"Just signed up for the @ntrustopen qualifier, but you have NO IDEA how stoked I'd be to get a sponsors invitation! #myhometown #mymajor." This unassuming tweet by Jason Gore (@jasongore59) on January 8th, was the catalyst that ultimately earned him a sponsors invitation into the 2012 Northern Trust Open (February 13-19 at Riviera Country Club). Being a good person is what sealed his invitation.
If you know anything about Jason Gore at all, you probably know that he shot an 84 during the final round of the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst #2, while playing in the final pairing with Retief Goosen (who shot 81). What you probably do not know about Jason, is that he went on to win his next two Nationwide Tour events and earn the 7th ever "Battlefield" promotion (a mid-season promotion) from the Nationwide Tour onto the PGA Tour. You probably also had no idea that in doing so, he shot one of only three 59s in Nationwide Tour history, and that September, earned his first victory on the PGA Tour at The 84 Lumber Classic. You also likely had no clue that Jason almost failed to card during the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at East Lake do to a prior commitment on the Nationwide Tour. Moreover, I bet most of you, if you do not already know Jason, have no idea just how good of a person he really is. Thanks in part to Twitter, you will all now know.
I recently spoke with Jason about how he uses Twitter to connect with his fans, and how that all translated into a fan supported Twitter campaign to earn him a sponsors invitation to the 2012 Northern Trust Open. "Sometimes as athletes, we are not portrayed as 'regular' people. I think twitter brings followers into our daily lives and shows that we have the same issues and interests as they do. Athletes become actually human," Jason said.
On April 9, 2010, Jason signed up for Twitter at the nudging of his buddies Kevin Harvick (@kevinharvick) and Josh Jones (@mother_function). "I always made fun of people on Twitter thinking, why do I want to know where you are and what you are doing." But Jason, through the help of Kevin and Josh, quickly earned a large following, and began to embrace and better understand the power and uniqueness of Twitter.
When Jason sent his tweet in January, like all of the other 1,467 tweets he's sent, he thought nothing of it. "All I wanted to do was let Northern Trust (@NTrustOpen) know I was thinking about them. I never meant it to blow up the way it did. It just proves the power of social media. It's amazing how small our world has become." And thanks to the campaigning efforts of Eric Magidson (@ericmagidson), @ghostofhogan and others, the Twitter campaign to get Jason a sponsors invitation to the 2012 Northern Trust Open was officially on. Four days later, on January 12th, from their twitter account, the NTRS Corp. awarded Jason an exemption into the 2012 Northern Trust Open: "NTRS Corp. awards seasoned @PGATOUR pro & local fan fav @JasonGore59 w/ @NTrustOpen Exemption. Congrats, Jason!"
When I asked Jason his reaction to all of this, he said he "watched the entire thing unfold and was just floored by the whole thing. It was amazing to watch. I can't thank everyone enough for their support and kind words that everyone expressed". On behalf of all of your friends, fans and Twitter followers, I say thank you Jason. Thank you for being, as you say, "actually human." Thank you for getting to know your fans, and for using Twitter not as a broadcasting booth, but as a place to interact with and appreciate your fans. Thank you for accepting your way into the Northern Trust Open with humility, and not acting as though it was an entitlement. We can only hope that more professional athletes adopt your model for using Twitter, and in doing so, make it the norm, rather than the exception. Now, with all that said, go win the 2012 @NTrustOpen!
Author's Note: I'm certain you did not know that Jason played junior golf with Carson Daly!