Olympia’s Andres Gonzales is a kinder, happier, more confident professional golfer these days.
Because of his stellar play on the Web.com Tour, including a win earlier this summer at the Utah Championship, the Capital High School graduate knows he has his ticket punched to play on the PGA Tour next season.
Good or bad — winning or losing — it is difficult to imagine Gonzales ever being a downer wherever he is playing golf. Because of his outgoing personality, he is well-liked by his peers.
And by the support he received Monday for his third charity event at Tacoma Country and Golf Club — 12 other PGA Tour and Web.com Tour professionals played in the tournament — it is obvious he is greatly respected, too.
“It was tough this year with the guys,” Gonzales said. “Something you learn is the timing of it and not putting it right around the (PGA Tour and Web.com) playoffs, but maybe a week before or a few weeks after. It is a learning process.”
Gonzales slotted this year’s tournament on the Monday of the week the Web.com Tour comes to Portland for the its final regular-season stop — the WinCo Foods Portland Open at Witch Hollow at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.
Next week is the start of the four-tournament Web.com Tour Playoff Finals.
The charity event, which raises money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the First Tee of South Sound, started at 11 a.m. in a shotgun pro-am “shamble” format. It was followed by a dinner and auction.
Some of the names who attended:
• The headliner Monday was big-hitting Jason Gore, a former PGA Tour winner who is fighting to get back on the regular tour. He is currently 17th on the Web.com Tour money list.
Gore just finished the News Sentinel Open on Sunday in Knoxville, Tennessee. He took a red-eye flight to Sea-Tac Airport, and did not get into his hotel room until 4 a.m. Monday.
“I wouldn’t do it for that many people, but Andres is on it,” Gore said. “I am pretty beat right now. Hopefully my (pro-am) team is patient with me because I am not playing very good golf today.”
• Gonzales did secure the two most prolific names on the Web.com Tour to play Monday — money leader Carlos Ortiz, of Mexico ($371,403), and second-place Andrew Putnam, of University Place ($320,438).
• And the Northwest contingent of professionals has always supported this tournament well. Besides Putnam, Tacoma’s Troy Kelly, Bremerton’s Connor Robbins and RMG Club at Oakbrook professional Neil Bitow also were in the field.
Puyallup’s Ryan Moore and University Place’s Michael Putnam had played in previous Gonzales’ charity events (2011-12), but they were unavailable this season because they start the FedEx Cup playoffs this week in New Jersey.
“He is one of those guys people gravitate toward,” Kelly said. “When you go to a tournament, when he walks across a green, everyone knows him, just because he talks, and he is nice and he’s outgoing. He has got the right personality … and he is playing good golf to back it up.”
The past two Gonzales charity tournaments have raised approximately $130,000 for cancer research and the local youth golf chapter.
“(Cancer research) is very personal to me. My dad (Fred) passed away in 2007 to pancreatic cancer, and my wife’s grandfather did in 2001,” Gonzales said. “And for the First Tee, it is phenomenal a game I grew up playing can instill so many life values as far as integrity, and honor and truth-telling.
“I am in a position where I can do what I love, so there is no other option but to give back.”
The winning team of professional Spencer Levin (75) and amateurs Jason Stockton, John Post, Bob Bethke and Mark Bergman shot 25-under 119. The low professional score was Justin Thomas (68), followed by Andrew Putnam and Kelly at 70. … Some of the noteworthy items for the auction included a Rickie Fowler-autographed Puma hat; a Jordan Spieth-autographed flag from this year’s PGA Championship; two British Open flags signed by Phil Mickelson; Seahawks gear signed by receiver Doug Baldwin and defensive lineman Red Bryant; and two UNLV-logo golf bags from Gonzales’ personal stash.