McCabe: Top 15 a triumph for Estes

Bob Estes reacts to his second shot on the sixth hole during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Bob Estes reacts to his second shot on the sixth hole during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Bob Estes didn’t leave Pebble Beach with his fifth PGA Tour title, although he feels as if he won something significant. By sharing 15th place and earning $102,400, Estes piled up enough money during his medical extension to regain full-exempt status.

Give Estes credit: He had taken out an insurance policy, of sorts, by going through Q-School in case he fell short of the money total. But now that he has achieved the money total (he needed to make $74,000 in three events; he made $158,400), he can breathe easier.

“It’s been a long climb,” said Estes, who played only 12 times last year after having undergone wrist surgery at the end of 2010.

Turned down for a sponsor exemption into the Feb. 16-19 Northern Trust Open, Estes shook off the disappointment by shooting 8 under and making only seven bogeys at the AT&T.

Now 46, Estes talks like a young pro, not a grizzled veteran who has won four times on Tour. He credits his work with instructor Jim Flick for rejuvenating his game, and he couldn’t wait to tee it up at Pebble Beach “to test what I’ve been working on with Jim.”

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