BANGOR – Most of the golfers in this week’s Greater Bangor Open have their sights set in a particular direction.
Either they are trying to gain experience as they move up the tournament ladder toward the PGA Tour or they’re working to regain their position on the ladder.
Then there is another group with a different outlook – a feeling of well-being not unlike that felt by many of the weekend amateurs who play the game.
David Correll of Baltimore falls into that last group heading into Thursday’s first round of the 54-hole tournament that will be played through Saturday at the Bangor Municipal Golf Course.
“This is like a vacation for me,” said Correll, 34, after taking his three swings Wednesday in the driving contest.
While he would take a shot at the PGA Tour if it came his way, Correll just hopes to take home a good check from the $50,000 event.
So do the other pros, including defending champion Jason Widener of Durham, N.C., in this week’s field of 180 golfers. Widener shot a 71 in Wednesday’s pro-am.
“I look at it as a chance to make a good payday,” said Correll, whose wife Monica presented him with a son, David III, on Feb. 15. “I’m thinking college (fund).”
But don’t get the idea he isn’t serious about playing.
Correll shot a smooth 8-under-par 63 to tie for the low round Wednesday. His score was matched only by Victor Leoni of Miami, Fla.
Because of the addition to the family, Correll tries to make the most of his practice time.
“I have more intensified practice now,” said Correll. “If I have two hours set aside, then I work hard for those two hours.”
Correll, stocky, balding prematurely, and gregarious, has had to practice a lot lately because he hasn’t played much.
“This is my first complete round since the (U.S.) Open qualifying in mid-May,” said Correll.
Correll teaches at his own golf instruction business, Athletic Golf Instruction, which makes it a little easier to get in practice time.
While he played a decent front nine Wednesday, making the tupar 32, he knew Bill VanOrman of Carmel, N.Y., was playing exceptionally well. In fact, VanOrman was 7 under par through the first eight holes.
“I was motivated by VanOrman,” said Correll. “I see the ball rolling through us on one hole, then he sticks it in tight on the next hole, and hits it tight again on the next one.”
“I said to myself, `If he’s seven (under), then I’ve got to “I said to myself, `If he’s seven (under), then I’ve got to be eight or nine. Maybe he won’t shoot 10 under,’ ” said Correll, which is exactly what happened.
Correll birdied 12, 14, 15, 16, and 18 for a 31 on the back. VanOrman parred through 15, then birdied 16 to get to eight under, but bogeyed 18 to fall one back.
“That’s the nature of the game,” said Correll. “If somebody shoots 63, they think someone else will shoot 62. If you shoot 62, then you think someone will shoot 61.”
What’s interesting about his success is that he basically gave up the game for eight years.
“I started playing when I was 14,” said Correll. “When I was 15, I was a 1 handicap. I played ’til I was 19, then stopped. I got married at 19 and started my own business.”
Correll was in the wholesale tire business, but he wasn’t happy.
“I missed the challenge of the game,” said Correll, who had let his game lapse. “And I hated being mediocre.
“I got to a fork where I had to decide between the business or playing well.”
He picked golf because with his tire business, he said, “Every day I was doing something I hated.”
At 27 he started playing seriously again. At 29 he won the Maryland amateur championship, and in 1990 he turned pro. He has owned the instruction business for three years.
“I haven’t gotten rich, but it’s rewarding,” he said.