Also, I would like to take a few minutes to thank my sponsors: Saxon Capital; Alpha Golf; 4GEA.com; Accuflex; and the folks at The Golf Channel. None of what I have been able to do would have been possible without them.
My fifth of six exemptions was the Lake Erie Charity Classic at Peak 'n Peek Resort in New York. It went about like the rest of them. The only difference is I had a career changing experience after Friday's (my last) round.
My last nine on Friday, I realized I wasnt going to make the cut and pretty much just packed it in and started whacking driver on every hole and not giving two cents about where my ball went. Im not sure if its just not caring or if its a defense mechanism to take some of the blame off my poor golf. I didnt act like a terd or get all mad; I just didnt try. After signing my scorecard and a few autographs for the kids, Sissi introduced me to a guy from Cookeville (30 minutes from our home town) that she had met on the course that wanted to meet me.
This guy and his fiance had traveled all the way to New York using one of his vacation weeks just to watch me play golf. He also took additional time to watch me play in Richmond making that drive also, but never let me know he was there. He said he didnt want to bother me but just wanted to let me know how much he enjoyed watching me play golf. As he walked away, all I could think about was how I had just played my last nine holes with zero passion for what I was doing. How could I have been so inconsiderate. You just never know what impact you are having on other people.
Even though I shot a million in Lake Erie, the family and I still had a blast. They had tons of activities for them to do during the day and lots of night events, too. The most fun we had was playing night golf -- glow ball Putt-Putt. Me and the girls got paired with the men members of the Foltz family, Jerry and his 9-year-old son, Action Jackson.
Jacksons t-shirt pretty much sums up his worries: IF MOM SAYS NO JUST ASK DAD. Jackson has never heard the two letter word 'no' from his dad. When Foltzy No. 2 figured out he could take his left-handed putter and turn it around and swing it right handed it pretty much became a lob wedge with all-be-danged to the people on the hole in front of us. No one lost an eye and we all nearly peed in our pants the whole eighteen. On the outside looking in, Jerry and his son seem to have a beautiful relationship.
On to the Pete Dye Classic in Bridgeport, West Virginia for my last exemption -- unless I do something special. And nothing special happened. I hit the ball pretty decent for two days but my short game has just completely come unglued. I shot 76-74 and missed the 1-under cut by seven shots.
Heres an example of my putting prowess for the week. During Friday's round on No. 1 I putted claw-style and three jacked from 20 feet on a dead flat putt. Nos. 2, 3 and 4, I putted conventional, feeling the heebie geebies the whole time. Nos. 5 and 6, I putted left hand low and barely shook it in on 6 from 6 inches. No. 7, back to conventional and made a 20-footer that I thought I had pulled 2 feet. No. 8, conventional grip with right index finger pointing down the shaft trying to yipe it in on purpose instead of by accident. Failed. Back to conventional on No. 9, missing about a 10-footer for par -- but looking real cool doing it.
With tons of time to reflect on what has happened in the past year, there have been so many special moments with just a few disappointments score-wise along the way.
* The reception I received in Richmond was unsurpassed. I really feel I made many life-long friends during that event.
* The wonderful note Jason Gore took the time to leave in my locker the first week out and before he became a huge rock star at the U.S. Open. With each tournament, more and more players went out of their way to let me know they were feeling my plight and wishing me well.
* Peter Jacobsen and Sign Boy (Matt Grieser) bringing me up on stage at the CVS Pro-Am banquet acknowledging my success on The Golf Channel.
*The crowd of mostly my old members from Fairfield Glade taking a bus to the Knoxville Open. Sissi counted at one point 93 people watching me shoot 83 on Thursday.
*Getting it up and down on the 18th hole out of the bunker to extend the match and hitting the driver and 5-iron of my life on the 20th hole to one up my buddy DD in the 'Big Break II' final match.
*Getting to watch the video of my families' reactions as they saw the final shots during a party at Famous Daves restaurant given on my behalf.
*And many more special times that I will mention in future writings.
Although my confidence and golf game were badly bent, they were not broken.
My first week home I basically chilled and then regrouped and left for Nashville this past weekend. Sunday afternoon, I played a practice round with my PGA buddies Zeb Patten, Mike Bennett and Kelvin Burgin for the National Club Pro Qualifier at the Legends in Franklin to be played Monday and Tuesday.
The first round I pured it, but continued with my putting woes, shot 1 under and was three shots back, tied for seventh with four spots advancing to the 2006 CPC . Spent the next five hours on the putting green with UT Chattanooga golf coach Mark June. We worked on a good setup and pre-shot routine which I had gotten away from. It paid off big time. Tuesday I hit the ball not quite as well but just swished it from everywhere. I had seven birdies, shot 5 under and won by three shots.
My plans are to make the first alternate a happy boy when I get through tour school this fall and am ineligible for next year's event. In the meantime I am playing in a few Hooters events along with several corporate outings. I hope to come on from time to time to keep you updated on my happenings.
Signed: One of the 40 best Big Break players in the world, Kipper.
P.S. I cant wait for the BBIV to start. I know its going to be a homerun, enjoy the ride guys