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.