalla, Tringale reported a scorecard error that occurred during the final round. 

  “I contacted the PGA of America and asked to be disqualified,” he said at the time. “I signed for a bogey 4 on the par-3 11th hole. But while approaching the hole to tap in my three-inch bogey putt, the putter swung over the ball prior to tapping in.

Realising that there could be doubt that the swing could or should have been a stroke, I spoke with the PGA of America and shared with them my conclusion that the stroke should have been recorded.”

  Top man. And, you never know, tomorrow he just might be the top player too.