As Thanksgiving approaches in just a day or two, now seems an appropriate time to give thanks for what golf gives me. If you know me, though, you know I'm grateful for golf every day of the year!
The relationships that golf brings can be priceless. I smile right now thinking of my favorite golf pals, fellow members at my local course, and the friends I've made because golf is our bond. I don't take for granted how my life has become richer because of connections made with golf shoes on my feet.
I'm smiling again as I think of the "friends I've never met" because golf connected us in some way. I will be forever grateful for every Google search that introduced me to a golf site that allowed me to "meet" some insightful, passionate, smart, and funny people. My bucket list includes playing a round of golf with each of them!
A new smile comes to my face as I think about great shots...it doesn't matter if it was me, a golf pal, or even a competitor - I love a great golf shot!! Whether it's playing in a tournament, goofing around with friends, or Scramble Tuesday, you just have to celebrate the moments were all the mechanics of the swing come together and the mental drive to execute that great shot merge to make a little magic on the golf course. If you know me, I don't give out hugs often, but this year I was more than happy to share a few "great golf shot hugs"...if you got one, cherish it!! I think I have to give my "best shot of the year" award to the 2nd shot on #18 at Ridgeview CC during the Steve Anderson event...it might not have been textbook form, but when when it results in an eagle on a par-4 (and a skin!) it's a winner in my book.
The smile cannot escape my face when I think about the fun golf scrambles I've played in with some of my very favorite people in the world. I love scrambles. Team golf is that combination of no pressure, when someone makes a great shot and you just want to steal their glory, and complete pressure and frustration when everyone chooses to stink it up on one shot. But even on those days when we just can't make a putt or get an approach shot close, I still love being out there with friends, everyone trying their best for the team. I'm going to need a minute to let all my happy scramble memories filter through...
Ah, that was nice.
Sometimes when I walk into my home pro shop I'll say I'm just going to have some "me time" with the golf course...my happy place. The grin that I have right now is because I'm thinking of countless evenings or early mornings of just me, my I-pod, 3 or 4 golf balls, and the golf course. I treasure and am so grateful for those times when I "escape life" for a few hours and just soak in all that golf can offer. Will my Titleist Pro-V beat my NXT or my Bridgestone? How low can I go with a 3 ball best ball? Sometimes, not that low! I've had a lot of great conversations with God on the golf course, along with bursting out in song when a good song comes on the shuffle. Lots of people have "go-to" places - a lake, cabin, backyard, or library...mine is the golf course. It's amazing that I always leave with more than what I came with in my heart.
Finally, I'm smiling when I think of rounds of golf I've played with my family. I think this was the first year in many that I didn't golf with my Dad...but thankfully I was able to tee it up with both my brother and Mom. Nothing beats family time on the golf course for me. Oh the stories I could tell!!! So while we won't see flags on our course for many months now, I'm already looking forward to playing golf with family in 2014.
Family, friends, and happiness ...that's what golf is for me and for that I am most grateful.
Blessings and joy to everyone this Thanksgiving.
If you followed my golf blogging, you know that at this time of year I'd be immersed into the Q-school process. Twenty-five players of over 1,500 entrants would be given the key to the PGA Tour after surviving 6 rounds in the final stage of qualifying, with possibly 3 other stages to go through first. It was the truest test of golf and in my opinion one of the best places to find stories about golf dreamers, with journeys of both successes and heartbreaks.
There had been rumors in several previous years that Q-school was going to go away. The PGA Tour powers-that-be believed that the only way to make it on the "big Tour" should be through proving yourself the web.com tour (formally Nationwide Tour). In 2012, the top 25 players on the web.com Tour received PGA Tour status, matching the 25 cards from the Q-school process. Now, in 2013, all 50 cards are distributed through the web.com process, and Q-school as we knew it is over.
Now, to get to the PGA Tour, part of the cards are given out for season long play on the web.com and the other cards are distributed through the "web.com Finals" process that happens right after the Tour Championship. The top 75 players from the web.com Tour are in as well as the players ranked 126-200 on the PGA Tour FedEx Cup points list, and these players will compete in 4 Tour events with the top 25 in total earnings getting PGA Tour cards.
The top player on the web.com Tour regular season list, and the top player in the web.com Tour Finals race get fully-exempt cards for the PGA Tour, so even players who had already earned a card through the regular season on the web.com Tour had an incentive to play in the finals to move up the priority list and get better chances to get in fields in the 2013-14 season.
All of that happened in October. PGA Tour players outside of the top 125 and web.com players competed for 25 spots. Click here to see the 25 Finals players and the 25 web.com season-long finishers who received cards. Photo Getty Images.
As a breezed through the list, I noticed that 15 of the 25 cards given out for the finals were given to players who were on the PGA Tour in 2013. The other 10 went to web.com players who either bettered their position in the finals or played their way in after not being in the top 25 for the season. Some of the familiar names who had to earn their way back to the PGA Tour include Sean O'Hair, Trevor Immelman (former Masters winner), Bud Cauley, Heath Slocum, Ricky Barnes, and Ryo Ishikawa.
I also noticed a web.com player had some Minnesota ties - Bronson La'Cassie, an Aussie who played at the University of Minnesota from 2004-07, earned his way on Tour by winning on the web.com Tour this year and finishing 6th on the overall money list. La'Cassie was the only golfer in U of M history to be an All-American all years of his college golf career. Besides playing on the web.com(Nationwide) the past 2 years, La'Cassie also played on the Australian and One Asia Tours along with the NGA Hooters Tour since turning pro in 2007.
So what happened to Q-school? Well, it's still there, but now players are competing to earn status on the web.com Tour instead of the PGA Tour. The pre-qualifying and first stages are already complete, and 2 of the 6 2nd Stage have finished as well. Four more 2nd Stage events will be happening this week, and Minnesotan, Donald Constable, who earned his way onto the PGA Tour through Q-school last year, will need to advance out of the Florida event to get to the final stage in California to get playing status on the web.com Tour for 2014. I'm rooting for you Donald!!! You can follow the Q-school process on their website here. You can follow Donald Constable's scoring here. Send him some good luck wishes via Twitter @DonaldConstable.
On of my other favorite players to follow is Clayton Rask from Minnesota. Rask has journeyed through stages of Q-school in past years and is once again in the process of trying to get status on the web.com Tour. Rask qualified out of the First Stage and I believe will be playing this week in the 2nd Stage, but the current field for one of the sites is not up yet. Rask had a nice interview here regarding his current success on the NGA Hooters Tour. I'm rooting for Clayton, too!!
Some players automatically qualify right into the finals, so we'll get to see those fields after the 2nd Stage is complete.
I will have to get used to the idea that PGA Tour dreamers will have to dream about the web.com Tour first, but I'm excited that there are so many stories to learn about as players continue on their golf journey. Watch for new graduates Michael Putnam, John Peterson, Chesson Hadley, and Patrick Cantlay.
Each December for the past several years I have put out a list of all kinds of predictions for each PGA Tour season and last year mine were posted at www.tees2greens.com. At the end of each season I the go back to see how I did - this is usually a combination of entertaining and humbling - I don't think I've picked a Major winner in 5 years. Some of my predictions are not bad though! So without further ado...
A Year Ago I wrote: "My 2012 results were marginal at best and I went 0 for everything on the big events (again). But when has that ever stopped me?" So I'm just a little bit nervous to see how I did again this year...I'm researching as I go along, so let's dive in! (what I wrote last year is in blue)
Let's look at the Major's First:
"I have decided to set aside my dream that Steve Stricker will win a green jacket. I was all set to lock him in until I read about his decision to severely limit is play in 2013 (only 10 events) and the very recent discovery that he is having some pain issues with his left side. And then there's that little part of me that thinks that if I DON'T pick him he'll win! So if it can't be my favorite player, then I'm putting in Sam Johnson's favorite player Dustin Johnson as the winner of the Masters."
Well that strategy didn't work! Dustin finished T-13 (8 shots back of winner Adam Scott), but he was only 1 shot off the lead after a first round 67 and followed it up with a 76. Ugh. Stricker? A T-20 finish. I couldn't be happier for Adam Scott though!!
The US Open is all about patience and dealing with the bad that you know will come at some point. I'm going out of my usual list of favorites and picking Justin Rose. He's got a great game and can fly under the radar...sort of like what Webb Simpson did last year.
WHAT??!! I got this right??!! YES!! I'll be honest, I didn't remember who won the US Open this year so when I went to look it up and realized that I had actually picked the winner I did a little happy dance. It was a tough test of golf and he finished the tournament +1, winning by 2 strokes over Jason Day and Phil Mickelson. THANK YOU Justin Rose!! (photo Hallowell/Getty Images)
The Open Championship will be a Muirfield this year. Ernie Els will be defending where he won in 2002, and we don't have much history for current players at this track. If we see again what we saw at the end of 2012, I think the winner will be Rory McIlory.
If I had only known then what I know now...McIlroy was a non-factor at Muirfield, missing the cut. But I was one of many many people (like my Mom!) who was thrilled that Phil Mickelson got his first British Open.
I'm a sucker for the PGA Championship, and Rory's win there was nothing short of spectacular. In 2013, Oak Hill will be hosting the event and I've got this feeling that Jason Dufner might just get what eluded him in 2011.
HELLO!! What?! Another correct pick? Why yes it is. Dufner held it all together, facing Jim Furyk in the final group to win by 2 shots. It's hard not to like a guy who posts a photo of himself sleeping with the Wannamaker Trophy. Thank you Jason!!
The Players Championship was a joy for me last year. Seeing Matt Kuchar beat arguably the best field in golf made me grin from ear to ear, just like him. But in 2013 I think we're going to see Luke Donald dig deep and take this win.
Donald had a ho-hum T19 finish, ending up 8 shots behind winner Tiger Woods (who won by 2 strokes over Kevin Streelman). Luke needs to get is game back so I can keep picking him!
What? No Tiger you say? I know, I know. But I do think Tiger will have a successful 2013 season. He will contend in 3 of the 4 majors and be in the top 5 in 2. Woods will also win 2 times and be one of the 5 guys controlling his own destiny at the FedEx Cup finals.
Hmmm...successful might have been an understatement to the 5 wins (and 10 top 10s's) in 16 starts in 2013. Tiger contended in 2 of the 4 Majors and finished in the Top 5 in 1 event (T4 at the Masters) and had a T6 at the British (I was so close on that one!). Tiger was also #1 in FedEx Cup points going into the Tour Championship so overall I'd call this a pretty good prediction!
Phil Mickelson will have a similar season to 2012, I think he will win early (Phoenix Open?!), contend in a few majors, and will then win again, possibly at a WGC event.
Holy Schnikes!! Phil Mickelson DID win the Phoenix Open in 2013 - Wow. He did contend in 2 Majors (winning 1!) and while he only had those 2 wins, he also had two 2nd's and two 3rd's in 2013. Yay Phil!
I don't have Matt Kuchar winning a Major this year, but he will win in 2013 and again be in the top 10 in FedEx Cup points at the end of the season.
Matt had a GREAT 2013 (at least in my eyes) - 2 wins (the Match Play and the Memorial) included in his 8 Top 10 finishes in 23 events. Matt was also in the 6th in the FedEx Cup standings. Way to go MATT!
Bubba Watson hasn't disappointed me in 2 years, so let's make the 3rd time a charm! Watson will have 2 wins this season, at least 7 top 10's and will be another one that will have a chance to win the FedEx Cup.
Whoops. Bubba's winning streak ended in 2013, posting only 3 top 10's for the season and was not a factor in the FedEx Cup. Here's hoping he bounces back in 2014!
2012 FedEx Cup winner Brandt Snedeker will play some consistent golf and will have a putting hot streak to get him 1 win this season.
Sneds exceeded my prediction by having 2 wins (The AT&T Pebble Beach & RBC Canadian Open) along with 2 second place finishes. I call this a win!
Brendon deJonge WILL get a Tour win in 2013!!
Unfortunately, deJonge did not post a win in 2013 (he only had 4 top 10's in 30 starts), but at $1.7 million for the season, I don't think he's complaining. deJonge also got many accolades for his performance at the President's Cup, so here's hoping he can figure out how to take a trophy home in 2014. I'm not giving up on you, Brendon!!
Hunter Mahan, who seemed on and off last year, will have a solid season and will post 8 Top 10's and 1 win.
Okay, maybe I was a bit early on the Mahan comeback - Hunter finished 2013 with 5 top 10's with his best finish being a 2nd at the Match play.
Adam Scott will win somewhere in the southeast and also post 8 top 10's.
Well, if southeast means Augusta National, I'm on the money! What a sweet win for Scott at the Masters. Scott only carded 6 top 10's this season, but he only played 16 events on Tour (and made 16 cuts!)...I'd say I did pretty good here!
Newly "Nike'd" up Nick Watney will prove he's worth the investment with a win and a Top 10 finish in the FedEx Cup.
I guess Watney has a little more work to do - he went winless in '13 with a 2nd place at the BMW Championship (a nice final round 64), and the best he could do was 15th on the FedEx points list. Nick is too nice of guy not to have more success so I'm hoping for a good season this year.
Will Webb Simpson go winless? I think he will, but he'll have at least 3 top 3 finishes and be in contention all season long.
Well, I was actually right on not winning, but he only had 1 2nd place finish and 5 top 10's in 25 events. He did have a nice 4th place finish at the Tour Championship, and he had a nice win at the Shriner's event in October (2013-14 season). He's also one of the favorite for this week's McGladrey event in GA.
Bo Van Pelt will be in the winner's circle at least once and will post double digit Top 25's again this year.
I don't know what happened to BVP in 2013. In '12 he was a finishing powerhouse and a stable on everyone's Fantasy Golf team. He has to be disappointed in his 1 top 10 finish and 7 top 25's, and only earning $956K for the year. Will we see a bounce back in '14??
Erik Compton found himself back at Q-school again this fall and after earning his way back to the Tour for 2013, I think he's ready to dig in and play some good golf. I predict he will improve his missed cuts stats from '12 and only miss 5, an improvement of 4 from last season. He will also improve his Top 25 stat to 5.
Compton was able to play 24 events in the 2013 season, but unfortunately he missed 10 cuts (and had 1 WD) - he did have 4 top 25 finishes (inc. 1 top 10!), so he's continuing to work on bettering his status on Tour. Hoping for a great '14 for this 2-time heart transplant recipient.
If you follow my Q-school updates, you know I'm really excited that Minnesotan Donald Constable (a lefty!!) was able to successfully navigate the 2012 Q-school maze and make it to the Tour. I'm not sure how many events he'll get in, but he's at the Sony this week and I'm going out on a limb to say he'll make the cut here! I think he'll be a surprise at the PGA and he will retain his card for 2014.
I was shocked to see that Constable didn't make a single cut in the 16 events he played in. 0-16, ouch. But upon looking as his scores, it looks like most times he was just outside the cut line on several events. This lefty will need to prove himself again and hopefully earn his way back to the big dance.
Ah, Rory McIlory...it's hard for me not to like him, and if Stricker fades into less play, he's got potential to be my favorite player. He's earned every bit of his accolades and I don't see his #1 player status going away any time soon. Besides the Major I already predicted, I think McIlory will win 3 more times around the world (including the PGA Tour events) and will be your FedEx Cup champion.
Oh man, this was one strange year for the "former" #1 player in the world. No wins on the PGA Tour and finished 50th in FedEx Cup points (that is NOT a typo!) It was painful to see such talent struggle but he's young and ready to bounce back!
But I will end with my favorite heart pick of all time, Steve Stricker. While brokenhearted at his limited schedule announcement, I think he's going to make the most of his 10 events in 2013. He will make every cut and make a run at the Shell Houston Open...there will be 3 top 10's in his future, and always a place in my heart.
You know I'm smiling, right? 13 for 13 cuts made - YES!! So he didn't make a run at the Shell Houston Open (T38), he DID have 4 2nd place finishes and 8 top 10's in 13 events!! (11 top 25's!! He had a WONDERFUL President's Cup and I think he's looking forward to another successful season in 2014.
WHOA! Hands down my best predictions ever!! Two Majors?! That alone vaulted me over the top, but overall I was pretty good...a few underestimations and a few glaring over-estimations keep me in check though. As always, I love going back and reviewing the year to get me excited for the upcoming season.
Watch for my 2014 predictions in December.
Almost a year ago I went out and bought a domain name to create my own blog site. The name Hope Joy Golf has stuck with me ever since I wrote a blog post with that title back in 2011 over at www.tees2greens.com. If you followed my golf blog posts you probably know that golf is not just a game to me. I believe the game of golf can bring us great joy, provide us inspiration, teach us patience, humility, and dedication, and be an example to how to live a character filled life.
I love that golf can bring people together or be a place of solace and withdrawal from the rest of the world. Golf can be a social outing a few times a year or the first place you go when you have some free time. Like a good friend, golf is always there for you.
I will always be grateful to Sam Johnson, David Muir, and my friends at Tees2Greens for giving me a home to write my blog since 2008. Things got busy in my world in 2012 and I've let my blog go mostly dormant since (but don't worry, I've got my 2013 predictions out there to review soon!) I've been inspired by several people lately and I realized that my heart needs a place to share my love of golf. And it's probably not a coincidence that my need to "talk golf" comes as my golf season here in Minnesota has come to a close. I'm already looking forward to next year!!
I'm also very excited to announce that some of my very favorite Fantasy Golf friends are going to join me in a weekly Fantasy Golf Pro's Picks, similar to what we did back when we competed over at Kerplookee. We'll get the ball rolling (Pun #1!) at the Tournament of Champions in January, but keep a look out for some previews as we get the formats together. You're going to love these guys: Drew, Chuck, Smitty, and Jeremy - and make no mistake about it, we're competitive, so you'll be sure to find some weekly entertainment as we keep track of our prediction successes. We'll also try to keep you informed of some good Fantasy Golf web sites and competitions.
And you know I can't resist talking a little bit about golf shopping! This gal loves a sale, so I'll do my best to let you know about where to find some great deals or what might be neat ideas for the golfers in your life.
Well, then there's Steve...and Matt...and Phil....and Adam...and Erik and so many more favorite golfers!! And yes, I'll weigh in on general golf news that may include other golfers besides my faves. Which reminds me, I'm still mourning the loss of Q-school! But there should be lots to talk about as we get into the season.
I plan to write here as much as I can and I hope you will stop by regularly and share your thoughts and ideas, too. Welcome to Hope Joy Golf!
I love golf and I love to write, so I can't think of anything better than having a happy place like this to write about golf to my heart's content. Thanks for joining me!