Bob Niger Turns Pro
11 Jan 2008

CARLSBAD, California (January 11, 2008) – You heard it here first. Bob Niger is giving California amateurs another break in 2008, this time not by being sidelined by an injury (which he was for all but one month of 2007), but by turning pro. It will be the second attempt at professional golf for the El Dorado Hills, California resident.

And I like his chances this time.

When I started amateurgolf.com, I saw Niger’s name in the top 10 of big events so often that I couldn’t resist calling him a “journeyman” every time I wrote about him. In 2006, Niger broke out of that role, at least in my eyes, with a year that included victories in four amateurgolf.com events (always played at tough venues); qualifying for the US Amateur at Hazeltine and wins at the State Fair, the NCGA Valley Amateur and the prestigious Stocker Cup. And I'm sure I missed some.

He finished the year well on top of the amateurgolf.com-Bridgestone Golf California Player Rankings, and travelled to several “young gun” events like the Porter Cup in Niagara Falls, NY (T18), the Terra Cotta Invitational (T2), the Harvey Penick Invitational (3rd), and the Southwestern Am (T10) where he showed that he had the game to play against top college players despite spotting them close to 30 years. At the end of the year, Niger was ranked 12th nationally in the amateurgolf.com-Bridgestone Golf Player Rankings.

Niger is known for playing mistake-free golf through a combination of talent and a relentless preparation routine. He had been nursing a wrist injury through all but one month of 2007, and now that things are on the right track he’s going to try and earn a Canadian Tour card, and play as much pro golf as he can before he turns 50 in March of 2010.

It's a smart move given the difficulty in getting a spot on the "Champions Tour" these days. Two years of preparation at the pro level are likely to do wonders for Niger's game.

I played a practice round at San Diego’s Steele Canyon with Bob this week, as he prepares for the Canadian Tour qualifier.

Does he know what he’s up against? Absolutely.

“I actually like it that these guys don’t make any mistakes,” said Niger, after an uncharacteristically poor chip shot (it was the only time he didn’t hit a solid pitch or chip all day). “In amateur golf, I have made a few mistakes like that and still won tournaments. Not out here.”

In his first tournament as a pro, a Golden State Tour event, Niger shot 74 with 72 finishing in the money. Considering an 11 month layoff and the recent California rains, it was a confidence-building start. It’s evident playing with him that he takes it easy on the wrist, but as our round progressed he started working the tee ball in both directions, hitting every green and just missing one fairway on the final nine.

And does the long putter still work? You bet. “That’s the one thing I COULD practice,” he said, after draining a curling downhill birdie putt.

I won’t mention the assault that Niger made on my wallet. Let’s just say I’m happy the skins were only $1 and the match was $5. He wanted a medal play bet, but I was having no part of that…

-- reported by Pete Wlodkowski

note: To view Bob Niger's amateurgolf.com profile, click here>

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