My Final Tune Up

By Kraig KannOctober 31, 2007, 4:00 pm
ChildrenLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- First of all, I never thought Id receive so many e-mails and responses regarding a week on the PGA TOUR caddying for my buddy Jay Williamson. Thanks for the kind words and support ' Wednesday was a very good day of preparation.
 
Tuesday night was actually spent on the ball field in Windermere, Fla. I manage my sons Little League team after hours which is one of the great thrills for me. PGA TOUR pro Carl Paulson is actually my assistant coach. Hes on the shelf these days with a back injury and has become a good friend ' and a heck of a baseball coach as well. The game was actually a good thing. It kept my mind off the caddy job for a few hours. After a four game win streak ' we lost a close one which ' as it turns out - was easier to take than the overnight weather that has turned golf courses in Orlando into soup kitchens. Tons of rain, making the courses nearly unplayable.
 
No worries getting to the course this morning. Dropped off the kids at school, hopped on the interstate and headed for Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World to meet the boss. I grabbed a Diet Coke and a USA Today, talked to Paulson on the phone about how well put the loss behind us, and waited for Jay to come from his room.
 
Were meeting at the Polynesian each morning and driving in together ' which keeps me from hopping on a shuttle from the tournament parking lots and gives us a chance to warm up before he actually warms up.
 
First stop was the PGA TOUR players dining area for some breakfast. He can bring in a guest, which gave me the fortune of some scrambled eggs and bacon while watching the Weather Channel to see if the rain would hold off. Jay had a brief interruption for a phone interview for The Grey Goose 19th Hole, talking about us working together this week.
 
Basically, Wednesday was dry ' but overnight rains had the Palm Course soaked beyond belief. Its built on a swamp to begin with and doesnt drain like the Magnolia Course. If today was Thursday ' I cant see that the Palm Course would have been playable. Heck, even the range was closed until late morning.
 
Jay spent much of the morning tweaking his equipment and handling a few errands and phone calls (gosh these guys get a lot of calls) while we waited for the range to open.
 
When it did, he spent about 15 minutes hitting balls, as I cleaned the clubs. Some players like the grips wiped and cleaned each day ' others dont. I did it on Tuesday; Jay said no thanks on Wednesday.
 
We played the front 9 holes of the Magnolia Course in the morning. Again ' Im taking the yardage book and focusing solely on the yardage to the front. Were comparing numbers to make sure were correct. The fairways are very wet ' lift, clean and place for sure on Thursday and Friday. The good news was the heavy dose of wind and some sunshine for the first time all week ' which is great news for the course conditions.
 
Every PGA TOUR pro hits it great ' we know that. Ive played with Jay before, but it seems like hes onto something this week. (Ive kept that quiet.) After winning on the Nationwide Tour earlier this year and nearly winning in Hartford on the PGA TOUR, Jay had his clubs stolen from the trunk of his car in Salt Lake City, Utah, during a Nationwide Tour event. Gone was the driver that he said had him more confident than ever. Since then its been tough finding the same magic. But this week, he had those weighted screws adjusted and is finding some quick results. (Lets keep that quiet too.) Jays a notorious tinkerer with equipment ' bending and checking clubs each week to the point that I joke with him about how he knows what hes even hitting.
 
The key this week seems to be the driver and the putter. He likes them both. Well see.
 
The Childrens Miracle Network Classic is a pro-am format for the first two days ' split between the Palm and the Magnolia. Then its just the Magnolia over the weekend. Thus, we spent all day today on the course well see the most (provided we reach the weekend.)
 
Long, long, long. Wet, wet, wet. A par 4 of 495 which theyll never play that far back.
 
Among the things he taught me today. stand 3 yards to the right while hes hitting, dont talk to the other guys golf ball, and dont fix the ball marks on the green ' for either player. Two hands when putting in the flag ' especially when its windy. And by the way, it was blowing 30 mph today.
 
Pros dont much care about playing for a score on each hole during a practice round. Id have three balls at all times on the tee, and ready to go in the fairway. Sometimes wed use them all, sometimes wed use just one. And when we reach the green, sometimes we never putted at all ' just chip shots from around the greens and shots from the bunkers.
 
By the way, I asked him to grade my rake-job today and got a strong passing grade. The key is to be good, but also quick as players might be ready to play from the fairway.
 
Today we had lunch in the caddy van ' a great concept which is basically a motor home with a kitchen/diner feel. Seating for about 20 and it includes players too. Tuna melts for both of us ' I bought.
 
After lunch we played the back 9 at the Magnolia Course with Steve Marino and his caddy Matt. Marino hits it a ton! He Monday qualified his way onto the Nationwide Tour last year, went to Q-School and earned a card. Hes made more than $1 million this year and it shows.
 
In between shots wed see other players like Tripp Isenhour and Kent Jones with fishing poles throwing in some lures chasing bass. Believe me ' the pressure this week is intense. Both of those guys are outside the top 125, and I dont blame them for taking their mind off things.
 
At 3:30 we did an interview for Golf Central, and met with the GOLF CHANNEL live tournament production team about Rd. 1. Apparently they are putting a microphone on me for Rd. 1 in hopes of some good banter. Then we finished up on 18 at the Magnolia, and hit the range for about 25 minutes.
 
At the end of the day, Jay said he needed to hit a few buckets to find some rhythm. With the stops and starts from the weather and the interviews and the meals and the banter with players ' it has to be tough to get a true gauge on your game.
 
I watched him hit a variety of irons. At one point he asked me to check his ball position. He wants it back a bit if its going to be windy. He hit about 30 drivers it seemed and then called it quits about 4:30pm.
 
Jay took me back to the hotel for my car. telling me not to be late for Trick-or-Treating tonight. Believe it or not he went back to the course to work on his putting before the sun set.
 
Remember, he loves that putter. Maybe that will be his biggest treat this week. Off we go on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. from the No. 1 tee at Magnolia. J.P. Hayes is our professional partner ' with top-125 pressure which will make my experience even more interesting than it already has been.
 
I think Im ready. We had carts for two practice rounds. Thursday its time to put the big bag on the back and make it work. Well meet at the Polynesian Resort at 10:30 a.m.
 
My confidence is up, and it cant hurt that I found a lucky penny on the ground today ' heads up.
 

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Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Children's Miracle Network Classic
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x