**The website has been down since Wednesday for some reason....I finally regained access a few minutes ago
As I hugged on Jake moments before I left for the Hilton Head airport, I was reminded of how hard my job is becoming. I knelt down and stood face to face with my tearful three year old boy while he begged me not to leave. "Why do you have to go? Please take me with you." As his eyes filled with water, I tried to explain that Daddy had to go to work in order to earn money for our family. He looked up at me and in the sweetest little voice and said, "Daddy, I have a great idea. Let's go home together as a family, and when we get there, me and you can run as fast as we can to my room and get my piggy bank. I will open it up, empty it out, and fill your pockets with all MY money so that YOU don't have to go to work! Come on Daddy! Hurry! Let's go home as fast as we can! Come on Daddy." How does anyone respond to that???
When I landed in New Orleans for the Zurich Classic, my heart was definitely aching for the family that I was forced to leave behind. I always knew that my job would get harder as the kids got older but WOW!! Luckily, the Zurich Classic did a great job occupying my time on and off the golf course. The TPC of Louisiana is a demanding golf course that requires patience and accurate ball striking. I worked extremely hard throughout the week and I felt really good entering Thursday's first round. Former UGA roommate and good friend, Bruce Kelly, left Athens bright and early Thursday morning in order to make my opening two rounds. He saw first hand how the putts constantly burned the edges but never seemed to fall. Another made cut and a disappointing T26 finish left me scratching my head yet again. I actually lead the tournament in pars made (56 in 72 holes) and least number of bogeys (4 all week)....only one problem, the Zurich Classic isn't the U.S. Open! However, as I mentioned before, the Zurich Classic did a great job in providing players with several options to get "away" from golf. On Tuesday, the tournament sent Boo and I on a chartered fishing trip for the second year in a row. We caught our limit in Redfish well before lunch and were able to practice a little golf that afternoon. On Thursday, I carried Bruce to the Annual Private-Players Only Party at Acme Oyster Bar. This event offers an open menu and bar to those attending which as you can imagine, can get a little out of hand. Thanks to a very early Friday morning tee time, I only ordered from the food side of the menu. To add to the list of activities, I also got invited to sit in a box for the New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Lakers game Thursday night after the party. However, the thought of a long basketball game and the sound of my 4:30 am wake up call early Friday morning made my decision to quickly crawl in bed an easy one.
I flew from New Orleans Sunday afternoon courtesy of Chick-Fil-A via their very, very nice private plane. We headed to Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee for the Chick-Fil-A Pro-Am. I still consider Eatonton my "home" and it was a real treat to fly over my hometown for the first time. My family picked me up from the airport and we headed to my Mom's house for the evening. Jake was so excited to see his Daddy and once again, begged me not to leave him EVER again. I think I am in for a long year!!
I drove up to Charlotte for the Wells Fargo Quail Hollow Championship shortly after the Chick-Fil-A Pro-Am. I practiced extremely hard during the week and was grateful to have longtime friend and swing instructor John Tillery alongside. We concentrated on improving my putting because in all honesty, my ball striking didn't need any work. On Tuesday, I hit it the best I have all year long. Quail Hollow is an extremely difficult course and I couldn't wait until Thursday's opening round. Unfortunately, below 40 degree temperatures and a strong and steady wind greeted me bright and early for my 7am tee time. My old and achy body didn't quite cooperate and a second round score of 71 couldn't make up for the early mishaps. My first missed cut in 8 events definitely left a sour taste in my mouth. However, having my family with me in Charlotte certainly made things a little better but all in all, I was extremely disappointed. Jake however, was fired up that his Daddy didn't have to go to work on Saturday morning!!
For the first time in forever, I witnessed a milestone of one of my kids. Life on the road is hard enough, especially when one child is begging you not to leave. However, when you never see a child's first steps or words...now that is heartbreaking. To my astonishment, Libby took her first multiple steps one night on the putting green. Everyone was so excited for her but as you can imagine, it was especially special for me. I usually hear of these events after they take place so to actually see something first hand was priceless.
We drove home after my disappointing missed cut in Charlotte and celebrated the "special" day as a family. Mother's Day is obviously very close to my heart and I will be the first to admit that I am one lucky man to have Beth in my life. She is the backbone of our family and her daily commitment to the well-being of our kids is unmatched. I really don't know what I would do without her. I am forever grateful. She is without a doubt my best friend...and yes, I definitely out kicked my coverage! What was she thinking when she said I DO???!!!
Everyone is proud of their own Mom but mine is truly an inspiration. Her battles over the years have definitely been a blueprint for how to handle adversity. She never complains or makes excuses when these hiccups in life occur. She truly is special and I am honored to call her Mom.
This week I am in Jacksonville, Florida, for my first Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Regarded as the "5th Major", this event is enormous and the atmosphere certainly plays the part. I rented a place on the beach just a few miles from the course which is great for Beth and the kids. We spend the evenings alongside the ocean and I cannot tell you how much fun I have had hitting golf balls with Jake till dark. We make our own golf course in the sand and the happiness on his face is contagious. Hopefully, I will get a few tips from Jake on how to play this crazy game of golf. If my putter cooperates, it could be a magical week.