My last diary entry I thought I had just over practiced my elbow, but it turned out to be a flair up of gout. My diet would make the late Marlon Brandos diet look healthy. Standing on No. 1 tee today I did not feel that bad. There is a pond on the left not in play; at the top of my backswing the club kind of slipped out of my hands and I almost fouled it off my left shin, it hooked so quickly. It nearly landed in No. 9 fairway which is a two-day bus ride from No. 1 tee. Good thing I wasnt wired for sound. It shocked and embarrassed the heck out of me. I went down to the edge of the lake to drop, needed to move a gallery rope stake. I grabbed it and kicked it (kinda hard) to loosen it and it cut my palm. Now I am mad, embarrassed, hurried and bleeding and its only the first hole. At the end of the day, I shoot 79. Managed to hit at least one ball in every lake on the back nine. My elbow and palm really did not bother me that bad, I just did not prepare well needing to rest my elbow, and my swing was loose with low confidence.
My brother Lindy (the smart Henley boy) caddied this week and never lost his eternal optimist attitude. He will say things like, You can birdie the next eight holes and ace the last one. If God had given me his attitude you might have heard of me before the BBII. Backed up my 79 with a big fat 80. I did decide on an injection of pain killer directly into my elbow this morning before the round, more to see if I could tolerate it if this ever happened again. Didnt effect my day though; I hit it in a lot of hazards again today. Maybe the pain in my elbow is zipperitis from having to unzip my golf bag for a new ball every couple holes. All in all a very disappointing week in Memphis.
We thought about sticking around and eating the killer food in the players lounge for the weekend. I have never tasted crme brulee before this week but I will again someday. If I played this tour full time for a year I could become a grand champion sumo the next year. Decided to drive to Chattanooga instead for next weeks Nationwide event. Checked into our hotel (Country Inn and Suites); these are great for our family. We search these out because they usually have a separate bedroom (most of you can figure that one out.)
Played in the Chattanooga Classic Monday Pro-am with brother Lindy, brother in law Jimmy Taylor, and buds Mike Lister and David Brown. We shot 20 under, single best ball and finished fourth. I told them they have got to do a better job lying about their handicap. Reminds me of my father. He kept a 7 handicap for as long as I can remember. He was so competitive; sometimes in tourneys he would play way over his head. One time in the Tennessee Section Chattanooga Open he shot even par Day 1, plus-1 the last round, and was still 13 under and finished third. He was so mad. His comment was, You just cant beat these cheaters. I said, What do you think the guy at -12 is saying? We laughed like crazy, something we did a lot of in our family growing up.
What an awesome day. Played in the Celebrity Skins match with pros Casey Wittenberg, Jim Gallagher Jr., Troy Matteson, and NFL stars Corey Bradford. Craig Hendrich, Frank Wycheck (Frank said he enjoyed every episode of the Big Break and loved it, which made me feel good), and Vince Gill, the most beautiful voice in music, and huge supporter of golf and junior golf in Tennessee. Vince is very competitive and has tons of game. After I teed off on No. 1, Vince joked to everyone out loud, I heard you were dating Danielle from BB III, is it true? I said, Ask that girl right behind you what she thinks. It was Sissi; he did not know her, and we had a big laugh and a great day. Vince stuck around for the Pro-Am party and donated a day with himself and his wife Amy Grant at the Grand Ole Opry for the charity. Vince is a wonderful person.
*Casey is a way misunderstood kid: some folks dont like the way he hides his eyes with dark sunglasses. I say so what: he is so focused and quiet on the course but as good a person as anybody on any tour and can shoot like crazy.
*Jim Gallagher Jr. is a talkative, friendly, smart, gracious veteran.
*Troy is a great guy but quieter than a mouse peeing on cotton. Everything about him is understated except his golf game. I predict he is a top 50 player in the world in less than three years.
*Craig and I teamed up; he out played me and we finish second behind Casey and Corey.
First round of the Chattanooga Classic, paired with Stephen Gangluff and B.J. Staten. Stephen shot 28 on the front nine and made my 37 look even worse than it was. I hit a lot of bad shots both days but hit a few decent shots that came down in the wrong spots and it just killed me. I am not playing relaxed enough and each time I made birdie I backed it up with a bogey. Besides poor driving, weak iron play, suspect putting, poor short game, and bad concentration, my game is in great shape.
Jacked another cut. Feeling the heat; time is ticking. I am working hard and trying to focus on next week in Chicago.
I flew out of Chattanooga heading to the Windy City Chicago. I checked into my hotel tonight and the lady said 'Welcome Mr. Henley, blah, blah, blah, we have you checking out on Friday.' I thought for a second and said, well the way things have been going probably, but you best make my check out day Sunday. I guess the folks at the hotel have been tracking my progress and are just playing the odds.
Today I played in Mon. Pro-Am. This course, The Glen Club, is a cool place.
My girls flew in to OHare this afternoon and I picked them up at the airport. We went to a Cubs game today. Treated unbelievably by the tournament; they charted four buses for the game. Got to go out on Wrigley field for a picture with my family. Great game but the Cubs lost 6-4.
We got three holes in the Pro-Am before sent in for bad weather. Sat around for an hour and a half and finally washed the day. My brother Brent is taking a week out of his really busy schedule (Woody Austins regular tour caddy) and is caddying for me this week. Brent and I needed this day to feel out the course.
My first round tee time was at 1:50. The Golf Channel asked me to wear a heart rate monitor today. I agreed to wear it but told them that I didnt need the monitor to know that my heart was pounding through my chest. I just havent hit on a good relaxed mode yet and its killing me. I consider your mental state just like any other facet of the game, just like putting or chipping that comes and goes. When I find the key to it again, it will all fall into place. I didnt feel like I was hitting it so bad; just when I did hit it off line it was deadsville. Got a few bad breaks and didnt finish as well as I would have liked. But maybe I can get them back tomorrow.
I hit it pretty decent today but just got nothing out of my round. Brent did an awesome job caddying for me. We got along great on the course; he thinks and plays the game a lot like me. It would be nice to someday be competitive enough on tour to entice him away from Woodrow. I shot 147 and missed the cut again, this week by five shots. That may seem like a lot to some but its only one or two bounces away. Case in point: I stood on 17 and hit a great shot that was 6 feet from the hole dead straight up the hill. Brent said great shot and I handed him the club and it started teetering down the slope and when it finally came to rest it was 40 feet away. I three-jacked it from there. I ended up bogeying the par-5 18th that I hit driver, 4-iron into the day before. Had I birdied 17 and been able to reach and eagle 18 I would have hit on the cut line instead of missing by five. If ifs and butts were candy and nuts we would all have a great Christmas. Thats golf.
I practiced this morning and the girls and I went downtown in the afternoon to see some of the sights in Chicago. Had an awesome pizza dinner and went to the top of the Sears Tower to watch the sunset. We cant leave yet because it will take us two days to pack up our hotel room! Onto Knoxville. I am sick of saying this but I have to focus on next week. I have had some success in Knoxville Nationwide events so maybe I can get a good feeling and get it started.
I had a 9:20 tee-time this morning. As I was warming up, I started to notice a ton of familiar faces. While on the way up the hill to the first tee I looked up and saw a huge crowd surrounding the tee. An old friend grabs me and says, Kip about 60 of us rented a bus and came up from Fairfield Glade in Crossville to watch you today and 60 different people are coming to watch the second round. I was one of the golf professionals in the Glade for 15 years. I still have a lot of dear friends out there. Sissi counted at one point 93 people following our group, which is amazing because I struggled all day and shot 83. It was hot as the dickens and they never left. I was getting claps for bogeys at one point. I guess I just tried too hard, I dont know for sure what it is but nothing seems to be working. Ive been practicing so hard, my head is just filled with too many swing keys. After the round, I went to visit one of my old teachers in Knoxville, Daniel Walker, to see if he could make things simpler for me. His biggest point was that I just wasnt turning my shoulders; I was lifting my arms to finish my backswing. This is a tendency of players that are unsure or doubting their golf swing, and Ive had plenty of that.
2:15 tee time. I hit it a little better today but tripled my 16th hole and shot 76. Despite my score yesterday, I still had a lot of people following me today, which is just amazing. I have a lot of dear friends in this ole world, and for each of them to still want to come to watch me play, I am grateful. If I was them I would have come up with any excuse ' maybe of having to straighten my sock drawer or something ' rather than come out and watch me hit it 159 times. After I finished my round today, some Golf Channel guys asked if I would do an interview. I said sure but Im sick of doing these Friday afternoon exit interviews. I want desperately to do a late Sunday interview. I realize I cant be a big feature of these events if I keep playing poorly and I know the Golf Channel is doing all they can to keep my flame flickering; the key is for me to start shooting lower scores. Well gear up for Erie.
I am looking forward to the week off to straighten up my game. Being in my own bed for the first time in seven weeks (except for one night) sounds pretty good. My oldest daughter Darbi turns 16 on the 21st and it will be special to be home and spend it with her.