I qualified for the PGA Championship at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. This is the fifth PGA I have qualified for and The Ocean Course is a super place. I played the Professional National Championship there in 2005 and The Senior PGA in 2007. Good stuff. It is sure a long way from Semiahmoo for sure. Terrific things happened this year at Kiawah. I’ve been asked to journal my week at the 2012 PGA Championship. Here goes!
I arrived Sunday night. I left my house to drive to Sea-Tac at 3:30 am to catch the first flight to Atlanta. Tough to get up after teaching all week and leaving the course at 6:45 pm. But I’m young and my car is fast so off I went.
I stayed at a mutual friends home on the Island. The accommodations on Kiawah, especially during a major are high, high dollar. Let’s call it many golf lessons per day so this is good. Nice people! Zach Shriver, a long time student of mine is caddying all week. I’ve been coaching Zach for many years. Zack has played the Canadian Tour and knows golf. It’s a fun opportunity for him to rub elbows with the best players in the world.
Monday is check in and registration. Getting badges, parking passes, identification. Zack is able to get a family pass to eat with the players in the players dining room. Good food, good friends.
I get organized and step on the putting green and I shake hand with Tiger. I first met Tiger in 2004 at the PGA at Whistling Straights. The only time I made the cut at the PGA. I had Tiger sign a picture for me there. Tiger thinks I shot 59 in a tournament. I did not shoot 59, I shot 60 but I’m just going to let him think it was 59. Someone told him that in 2004 so it’s all good. Hello Tiger! He has always been kind to me. My host family saw this pic on the Kiawah home page. Weird, that shake was very quick. I guess I was being followed….haha.
Played the front nine and worked out. The tour has a huge workout trailer and another trailer with physical therapist and chiropractors. When I leave there I feel 25 years younger. Did that daily.
Tuesday: Zach Johnson and Jonathon Byrd are friends. They both are coached by Mike Bender, my friend and partner at my golf schools. We went to the back side to play nine about 9 am with Gary Woodland. Never met Gary. He is a nice guy and bombs it. Easy going guy. Talented. One of my fun things of the week was Jon, Gary and Zach the slot. I was up on #10 and overheard Zach say to Gary, “Watch this.” I hit a nice shot and Zack said, “Told you!” I felt really good! We played a few holes and a storm came in quick. Play suspended. Pouring, lightening, serious stuff. We all headed back to the clubhouse. I was in the locker room drying off and overheard Phil Michelson telling a story to a group of guys. I’ve know Phil since 1985. 1985 was my first year on the PGA Tour. The San DIego Open, Phil was 14 years old and my standard bearer on Saturday of the tournament. We have kind of kept in touch. I walked around the corner to say hi and he’s talking to Dustin Johnson, Davis Love and Ricky Fowler. Sweet. Phil says to me, “I’m not carrying your sign this year, ok?” We had a good laugh and I sat with those guys for over an hour. Listening to the is a different world. It was nice. Good memory.
Went back out later with Zack to pick up on #13 with Hunter Mahan and Aaron Baddley. Aaron and I hit it off. Much in common., a truly nice day. These guys hit it long. I went back to the get young quick trailer that afternoon.
Wednesday: I played the back side again, met Marcel for the first time. It started to rain about hole 14 and everyone but Marcel and I ran off the golf course. He is from Germany and European Tour and I live in the Pacific Northwest. We played on and had the golf course to ourselves. Anytime one gets ready for a tournament pitching, chipping, bunker play, speed on the greens and putting 5 feet and in saves shots. Many golfers say that but few see enough value in those areas to commit to practice very much around and on the greens. Making an up and down or two putts from 25 to 40 feet is kind of like making a birdie. It takes shots off our score. I spent time around the greens on Wednesday afternoon.
Thursday: I teed oit at 9:10 off #10. Played with Robert Rock who beat Tiger head to head in Dubai and Bud Carley who played his way on the PGA Tour last year. Good group. I played solid at even par coming into my final hole of the day, #9. My tee shot felt good. I looked up and it was headed ot the right. I must of been aimed there. I hit it in the hazard and made double. That did not feel good. Solid to ick. 74.
Friday: My time was 2:20 off #1. There was a 20 minute delay. I birdied #5 with a 3 iron to get to +1 for the tourney. I was just playing normal golf, no biggie. The wind was moving hard but I was dealing with it. From there on I made some mistakes and the wind howled. The back nine was tough and I finished in the dark. 79. Not happy. Early exit. Missed by 3. The wind made scores go way up. I’d sure like to play those last 13 holes again. I guess I’m still learning. That’s golf and life. Next year Oak Hill. I plan to see Tiger and Phil again there.
Jeff Coston is an 18 time Pacific Northwest PGA Player of the Year. He can be reached for appointment at Semiahmoo by calling 360 201 4590.