Hello from the 2020-2021 PGA Tour season!

September 2020 Update 

First things first, to business. With the conclusion of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, our 2019-2020 season has come to an end. This means it’s time to kick off Birdies for Education 3.0, raising money for Curriki during our 2020-2021 PGA Tour season! Again, I am going to pledge $50 for each birdie I make this season to Curriki, and I sure hope it gets more expensive this year!

If you would like to renew or increase your pledge for next season, please log into your account or click here. I will say that never has it been a more critical time for Curriki and our remote learning efforts, given the groundbreaking launch of CurrikiStudio and the uncertainty of in-person learning driven by the pandemic. So if you want to make a massive difference for students across the globe, need a tax write-off, like following PGA Tour golf, or just think my blog posts are entertaining, please sign up and tell your friends!! (I also deleted all social media, so Birdiesforeducation.com is really the only way to get the inside scoop!).

And again, thank you so much to everyone who has contributed over the past two seasons. I cannot begin to explain how crucial your support of Curriki has been in being able to develop and launch CurrikiStudio quickly at such an important time.

So far this season, I’ve made 74 birdies, and to date we’ve raised nearly $483k for Curriki!

Curriki has made exponential progress in the last year, and is driving the digital engagement efforts of well known institutions such as Teach for America, Arizona State University, the PGA Tour, and multiple state and local education departments. To find out more, check out www.curriki.org.

FedEx Cup Playoffs and Beyond
But now to golf! I just finished playing the first two events of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and our first event of the “wraparound” season, the Safeway Open… with a lengthy five-day off season between.

The first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs was The Northern Trust at TPC Boston, and there was a lot at stake. Entering the playoffs 58th in the FedEx Cup, I knew I had to make the cut at a minimum to guarantee berth into the BMW Championship (limited to the top 70 in the FEC). I got off to a great start on Thursday, with a red-hot putter carrying me inside the top 20. After a slow Friday, I dropped down to a tie for 47th, but comfortably made the cut by two shots. The weekend was more of the same, only picking up one shot despite one of my best putting tournaments of the year (I led the tournament in putting). But after a few tense hours watching the FedEx Cup rankings, I ended the event 67th in the FEC standings and hopped on a flight to Chicago!

The BMW at Olympia Fields was undoubtedly the highest-end event I have played as a member on the PGA Tour. The golf course hosted the 2003 US Open, and I won the Fighting Illini Invitational twice here in college, making it one of my favorites of all time. When we arrived, the rough was already 6” high, greens rock hard, and rolling well over 12. Round 1 was windy with a US Open-like setup, and the little mistakes I made were exacerbated. After an opening 77 (scoring was so difficult, it was the second-highest ever recorded field average in a regular Tour event), I played a great rest of the tournament at +1 for the remaining 54 holes and finished 40th, and in 68th in the final FedEx Cup standings.

All things considered, finishing the year 68th in points was a quietly solid rookie year. I am now fully exempt for the following year, meaning I will be able to play every single regular Tour event, and have a spot in Bay Hill, Memorial, and The PLAYERS. However, as it does every year, we start back at zero points and the race to the next FedEx Cup starts all over!

After five days off, I traveled to Napa for one of the strangest tournament weeks I have ever experienced. It was 113 degrees on Monday when I was tested for COVID; the smoke was so thick on Tuesday that the sun didn’t warm up the ground until 11am; and on Wednesday, the smoke layer above us was so thick that lights were needed on the putting green at 10am so that we could see! It was a disappointing week for me with the putter, though my ball striking made some minor improvements, and I missed the cut by one shot. But now I am back in Las Vegas preparing for a busy next stretch that could potentially include two tournaments in my home city!

I am also excited to help the PGA Tour launch its new Links to Learning campaign, in partnership with The First Tee, to extend our charitable impact in the education sector… and I am so excited that Curriki will be helping to drive their digital engagement initiatives there too!

Pass it on!
So please pass on the word about Birdies for Education, sign up again if you haven’t already, and let’s see how far we can go with it this year. As I mentioned before, there has never been a more critical time for Curriki and online education, and I am prepared to work harder than ever to make sure that high-quality educational materials are available to everyone, especially those who cannot attend schools and access equitable learning opportunities.

Thanks again!


Back to Golf at Colonial!

Hello everyone and welcome back to the PGA Tour season!

I am thrilled to get back on the golf course competing after a nearly three-month break, and the most time I had spent at home in one go since middle school. We were slated for the first event of the resumption at Colonial CC in Fort Worth, Texas. I had little clue what to expect, knowing there would be strict testing procedures and no fans, but nonetheless felt I had worked hard on my game and was ready to go.

Packing my suitcase for the first time in months was not the only thing that felt strange- the empty airports, 30-40 passengers on my flights, and ghostly empty hotels were my welcome back to Tour travel… and while wearing a mask for the duration of my travel was not exactly comfortable, I did appreciate the fact that most other travelers did so as well!

First-thing Monday morning, I reported to the Tour’s mobile testing center, where I got the nose-swab COVID test. Luckily for me, it was just uncomfortable… though I did not succeed in holding back the cough reflex that my test administrator warned me would come! Two hours later, I got my negative result back, and headed to the course.

Our cars were thoroughly sanitized at valet when we arrived, everyone’s temperature was checked before entering the grounds, every door handle and touch point had antiseptic pads on it, player dining was grab-and-go boxed food, and only people who had tested negative were allowed in the clubhouse. Equipment reps had to sanitize all golf clubs before we could use them, the putting green had raised cups, and even the shuttle carts were given a thorough disinfecting after each use. Caddies wiped down flagsticks and bunkers after we played the hole. Fist bumps and air high-fives replaced handshakes.  And the best news of all- I haven’t gotten my customary mid-spring cold!

All joking aside though, the PGA Tour has done a fantastic job of creating a very safe environment for the players, officials, caddies, volunteers, and Tour workers at every event. Plus, the heat, breeze, and plenty of open air of a golf course make it one of the safest places to be currently.

When the tournament started though, everything was business-as-usual, except for a moment of silence and reflection at 8:46am each morning to honor the death of George Floyd. I thought one of the coolest things that happened all week was seeing leading the tournament here at Colonial, while Joseph Bramlett finished runner-up on the Korn Ferry Tour. I am confident our game is in good hands with two individuals like them playing the way they did and being the thoughtful voices they are.

As far as my golf game went, I was definitely shaking off some competitive rust and getting back into the flow of tournament golf… I was faced with 110 yards to the toughest pin on the 9th green Friday morning, needing to get up and down to make the cut. I hit a great flighted gap wedge to 8 feet and drained the putt to advance to the weekend. My four round scores were 69-69-66-70, and I finished 32nd.

On the Curriki front, we are extremely excited to have released CurrikiStudio and CurrikiGo! CurrikiStudio is a free, open-source content authoring tool that allows teachers to create their own learning experiences, even with no technical knowledge. And the accompanying CurrikiGo runtime allows them to publish these learning assets anywhere they need to. The Curriki team has been working extremely hard to make these visions a reality over the last few months, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer this completely free and open resource to educators worldwide. Your contributions to Birdies for Education played a direct part in allowing us to put these together and get them done quickly.. so THANK YOU!!!

See you next week from Hilton Head,