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Saturday, July 17, 2010

No Excuses...

When I left Swainsboro three weeks ago, my expectations were high and I was excited to get back to work. Unfortunately, my body and the amount of rust I gathered from my two week layoff didn't feel the same way. I failed to make a cut and I decided to take this week off to rest and rehab my ailing hip and back. As you know, I am extremely competitive and I don't accept failure. Regardless of how my body feels or how much rust my golf game accumulates, I expect to play well each and every week. My body is not even close to 100% and for good reason. I have played in almost as many tournaments this year as I did in all of 2009 and according to my calendar, it is only July. I chose to withdraw from this week's event in Reno, Nevada, at the last moment because I figured my body could use the extra rest. My goal is to be as healthy as I can when the FedEx Cup Playoffs begin in late August and in order to achieve this, rest and rehab are a must. If I buckle down and play well during the Playoffs, I can end my season early and enjoy an extra month or so of the off season. We will see how it plays out. However, regardless of what happens, an aching body isn't an excuse or a reason to play bad golf. I expect to succeed regardless of the circumstances or adversity that I face. Fortunately, I did have spurts during the last three weeks where I felt my game was turning the corner. The only problem was that those spurts were usually interrupted and derailed by either a bad swing or a missed putt. Hopefully this off week will give my body some extra time to rehab and I will be back to normal next week in Canada.

Despite the horrible display of golf over the last three weeks, things weren't all bad. My family was able to join me for the first week in Connecticut as well as the last week in Illinois. I certainly wanted them at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois, but after Jake's week of being sick in Connecticut, I wasn't sure if they would be able to attend. Jake's ear infection was gone but I was still concerned about the pressure the flight might have on his ears. Beth assured me that he would be fine and when they boarded the plane in Swainsboro, Jake was excited and ready to fly to the home of John Deere. For those of you who have never met my wild three year old son, his world revolves around golf, tractors, trucks, and excavators. It certainly is a blessing that his PaPa (Beth's dad) has a great deal of equipment just four miles down the road. He loves riding on his PaPa's toys and I knew he would really enjoy the John Deere Classic. When they arrived at the airport, I was there waiting on them. We loaded everything up and after dropping their suitcases off in the room, we immediately headed to the golf course so Jake and I could hit golf balls. As an added bonus, the roads leading to the golf course clubhouse were lined with every piece of John Deere equipment imaginable. Jake of course begged me to stop the car so he could ride everything. Luckily, he got his fair share of equipment riding. Each year the tournament puts on a player only event at the John Deere Test Site called the Big Dig. They had hats, shirts, and toys for everyone as well as small riding equipment for the kids. Jake has a John Deere Gator at our house and he was by far the expert on the battery operated equipment. However, his biggest thrill came when we were allowed to operate the huge excavator and front-end loader. I really was suprised that they let everyone operate the equipment without a "real" John Deere expert on board. I honestly figured I would see a runaway bulldozer or tractor at any moment! Thankfully that never happened. We had a great time and even though he can ride his PaPa's equipment whenever he wants, he really enjoyed the John Deere Test Site. In fact, he got so many gifts that we had a difficult time convincing him that we had to go home. And believe me, that is an almost impossible task for a three year old who is obsessed with John Deere.

This week I am back home spending time with my family as we move in our new home. We have been anxiously awaiting this week for quite some time. Thankfully all of our furniture was already moved inside when we arrived Sunday night. Jake loves his new "big boy" room and he enjoys giving everyone a tour. Libby is growing up so fast and changing everyday. She laughs and smiles all the time and only wakes up once during the night to eat. Thankfully, she looks like Jake and Beth's baby pictures. I leave this Sunday for the Canadian Open and unfortunately my family will not be attending. I hate to leave them but I know they will be ok without me. I will be gone for two weeks and then I will re-evaluate my health and plan my schedule from there. Hopefully my body will be back to normal and good golf is right around the corner.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Solution for More Family Time.....

Is there a price tag for spending more time with your family when your job requires so much time on the road? My answer is simply, no. As I look back over the past three years of Jake's life and the short two months of Libby's life, I cannot help but think about all that I have missed. From first steps and words to skinned up knees, I have missed a large part of Jake's life. And as I wrote about last week, I missed the first four and a half weeks of Libby's six week life. Pretty tough to swallow. However as much my job has taken away, it has also allowed Beth to spend everyday at home. And for that, I cannot complain. I will gladly trade my time on the road for the positive influence that my wife has on our children on a daily basis. Please don't misunderstand this, I love my job and I am very excited about the state of my career and the path in which it is heading. But at the same time, is anything worth missing your kids grow up? Definitely, no. Fortunately, I believe that I have found a solution that will allow me to see my family more often. My "solution" will allow me to travel to and from tournaments a lot more quickly and will immediately eliminate the aggravation of long lines, endless waits in terminals, and the almost always delayed flights.

My first "solution" test began last Monday as I prepared to leave for the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut. As you know, I took the previous two weeks off from tournament play in order to rest and rehab. I spent both weeks at home and barely even practiced. In fact, I never stepped foot on a golf course. My "practice" consisted of a few wedges in the yard with Jake and I for one, am not real sure if that qualifies as practice! However, I needed to rest my body for the long season ahead and I accomplished that goal. I felt great on Monday and I was anxious to get back to work. Fortunately, my family decided to make the trip to Connecticut with me. My "solution" was about to be tested and I couldn't wait for our trip to begin. Normally when I fly to a tournament, I have to drive almost three hours to the Atlanta Airport or just over an hour to the Savannah Airport. However, on Monday morning my family and I drove 10 minutes to the Swainsboro Airport and boarded my "solution", a private airplane. This particular jet was big enough for five passengers and for once, we didn't have to fight traffic, long lines, or security. We boarded the plane and headed to Connecticut. The flight lasted a little over two hours and Jake really enjoyed having his tractors, trucks, and planes all around him as he watched a movie. He was able to walk around and do as he pleased. When we landed in Connecticut, a courtesy car from the Travelers Championship was waiting only a few yards from the plane. Not a bad way to travel. However, my "solution" definitely opened a huge can of worms! Beth couldn't quit smiling and kept commenting on how easy and smooth the plane made our travel. And of course, Jake told me he didn't like big airplanes anymore! Great. How will I ever get them on a Delta again??? Although there still will be times that we will fly commercially, Beth sure is grateful to my agent for helping us with this amazing deal so that she and the kids can fly more regularly. Traveling by yourself is no easy task especially when Jake gets motion sick so badly. I hope that we will be able to continue to use this company to ease the travel for my family.

The week began as expected. My golf game was full of rust and I had a two week layoff to thank for it. I practiced hard on Monday and Jake had a blast hitting balls on the range late in the day. On Tuesday, my normal practice round pairing welcomed a new member. Vijay Singh joined Kenny Perry, Boo, and myself. Somehow, the Rookie in the group took home the most number of Skins and his wallet was rewarded. We had a great time and there were a ton of laughs. I practiced hard on Wednesday but unfortunately I couldn't quite shake the rust by Thursday. I made a lot of silly bogeys and ended the day with a wonderful round of 76. Definitely not the start I wanted. I played a little better on Friday and after a round of 68, I failed to make the weekend. However, dispite my frustrations on the golf course, I had more pressing issues on my mind. Jake began feeling bad on Tuesday night and woke up Wednesday morning with a fever and the throw ups. To make matters worse, his throw up was full of blood. We rushed him to the doctor and he ran several tests on Jake. He determined Jake had an ear infection and the blood was a result of drainage and irritation in his throat. He ran a fever off and on for the remainder of the week and his ear gave him trouble everyday. The initial plan was for the family to join me for three weeks. However, due to Jake's situation, I scheduled us a flight home Saturday morning at 8:30am. We flew for about two hours before landing back at the Swainsboro Airport. I spent the night at home and then boarded the same plane Sunday morning for Philadelphia. I hated to leave my family behind but I knew Jake would rest better under his own roof.

This week I am just outside of Philadelphia in Newtown Square, Pennsylvannia for the AT&T National. This tournament is referred to as "Tiger's Tournament" because he oversees everything and it benefits the Tiger Woods Children's Foundation. We are playing at Aronimink Golf Club and the course is phenomenal. The greens are lighting fast and the rough is some of the thickest we have played all year. I played the course on Monday and walked away excited about the layout and the difficulty that this course brings. I still have a little rust but not near as much as last week. Hopefully this week will be better and I will return to my old form. However, if for some reason I don't play well, I know my family is just a short flight away. A flight that thankfully, will be without the long lines, endless waits in terminals, and the always, always delayed flights.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Georgia On My Mind....

I normally try and update this site on either Tuesday or Wednesday of each week. However, as most of you probably figured out, I did not play last week in Memphis. I basically pushed everything aside so I could spend a lot of time with my family. Other than the one night they flew to Dallas, I had not seen my family in over four weeks!! I finally have been able to spend some quality time with them. Since I left over a month ago, Beth has been trying to juggle life with two kids and I know it has been difficult. Her parents have been a tremendous help and we are very grateful and fortunate to have them just a few miles down the road. My little buddy, Jake, turned 3 on June 7th and he hasn't left my side. Beth told me that for weeks he walked around the house holding a picture of the two of us. She found him several times with it laying next to his dump trucks as he played. She said he would act like I was there playing with him! The thought still breaks my heart and you cannot imagine how ready I was to get home. As for Libby, unfortunately she didn't really know me when I got home and for good reason. I missed four and a half weeks of the first 6 weeks of her life. Pretty sad. And everyone thinks that life on the road is great!

As I told you week before last, the greens at the Memorial were extremely fast on Monday and some of the putts were impossible to stop. Like every tournament on the PGA Tour, as the week progresses, the green speed does as well. I approached Thursday morning's round with two goals in mind. First, I wanted to stay below every hole to insure that I would have a slower and more manageable uphill putt. And secondly, I wanted to avoid having a three putt. Well, on my second hole of the day, both of these goals were officially, toast! I played the par 5 (11th hole) perfectly from tee to green but unfortunately I left my approach shot about 15 feet above the hole. The slope of the green was very gradual and not very steep at all. But of course, it was still downhill. All I wanted to do was just get the ball rolling. I promise you, I just tapped it. As the ball left my putter, it began to pick up speed. And like the Energizer Bunny, it kept going and going and going. It rolled past the hole and when it finally stopped, I had about 10 feet left for par. When my second putt lipped out, my goals for the day went down the drain. As I walked off the green shaking my head, my playing partner, Jason Dufner, smiled and said, "Guess you learned you can't be above the hole!" He went on to say that the greens at this week were faster than the greens at Augusta National! He played in the Masters this year and said they were at least three feet faster. For those of you that don't know a lot about golf, three feet on a putting green is a lot! I later heard Ernie Els say the exact same thing on the Golf Channel. There is no doubt in my mind, that for the first six holes, the greens at the Memorial were the fastest greens that I have ever putted on. It was similar to putting on your kitchen table and trying to stop the ball before it fell of the edge. Unfortunately, on my seventh hole, a huge storm rolled in and the rain slowed down the greens. I finished the day at even par and really wish I could have experienced the greens at their maximum speed.

Unfortunately, a tired and aggravated hip played a major factor in my round on Friday. I spent a lot of time during the week in the rehab trailer with my normal treatment as well as some extra work. Four straight weeks of golf without an off day finally caught up to me and I was feeling the effects. Last year at this point in the season, I had competed in only 6 tournaments. So far this year? 16! I knew my hip was over worked and it needed some rest. I unfortunately was forced to withdraw from the Sectional Qualifier of the U.S. Open. This was extremely disappointing because all I needed was two solid rounds of golf and I could have competed in my first Major. Not to mention that this year's U.S. Open is at Pebble Beach! Oh well. I had to think long term and a 36 hole, one day qualifier, was probably not the smartest thing to do on a bum hip. The good news was that I was going home to see my family and I couldn't wait!

I haven't hit a golf ball since Friday's round at the Memorial and my hip is feeling pretty good. I will ease into practice this week before heading back on the road Sunday. I am scheduled to play next at the Travelers Championship just outside of Hartford, Connecticut. I am really looking forward to hopefully some cooling weather up north! However, as for now, I cannot wait for tomorrow and another day with my family.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Moving Forward....

As you know, the HP Byron Nelson didn't end exactly as I wanted. I spent Sunday evening staring at the ceiling into the wee hours of the morning. I replayed the entire tournament in my head and unfortunately it kept ending the same way. At 4am, I reached for my phone and read the near 150 texts and emails that many of you sent. I appreciate all the support and to my knowledge, I sent a reply to every one of them. If I missed any, I certainly apologize because my intention was to send a reply to each of you individually.

After a very long night, I woke up Monday morning at 7am and began preparing for my next tournament, The Colonial. Last week was last week and it was time to move on. I definitely beat myself up Sunday evening but Monday was the beginning of a new week. I made the short drive to Fort Worth, Texas, very motivated and determined to improve on my previous finish. I arrived at the infamous Colonial Country Club and eagerly made my way into the clubhouse. Former Fort Worth resident, Ben Hogan, spent a great deal of time at this golf course and his legacy is the face of the tournament. He won the event five times and it quickly became known as “Hogan’s Alley.” The clubhouse is full of his memorabilia and his locker remains untouched from the day he passed away. It is proudly displayed in a glass case for everyone to see. I played my usual practice round with Kenny Perry on Tuesday. He won this event twice and his knowledge around the course is immeasurable. However, it was our conversation about the Byron Nelson that I appreciated more than any course knowledge. He talked about his near wins and mishaps throughout his career and I definitely learned a great deal that day. I cannot thank him enough for his insight and kindness. I am very lucky to have him as a friend.

I entered Thursday’s round determined to not let the Byron Nelson affect how I played in this event. I played solid throughout the day and finished the round in a tie for first place with an opening score of 63. Unfortunately, the putts didn’t fall during the remaining three days and I finished the tournament in a tie for 27th after rounds of 70, 68, 69. However, the support I received during the Colonial was tremendous. People constantly approached me throughout the week and expressed their support for my efforts at the Byron Nelson. This was a very surreal experience and it was odd to have people yell congratulatory remarks across the fairways. It certainly made me realize how many people actually follow golf on a weekly basis.

Immediately following the round, I rode to a small airport with Kenny and his son, Justin. We boarded a private plane and flew to our next event, The Memorial, in Dublin, Ohio. This event is hosted by Jack Nicklaus and everything is first class. He built this tournament from the ground up and it mirrors arguably his favorite event, The Masters. The smallest details are not overlooked and it is already one of my favorite tournaments so far this year. On Monday, Boo and I sat down for lunch and we were immediately joined by Mr. Nicklaus. This was a really neat experience and something I will remember for the rest of my life. I played my Tuesday practice round with Boo and the course was in perfect shape. I was told from several sources that the greens are FASTER than Augusta National’s during The Masters. I believe it! I watched Ernie Els putt his ball off the 10th green during the Wednesday Skins Game. If the greens continue to get faster, it could make for a very interesting week!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Can I Have a Mulligan Please?....

Where do I begin? The HP Byron Nelson was obviously a tournament that I will never forget. Unfortunately, it didn't end the way that I wanted but I definitely learned a lot about myself and I will be better from the experience.

I entered Thursday's round with a great deal of confidence and for the first time all year it was a result of my putter. I put a new TaylorMade Ghost in my bag and for the first three days of practice I putted extremely well. The head of the putter is completely white, which according to TaylorMade's research department, improves alignment because of the color contrast with the greens. I immediately found this to be the case and I couldn't wait for the tournament to begin. On Thursday, I was paired with 16 year old and current US Junior Amateur Champion Jordan Spieth. He was a really nice and talented kid and also a Dallas area resident. His fan support was tremendous. I played pretty good the first two rounds but I was definitely second fiddle to Jordan. He became one of the youngest players to ever make the cut in a PGA Tour event and I was glad I saw it firsthand. After 36 holes, I was tied for the lead with Cameron Beckman at 10 under par. I entered Saturday's round in the final pairing, and like most afternoons in Texas, the wind was howling. The course played extremely difficult and unfortunately I didn't hit the ball as well as I would have liked. I struggled mainly off the tee and eventually finished the round at even par (70), two shots off the lead. Sunday's final round was very similar to Saturday's. I was in the final pairing and, once again, the wind was howling. The crowds were enormous and I was fortunate enough to have several friends and family members on hand. I was paired with Jason Day and we both knew the conditions were going to be difficult. I played decent throughout the day and as I walked to the 18th hole, I found myself only one shot back. The wind was blowing hard from left to right and when my 3wood climbed a little higher than I wanted it too, the wind pushed it into the right rough. After a huge bounce, my ball ended up under a group of trees. However, I had an absolutely perfect angle to the green! I was only 166 yards to the front of the green and I couldn't have asked for a better shot from the trees. My normal ball flight moves from left to right and due to my angle to the green and the surrounding trees, a left to right shot was ideal. I couldn't have placed my ball in a better position. The only problem I had was the fact that my ball was sitting in a low area. These little bowl-like areas are usually created from rain water and unfortunately, my ball was right in the middle of one. As I looked toward the green, the limbs on the tree ahead were not even in play. I chose to hit a 5 iron and, once again, I couldn't have asked for a better shot from the trees! However, because my ball was sitting in the low area, it unexpectedly ran up the slope of the bowl and hit a limb. The ball kicked directly left and I painfully watched my tournament hopes roll into the water. I couldn't believe what had just happened! I had a perfect angle, a great yardage, and a shot that required my left to right pattern. It was ideal! The ball just ramped up the slope and hit the limb. I didn't know that Jason had hit his approach shot in the water, but to be honest, it wouldn't have mattered. My only option was to play toward the green and given my "ideal" scenario, I wouldn't have changed a thing (except of course the low area that my ball was sitting in!!)

All in all, I learned a lot from the experience and because of it I will be a better player in the long run. I also learned a great deal about myself. I never felt the nervousness that you would expect from being in the final group of a PGA Tour event. I felt comfortable out there and I approached each day as just another round of golf. I was also pleased, for the most part, with how I played. I held things together pretty well, especially for being in the last group on Saturday and Sunday for the first time. I certainly didn't play my best, but in the end I still had a chance to win. I will continue to work hard and hopefully I will put myself in contention again real soon. Next time, I expect the results to be different!

After signing my scorecard, I walked down the stairs only to find my little shadow Jake waiting for me. I immediately picked him up and he held my neck as hard as he could. Beth, Libby, and several members of our family were standing around. Someone made the comment "Jake, your daddy played really good didn't he?" His response was simply "Ahhhmmm, my daddy hit it in the water!!" Honesty at its finest!

Bryon Nelson is obviously one of the greatest golfers to ever play our sport. As a tribute to him, the tournament committee placed a sign on each tee box last week identifying some of his great accomplishments. His achievements are incredible and I really enjoyed reading them.
* In 1945, he had 18 wins in 30 tournaments
* He won 34 times between 1944-1946
* He shot under par 22 straight rounds in 1945
* He won 6 tournaments by more than 10 shots
* He finished top 5 in the Majors 73% of the time
* His career earning were $220,580.78
* He never shot above 71 in a final round in 1945
* He retired at the age of 34
* He had 113 straight top 20 finishes
* He won 11 consecutive tournaments in 1945
* He had 74 top 9 finishes in 75 events between 1944-1946

This week we are in Fort Worth, Texas, for the Crowne Plaza Colonial Invitational. Ben Hogan lived only a short drive from the course and the clubhouse is filled with his memorabilia. My brother, Chris, actually worked on the grounds crew at this course during one summer in college. I am looking forward to this event and hopefully I can improve on last week's finish!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Lifestyle That Never Gets Old.....

San Antonio. Home of the Valero Texas Open, the Alamo, River Walk, and the San Antonio Spurs. Unfortunately my experience in San Antonio ended prematurely due to another poor putting performance. The Valero Texas Open, rich in history, was played on a brand new golf course that opened just a few months ago. The TPC of San Antonio welcomed the PGA Tour to its incredible property and the facilities were second to none. The largest hotel in the state of Texas is located just off the 18th green and it is, without a doubt, one of the best hotels I have ever seen. J.W. Marriott, full of restaurants, a water park, an enormous sports bar, and over 1,000 hotel rooms, sits only a few yards from the golf course and practice area. I wish my family had been there to enjoy the amenities. Oh well, maybe next year. I did, however, enjoy not having to spend the week in a hotel room. Good friends, John and Carrie Kimbell, live only a mile from the course and invited me to stay in their home. I had a great time and it certainly was nice to sleep in a non-hotel bed for once. In what seems to be a weekly occurrence, my courtesy car was once again, very nice. However for the first time all year, I felt comfortable driving and I wasn't intimidated by all the bells and whistles. A brand new 4WD Ford King Ranch Truck with only 23 miles on the odometer was mine for the week. As a Chevy/GMC man, I walked away pretty impressed from this truck. If you remember correctly, I could hardly crank the Mercedes Benz I had in Charlotte so this was a nice change. I definitely felt more at home. Speaking of home, Eatonton resident Mike Rainey and his family treated me to dinner on Thursday night. Mr. Mike's daughter Jan lives in San Antonio with her husband and daughter. We had a great time and I really enjoyed catching up. Hopefully they had as much fun as I did. However, as I stated before, a poor putter lead to another disappointing missed cut. I worked hard during the week but it just wasn't my tournament. I stayed in San Antonio and continued to practice throughout the weekend.

Even though my next tournament was just a few hours down the road in Dallas, the perks of being on the PGA Tour was about to spoil me, yet again. The Byron Nelson, a tournament bearing the name one of the greatest golfers in the history of our sport, is widely considered one of the best tournaments on Tour. As a token of appreciation from the tournament, a chartered American Airlines plane flew players Sunday evening into the Dallas airport. We had the ENTIRE American Airlines terminal to ourselves which was a very weird feeling. I am not talking about a gate where you enter the plane, I mean the ENTIRE TERMINAL! We had a security checkpoint and no one was allowed past this area besides players and their families. Kids were running around everywhere and the airport was their playground. I luckily got a First Class ticket and everyone in Coach pretty much sat wherever they wanted. The entire flight was taken care of by Byron Nelson Tournament and when we landed in the private plane section of the Dallas airport, brand new Cadillacs were waiting! Once again, the perks of the PGA Tour left me speechless and impressed.

This week we are in Irving/Dallas, Texas, for the HP Byron Nelson Tournament. I wish Mr. Nelson was still alive so I could have meet him. Prior to his passing, he was obviously a fixture at this event. He would sit just off the 18th green during every round and shake the hands of each player as they passed by. I grew up watching this exchange take place and I wish I could have been a part of the tradition. However, it is still an honor to play in his tournament and I will remember it forever. As a tribute to Mr. Nelson, there is a sign on every tee box which displays various facts and records from his tremendous career. It is really neat to read his accomplishments and I will post some of them on my next blog.

As you will see, this has already been a very busy week! On Monday while I was practicing my putting, one of the greatest putters of all time approached me on the putting green. Dave Stockton, putting instructor of Phil Mickelson and many other Tour players, walked up out of the blue and just started talking to me. I am not sure what made him initiate a conversation but I am certainly glad that he did. He is regarded as one of the best putting instructors in the world. Last week, his students made a clean sweep and won all three major tour events!! (PGA Tour, Champions Tour, and LPGA Tour). Pretty impressive. We discussed the struggles I have been experiencing and worked for a couple of hours. He said that I wasn't very far off but suggested a couple of changes. I cannot thank him enough for his time and hopefully the putts will begin to fall. On Tuesday, I played the course and was accompanied by Kenny Perry, J.B. Holmes, and Josh Teater. The Rookies took on the Veterans in a friendly wager, and to the disbelief of most of you, the gentlemen with the least amount of experience on Tour walked away victorious! That evening, Teater and I took our caddies to the Texas Rangers game with Kenny and his family. We all sat in a suite which was provided by the Tournament Committee. Ricky Fowler and a few of his friends came along as well and we enjoyed watching the Rangers defeat the Los Angeles Angels. On Wednesday, I met with a Producer and television crew and took part in an interview for an upcoming show. Their intentions were to meet with a few of the Rookies on Tour and discuss the possibilities of doing a reality-type show. They would follow us each week and allow viewers to see our lives on the road. I am not sure if I want to be a part of the show because I really don't want a camera in my face all day, everyday. We will see. Immediately following the interview, I drove across town and played a practice round at the course where my British Open Qualifier is being held this Monday. I believe there are around 85 players for 8 spots. I will certainly keep you posted.

All in all, it has been another great week on the PGA Tour. I have been working extremely hard on my game and hopefully the results will show. I tee off tomorrow afternoon and I am looking forward to what lies ahead. Thanks, as always, for the continued support and I hope each of you have a great week.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Home Sweet Home.....

Well, Quail Hollow certainly lived up to it's reputation. An immaculate golf course, enormous clubhouse, large and energetic crowds, and a very, very expensive courtesy car made for a great week of golf. As you know, the week began bitter sweet with the birth of my second child, Libby, and the passing of my good friend, Hal Sharpe. My mind obviously wondered throughout the week as I thought about how Beth was handling things at home and how the Sharpe family was dealing with their loss. I tried to focus the best I could but there were times where my concentration just wasn't sharp. I played decently well considering my lack of preparation, sleep, and mental state. I finished the week in a tie for 29th and considering all things, it wasn't too bad. The last few holes at Quail Hollow are extremely difficult and are considered by many to be the hardest three finishing holes on tour. The media nicknamed this stretch of holes "The Green Mile." I entered Sunday's round with nine pars on these holes during the first three rounds. My goal was certainly to play these holes under par but given their difficulty, anything around par would be an improvement versus the field. After an unfortunate bogey on the par four 16th, I entered the long par three 17th. This hole is surrounded by water and the crowds are huge. Most people sit here to watch the wind play havoc on the players and in most cases, the water ends up with a nice, brand new golf ball. I was fortunate enough to hit a five iron to approximately 7 feet, the closest of the day. I made the birdie putt and after a par on the difficult 18th, I walked away from "The Green Mile" even par and unscathed. This was also my first event with Tiger in the field and unfortunately, he didn't play well. Remarkably, he missed the cut in a non-major tournament for only the 6th time in his career!

I am sure a few of you got a kick out of my inability to drive my Mercedes Benz S400 Hybrid courtesy car at the beginning of the week. Well, to save face, I finally figured it out and enjoyed its use during the remainder of the week. However, just to make sure I wasn't completely ignorant, I had several of my family members sit in the front seat and attempt the operate my fancy automobile. To my pleasure, they all failed. So, either we are all ignorant or we just don't belong in something that nice! I would have to say both.

This week has been a blast. I hurried home from Charlotte Sunday night and thankfully made it back in time to tuck Jake and Libby in bed. I played in the Georgia Southern Pro-Am Fund Raiser on Monday at Forest Heights in Statesboro. My team won the entire tournament for what I believe to be, the fourth or fifth time. It was basically a family affair as I was joined by two brother in-laws (Russ Yeomans and Jon Butler), my step brother (Matt Rountree), and my former UGA roommate (Bruce Kelly) who by all accounts, is considered family. I returned home that evening to an anxious little boy who refused to leave my side. Jake has been my shadow this entire week and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Libby has already won my heart and she reminds me of Jake as a newborn. She makes the sweetest sounds and I have only heard her cry one time since she joined us last Tuesday. I am very lucky to have two healthy children and I cannot wait for the years ahead. I am also very fortunate to have such a wonderful wife who takes care of our family when I am on the road. I know it is a difficult task trying to nurture a newborn while simultaneously attempting to tame the wild monkey that is our two year old. I am truly blessed and I cannot fathom how she manages everything. I know I couldn't survive without her.

Next week I will be in San Antonio. To my understanding, the course is a new venue for the Valero Texas Open and it is extremely difficult. Several of the players who live in the area and play the course on a regular basis, say that they rarely, if ever, break par. It is a new TPC course that opened earlier this year and I have heard nothing but rave reviews. I normally play the difficult courses well so hopefully next week's event won't be any different. Regardless of it challenges, I will have plenty of time to tackle it when I arrive. As for now, I am just going to enjoy the time with my family and hopefully the little shadow won't leave my side!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Very Proud Father but a Very Sad Friend....

One of the best things about my job as a professional golfer is the fact that no matter how good or bad you play, there is always next week. It is amazing how fine the line is between success and failure. For example, a few weeks ago Phil Mickelson did not play well in the Shell Houston Open but WON the very next week at the Masters! The next week, Jason Bohn tied my glorious first round score of 77 at Hilton Head and eventually missed the cut. He WON the very next week (last week) in New Orleans! It is hard to explain but certainly a bounce here or a putt made there can make all the difference in the world. Success and failure in the world of golf is only one shot away. I know that I am hard on myself but I expect only the best. I breakdown and analyze each round and shot to the fullest extent so I can hopefully learn and improve. However, at the end of the day, no matter the score, I know I am close to seeing the results that I am working so hard to achieve.

As the tournament in Hilton Head came to a close, I began to worry about whether I could make it back in time to see the birth of our daughter if Beth happened to go into labor while I was in New Orleans. With her doctor in Savannah, Hilton Head would have certainly been an easy trip, no matter what time of day or which hole I was playing. However, the week ended with a few contractions but no trip to Savannah and the hospital. Birth is impossible to predict and I was uncertain as to whether I even needed to travel to New Orleans and compete in the Zurich Classic. However, Beth assured me that they would be okay and that I needed to go and play. To make my life even easier, Boo invited me to fly with him on a private jet so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the possibility of canceling a commercial flight if Beth went into labor. I am very lucky to have such good friends in my life and I appreciate the kindness that he showed. We left Harbor Town and went to the tiny Hilton Head airport where the runway was full of private jets. We pulled up next to the plane in our courtesy car and boarded. This was certainly a lot better than the hassles that come with flying commercial. We flew to New Orleans and walked off the plane to find a courtesy car parked right next to us. Not a bad way to travel! On Tuesday, I took my first half day off of the year. Boo and I were guests of the Zurich Classic on a chartered boat where we went red fishing. We had a blast and I ended up catching a ton of fish, including one that was over 29.5 inches long. Beth called on Wednesday morning and said that her doctor wanted to induce labor on the following Tuesday. This was a relief because it guaranteed that I would be at our daughter's birth, unless of course, she decided to arrive early! On Thursday, my cousin Collin Doss, came over from the University of Alabama and spent the week at the tournament. That evening, I carried him to a private party for all the PGA Tour players at the famous Acme Oyster House. They closed the doors to the open public and let us order anything from the menu free of charge. We had a great time and the food was incredible. Unfortunately, the golf didn't turn out as well as the fishing or the restaurants during my stay in New Orleans. I hit the ball decent enough but another cold putter left me high and dry. I missed the cut but there was a bright side, Beth didn't go into labor. I flew home Sunday morning and got to spend some time with the family before heading off to Charlotte early Monday morning.

Monday morning began a very long week full of mixed emotions. I woke up bright and early and headed to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a Pro-Am at Quail Hollow. With Beth delivering on Tuesday, my plan was to play the course on Monday and as soon as I finished, leave immediately for Savannah. If everything went okay at the hospital, I would return to Charlotte late Wednesday night in order to play on Thursday. Obviously, the health of my family is, and will always be, my main concern and priority. Golf is a job and I will never let a tournament take precedence over them. I arrived at Quail Hollow and was welcomed by an incredible clubhouse, golf course, gifts, and a fancy courtesy car. The practice facilities are top shelf and the course is no exception. It is long and difficult and the greens are extremely fast. Obviously Beth couldn't make the trip, but regardless of her presence, the tournament gave every player a bracelet from Tiffany's for their wives. In addition to the red carpet treatment, I received a brand new Mercedes Benz with only 35 miles on the odometer. This is without a doubt the nicest car I have ever driven. As soon as the Pro-Am ended, I loaded up the Mercedes with all my bags and set out for the Savannah hospital. I got about 2 miles down the road before I had to turn around. I couldn't figure out how to turn on the radio and barely could drive the car due to all the buttons and other fancy things. I returned to the parking lot and unloaded everything back in my truck. I left a little embarrassed but definitely more comfortable. I got to Savannah at 11:30pm and I was excited to see Beth and my little buddy Jake. At 3:30am, Beth woke me up because she was having contractions. We made the short drive to the hospital and sure enough, Beth was on her way to delivering our little girl. We stayed up all night and Beth was never in much pain. In fact, she was very calm and relaxed and never even hinted of experiencing any sort of pain. She received an epidural early Tuesday morning and around 12:00pm, her doctor said it was time. Now I am sure that everyone has heard the horror stories of someone experiencing a long and painful delivery. However, I must say that as an outsider, this one appeared to be neither long nor painful. During her first push, Beth's doctor had to stop her because she was pushing too hard. She instructed her to push very gently on the next one. To my surprise, I heard the sound of a little girl crying. She was here! Basically, Beth pushed one and a half times and our new addition arrived. Incredible! I certainly am not saying that the delivery was easy but it definitely didn't take much effort. We welcomed a very healthy and beautiful Elizabeth Blakely Adams into the world a little after noon on April 27th. She weighed 7 lbs 8 ounces and was 19 inches long. We will call her Libby and we couldn't be more proud. She looks like Jake did as a newborn and I only pray that she continues to rather than take a turn for the worse and look like her father! Beth is doing great and I am amazed at how easy she made it look. In fact, her and Libby were able to leave the hospital on Wednesday afternoon and head home. With everything under control and my family safe and healthy, I drove back to Charlotte to compete in this week's event. I will be off next week and I cannot wait to spend time with my family at home.

Unfortunately, April 27th was also a very sad day. Our family lost a very close friend in an automobile accident. Hal Sharpe was as close to the Yeomans family as one can be without being blood related. He worked for Beth's dad and we spent a tremendous amount of time together. During my winters, I often rode around with Hal as he looked at various tracts of timber. We went hunting together and he was always present when we had big cookouts at the Barn. We always roomed together on hunting trips and he cried with joy the day I asked Beth to marry me. He always had a smile on his face and even though he knew very little about golf, he was one of my biggest fans. He will truly be missed. I cannot believe that he is gone and that I never had a chance to say goodbye. His accident was definitely a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He wasn't far from his home as he traveled down the road pulling a tractor on a trailer. A woman ran through a stop sign and crashed into his big diesel truck. Unfortunately, Hal was not wearing his seat belt and was thrown from his vehicle. He spent several days in a coma at the hospital but never recovered. He leaves behind a wife, four children, and a tremendous amount of friends who are heartbroken that he is gone.

Hopefully, I will play well this week in Charlotte and use it as a way to honor my little girl Libby and my good friend Hal Sharpe. Even though I haven't had any sleep, I am looking forward to Thursday's round. This is my first tournament with Tiger in the field and I cannot wait to compete against him. As I write this blog, I am reminded of countless conversations I have had with Hal and Beth's dad, Mr. H.G, over the years. They have always said that golf was an easy sport and all I needed to do was beat one man, Tiger! If I did this consistently, everything else would take care of itself and I would have more time to hunt and fish! Very true. Hopefully, I will make them proud.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Special Day on the Island....

As I stood on the putting green late Thursday evening, I couldn't help but watch as a nearby scoreboard scrolled through the first round scores. Next to my name, there was a nice, big, ugly 77. I continued to work well into the night on the area of my game that has plagued my season thus far. My putting hasn't been terrible by all means but it certainly hasn't reached the level of consistency that I need to compete with the big boys week in and week out. I returned to our condo on the 10th hole at Harbor Town and spent the rest of the evening with Beth and Jake. We had a great dinner and I tried to forget about the dreadful day of golf. However, when I turned on my laptop and looked at the PGA Tour website, insult was added to injury. Not only did my stellar 77 put me in a tie for last place after Thursday's round, but I was the last name listed on the entire leader board! This was definitely a first in my entire career and something I hope never happens again. The most frustrating part about my glorious 77 was that I really didn't play that bad. I made several bad bogeys that should have been routine pars. I only missed two fairways on a very tough driving course but it was the little mistakes that hurt me throughout the day. I woke up Friday morning with nothing to lose. I knew that if I cleaned up the round and avoided the careless mistakes, I would be fine. I told Beth that if I could shoot at least two under par on my opening nine holes, then I would have a chance to make the cut. Obviously, when you start the day in last place, making the cut is a tall feat. However, I knew I could do it and I set out determined to achieve my new goal. I started the round on the 10th hole and navigated through the tough back nine in two under par. As I rode the shuttle toward the first tee, I thought about the conversation I had with Beth the night before. I was in good shape after nine holes but certainly needed to catch fire in order to achieve my goal. I figured the cut would be somewhere around one under par by the end of the day and through 27 holes, I was four over par. That meant I needed to play the front nine in a minimum of five under par to have a chance. After a tap in for par on the first hole, I moved to Harbor Town's second hole, a heavily tree lined par 5. Making birdies on the par 5's were going to be a big key in my quest to make the cut. After a decent pitch shot from well short of the green, I left myself with a 15 foot putt just off the green. When my putt found the bottom of the cup, I moved one step closer to my goal. The third hole is designed with a tight fairway and a very small green surrounded by bunkers. My tee shot found the fairway but due to the wind in my face, my second shot was farther back than anticipated. I was in between clubs and decided to hit my six iron rather than the seven. This decision proved to be correct as my shot from the fairway went in the hole for an eagle. I was now 5 under for the day and 1 over for the tournament. I made par on the next hole, a tough par 3, and then moved to my last par 5 of the day. The cut was still around 1 over par and I needed two more birdies in the last five holes to reach that number. After my tee shot landed in the fairway, I hit a 3 wood to the front fringe of the green and only 15 feet from the hole. My eagle attempt violently lipped out, thus leaving me a short tap in for birdie. I made par on the sixth hole and moved to the par 3 seventh, still needing another birdie. My six iron from 201 yards ended up only 12 feet from the hole and I made the putt! I was now 7 under for the day and 1 under for the tournament. I couldn't let up and continued to press on, making a solid par on the difficult 8th hole. Enormous pine trees and overhanging limbs make the short but tricky 9th hole very difficult. The green is extremely small and bogeys or worse are inevitable in you are not accurate with your tee shot or approach to the green. Eventhough I found the middle of the fairway, I was blocked out from the pin by three giant pine trees. My only option was to launch the ball high in the air and hopefully avoid the top of the trees. I was certainly taking a chance with this route. However, if I chose to play to the right of the trees, I would miss the green to the right and face a difficult save for par. My ball rose above the trees, cleared the front bunker, and rolled to a stop only 14 feet from the cup. I definitely let out a huge sigh of relief as I approached the green. I lined up the putt and really wanted to make it as a cushion in case the cut moved. I heard a huge roar and lots of cheers as my ball found its way in the hole. I finished the round at 8 under par (63) and 2 under for the tournament.

The cut ended up at Even par and I made it by two shots. I tied a PGA Tour record on Friday for having the lowest amount of putts in one round (18). Obviously this number was aided by a chip in and a hole out from the fairway. However, things certainly evened out because I had several putts and chips that lipped out during the round. I was also informed that I broke a PGA Tour record during my second round at Harbor Town. I set the record for the lowest round in a PGA Tour event after being in last place following the first round. This record is a bit embarrassing because I had to be in LAST place after the first round in order to break it. However, it is a record and as a rookie, I am glad to be in the books!

Eventhough the weekend didn't end as I wanted, I had a great time inside the ropes at the Verizon Heritage. I had a ton of friends and family attend throughout the week and I apprecitate all the support. Beth, Jake, and I are very grateful for the hospitality that Mr. Don Schroeder and Michelle showed us during the week. Hilton Head is a very special event and eventhough the course doesn't suit my game perfectly, it was a great experience. I look forward to many more trips to the island.

Sorry this blog was boring but when you tie for 64th, it is hard write something exciting!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Putting It All Into Perspective...

As I walked off the 17th hole on Sunday in Houston, I could hear the grumblings and moans from those of you at home. The Internet showed a double bogey six on my scorecard and a fall from the top 10. Welcome to the PGA Tour. A place where good shots often wind up in spots where par is almost impossible. The 17th hole at the Redstone Golf Club, home of the Shell Houston Open, is a very difficult par 4 measuring 489 yards. The wind on Sunday was blowing hard and into my face. In each of the first three rounds, I drove my tee shot over the bunker on the left hand side of the fairway. By taking this angle, I was able cut off a portion of the dogleg and shape of the hole, thus making my second shot much shorter and easier. However, with the wind more in my face, I decided to aim to the right of the bunker because I wasn't certain I could carry it. I hit my tee shot very solid and it bore through the wind. It landed perfectly to the right of the bunker and ran down the fairway. Unfortunately, it continued through the fairway and up against the lip of a bunker on the right. My ball was lying half buried in a rake mark and I wasn't sure if I could get the ball over the steep lip of the bunker. After several minutes of weighing my options, I decided to advance the ball toward the green rather than layup. My main concern was getting the ball over the lip of the bunker. I was only 162 yards from the front of the green and I felt very confident that I could get the ball somewhere near the green. I succeeded in clearing the lip but the half buried lie made correct contact very difficult. My ball ended up 2 feet inside the hazard line. This would have been fine except for the fact that my ball was one foot above the ground in a bush! With no chance to advance it, I took my penalty shot and dropped the ball outside the hazard. A good wedge shot and two putts later, I recorded a crowd pleasing double bogey six.

A 14th place finish in any PGA Tour event is never a bad thing. However, I walked away with obvious disappointment after my debacle on number 17. Two shots in a PGA Tour event are extremely costly and even though they have the same effect as those lost earlier in the week, the ones at the end seem to hurt the most. As I sat on the plane Sunday evening, I went through each round and analyzed every shot. I do this every week to gain an understanding of where I made mistakes and what areas need improvement. This breakdown also points out the positives that occur. I will be the first to admit that this area often gets overlooked because I put so much emphasis on the mistakes. As usual, there were plenty of positives and negatives. However, as I write this blog almost a week later, the positives continue to weigh heavy on my mind. For example, even though I really didn't hit the ball well throughout the week, only one person beat my cumulative score on Saturday and Sunday. Too bad I wasn't near the lead after Friday! Also, I finished the week with some decent statistics in relation to the entire field - 17th in Driving Accuracy, 16th in Driving Distance, 12th in Putts per Round, and 5th in Putting. This obviously showed that even though I am very hard on myself and my expectations are extremely high, I am not as far off as it may appear. I didn't play my best and somehow managed a respectable finish. I will continue to work hard and hopefully my next event will bring improvement and a better finish.

This week at home has been great. I flew in from Houston on Sunday night and spent all day Monday with Beth and Jake. I checked on our new house, took Jake to swimming lessons, and I hit golf balls with my little shadow (Jake). On Tuesday, I drove to Athens to watch UGA football practice with my brother Chris, my UGA college roommate Davis Thomason and his father in-law, good friend Trey Rhodes, and former UGA football player Brandon Tolbert. Mike Bobo invited us to come watch and after practice we were introduced to Coach Richt. We then drove to Sanford Stadium and walked on the field while Bobo played a highlight video on the jumbo screen for several recruits. I am not sure which thrill was bigger. Meeting Coach Richt, standing on the 50 yard line at Sanford Stadium, or driving my truck alongside the hedges as I circled the inside of the stadium. On Wednesday, I took my lovely and very pregnant wife to Augusta to watch the Masters. The day started great when a parking attendant said he liked my truck and gave us free parking directly across from the main gate at CVS. Kinda strange but ok! We then approached the entrance to Augusta National and for the first time ever, all I needed to enter was my Players Badge. This was a very weird feeling and Beth got in trouble for having a bag that was too large. She sweet talked her way into being able to carry it inside. We walked around a bit and talked to several of my friends playing in the event. We wound up sitting alongside the 18th green and talked with Jake's new best friend "Uncle Perry" (Kenny Perry). Jake started calling Kenny this a few weeks ago when he saw him on the Golf Channel one night. As we were about to leave, I approached a security guard and asked where the nearest restroom was because my pregnant wife was in dire need. He said the general public restroom was down the hill unless you want to follow me into the clubhouse! Ahmmmmmmmm, yeah! We strolled behind the ropes and into a wing of the clubhouse. Beth laughed and smiled the entire way. Afterwards she said I need to hang out with her more often in order to get "star" treatment! Whatever.

I spent Thursday and Friday in Statesboro practicing and preparing for next week's event in Hilton Head. I went home to Eatonton on Saturday to practice as well. I am leaving for Hilton Head today (Sunday) for my first trip to the Verizon Heritage. Due to the close proximity of Hilton Head from some of your homes, I hope many of you will be able to attend. I will find out the availability of tickets on Monday at registration. Some events provide unlimited tickets for players but others like Pebble Beach, only give a maximum of eight passes for the week. I will do my best to gather as many tickets as possible but I can't promise anything. I invite any of you within driving distance to join me for the week. Harbor Town is a very difficult golf course and it demands tremendous accuracy. There are overhanging trees on every hole and the giant limbs make the fairways very small. You can be blocked out from a pin location even if you hit the middle of the fairway!! It will be a tough week but one that I am anxious to challenge. Beth, Jake, and I are staying on the 10th hole with my Pro-Am partner from Pebble Beach. I look forward to seeing those of you that can make the tournament. Safe travels and hopefully the putts will fall this week!

Six years ago today (April 11th), my Dad left this earth on a beautiful Easter afternoon and Masters Sunday. Fans around the world were watching Phil Mickelson win his first green jacket but I never saw him hit a shot. I was in North Carolina at a golf tournament. I finished the event in 2nd place and one shot out of a playoff. My Dad was always the first person I called after I finished a round. When I dialed his home, the paramedics were there attempting to save him for a massive heart attack. They didn't succeed. I rushed to his house in Dalton, Georgia, in shock and disbelief. I spoke with him on my way to the course that morning but in a blink of an eye, he was gone. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about him and the influence he had on my life. Most people say I remind them of him. We have a very similar facial appearance, the same mannerisms, and our laid-back personalities are a perfect match. I wish he was here to see Jake and the other grandchildren that he never met. He was a huge golf fan and would have really enjoyed my rookie season on the PGA Tour. We often talked about what this experience would be like and I credit him for my success. He is truly missed and I often think about him as I walk down the fairway. I always carry something of his in my golf bag or in my pocket. I cannot believe that it has been six years since I last spoke with him. He has missed so much. So as you read this, please do not take for granted those people who are close to your heart. Nobody is promised tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"So you're saying there's a chance!"

My last post was written a few days before the Transistions Championship in Tampa. This event was located at Innisbrook Resort and once again, the course was in perfect shape. I played and practiced very well during the first part of the week. My practice round on Tuesday was played with Kenny Perry and Josh Teater. Josh and I have known each other since around 2002 and he is a great friend. Kenny and I have become good friends as well and he has taken me under his wing so to speak. I am very blessed to have someone of his stature and experience to play and practice with each week. He is truly one of the nicest guys on Tour and despite being one of the top 10 players in the world, he acts like a normal guy. He lives in Kentucky and is a small town guy like myself. I really respect him and I am very grateful for all his guidance and advice. I was glad that Beth and Jake got to meet him and we all went to dinner one night. He loves watching Jake hit golf balls and laughs whenever he is around him. I cannot wait for the day when Jake realizes how many great players have watched him hit golf balls! Its amazing to think that he is two years old and has hit golf balls at Pebble Beach and four other great venues on the PGA Tour. Unfortunately, when Thursday rolled around I didn't play as well as I did at the start of the week. I missed the cut by one lousy shot but I certainly played well enough to make the weekend. I was paired with two great players, Justin Rose and Bob Estes, but once again, I walked away from an event very disappointed.

I went home last week and spent time with Beth and Jake. I checked on my new house and hopefully they will install the cabinets and floors this week. I also went turkey hunting a few times and played golf with several of my friends. I am currently in Houston, Texas for the Shell Houston Open. This course is geared as a warm up event for those players in next weeks field at the Masters. The greens are lightning fast and firm and the area around the greens are shaved down low. The course committee does a great job emulating Augusta National. As always, I have practiced very hard this week and look forward to the days ahead. I ate dinner on Monday with several friends including current U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover. He invited me play a practice round with him on Tuesday and we were joined by Woody Austin. Both of these guys were very helpful and offered a ton of advice on how to attack this tough golf course. I had a blast with them and look forward to playing with them again. After we finshed, I continued to practice and was the last man standing on the practice area. I found myself putting under the lights well into the darkness.

To steal a line from Jim Carey and the movie Dumb and Dumber, I walk into this weeks event hearing him say "so you're saying there's a chance". If I were to win this week, I would be in the Masters next week. The thought makes me nauseous. Not because of nerves or the fear of competing in the greatest tournament on earth, but simply because I would achieve a lifelong dream. I have been fortunate enough to play Augusta National twice and have attended the Masters as a spectator more times than I can count. However, to actually play in the tournament would be ridiculous. Obviously, the Masters is my World Series. I remember as a child, my friends and I would gamble for cokes because we were broke and didn't have any money. The golf course let us charge the drinks to our parent's account which obviously didn't make them very happy when the bill came at the end of the month . However, during every bet, I fondly remember having a putt to not only win a coke, but to win the Masters. I have always dreamed of playing in the Masters and even though this season has been a struggle by my standards, I still have a chance. One good week. That's all it will take and I can walk on hallowed ground as a participant in the greatest golf tournament ever. "So you're saying there's a chance!"

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sorry for the disappearing act...

I first want to apologize for my absence on this blog since my disaster trip to Mexico. I have played in two events since my last post and my lack of communication is due to the continued frustration I am having with my game. I am still struggling with my putter and my scores are reflecting this ongoing battle. I have gone through countless putters trying to find a similar weight and feel to the one that broke during my tournament in Hawaii. However, as much as I have tried, nothing seems to look and feel the same. I certainly will not give up on these efforts. The most frustrating part of this ordeal is that my ball striking has been solid enough to play well each week but my efforts on the greens are holding me back. I am missing a lot of easy putts and the opportunities to score well have been slipping away. My statistics on the greens aren't terrible and my rankings on tour are respectful. But as most of you know, I don't accept mediocrity and I set high standards for myself. I have heard a thousand times to "be patient and the putts will fall." However, time is money and opportunities have been lost. I will find an answer and hopefully this is the last time I have to discuss my putting issues.

To backtrack a little, the Phoenix Open was a great experience. The atmosphere was everything advertised and I highly recommend a trip to the desert for those of you who enjoy watching golf. The crowds were enormous and the 16th hole was insane. One guy that I played with, Derek Lamely, made the ultimate mistake while playing the 16th. He took offense to some of the comments from the crowd and yelled back at them. Big mistake! Several highly intoxicated guys got out of their seats and heckled him all the way to the clubhouse. It was hilarious and they really got under his skin. Obviously, the language was not G rated and he only fueled the fire with his smartellic remarks. All in all, the week was very positive but it was my cold putter that led to rounds of 72-71 and a missed cut.

After my round on Friday, I took a red eye home and slept in my bed for the first time since January 1st!! I got to spend the weekend with Beth, Jake and my black lab, Bo. It was great to be home and certainly nice to see how far along the builders have gotten with my new house. I also got to drive my new truck for the first time since I bought it back on December 30th. I canceled my flight to West Palm Beach and drove the seven hours instead. It was a great drive and I certainly didn't miss the hassle of flying.

The Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, was another great event on the PGA Tour. The golf course was very difficult and the wind blew hard everyday. This golf course demands great ball striking and it never lets up. Birdies are hard to come by and even good shots can lead to double bogeys or worse. For the most part, I hit the ball well enough to have some pretty low rounds. However, a cold putter made this impossible and the entire week was a struggle. The highlight of week came on my final three holes on Friday. I found myself standing on hole 7 (my 16th hole), needing three birdies on the last three holes to make the cut. I was very frustrated at this point because I was playing much better than my score indicated. I couldn't believe that I was in this predicament and forced to make three birdies in a row on a golf course that refused to yield birdie opportunities. However, I didn't quit. I hit a 6 iron to five feet on the 225 yard par 3, 7th hole. I made the putt and actually got some airtime on the Golf Channel for once. I went to the next hole, a 455 yard par 4, and hit a 8 iron to around 10 feet. When this putt fell, I had a chance to play the weekend. I walked to the difficult 430 yard par 4, 9th hole, and the wind was dead in my face. I hit a good drive and hit a hard 9 iron to around 20 feet. The putt was a double breaker and since I was the last group of the day, the green was beaten up with both ball and spike marks. I watched the putt roll and bounce toward the hole and when it fell in center of the cup, I felt as if I had won a tournament. I couldn't believe what just happened. I, Blake Adams, a man who has battled with his putter this entire year, just made 3 putts in a row!! I couldn't believe it. I had played 15 holes earlier that day and missed every putt and every opportunity I had. All of sudden, the putts fell when my back was against the wall. What a crazy game! I made the cut and felt like I won a million dollars!! I played the weekend and I wish this story could continue with the words of made putts but it wasn't the case. I struggled on the greens but all was not lost. I made a check and I can, and will, learn from the experience.

I am at home this week for a much needed break and family time. Beth and I had our 5 year anniversary on Friday, March 5th, but unfortunately she was at home and I was in Florida. We will celebrate it sometime this week and I am looking forward to spending time around the house. I will practice throughout the week and hopefully work out the kinks in my game. Next week, I am playing in the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Pretty Crappy Week...

I entered last week's event in Mayakoba, Mexico, with very high expectations. I hit the ball well enough to win at Pebble Beach but didn't make enough putts, thus coming up a few strokes short of eventual winner Dustin Johnson. I flew into Cancun, Mexico, on Monday morning and was pleased to see the sunshine and warm temperatures. I practiced extremely hard at the beginning of the week and went to bed Wednesday evening anxious and excited about the day ahead. Thursday morning started like most of my rounds have this year. Lots of fairways and greens and plenty of makeable birdie putts. Unfortunately, only one putt fell on the front nine and I made the turn at one under par. However, missed putts were the least of my concerns. As I walked down the fairway on #7, I began feeling extremely nauseated. I continued to play but my condition got worse and worse. I finished my round at one over par (72) and immediately left the course for my hotel. I took a shower and got in bed with chills, a fever, and extreme nausea. I had food poisoning. I later found out several players and caddies were experiencing the same thing. Several people withdrew from the tournament with similar conditions but I refused to withdraw. I played on Friday and shot even par (71) but felt like I shot 64, given the way I felt. I obviously missed the cut, but only by a disappointing two shots. I got an earlier flight and left Mexico Sunday afternoon and vowed to not return. I followed all the rules by drinking only bottled water and Gatorade but still got sick. I never even left the resort! Oh well, another lesson learned.

This week I am in Phoenix, Arizona, for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. This event is played at another great venue, TPC of Scottsdale. If you have chance to watch the event, pay close attention to hole #16. This tournament is known for its rowdy and rambunctious crowds and most people sit around the 16th hole. In fact, the bleachers completely surround the hole, creating a coliseum effect. I was told yesterday to expect somewhere between 35,000 - 50,000 people around this one hole!! To add to the madness, bars and hospitality tents are everywhere for the spectators. Good shots are a premium here too. If you miss the green, they BOO you!! Its crazy but an experience I look forward to later this week.

Yesterday, I played in a Pro-Am at TPC of Scottsdale with Mike Stoops, head football coach of the University of Arizona. He is a really good guy and we talked a lot about both of our passions, family and football. This morning, I got another practice round in on the tournament course. I was joined by Kenny Perry, J.B. Holmes, and Josh Teater. It was great time and I learned a lot from watching and talking with both Kenny and J.B.

All in all, I feel pretty good about the week ahead. I am a few pounds lighter and still a little weak, but things are coming around. I played pretty good today and cannot wait for Thursday and my first attempt at hole #16.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I love my job!

I will be the first to admit it. When it comes to playing golf, I am extremely spoiled. Pebble Beach. One of the most famous golf courses in the world, was my job site for the week. Not bad. It was without a doubt, the most amazing backdrop that I have ever seen. I have never been to a place where the views literally took my breath away. I constantly found myself walking along The Edge of cliffs after each and every shot. Pebble Beach I saw from a vantage point that I used to dream about. The sights and sounds of this hallowed ground were incredible. Words can not describe it's beauty and it was a week that I will never forget.

Before I get into the details of my week along the Monterey Peninsula, I have to thank my wife and TaylorMade and their efforts in getting my club issues resolved. As many of you know, I have struggled with my equipment this entire year. After several weeks of frustration and failed attempts to find a solution, I had my irons from last year shipped to Pebble Beach. We checked the specs and did a lot of testing on the range. We found that even though the shafts were the same flex (X100), they were reacting different. We ended up taking the shafts from the old irons and putting them into the new ones. It made all the difference. I also tweaked my putter again and it feels a lot better. I played this week with 10 new clubs in my bag and for the first time all year, I felt comfortable with my equipment. Hopefully, the best has yet to come!

The AT & T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach is one of the most famous tournaments on the PGA Tour. It has a rich history and combines the world of golf with both celebrities and businessmen from around the world. I played nine holes on Wednesday with arguably the greatest surfer in the history of the sport, Kelly Slater. He was extremely nice and actually really good for a guy that spends so much time in the ocean. Speaking of oceans, we were joined for a hole or two with Don Cheadle from the movie Oceans 11. My amateur partner for the week was Mr. Don Schroedor, President and CEO of Tim Hortons. He told me on Thursday morning that his lifelong dream was to make the cut in this event and play Pebble Beach on Sunday in front of thousands of people. Well, we did it! We finished 5th in the tournament as a team and I am proud we accomplished his lifelong dream. It truly was special to be a part of his achievement and I enjoyed seeing his smile as he walked down the infamous 18th hole at Pebble Beach on Sunday. As an added bonus to his accomplishment, we were paired with a top 10 player in the world, Padraig Harrington, for the final round. He was very nice and I enjoyed picking his brain for information throughout the day. I ended up beating him by one shot and I definitely learned a lot from the experience.

All in all, it was a good week. I finished the week at 10 under par and in a tie for 10th place. I struggled to make a lot of putts during the week but certainly gave myself several opportunities. The highlight of the week, in regards to my golf, definitely came on Saturday while playing at Pebble Beach. I started the day on the back nine and was even par through the first three holes. Things quickly changed when I holed my wedge shot from the middle of the 13th fairway for eagle. The crowd went crazy and I had chill bumps as I walked toward the green. Shots like those are certainly ones you never forget, especially at a place like Pebble Beach. I continued around the back nine with several missed birdie opportunities on holes 14 through 18. As I walked off the first tee, my tenth hole, I was very frustrated because i was playing better than my score indicated. I joked with Mr. Don and said that if I did not start making some of these birdie putts then I would just have to make some more shots from the fairway. Well, my very next shot, an 8 iron from the middle of the fairway, rolled in the cup for my second eagle on a par 4. Mr. Don Was probably more excited than I was! He was jumping up and down and giving high fives to everyone. I am glad that I had several friends and family there to witness those two shots. It was a very special day giving the fact that it was my first competitive round at Pebble Beach. I ended up shooting 66 for the day Despite a double bogey on my last hole.

Pebble Beach is a place that is impossible to describe properly. Television can not do justice either. I highly recommend each of you visiting this area during some point in your life. I love the pine trees and dirt roads of south Georgia but this place is incredible. I was fortunate to have several visitors this week at Pebble. We rented a house only four miles from the golf course that included a guest house for Beth, Jake and myself. My brother Chris, brother in-law Jon Butler, and three of their friends, Dean Haeusser, Tommy Arthur, and John Brady, stayed in the main section of the house. They were joined by my uncle David Doss and his wife Janice, their son Collin, and two friends of theirs Mic and Connie Williams. Beth's parents, HG and Carol Yeomans, spent the week sightseeing along the California coast before returning to Pebble on Saturday afternoon. I am very lucky to have such a wonderful family and I enjoy having them on the road with me. I cannot wait to see Beth and Jake again in a few weeks.

This week I am in Cancun, Mexico. Of course, the scenery is great (this seems to be a repeatable theme out here on the PGA Tour!). The only bad thing about this week is my cell phone does not work. How did we ever survive without cell phones ???!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Here are a few pics I took earlier this week from Pebble Beach and along 17 mile Drive. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Traffic, Traffic, and more Traffic

Traffic in Los Angeles is a NIGHTMARE!! How do people accomplish anything during the day? It is impossible to get from one place to another in a reasonable amount of time. It is a joke! It doesn’t matter what time it is, 7am, 10am, 2pm, 5pm, etc, etc. There is always traffic! I tried every route imaginable and it was all the same – traffic, traffic, and more traffic. I just don’t understand how people live that way. I guess when I think about it, they might have the same comment about my small town country life. Oh well. They can have their big city and all the traffic that comes along with it. I am perfectly happy with the peace and quiet of South Georgia.

Besides the daily sit and wait I experienced, I really enjoyed Los Angeles. I got to practice at Riviera, the site of Tiger’s first PGA tour event at the age of 16 and the host of many great tournaments, including several U.S Opens. Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and all the other legends, have played and practiced at Riviera. This was a great experience and I spent a lot of time inside the clubhouse looking at memorabilia and the history of this great golf course. Unfortunately, I began the week as an alternate for the tournament and ended in the same fashion. All was not lost though. I got to practice and work on some of the clubs issues I have experienced over the last several weeks. Hopefully I figured out some of the kinks and I look forward to more testing this week.

On Wednesday afternoon, I was invited to go and practice at the very private Los Angeles Country Club. Two of my friends were staying in one of the 10 or so hotel rooms that sit above the clubhouse. Their room overlooked the putting green, golf course, and the skyline of Los Angeles. Not a bad view. LA Country Club is very private and exclusive. I was pretty nervous walking around and felt a little out of place. They have a very strict rule when it comes to membership into the Club. No one, past or present, in the entertainment, sports, or movie industry is allowed to join. They even turned down the USGA to host the U.S. Open because they didn’t want the chaos. Right next door to LA Country Club are two pretty famous homes. The first one belonged to the late Aaron Spelling and is a mere 56,500 square feet!! I was told that it was on the market last year for over $150 million. The second home located next to LA Country Club is a lot more famous than Aaron Spelling’s. It is simply called the “Mansion” and belongs to Hugh Hefner. I couldn’t resist having a little fun at my wife’s expense. I convinced her that I was invited to a party that night at the Mansion. She didn’t find this too amusing. I had her going for a while but finally caved in and told the truth.

Instead of visiting the Mansion, I was fortunate enough to sit center court at the Los Angeles Lakers game. I went with three of my friends and we got our tickets from basketball legend, Jerry West. For those of you who don’t follow basketball, Jerry West is in the Basketball Hall of Fame and he is the face of the NBA, literally. He is the player dribbling the basketball on the NBA logo. Pretty impressive. Our seats were 8 rows up, directly behind the scoring table. We also had a VIP parking pass and an invitation to the Lakers VIP room. There were a ton of celebrities inside the VIP room, most notably Jack Nicholson, Jason Sehorn and his wife Angie Harmon. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sat behind us at the game and Dyan Cannon was to our right. The Lakers ended up winning the game against the Charlotte Bobcats despite Kobe Bryant’s 5 point performance. We had such a good time at the game that we went back on Friday. We had the exact same tickets and I appreciate my Pro-Am partner from the Bob Hope Classic, Roy Ryu, for giving us the tickets. There were more celebrities at the Stables Center on Friday night. Denzel Washington, James Caan, George Lopez, Jack Nicholson, and many others showed up to watch the Lakers lose to the Denver Nuggets. Kobe Bryant had 33 points in the losing effort.

This week I am at Pebble Beach for the AT&T Pro-Am. I will update this blog in the next day or so and hopefully post some pictures. The views here are incredible.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Nothing Special Golf Wise but Still a Great Week...

Torrey Pines. Another week on the PGA Tour and another great golf course. The scenery, the history, the weather. What more can you say?

I traveled last week from Palm Springs, California, to San Diego, California, for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. This tournament was played on two golf courses (North and South Course) and was another great event. Unfortunately, I didn't play as well as I would have liked. I made the cut but I fell well short of my goals. I am still having issues with my irons and putter. It has definitely been a very frustrating few weeks. I am battling with my equipment and this is very unusual for me. The issue I am having with my irons relates to the ball and how it reacts while in the air. I have checked and re-checked the loft and lie angles on my irons and I even went to Titleist last week for testing on the golf balls. I now think there is a shaft issue and I am addressing this with both TaylorMade and True Temper. As far as the putter goes, it just doesn't look and feel the same as the original one that fell off the cart and broke in Hawaii. Rife has been incredible and has provided me with several options. We will get it right. I am very lucky to have two great companies, TaylorMade and Rife, working to resolve these issues and I feel confident that we will correct them.

There were some positives that came out of last week. I drove the ball well off the tee and lead the tour in Driving Accuracy for the week. I also made another cut on the PGA Tour without having my A game. This is very encouraging and hopefully after I resolve my club issues, bigger results will follow.

I also had a few visitors this week while in San Diego. One of my best friends and former UGA roommate, Bruce Kelly (Ope) flew to watch me play at Torrey Pines. He arrived on Wednesday with his dad, Don Kelly, and we had a great time. I think they enjoyed the views of the San Diego coast, the great weather, and the sites of Torrey Pines. They watched several of the top players in the world play golf and unfortunately they watched me hack it around all week. On Friday, another great friend and former UGA roommate, Davis Thomason, flew in from a business meeting in San Francisco to join us for Mr. Don's 60th birthday. We had a great time and I am very grateful to have such good friends. I hope the trip was relaxing and I trust they found the much needed vacation.

I am currently in LA for the Northern Trust Open. This event is played at the great Riviera Country Club. The purse is huge for this event and the field is limited. Unfortunately, I am 4th alternate and probably won't get into the tournament. This may be a blessing in disguise because I would have more time to address my club issues and get them resolved. If I do not get into the field, I plan on staying in LA until Saturday and practicing at a TPC course nearby. Also, the Lakers are in town on Wednesday and Friday. That would be a treat to see Kobe. If I don't play, I will leave this weekend and get a jump start on next weeks event at Pebble Beach. I am very confident that good things are on the horizon and I am excited about the weeks ahead. I will continue to work hard and improve. I feel good about the direction I am heading.

Monday, January 25, 2010

So Long Desert....Hello Pacific Ocean

Well, my first missed cut on the PGA Tour certainly didn't feel like a missed cut. As most of you saw, I finished the Bob Hope Classic at 7 under par and missed the cut by two shots. This was extremely frustrating because I played a lot better than it showed. I just didn't score as well as I should have and left the course each day feeling aggravated. I hit a lot of great putts that rolled over the edge of the cup but never seemed to fall. I am having difficulty adjusting to my new putter. It is very difficult to build two putters exactly the same. I had a back up made last year while on the Nationwide Tour but it doesn't feel the same. There are several variables that come into play when building clubs and sometimes it becomes more of a guessing game.

Last week was a crazy week in regards to the weather in Palm Springs. It rained most of the week and for the FIRST TIME IN 30 YEARS, THE BOB HOPE CLASSIC HAD A RAIN DELAY!! That is hard to believe. Welcome to the desert, I guess. The streets were flooded but the golf courses drained well enough for us to play.

I was fortunate enough to have several guests join me in the desert. Beth and Jake, along with her parents, H.G and Carol Yeomans, and my mom and step-dad, Freda and Mike Rountree, came to watch me play golf. They left Georgia with the expectations of temperatures in the 70's and lots of sunshine. However, they were greeted with lots of rain and temperatures in the 50's and 60's. Fun, Fun!! They didn't complain and the rain actually gave us more family time. Jake came to the golf course everyday and was sitting in the stands each morning when I walked to the first tee. It was a great site to see!

I thank Larry and Brenda McNabb for hosting Beth, Jake, and I this week. They have a guest house and it was perfect for our stay in the desert. It sits on the 13th hole of one of the courses we played during the Bob Hope Classic. Jake was able to hit golf balls in the yard as his daddy walked down the fairway. Thank you so much for the hospitality. We are forever grateful and cannot thank you enough.

This week we are at Torry Pines in San Diego. There are two golf courses (North and South Course) with the most difficult one being the South Course. The US Open was played here in 2008 and you guessed it, Tiger won. I arrived to San Diego last night and played the South Course this morning. When I arrived to the course, Rife (my putter company) built me three putters to hopefully match my broken one. I worked all day with the new putters and also made a few changes to my TaylorMade irons. Hopefully these adjustments will end some of the troubles I have had recently with my new equipment. We will see!

Be sure to watch the coverage on TV this week. The views are incredible!! I will take some pictures this week but they won't do justice.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Sony Open and The Bob Hope Classic

I first want to thank everyone for their support last week while I was at my first PGA Tour event in Hawaii. It means a lot to know that people are sitting at work and home, watching my every move. I am grateful for all the kind words and support and I hope you continue to follow my weekly adventures.

Last week was without a doubt, one of the greatest highlights of my career. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to play and compete on the PGA Tour. As I stood on the first tee Thursday afternoon, the thoughts that raced through my head were incredible. I couldn't help but think about the long journey that lead to my first official tee time as a member of the PGA Tour. From my first swing around the age of three to the grind on the mini-tours, I worked a lifetime to reach this point.

I remember when my dad would carry me to the golf course to hit balls along side my brother, Chris, regardless of the weather. I remember when my mother would drop me off at 8am during the summertime to play 36 holes and practice. I remember her returning that evening, only to sit patiently in the car, as I chipped and putted under the lights of the parking lot. I remember being a Freshman in high school and beating my brother (who was a Senior and going to play golf at Vanderbilt) for the first time (in a tournament) to win the Sub-Region Championship (sorry Chris, that one stung, I know). I remember the countless number of junior and amateur tournaments as well as the hundreds of college and mini-tour events. I remember a lifetime of golf that lead me to the first tee on Thursday.

As I stood there, waiting on the official to call my name, I couldn't help but think about the two people who have been there from the very beginning. My Mom and Dad are the reason I stand here today as a member of the PGA Tour. Their dedication and support cannot be overlooked and for that I am forever grateful. I truly believe that my willingness to fight and my refusal to accept failure came from my Mom. As a teenager, I remember her battle with breast cancer. She refused to give up and vowed to fight the monster that threatened her life. She stands tall today, not only as a survivor, but also an inspiration to continue to fight, regardless of the odds. There is no doubt that my laid back personality but extreme competitiveness came from my Dad. Even though he always wore a smile on his face, he hated to lose. His outward demeanor never truly expressed his determination on the inside to win. He was truly my "coach" until the day he passed in 2004. He taught me sportsmanship and the importance of being a gracious loser. He taught me how to learn from my mistakes and use those failures to improve in life as well as on the field.

I also thought of Beth. I cannot thank her enough for being such a loving wife and an incredible mother. My life on the road would be impossible if there was chaos at home. She is dedicated to our family and she is without a doubt, my best friend. She is my heart and soul and I am lucky to have her as my wife.

And of course, I thought about the hundreds of people who have touched my life and helped me throughout this journey. From my brother and sister, grandparents, step-dad, and family, to sponsors, roommates and friends along the way, I am extremely lucky to have each of you in my life. Each of you are aware of the role you have played and I am thankful to have you in my life.

I wasn't nervous but I did get chills on the back of my neck when the official announced for the very first time at a PGA Tour event, "Now on the tee, from Eatonton, Georgia, Blake Adams."

However, as pleased as many of you were with my 25th place finish, I have walked away from the tournament with mixed emotions. While there were lots of positives to pull from this event, I failed to achieve the majority of my goals. I am extremely competitive and I don't like to fail. I set goals every week and I strive to accomplish them. I worked extremely hard yesterday and today to improve on the mistakes I made last week. I will continue to set high standards for myself and I will accept nothing but success.

This week I am in Palm Springs, California, for the Bob Hope Classic. The weather is normally around 75 degrees but for some reason, things have changed. It has rained heavily both days this week and the temperature is in the mid-50's. Our tournament is a Pro-Am format and it begins tomorrow. I will play four courses over the next four days. On Sunday, a cut will be made and the low 70 players will play for all the marbles. It is a great format and I am looking forward to competing against the best players in the world. Hopefully, the weather will improve as the week progresses.

As most of you know, 99% of our tournaments begin on Thursday. However, due to the Pro-Am format and the four golf courses involved, the Bob Hope Classic begins on Wednesday. My original plan was to leave Hawaii around midnight on Sunday night(thats 5am real time!!) and arrive in California around 10am Monday morning. However, things quickly changed on Sunday morning. I was invited to join several players for an earlier flight into Palm Springs aboard a G4. This plane was incredible. It was by far the nicest airplane I have ever been a passenger on and we arrived around 11pm Sunday evening. I had a great time hanging out in a very relaxed atmosphere with Boo Weekley, David Toms, Brian Gay, Harrison Frazar, and Tim Petrovic. It was an experience that I will remember for a long, long time. This earlier flight gave me the opportunity to practice all day Monday. Several of my friends were on my original flight and they got delayed due to the bad weather. Most of them were not able to practice on Monday.

I cannot thank you enough for all the support last week. I received several emails, texts, and voice mails while in Hawaii. I appreciate all the kind words. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed. I seek perfection and I will strive to achieve it. I let several opportunities slip away last week and I will continue to work hard and improve in those areas. I will succeed and I refuse to fail.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Preparation for the Sony Open..

January 11, 2010 will forever stand as a special day in my life. At 7 am, I drove into the parking lot at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Sony Open, site of my first official PGA Tour event, will be remembered as the starting point of hopefully a long and prosperous career on the “big” tour. It has certainly been a long journey but regardless of the route, I am here. I owe hundreds of people a lifetime of gratitude for helping me reach this point and I am forever grateful. Each of you is aware of your role in my career and I cannot thank you enough.

Monday was definitely a great start to my PGA Tour career. I was greeted and welcomed by many friends of old as well as several Tour Veterans. It was a little strange having guys I grew up watching as a child acknowledge my accomplishments of 2009 and offer their friendship. I played my first official practice round with Ryan Palmer and Chad Campbell. Ryan and I were friends back on the Hooters Tour but this was my first encounter with Chad. He was very nice and offered tons of advice on the golf course as well as life on tour. I had a great time and I felt right at home. I practiced a lot on Monday and there was plenty of sunshine. I think the weather was around 80 degrees and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I certainly enjoyed my first official day on the job and I left the golf course excited about the days ahead.

Tuesday brought much of the same activities. I arrived early to practice and play the course again. I spoke with more players that I admired as a child and had a pretty good laugh as I looked down the range. To my left and right were six players ranked well inside the top 25 in the world. There was a pretty good crowd behind us taking pictures. I laughed a bit and wondered if anyone had noticed the redneck hitting balls between these highly ranked players. I am sure they didn’t. But regardless, in my eyes, we all put our pants on the same way. I played that day with Boo Weekley and had a blast. As we stood on the first tee, John Daly and Pat Perez walked up. Again, I wasn’t intimidated by this, but it was weird to see these guys on the same tee box. Boo is a great guy and I met him years ago through Josh Broadaway. They are great friends and were roommates during Josh’s first year on the Nationwide Tour. We talked a lot about hunting and fishing and he offered tons of advice on the course. Boo is very genuine and as you know, what you see is what you get. I laughed the entire time and cannot wait till our next practice round.

Today, Wednesday, was a roller coaster of events and emotions. I was invited to play in a Sony Pro-Am on the other side of the island. The views were incredible. Mountains, waterfalls, and breathtaking views of the beach were in every direction. I began the day with everything smooth sailing and the weather was once again incredible. However, as the Pro-Am began, things were about to take a turn. On the first hole of the day, my bag came unstrapped from the golf cart and fell to the ground. I picked it up and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I about threw-up. My putter was bent and it was well beyond repair. This would be a problem most weeks. However, when you are in Hawaii and your backup is in Georgia, this now becomes a MAJOR problem! In addition, most club reps leave around noon on Wednesday to go home to their families. Luckily, the reps of my putter company (Rife) were still at the main golf course. However, they were only minutes away from leaving for the airport. They searched around and found a shaft similar to mine and drove 45 minutes to my Pro-Am golf course to build me a new putter on site!! Incredible! It is not exactly the same putter as the one before, but it is close, and definitely better than nothing. I am going to the course early in the morning and practice. I have yet to hit a putt with it because I had to give the glue and grip time to dry. Hopefully, it will act and feel similar to the old one.

As I sit here on the couch, preparing this blog, I can’t help but laugh. Throughout my career, I have battled obstacles and adversity. It is only fitting to walk into my first PGA Tour event with something out of the ordinary. Oh well, such is life. I will deal with it and prepare myself the best I can. Thanks for all the support. I cannot wait till tomorrow!!