Three short years ago, Bill Lunde was out of golf. Now, at 34, he has broken through for his first PGA Tour victory at the Turning Stone Resort Championship.
Capping a wild, exciting week of ever-changing weather conditions and low scores at Atunyote Golf Club in Verona, Lunde nearly missed the cut, then charged on the weekend to a one-shot victory over a fast-closing J.J. Henry.
Lunde fired a 17-under-par total of 271, pouring in what proved to be the winning birdie on the 16th hole of Sunday's final round. Of course, just being in that position was remarkable, given what happened to Lunde's golfing career.
A top amateur player coming out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Lunde first made his mark in Upstate New York by advancing to the semifinals of the 1998 United States Amateur played at Oak Hill near Rochester.
Soon after, Lunde turned pro, but he said years of struggles on the big tours left him tired of golf and hating the game. So, after falling short at the 2005 qualifying school, he quit and went to work in the housing industry, only to lose his job there when the market collapsed.
Lunde said it took that time away from golf to reclaim his love for the game. And so he returned in 2007, first succeeding on the mini-tours in the West, then going to the Nationwide Tour in 2008 and winning a tournament there, ultimately finishing fifth on the money list to earn his PGA Tour card.
After he kept his card in 2009 (with a best finish of a tie for fourth in Nevada), Lunde was again struggling this year, never finishing better than a tie for 10th in two events in Puerto Rico and Reno-Tahoe. Despite this, he said he felt good about his game heading to Turning Stone, though early on it sure didn't work.