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!!