Well, I said I was going to take a week off in the last update. A week off for me over the summer means I wake up at 4:30am, am on the range at 5:30am and play the 5:45am tee time at TPC Summerlin or TPC Las Vegas with a few other good players for $5 skins. This is partially because I love mornings, but mostly because the afternoons in Vegas in August get to 115º. This week was no exception, other than the fact that on Wednesday morning, I woke up and shot 58 at TPC Las Vegas with Justin Suh and my brother Scout. Even in that group, this round won me the skins game!!
The long trip to Liberty National revealed a very different landscape than back in Vegas… mountains were replaced by the Manhattan skyline and Liberty National proved a very difficult test. Every tee shot seemed like a bit of a squeeze, and the greens were only a step short of severe. I found myself in 50th place after mediocre rounds hampered by a few untimely balls in the water.. however a hot putter carried me through (which was a welcome change after the last few months!!).
While the course played firm and fast the first few rounds, the 9” of rain we received on Sunday made the entire day a wash–we watched videos of fairways becoming lakes, and maintenance crews tirelessly working to make the course playable. I was really hoping for a chance for a Monday finish, as sitting in 50th place, one more round was almost entirely upside.
In stunning fashion, we got to play on Monday and finish the tournament, and by the end of the day, balls were rolling out in the fairways and the turf was firm underfoot. I am still blown away by how the maintenance team at Liberty National was able to make the golf course walkable, let alone play as well as it did. And a final day 67 vaulted me into 27th place for the tournament- but I was even more proud of how I fought back this day. A greedy drive on my 7th hole of the day found the water, and I made a great up-and-down to save bogey and only drop to +2… but playing the last 11 holes -6 was a great way to finish off the week. It was a great lesson for me on my 7th hole, where I was faced with a short-sided 4th shot over a bunker, that momentum can shift at any time. And I’m glad it did!!
We then traveled to Baltimore for a shortened week at the BMW at Caves Valley GC. After a day and a half of hiking Caves Valley in the 95 degree, 85% humidity weather, I decided that it was time for my quarterly haircut–and went straight to the barber before my Thursday round. Luckily, Kelley James was there to provide some tunes to get us through the last few holes on the Wednesday pro-am!! Between shorter hair, nightly PediaLytes, and the UA IsoChill wardrobe, I pulled out all the stops to stay cool this week. I particularly did not envy Travis, who had to lug my staff bag over the 9-mile long golf course that was anything but flat.
The golf course was very soft due to the rains that soaked the northeast, and the humidity was not allowing it to dry. We played ball-in-hand because of this, and scores were very low. I had three very average rounds to start, and finished with a poor final day (again, a very strange day with the putter) to conclude my season finishing 58th in the FedEx Cup.
A highlight of the week for me was getting to spend a bunch of time with the Under Armour crew, who are based in Baltimore. One of the main reasons I chose to wear their gear (other than the fact that it’s just the best golf and workout gear) was the caliber of professional athlete they supported… getting to spend time with Kevin Plank, Jordan Spieth, Kelly O’Hara, Lindsey Vonn, and Michael Phelps only made this even more clear to me.
This wraps up my 2020-2021 PGA Tour Season, and my 58th finish on the FedEx Cup is a very important number for a few reasons. It gets me in all of the invitational tournaments next year (CJ Cup, Zozo, Genesis, Arnold Palmer Invitational, RBC Heritage, Memorial, PLAYERS, Charles Schwab), and led me to finish the year ranked 106th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
You may have heard some news about the PGA Tour launching an updated OWGR, as many have long said the OWGR is biased against the PGA and Korn Ferry Tours… the Tour followed up and after their own investigation, got the international governing bodies to agree on a more statistically-accurate version of the OWGR. I asked the Tour what my “new” ranking would be under this system, and it came out to be 85th in the world–21 spots better than my current ranking. That’s a big difference. The new system goes into effect in August 2022, but I sure wish it would update sooner!!!
Thank you again to everybody for another very successful Birdies for Education season. We have now raised over $877k for Curriki, and I am beyond grateful for all of your contributions. I love the fact that so many of you are interested in my golf, the PGA Tour, and are hopefully enjoy reading these blog posts!! I also sincerely appreciate all the encouraging messages I’ve received.