NASSAU, Bahamas – Sepp Straka was at home in Alabama preparing for a practice round for the Wolf & Snake Cup, a Ryder Cup-style match between area country clubs that features an impressively deep field, when he got the call.
Tournament host Tiger Woods was out at the Hero World Challenge, a last-minute scratch due to a bout with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, and Straka was in. But it just wasn’t the club match Straka would be missing. He would also miss J.T. Poston’s wedding on Friday and a trip to Atlanta for Saturday’s SEC championship game between Georgia and LSU.
Although the Hero World Challenge is a cushy gig with a limited field, guaranteed money and world ranking points, given Straka’s busy week did he consider skipping the event?
“Not really, no. It's a tournament that I've always watched and always wanted to be a part of it and it's just an honor to be here,” he said.
Straka made the most of the start with an opening 69 for a share of the lead alongside defending champion Viktor Hovland, Tom Kim and Collin Morikawa. It was a surprisingly impressive performance given his lack of practice since his last start along with a lack of preparation time at Albany, which included just a single 14-hole practice round.
“We were out here all day yesterday [for the pro-am] in rain delays, so it was hard to get out there and see them, so we were playing them blind. They're fairly straightforward, the yardage books are pretty good,” he said. “I hit a few good drives on those holes and didn't have to do too much thinking.”
As for his spot in the Wolf & Snake Cup – which features players from Shoal Creek Golf & Country Club and Greystone Golf & Country Club and an impressive field including Trey Mullinax, Robby Shelton and Smylie Kaufman – Straka said it went to Patrick Martin, a former All-SEC player at Vanderbilt and aspiring pro.