Bauer drives toward PGA

By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Correspondent
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By Ray Hacke Journal Sports Correspondent Patrick Bauer knows he’s got some dues to pay before he makes it on the PGA Tour. “I’ve got some buddies working their way up on the mini-tours right now,” the Colfax High graduate said. Still, given all he’s accomplished in four years of college golf at Sonoma State, Bauer believes he’s got as good a chance of making it as anyone – and so does his coach. “He could be one of the most accomplished athletes Sonoma State’s ever had,” Seawolves coach Val Verhunce said. Indeed, Bauer finished each of his first three seasons as an NCAA Division II All-American – and Verhunce believes it’s likely he’ll make it a fourth. Bauer also led Sonoma State to an NCAA championship in 2009, when he finished third at the Division II nationals. “That’ll be one of my most memorable experiences when I look back on my college career for sure,” Bauer said of the NCAA team title. This season Bauer is averaging 71.6 strokes per round – two below his previous season-best average (72.10). The senior averaged 70.5 strokes during the fall portion of Sonoma State’s 2010-11 schedule. In eight tournaments Bauer has finished in the top four six times, the top three five times and won once, taking medalist honors at the Western Washington Invitational back in September. He has yet to place lower than eighth. “Since his first year, when he was a freshman, Pat approached the game in a more mature manner than some seniors at that particular time,” Verhunce said. “That’s what you need for your scores to be consistent, and that’s what you need to be an All-American.” Bauer’s maturity is reflected in the way he responds after bad shots, holes or rounds. “He can get four or five bogeys on the first six holes and still finish under par,” Verhunce said. “As soon as he figures out how to get on track, he’s all right. A lot of players just give up. He likes the challenge of coming all the way back.” Bauer won his first tournament as a sophomore back in 2009. That victory gave him the confidence that he could be consistently successful. And though he’s only won two tournaments since, he’s consistently been in the hunt. “I used to go into events just trying to put up decent numbers,” Bauer said. “After that (first win), I went in thinking, ‘How am I going to win this?’” Bauer admits his game can still use some work – particularly his putting and his short game. “He can use a few more tricks in his bag as far as shotmaking,” Verhunce said. Yet if there’s anyone willing to put in the work, it’s Bauer. Although he majored in business – with a concentration in marketing – with an eye toward life after golf, he’s not prepared for life after golf just yet. “I’ve been playing golf my whole life,” Bauer said. “It’s tough to envision myself not being involved in that. You can make a pretty decent living at it if you play well enough. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t believe I had a decent chance. “I’m going to give it five or six years, and if things are going as planned, I’ll stick with it. If not, I’ll do something else.” Verhunce is certainly pulling for him. “I’d love to see him on TV on Sundays,” the coach said. ______________________________________________________ UP CLOSE WITH BAUER Graduated from: Colfax High (2007) Currently attending: Sonoma State University Year: Senior Sport: Golf Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 165 pounds Major: Business (marketing concentration) Notable: Aiming for NCAA Division II All-American honors for the fourth consecutive year; won the Western Washington Invitational in late September and has finished in the top five in five events since then, including four top-three finishes; is averaging a career-low 71.6 strokes per round; helped Sonoma State win an NCAA title in 2009, when he finished third at the Division II nationals; hopes to pursue a career on the PGA Tour.