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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.