Search This Blog

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!