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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Beach, Olives, and the Snake Pit...

Is it still considered work when your office is located on an Island? The beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico served as my “office” a couple of weeks ago and I will be the first to admit that I am very blessed. The calmness and peaceful feeling that I experience on week’s like this are truly special. The sight and sounds of waves crashing in the background made for quite an enjoyable week while the enormous palm trees, exotic birds, and crystal clear water only added to the beauty of the island. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit such beautiful places on this earth and I am very blessed that my job allows my “office” to be 85 degrees with sunny skies, beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, and a million other great things!

Beth and our good friends Bruce (Ope) and Melissa Kelly flew down to the sunny shores of Puerto Rico on Wednesday. We had a great time and we really enjoyed eating at several of the local restaurants that the island had to offer. Mofongo and Plantain were popular meals throughout the week along with fresh fish. We spent our afternoons watching the waves gently roll in toward our lawn chairs as the sun slowly disappeared along the ocean line in the distance. Yes...I am very blessed.

One of the local restaurants that we ate at twice during the week is a place called Richie’s. It sits atop a small mountainside and overlooks the ocean. During one night at dinner, Jeff Overton and his girlfriend joined us and Jeff ordered the Special on the menu...Red Snapper with Plantain. It looked really good and after I told my Physical Rehab guys the next morning about our experience they decided to go that evening. They both ordered the same Red Snapper Special that sat on Jeff’s plate the night before and quickly decided to play a joke on their Golf Channel friends sitting at the table with them. The presentation of the ENTIRE Red Snapper on their plate was incredible and for obvious reasons, the cook replaced the eyeballs with Olives. Well, one of my regular Rehab guys is from South Africa and he (jokingly) told the table how much his culture loved to eat Fish eyeballs. They all believed him and he immediately reached down and put the Olive (fake eyeball) in his mouth. The table almost lost their supper! They obviously had no clue and didn’t realize that it was only an Olive. A few seconds later, my other Rehab guy (who is American) said he “would be tough and partake in the culture.” He was obviously in on the joke and grabbed his Olive from the Red Snapper. The South African said, “Come on, it’s easy. Here I will eat the other one first to show you.” He ate the Olive as the table looked in astonishment. The American put his Olive in his mouth and the table couldn’t believe it. All of sudden, his face turned really pale...WHY you ask?? Well, his Olive was not an was indeed an EYEBALL!

Just like any tournament, there were both positives and negatives from the Puerto Rico Open. The positives definitely outweighed the negatives and my Tie for 9th place finish echos this statement. I can proudly and honestly say that I played the entire event pain free! What an amazing feeling! The shot obviously worked and my Rehab guys continue to do a great job on my body. Our daily two hours sessions have paid huge dividends and hopefully our tireless work will keep my body feeling this way for a long, long time. Putting was once again a major obstacle for me and I am not sure why. Last year, I finished the season 13th on Tour in Putting...Not Bad. However, this year my results and statistics have been less than stellar. During the Puerto Rico Open, I had 7 three putts and missed a ton of short putts. Sure, the greens were extremely grainy but there will NEVER be an excuse worthy of 7 three putts. In fact, I probably didn’t have 7 three putts during my entire 2011 season!! I lost the tournament by 6 shots and was 4 shots out of you do the math. The good news is that I played well enough to win. I was solid from tee to green and I was pain free. Hopefully the putts will fall in the coming weeks and my name will be on TOP of the leader board.

The kids joined Beth and I for the Transitions Championship in Palm Harbor/Tampa, Florida, at the incredible Innisbrook Resort. Practice went extremely well leading up to the First Round. Kenny Perry and I played on Tuesday alongside good friends Scott Stallings (2011 Greenbrier Classic Champion) and Scott Brown. As in most practice rounds on the PGA Tour, a friendly wager took place within our group as the Old Men faced off against the Young Kids. Kenny and I took the lead after the first hole and never looked back. In fact, the young bucks never had the “Honors” on the tee box which meant that they never won a hole! As we walked to the 18th tee, Kenny and I once again had the tee and the Kids were dejected and beat down. Their wallets were hurting and they bravely decided to go “All in.” Kenny and I both hit the Fairway while BOTH of our competitors found the trees on the right. The Old Men hit the green and we faced two very makable 25 foot birdie putts. Scott Brown missed the green long and left and faced a very difficult chip. Now, their only hope was Ol Mr Greenbrier! Well, regardless of how many poor shots Team Young Bucks had hit over the previous 17 holes, Stallings dug down deep and hit an INCREDIBLE shot to about 6 feet! After Kenny and I both rolled our birdie putts over the edge of the cup, the stage was set for Stallings. He had two choices...miss the putt and continue the trend and BEATDOWN that his team had faced all day OR make the putt and erase all the humiliation of never winning a hole! Well...the little punk make the putt and changed the whole outcome of the match! What a joke and a bunch of bull!! HaHa. The Old Men put on a clinic but walked away with nothing to show for the massacre. Oh well...a rematch has already been rescheduled!

When Thursday rolled around, I was excited about the state of my game. My body felt great, my swing felt effortless, and the ball was going exactly where I was aiming. I knew that if I could hole a few putts then I would probably be in the mix come Sunday. Well unfortunately, things quickly unraveled. After missing four putts inside six feet over my first twelve holes, I got frustrated and aggravated. This was unusual for me because I normally do a good job of letting things go. However, this day was different. I let the missed opportunities on the greens change my game plan from a smart and well thought out attack to an overly aggressive and mindless press. Usually when this occurs the golf course wins....and on Thursday it did! I shot 75 and walked away extremely dejected. I hit the ball way too good to shot over par however I let my emotions take over. I vowed to not let this happen again and on Friday, I rallied the troops and attempted to make the cut from a million miles outside the cut line. Sure I missed some putts along the way but I didn’t let things bother me. In fact, as I reached the treacherous 16th hole (which begins a challenging three hole stretch nicknamed the Snake Pit), I had the Low Round of the Day going at 5 under par. I was inside the cut line as well but I had a difficult challenge ahead. My adrenaline was high and like most players in the field, I hit 3wood off the tee to cover the water along the right side of the fairway. When the ball left the club face, I knew that I had struck it extremely well and its path was on a good line. However, what I didn’t know was that I was about to hit a 304 yard 3wood (according to ShotTracker)!! Unfortunately, my ball bounced through the fairway and came to rest DIRECTLY up against a tree. I was TOAST!! I fumbled around the hole a bit and finally tapped in for a crowd pleasing Double Bogey. Game Over! I pared the last two holes of the Snake Pit but my mishap on 16 cost me a weekend tee time. Another missed cut and another disappointment.

I took last week off and things couldn’t have been better. Time with the family is always special and the convenience of having a green in the backyard is priceless. I worked long hours on my putting and chipping in hopes of making a run at this week’s Shell Houston Open. I am excited about the week ahead and as usual, if a few putts can fall, good things will happen. I am staying with my good friend and Houston Astros owner, Jim Crane again this year. The week has already been amazing and next week’s blog will have some good stories. I know great things are ahead in terms of Golf and a win this week would secure me a tee time in next week’s PGA Tour event....The Masters!


  1. Keep working hard and the putts will start falling. Good luck in Houston! mark

  2. Charles WinsletteApril 8, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    Good luck and keep working hard. The worm will turn. Might come be your caddy when I retire. Been coaching 34 years. Oldest son Matt was a 1st Team All-American at Georgia Southern in 1998. Played a lot of golf with Mike Rountree through the years. Keep that workout regimen so your body is ready to go along with a good head you have on your shoulders.

  3. Great 1st round at the Players! Keep the momentum going!