With me now having a couple of weeks off at home here in Florida, this report is a nice opportunity for me to wrap-up recent main events on and off the course.
As I said before, huge congratulations to Sergio on winning his first Major Championship. I’m so pleased for him. He and Justin had a superb battle down the stretch and also played it in great spirit, which was good to see. It’s always a shame for the guy who comes second, but I believe Justin’s time will come. This was Sergio’s time, though, and for it to happen on what would have been Seve’s 60th birthday, that’s just so special. Seve was Sergio’s hero. He was my hero, too. He’d have surely been impressed with the way Sergio played and the way he was able to stay calm and control his emotions, which is no easy thing to do when you’re chasing down your first Major.
For my part…well, this year’s Masters was always going to be a week of mixed emotions with it being potentially my last time there. I was quite nervous on the 1st tee on Thursday, but once we got going it was a good day. I’ve never seen the course play any tougher and actually the conditions suited me. I’m kind of a linksy player and I played quite a few links-style shots out there. The greens were quite receptive because of the rain, so you could play that low shot. Normally, Augusta National doesn’t receive that low shot, but on Thursday it did. A level par 72 was a really good score in the end.
Friday was another tough scoring day, but I hung in there pretty good, which made the two bogeys on 17 and 18 all the more disappointing. That was a little soft. I was around for the weekend, though, and I was pleased about that. In the end, I didn’t play well on either Saturday or Sunday, but it was nice to be out there. The weather was beautiful, the fans were amazing, and it was lovely to have my family and a lot of close friends with me every step of the way. I tried to look around a bit and enjoy the experience.
I just want to take a brief moment to thank the committee at Augusta National, and all the Club’s members, for their hospitality not just last week, but every year. Augusta is a truly magical place and I’ve been lucky enough to play this wonderful tournament 23 times. I’ve won a lot of events around the world, but this one has eluded me. I certainly hope that I’ll get back there again for another go. But if not, it’s fine. I’ve had a great run and a great time.
After Augusta we then moved straight on to Hilton Head for the RBC Heritage at the iconic Harbour Town Links. I’m definitely not alone in this being one of my favourite stops on the PGA TOUR schedule and, as always, it was a pleasure to be back there again. The Masters is always an intense week in every way, but Hilton Head is quite the contrast. There’s a really laid-back vibe there. We rented a beautiful house by the beach. Liezl, Samantha and Ben and some friends were with me all week so we could enjoy some time together, take our bikes for a ride, play a bit of tennis. It’s just beautiful there.
And you know, I’ve enjoyed some success at Hilton Head over the years, albeit without registering a win there, and I always feel like it’s a place that can inspire me. After a promising start on Thursday, though, I just couldn’t quite get my game to click into place on Friday. Obviously every tournament that I enter I’m always motivated to try to play my best golf, so it was very disappointing to miss the cut. The strength in depth out here on Tour is so good that you just can’t afford to have those off-days.
However, on a more positive note I want to take this opportunity to thank RBC, the Heritage Foundation, Boeing, all the players, fans, tournament officials and media, for supporting Els for Autism. April is, of course, world autism awareness month and the RBC Heritage always goes the extra mile to help provide a wonderful platform for our various charitable initiatives. The now traditional ‘Blue Out’ day on Thursday was once again wonderfully well supported and I can’t thank everyone enough.
You’ll find more details on the various other events and fundraisers that our team at Els for Autism is running throughout the month of April, including the #4Miles4Autism campaign (see poster below), at our website: www.e4agolf.com.
Staying on the subject of autism, we’re grateful to the 38 teams who supported the latest Drive to SA Open golf day at Omeya Golf Club in Namibia last Friday, which raised R150 800 for The Els Centre for Autism South Africa. This was a new chapter for us, as it was the first such day to take place outside South African borders. Thanks to Nico Van Rensburg of the Els Group and Dan Zwiebel, the General Manager at Omeya, for making this event happen. I hear it was such a good day that already a date is being discussed for a return visit in 2018. Remember, anyone who takes part in this Drive to SA Open series has a chance to win a place in the grand final at Highland Gate in November and, ultimately, a slot in the Pro Am for next year’s BMW SA Open. Our next two events on the 2017 series are at Zimbali CC on 11 May and Houghton GC on 25 May. Please click here for the full schedule and details of how you can take part.
Okay, that’s it for now. As I said before, I’ve got a couple of weeks off at home in Florida and I’ll be using that time to re-charge the batteries, work on my fitness and on my golf game, to try to get myself best prepared for a run of big tournaments starting in May.
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