We chatted for a couple minutes, and then drove over to the golf course. Jay went to the locker room, and I went to get his bag from the storage area. Jay told me to meet him on the practice putting green about 11:15 a.m. ' which was perfect because GOLF CHANNEL was meeting me to put a microphone on me for the round ' to enhance the telecast.
Before Jay got there, I bumped into our playing partner J.P.Hayes (who now happens to be the Day 1 leader.) I let him know I was sorry for what he was actually in for ' cameras and an inexperienced bagman along for the round. Hayes is a great guy. His exact quote Dont even worry about it. Its gonna be a walk in the park. Just another round of golf ' youll be fine. That really helped because I was actually a bit nervous at that point.
A few practice putts, and off we went to the practice range. Thats where I realized my decision on shoes might come back to haunt me ' the day after Halloween. I switched from my oldest pair of black Adidas sneakers to my newest pair of black Adidas running shoes ' which have a bit of a mesh-like fabric to let air (or in todays case rain and water) right into the shoes. That shoe decision was made in the Polynesian parking lot before we left for the course. Oh well.
Jay was working his way through the bag on the range when the first band of showers paid everyone a visit and forced me into the ready for anything day. I then got the umbrella ready, the rain gear ready and my mind ready.
I also borrowed a quarter from the fine volunteer on the range because Jay and I were without coins (believe it or not.) All I had was that lucky penny I found the other day (heads up) which I was keeping in my pocket. Jay was worried it might not be shiny enough so we traded a signed golf ball for the quarter and off we went to the putting green once again.
They announced Jay and J.P. on the first tee. J.Ps actually got a lot to play for this week. Hes 123rd on the money list. Jay thinks he does but everyone seems to think hes quite safe on his money made.
Jays first tee shot missed the fairway left and wouldnt you know it. the sprinkler head nearest to his ball was not marked as it is in the yardage book that all the caddies get. That threw me right off the bat. So Jay had to take over on the yardage and ultimately we made a bogey. Not the start we wanted. In fact, the entire front nine was a bit uneasy.
Off and on rain showers, which were very heavy at times, and swirling winds, made for an interesting rhythm. For example, the par-5 fifth. Good tee shot, good second shot and the third left us with 123 yards to the flag. We felt like the wind was at us making it like 130. About 10 seconds before the shot I felt like the wind stopped but never said anything (which has been my direction this week.) He hit a very good shot but it one-hopped into the back bunker which left him with no green to work with on his fourth and ultimately we walk away with a bogey.
In fact, Jay made bogeys on both the front 9 par 5s ' which is sinful on the PGA TOUR. His only real bad shot of the day came at the par-5 8th ' a 3-wood that he pushed to the right and into a bush. He punched out, but couldnt get up and down with a 9 iron.
Then at nine I made him switch to marking the ball with the lucky penny. He actually asked me for confirmation on the putt from the fringe at 9 (very good second shot) and holed the putt. We agreed, the penny was the call from then forward.
He also birdied the 10th so we were back to plus-1 after a 3-over start through eight holes.
But the back nine never gave Jay a chance at a birdie run. He hit the driver very well, but his iron shots werent close enough and we only managed 1-under on the back.
Toughest thing about the day was not the cameras from GOLF CHANNEL which followed us every hole. It wasnt the fact that we were miked. It was the weather. Rain cover on, rain cover off. Umbrella out umbrella in. It was amazing the amount of rain we dealt with and my feet got soaked.
The courses are very, very wet.
As we finished I was left with nothing but respect for my friend Jay Williamson. Shooting 73 didnt make him happy. But remember, hes also babysitting to some degree this week.making sure Im doing the right thing. Focusing on your own golf, your amateur partner (who could really play) and me must have been tough.
Jays ability to get it up and down when he didnt have his best was also really impressive. I cant tell you how many times I was actually looking down when he putted out.just hoping hed make the putt for par and keep us in the game so to speak.
I think Jay grew comfortable with my yardages and as the round went along I loosened up a bit and talked a bit more about what I thought. He never told me dont talk. I answered his questions, confirmed his beliefs if I agreed and he actually had me help him with a read or two on the putts.
J.P. Hayes played great. Eight birdies I think. He made everything! And he hits it a long way. I was also left thinking, how is this guy 123rd (on the money list)? He and Jay were very positive toward each other and talked a lot about what club theyd just hit while walking down the fairway.
J.P. s round is proof that these guys really are good. Tiger and Phil are great ' we know that. Today, J.P. played like one of golfs true superstars. Tomorrow, Jay has another chance to make it happen and keep both of us working this weekend. I have no doubt he can do it.
Ill hope he keeps using the lucky penny. And Ill make sure Ive got the right shoes ' in case of rain.
8:30 a.m. on the Palm Course. Im waking up at 5:30 and meeting him at 6:45. As sore as I am (yes, Im walking a bit slow), I cant wait to make it happen.
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