Deutsche Bank: Oberholser had a chance to step from the shadows

Tim Geary

The focus all day had been on the two guys playing up ahead. The vast majority of the 25,000 fans who packed the grounds at TPC Boston Monday were focused on the play of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

It was as though it was a two-man duel for the Deutsche Bank Championship, and Arron Oberholser and his playing partner, Brett Wetterich, were nothing more than window dressing.

It didn't matter that Wetterich and Oberholser were in the day's final group, that Wetterich was the third round leader entering Monday, that Wetterich was tied with Woods, and Oberholser as shot ahead of him. Only a handful of patrons thought them worthy of their attention, and that was probably because they had given up at trying to see the two superstars.

"We had a Nationwide Tour gallery, but it was still a lot of fun," laughed Oberholser, who was in still in position to force a playoff when he stood in the 18th fairway, 219 yards from the green, with a 4-iron in his hand and a very realistic chance at making an eagle.

Wetterich, who finished in a tie for second with both Woods and Oberholser at 14-under par, had very little chance. He was three behind Mickelson when he was getting ready to hit his second shot and would have needed to hole out from 206 yards for a double eagle.

Oberholser had the more realistic opportunity. His had been up the right side ("It was perfect," he said), leaving him with a 4-iron into the green.

He aimed it left of the pin, planning to cut his shot in from left to right, but he picked the absolute worst time to hit the ball perfectly.

It went straight as an arrow, bounced over the green and disappeared in the high rough, giving him almost no chance at chipping it in for the eagle that would have forced a playoff.

"I was a little disappointed when I saw the lie because it really didn't give me an opportunity to get the chip started where I needed to," he explained. "It was going to be lucky if I got enough club on the ball and got the chip started where I needed to put the right pace on it and do all the right stuff to make that chip shot."

After a talk with his caddy, he made a good attempt at his birdie putt from eight feet, one that would have given him sole possession of second place and a bundle more cash had it dropped.

It didn't. "I hit that putt exactly where I wanted to," he said. "I thought I read it perfectly and somebody's big, old size-12 spike mark got in the way and the ball didn't break."

It's been quite the year for Arron Oberholser. He won his first PGA Tour event earlier this year at Pebble Beach and came into this event ranked 67th in the FedEx Cup points standing. He walked away from this tournament ranked 29th, assured of playing next week in Chicago and in great position to reach the Tour Championship in Atlanta in two weeks. And more importantly both he and Wetterich added $522,666 to their respective bank accounts.

Oberholser has done all of this despite being injured most of the year.

First it was a bad back. Then when that began to feel better, he broke a bone in the heel of his right hand, had to adjust his swing, and that resulted in some tendentious in his left elbow.

He never spoke of his injuries, never made any excuses. He played four wonderful rounds of golf and was in a great position to win the tournament at the end.

If he was intimidated by the presence of Woods and Mickelson it never showed.

"I gave those guys 67s before the day even started," he said. "When I woke up this morning (I was) saying they're going to shoot 67 so no use thinking about it. Just go out and play your game. "This is my rush. Some guys bungee jump and some guys paraglide and do crazy stuff. Coming down the stretch with three or four to play and you've got a chance to win a golf tournament with arguably the greatest player that's ever lived and one of the greatest players of this century, in Phil, to have a chance to beat those guys, it's a pretty cool feeling."

Oberholser felt that if he played the way he had for the first three rounds he'd be fine.

"I didn't putt the way I wanted to today," he said. "I hit some great putts that didn't go in."

He was both disappointed and proud.

"On that back nine I really held it together well. I was pretty nervous coming down the stretch, knowing that I had a chance."