We’ve got to start this week’s report with huge congratulations to Sergio Garcia 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. Well done!
For my part…well, it was a week of mixed emotions. Funnily enough, 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. This 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. Maybe 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.
Anyway, that’s all behind me. I’m now looking ahead and thinking about all the great tournaments coming up. As you can imagine, I’m very motivated to play some good golf and to try to get myself back in the mix. I feel there’s enough quality in my game to produce some good results going forward and hopefully I can add to my tally of seven top-10s at this week’s RBC Heritage at the iconic Harbour Town Golf Links.
This is definitely one of my all-time favourite stops on the PGA TOUR and it’s always a pleasure to stay and play here. Naturally, I’m also proud to represent RBC who have done a really wonderful job with this tournament since becoming title sponsor in 2012. They’ve also been loyal supporters of The Els for Autism Foundation over the years and thanks to their help, and our other partners such as the Heritage Foundation and Boeing (who are presenting sponsor this week), my friends at SAP and all my other sponsors, we continue to use golf as a platform to promote awareness of autism and also the importance of early detection. The earlier we can diagnose these kids and secure the help that they need, the better chance they have of leading positive, productive and rewarding lives.
As in recent years, we have a designated ‘Blue Out’ day to promote Autism Awareness Month in April. This time it’s on Thursday 13th and we’re extremely grateful to all of the many players, caddies, fans, media and tournament officials who unite in their support for autism by wearing blue. The response has been amazing since we started this initiative a few years ago and we have faith that it will be the same again this week.
You’ll find more details on the ‘Blue Out’ day, along with all of the other events and fundraisers that our team at Els for Autism is running throughout the month of April, including the #4Miles4Autism campaign, at our website: www.e4agolf.com.
Finally, 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. Follow me on Twitter @TheBig_Easy.