Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Travelers and You Might Be A Redneck...

After my world wind experience at the U.S. Open, I traveled back to Georgia on the always-dreadful redeye flight.  Beth and I picked up the kids and headed North to Connecticut to battle my fellow Tour players in this year’s Travelers Championship.  I entered Thursday’s round excited about the direction of my game and I was determined to improve on last year’s 9th place finish.  I came out of the gates a little slow and finished the day with a semi-disappointing round of 1 under par (69).   Friday was much more exciting as I put myself into contention with a solid round of 6 under par (64).  The weekend didn’t turn out as I would have liked and my rounds of 70-71 slipped me into a tie for 29th.  My inexcusable bogey-bogey finish on Sunday was extremely disappointing and something that has plagued some of my decent finishes of late (ex. Double bogey-bogey finish at The Memorial plummeted me to a 19th place finish).  Two pars on the final two holes at The Travelers Championship would have greatly improved my finish and made the lack-luster weekend of golf a little more enjoyable.  However, all in all, I played some decent spurts of golf throughout the week and if some putts had fallen, my outcome would have certainly been drastically different.

This week I am in our Nation’s Capital for this week’s PGA Tour event hosted by Tiger Woods.  His tournament, The AT&T National, returns to its original site, Congressional.  The two-year absence was required because the course underwent several changes in order to host the 2011 U.S. Open.  In that event, Rory McIlory destroyed the field and “Old Man Par” thanks to the soggy and wet conditions that Mother Nature produced at Congressional.  To his credit, Rory played incredible golf but the soft conditions yielded an uncharacteristic large number of birdies.  Well, as you can imagine, the members of Congressional were NOT happy.  So, with that in mind, who do you think will pay the consequences for Rory’s mindboggling birdie barrage?  You guessed it…this week’s field at The AT&T National.  This course is HARD!  And I mean U.S. Open hard!  Thankfully, I have a history of playing difficult courses well.  The rough is thick, the greens are bricks, and every tee box is a million miles away from the green!  It will be a great test of golf and I am looking forward to my “2nd U.S. Open” of the year!

After playing the course on Monday for the first time ever, my back decided to bow out and forced me to lay low for a few days.  I went to the course on Tuesday but just for rehab.  My team of trainers worked on my old body for over two hours before I headed back to the hotel for movie day.  Wednesday was pretty much the same routine.  I hit about 10 balls today but after experiencing extreme tightness, I Withdrew from the Wednesday Pro-Am and headed back to the trailer for more rehab.  Hopefully, the rest and rehab allow me to challenge Congressional in a pain-free manner.

Before I get to the “Question of the Week,” I have to tell you about my experience last night.  My sister, Courtney, is in town on business and after we ate supper, she drove me to a CVS Pharmacy to pick up some Ibuprofen for my back.   As I began to checkout, the man working the register struck up an interesting conversation with me.  He appeared to be from the Middle East and our conversation went like this…

Middle East CVS Man:  Do you have a CVS Card?

Me:  No sir, I am not from here and we don’t have a CVS in my town.

Middle East CVS Man:  That is Okay, I will use one of ours complementary.  Where are you from?

Me:  Thank you for doing that…I am from Georgia.

Middle East CVS Man:  How long are you here for?

Me:  I leave on Sunday

Middle East CVS Man:  How do you like Washington DC?

Me:  It’s nice.  Little big for me but it’s nice.

Middle East CVS Man:  Well, Welcome to America!

Me:  Ahmmmmm, Welcome to America to you too Buddy!

Middle East CVS Man:  Your accent...Is English your first language?

Me:  Ahmmmmm Yes

Middle East CVS Man:  Hmmmmm.  Do you speak any other languages? 

Me:  No, just English.

Middle East CVS Man:  Wow, I am surprised that English is the only language you speak in Georgia.

Me:  Ahmmmmm.  Yeah, that’s it.

Middle East CVS Man:  Hmmmmm. Your accent sounds really strong and kind of weird.  Sounds like a blend of several languages.

Me:  Okay, Thanks…I guess?

Middle East CVS Man:  I can’t believe you don’t speak any languages other than English in Georgia!

Me:  Sir…Where do you think Georgia is?  I live in Georgia, which is next to Florida…not the Georgia that is next to Russia!  I am an American!

Middle East CVS Man:  Oh!  Sorry.

Me:  HaHa…Welcome to America Sir!

You might be and SOUND like a Redneck if a man from the Middle East thinks your accent sounds “really strong and kind of weird” and he thinks you live in a foreign country!  Wow!  Simply…Wow!

Question of the Week:   Jim from Indiana wrote…Blake, Thank you for taking the time to write a weekly blog.  I follow it and look forward to it every week.  I am sure you have played all the great courses in the United States so my question is which one is your favorite and why?

Jim, Thank you for the email and your continued support and interest.  Golf has been a huge part of my life and I have been very fortunate to play some great courses during my 36 years on this Earth.  I have been fortunate enough to play the extremely private courses like Cypress Point and Pine Valley along with the breathtaking views on courses like Pebble Beach and Whistling Straits.  I have played everything from the fancy country club courses to the small town local courses.  All are great and unique but in my mind, there is one course that has separated itself from the pack and is ultimately…untouchable.  That place, as many of you can guess, is Augusta National.  The aura and history that makes up Augusta National is truly special.  There is no other place like it on earth.  Driving down Magnolia Lane sends chills down your back and the experience of spending time in the clubhouse is incredible.  Television doesn’t do the place justice and a person cannot truly believe how incredible the property is until they step foot on the premises. Whether you are there for the Masters or are fortunate enough to play golf there with a Member, the experience is breathtaking and indescribable.  I have been fortunate to play the course twice and experience the Masters Tournament more times than I can count.  However, I get chill bumps every time I go and I hope that each of you have or can one day experience my little piece of Heaven.

Thanks again for your continued support and please keep the questions coming!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In the Hunt at My First U.S. Open...

I first want to thank everyone for the tremendous support that I received last week during the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California.  The hundreds of emails and texts that I received during the week were both humbling and inspiring.  I am forever grateful for your support and I hope that I will continue to make you proud.

The week began with some great preparation and advice from several U.S Open veterans.  I arrived in San Francisco on Saturday with my swing instructor, John Tillery, and my caddy, Barry Williams, by my side.  I played the course for the first time on Sunday morning and left The Olympic Club excited about the week ahead.  Since this was my first Major and U.S. Open, I made sure that I scheduled my practice rounds with experienced U.S. Open players… On Monday I played with 2009 U.S. Open Champion, Lucas Glover…Tuesday was with 2012 U.S. Open Champion Webb Simpson…and Wednesday was with 2012 Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III.  I leaned on each of them for advice on ways to attack/survive the difficult course conditions as well as the 45-minute phone call I received from my good friend, Kenny Perry.

As I predicted last week, The Olympic Club and the U.S. Open was by far the toughest test of golf that I have ever faced.  The course was in immaculate shape but the conditions and layout were brutally tough.  The rough was extremely thick and the greens were hard and lightning fast.   However, like any U.S. Open, fairways were a premium.  The difficulty with hitting the fairways at the Olympic Club was due to the fact that they were extremely sloped and in most cases, there was only one thing that could stop your ball…the THICK ROUGH!  I cannot begin to tell you how many of my tee shots landed perfectly in the fairway but wound up BURIED a few inches in the rough.  This was certainly the frustrating part of the U.S. Open but it was expected.  Perfect shots were often times not rewarded and the players that didn’t cry over the bad breaks were the most successful. 

I entered Sunday’s round with a chance to win my first Major in my very first attempt.  This was certainly a special feeling as I battled against the best players in the World on an extremely big stage. I began the Final Round only 3 shots off the lead but to be honest, I wasn’t the slightest bit worried about my deficit, the television cameras, the worldwide audience, or the leaders.  Why you ask?  Because I had enough to worry about… The Olympic Club on Sunday of the U.S. Open was going to be a battle…and a battle it was!  The course punched me in the mouth from the very beginning as I bogeyed my FIRST 6 holes!  To be fair, I probably should have only bogeyed 2 holes during that stretch (hole #1 and #4) but I wasn’t rewarded for some pretty darn good shots.  A couple of bad bounces left me in some awkward and difficult positions and before I knew it…I was 6 over for the day!  Some people would have given up and quit but like always, I refused to give up and I fought back.  I played my next 12 holes in one under par and received a huge ovation for my eagle at #17.  I played the Final Round with Two-time U.S. Open Champion Ernie Els and it was quite the experience.  I was able to pick his brain a little bit and I cannot tell you how extremely gracious he was along the way.   We talked a good bit throughout the day about golf and family and I will forever remember the experience.  Even though I didn’t hoist the trophy in the end, I learned a great deal from my first Major and I will be better prepared next time around. 

I hung in there for the most part and I once again proved a lot of people wrong.  Unlike some people, I embrace the criticism and use it as motivation.  I enjoy being the underdog and having the last laugh.  Thanks again for the motivation fellas!

As I mentioned last week, I have begun taking questions and comments from my readers and each of them will be included in my blogs throughout the year.  Since last week’s tournament was a new event, I didn’t feel as if I was repeating myself and I included some tidbits from the U.S. Open.  So keeping with the new theme, I will answer one of the many questions submitted.

Barry from Georgia wrote..."Blake - I know putting is critical to being successful on the Tour and you have changed putters a few times - so, what putter are you using and are you pleased overall with your putting?"

         Putting is the most important statistic on the PGA Tour.  I work extremely hard on my putting every day and I feel that I am getting better and better each week.  Currently, I am using an Odyssey White Hot #7M Belly Putter and it has been in my bag for over a year and a half.  I am very pleased with the direction that my putting has gone since I began using this putter.  My instructor, John Tillery, and I work hard and monitor my putting each and every week.  Putting is the key to success on the PGA Tour and I am definitely headed in the right direction.

Thank you for all your interest and please keep the questions and comments coming!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I'm Back...New Website and U.S. Open Bound

I apologize for taking such a long break from my weekly blog but hopefully, after reading my words, you will understand.

Since my last post, I have been extremely busy with Golf and the travels that go along with my job.  I have journeyed all over the country and there is little doubt that my game is getting better and better each week.  I just completed an 8 consecutive week stretch of tournaments that ended in Dublin, Ohio, at one of the PGA Tour’s most prestigious events…The Memorial.  This event was once again hosted by one of Golf’s greatest players, Mr. Jack Nicklaus.  In what has become a norm at his Tournament each year, the golf course and hospitality were first class.  I finished the event in a respectable 19th place but my results certainly didn’t justify my ball striking for the week.  The cold and blustery conditions played havoc on everyone throughout the week.  My old hip gave me some trouble on Friday but I managed to fight through it.  Tiger won the event in dramatic fashion, thanks to an impossible chip that he made on the difficult 16th hole. My double bogey, bogey finish on Sunday didn’t sit too well but, as always, I will learn from my mistakes and move forward.  A par, par finish would have put me in 11th place for the Tournament.  Oh well…could of, should of, would of!!

As I mentioned earlier, this was my 8th event in a row.  I know, I know…I play Golf for a living so how hard can it really be?  However, 8 consecutive weeks on the road translates into 8 consecutive weeks of work.  My last OFF DAY was during The Masters (first week in April)!!  My job requires me to be at work 7-days a week, regardless of a made or missed cut.  But, like I said, I am playing Golf for a living.

There were two highlights during my 8-week marathon.  The first came at The Players Championship down in Ponte Vedra, Florida.  I hit the ball well throughout the week and I couldn’t help but smile as I proved several television commentators wrong after they made some very strong and opinionated comments about me on national television.  My 12th place finish fell 11 spots short of my goal but it was a million miles ahead of where those individuals predicted I would finish.   Thanks for the extra motivation, fellas!

My good friend and Country Music Star, Luke Bryan, played on Wednesday of the event in front of a packed house.  I met him for lunch before he was scheduled to go on stage and we visited for a short while following the concert.  The Golf Channel interviewed him shorly after he arrived to Jacksonville and several of the commentators tried to pry some of our college stories out of him.  Thankfully, he kept things PG rated for the millions of viewers watching at home!  He did a tremendous job with the concert and I couldn’t be more proud of him and his success.

The second and, without a doubt, most memorable highlight occurred on Monday of this week.  After battling the tough conditions at The Memorial, I put my body and game to the test in a one day, 36-hole qualifier for the upcoming U.S. Open.  I, along with the majority of the PGA Tour, battled through the wind for 16 spots and a trip to The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California.   I bogeyed my very first hole but thankfully that was the last one I would make all day!  I played my next 35-holes bogey free and finished in solo 2nd with rounds of 67-68.   I earned a spot into this coming week’s U.S. Open and I cannot wait to participate in my first Major (one of four each year for those of you that don’t follow golf – Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship).  Each year, the U.S. Open is the most difficult test in Golf.  The rough is so thick that golf balls are often lost, only to reappear months later like last year’s Easter eggs!  In addition, the greens are so fast that they are almost impossible to stop, especially on downhill putts.  It is, without a doubt, the toughest Tournament in the world and I cannot wait for the challenge.

Since my last blog entry, I have been working extremely hard on a couple of projects away from the golf course.  One of the two is completed and hopefully this new outlet will do a better job of keeping everyone MORE INVOLVED AND UPDATED on my weekly adventures.  This completed project can be located at  This website will be updated weekly and I am asking each of you to become a part of it.  My blog is extremely important to me but, in all honesty, I have run out of things to say!  I feel that I am repeating myself each week and I am at the point where I don’t know what my readers want to hear.  So with that being said, I am asking YOU to become part of my weekly blog.  I am opening up two lines of communication for questions or comments and my weekly entries will be based on your interests and inquiries.  This way, I will have a guideline for what to write about and you will be involved in the content.  I will do my best to answer as many questions as possible each week but obviously some of them will not make the cut.  Please don’t be discouraged if yours isn’t answered on that particular week because I will refer back to them for future entries.  The first way to contact me is through my email ( and the other is through the Contact Tab on my website (   Hopefully you will enjoy this new avenue and involvement.

In addition to the “new and improved” entries, I will have contests on the website that will give my followers a chance to win prizes.   These prizes may range from equipment to autographs of certain players on Tour.  Please don’t miss out on some of these chances to win some really cool prizes.

My second project is still in the works and if things continue on its current path, it will be huge.  I cannot say a great deal about it but hopefully I will have some good news in the upcoming months.  It is very dear to my heart and something that will definitely impact thousands of people.

I hope you will become a part of my weekly entries by submitting your questions and comments.  I welcome anything tasteful and of interest to my readers.  I am really excited about this new approach to the blog and website.  Hopefully you will enjoy the new path, as well.  Please take the time to look over the site and GET INVOLVED!  I have included an email signup on the web site as well that will send out an alert when new things are posted.  PLEASE sign up so you will be included in the weekly updates.  This will also allow me to gauge the level of interest on the site.   Also, I encourage each of you to join in my Campaign to help the children of Putnam and Emanuel Counties.  Find more information under the heading “Campaign” at my web site (  Please get involved and good luck with the contests!