It's Thanksgiving morning - sunny but cool in Minnesota. The Minnesota Vikings will be on TV in a bit and a wonderful turkey dinner awaits this afternoon.
It's a time to be grateful. For family, friends, and moments to remember.
Golf makes me grateful almost all of the time. ..I've looked back on things I've written and I can't help but smile over all of the experiences and memories golf has given me. Writing this blog today happens because some folks in Texas, who had a golf web site, invited me to write a weekly blog. I couldn't have been more grateful for the email from David at tees2greens, who said that there is a blog spot for me if I wanted one - I'm sure he had no idea what a gift he had given me.
I cringed when I logged on on my web site to see how long it was since I had updated. Two months for general updates and 3 months for a blog post - geesh!! This is not new to me...it seems this time of year causes all kinds of distractions for me, and once I get out of a groove it takes me awhile to get back into it.
But today, it's Sunday, I'm smelling the angel food cake I have in the oven and I'm on the sofa watching The Memorial! It's been awhile since I've watched golf on TV, but with Matt Kuchar in the hunt I'm excited about it!! So why not take some time to catch up on golf thoughts!
If you're a golf fan like me, you've jumped on the fan bus of several PGA Tour golfers. I'm guessing most have a favorite (AKA Steve Stricker!), but with a season where players may only be in less than half of the events, it's logical to have a stable of favorites to root for each week.
Lee Westwood caught my eye a few years back when he had a T3 at the Masters (my favorite week of the year!)
I thought to myself, I could like this guy! He was "the UPS Man" with his sponsorship with them and his sometimes bright orange shirts made me realize that he didn't mind standing out in a crowd. While he didn't win on the PGA Tour in the 2012 season, he did have 7 Top 10's in 15 events, had a T2 at the BMW Championship and ended up 10th on the FedEx Cup list (with a dismal 30th place at the Tour Championship).
I was so excited to get a message via the web site from Mike Gray, another golf dreamer I wrote about back in 2009! Mike was the creator of the website/blog, Life in the Rough (I don't have a link because it's currently not active), and his dream was to become a teaching professional. It was so interesting to read his responses to my email questions, how life changes and different experiences come into our lives. I'm so glad Mike was able to find me and willing to catch us up on where golf fits into his world now.
HJG: So, back in 2009 I wrote a blog post about golf dreamers and you were one of them! You had created a web site, www.lifeintherough.com to chronicle your journey. Could you share a little of your golf story that got you to the point of wanting to take golf more seriously?
Mike: I took up the game when I was about 18 and working at a golf course in the summers during college. Having free access I got to play a lot. After I graduated and started my career as a software engineer the passion remained. Not only did I love the game with all its history and traditions, I loved the challenge. Somewhere along the line, I realized that at some point in my playing life, I had hit virtually every shot in the book. I could drive the ball far, putted well, and loved to read and learn about every aspect of the game. Not only that, but I loved to practice. It was the recipe for becoming seriously invested in the game.
Back in 2009, I discovered some interesting golf dreamers...and you know me, I love a great golf dreamer story! Bus alas, I lost track of them. Then, as I was re-posting my Tees2Greens posts here at HopeJoyGolf, I found the original post and thought I should see if I could find some updates. Of the 3 people I tried to find, only one was kind enough to reply back - Erik Tammar.
If you read this post from 2009 you'd find out that Erik packed up and moved to Thailand for 7 months (in 2007) on a quest to improve his game so he could make his way to the PGA Tour or what we now know as the web.com tour. Erik had a blog where he upated us on his journey, but alas, his web site was no longer being updated when I went searching a few months ago.
But thank heavens for social media and Google! I found Erik on Twitter and connected with him to see if he would be willing to catch us up on his life since heading to Thailand, and he said YES! THANK YOU, Erik!!
Here is an email Q&A:
HJG: So, when & how did the idea come about that you wanted to try to qualify for the PGA Tour or (back then) the Nationwide Tour?
Erik: Well, simply put, in 2007, after a five year hiatus, I began playing golf again and caught an extreme case of “the itch”!
I had graduated college in 2005, started working an entry-level software sales job and relocated from Boston to Southern California (Orange County) late in 2006. Having access to a lot more golf, and much better weather, I began playing frequently, and quickly renewed my passion for the game. The idea to make a run at The Tour was something that came about as I realized, not only how much I loved the game, but, that if there was ever a time to go on an adventure, it was then, while time was still on my side.
HJG: You were a 22-handicap at the time you set out on your journey with a goal to be a scratch golfer in a year, what did your friends & family think?
I find it so interesting that dates, milestones, or events give us the opportunities to clean the slate or start anew (I'm trying to avoid the dreaded new year's R-word). I cannot tell you how many times I've said, "next week I'm going to..." or "starting tomorrow I will..." My co-workers can attest to how many times I've said, "As soon as this project is over I'm going to get my life organized!".
But as I sit here (so grateful that I'm able to blog after some technical issues), I must acknowledge that I've failed more times than I can count on so many things I had either hoped to accomplish or wanted to improve....both in life and golf.
It's a cold December morning in Minnesota and on days like this my mind tends to wander back to summer and golf! And as we see another year come to a close I also think back to my yearly predictions. If you have followed my yearly crystal golf ball posts you probably know that these are usually more entertaining than accurate, but on occasion I have some good guesses! I'm cringing just a little to read what I predicted because, honestly, this wasn't a year where I followed the PGA Tour very closely. So I apologize in advance if my crystal ball is more horrible than usual - I'll be researching as I go, so let's get to it!!
As per tradition, I will do the Majors first. You know who I want to pick for the Masters. I mean I REALLY want to, but even though he has recently had surgery and hopes to be 100% this spring, I'm going to forego my obvious heart pick and go with my other heart pick - Matt Kuchar. Kuchar held a share of the lead in the final round in 2014 but just couldn't keep it up going into the back 9. He's SO due for a Major and I think this Georgia Tech grad would be a perfect pick for 2015.
Well, this didn't go well! Kuchar made the cut but ended up with a T46 finish at +2...he had 3 even par rounds and a 2nd round 74 which never got him rolling. As I'm sure you remember, it was Jordan Spieth who donned the green jacket with a 4-stroke win over Mickelson and Rose. I'm not going to lie, I did give Spieth a standing ovation in my living room...it was a great Masters!!
Well, I'm cutting it a little closer to the end of the year than I thought I would to get my 2014 predictions out, but I'm here! I started this little tradition over at www.tees2greens.com and if you followed any of those, you know that my prediction record usually hovers between marginal and almost hilarous...until last year!!
When I looked back on my 2013 predictions in November, I discovered that I picked 2 of the 4 Major winners! (Justin Rose - US Open and Jason Dufner - PGA Championship) That alone vaulted me over any other year, but I had some decent other guesses, too. You can review all of my picks here. But now it's time to move on to 2014!
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!