So, first things first, let’s just reflect on the last couple of weeks’ tournament action here on the PGA TOUR.
We’ll start with the Wells Fargo Championship at Eagle Point. And seriously, what a golf course that is! It literally stole the show. Things didn’t work out for me golf-wise. That was a real shame because Eagle Point is a magnificent golf course. All the players were impressed with the layout and the condition of the playing surfaces, which were outstanding in every way. Big thanks to Bobby Long and his team for taking care of us that week. We stayed in a wonderful home on Figure Eight Island, with the Atlantic on one side and the bay on the other. What a beautiful spot. We absolutely loved it.
We then moved on to THE PLAYERS Championship at its traditional home, TPC Sawgrass in Florida. Pete Dye’s famous Stadium Course, recently updated, is a super-tough test and last week was no exception. The margins are so fine that a round there can easily get away from you without you doing much wrong. I made a triple-bogey on Thursday and honestly, apart from pushing my tee shot maybe 10 yards, I didn’t hit a bad shot! Then on Friday we made another triple, again out of nowhere. Aside from that I played pretty nicely; just wasn’t sharp enough with my scrambling, which you have to be around there.
Next up is this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson at Las Colinas in Texas. It’s a great tournament, one that I feel blessed to have won in 1995 while the great man was still gracing us with his presence. The times that I got to spend in the company of Mr Nelson are among the standout memories of my career. He was a true gentleman and fascinating to talk to. No one has ever achieved what he did – 11 straight wins, 18 in a single season – and his memory recall for shots that he hit, tournaments he played, was really incredible.
The TPC layout at Las Colinas is a golf course that we’re all familiar with and I’d describe it as a solid and very fair test of golf. This week’s weather forecast is typical for this area, with gusty winds likely through to at least Saturday. It’s a good test of golf and has statistically one of the most demanding opening stretches of holes on the PGA TOUR. Hitting fairways is tough, so I’ll have to step it up a bit from my performance at Sawgrass last week. The rough tends to be quite severe as well, so fairways and greens is really the name of the game. I’ve had a number of good results here over the years, including obviously the win, and it would be wonderful if we could somehow draw inspiration from that and get some positive momentum going. Let’s see how we go.
Finally, a brief update on the Drive to SA Open series, which continued last week with a first ever visit to KZN and the beautiful Zimbali Golf Estate, designed by former Open champion Tom Weiskopf. A field of 104 players – including ex-Springboks Andre Joubert and Butch James, and pro golfer Adilson Da Silva – were treated to gorgeous weather and a perfectly conditioned golf course. Congrats to the winning pair, Gary Scheider and Jarred Byron, who qualify for the grand final at Highland Gate in November, where they will compete for a place in next year’s SA Open Pro-Am. Our thanks to everyone who took part and to Gavin Woodroffe and his team at Zimbali. Also to sponsors Sun Subaya and to Dan Sevel and Melville Vogel. The next Drive to SA Open event is on 19 May at Pearl Valley. For details of how you can take part and to view the full 2017 tournament schedule, click: http://www.ernieelscentre4autism.co.za/events.asp.
Okay, that’s it for now. Follow me on Twitter @TheBig_Easy.