Last month I played The PGA Championship at The Atlanta Athletic Club. This PGA is the 13th major championship “on tour” that I have played. My first was The 1977 United States Open at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was 21 years old! Now I’m 55. That is a lot of years in the middle. That is a lot of miles too. Fortunately, they are highway miles and I’ve kept up a regular maintenance schedule. Perhaps I’m Benjamin Button and getting younger rather than older. I’m going with that. The older the violin the sweeter the music!
The golf course was amazing. It was long, difficult and in wonderful condition. Everyone I played with felt like the fairways were as good as they have seen.
I thought I would journal my week for the readers of “Inside Golf;” perhaps you would enjoy being a part of it. August 1st marked 17 years at Semiahmoo. My golf academy. Semiahmoo and the members have been a huge part of the Coston’s life. When I arrived off the PGA Tour in 1994 I had not grey hair and no wrinkles. Many things have changed since.
This is my fourth time qualifying for The PGA and my 13th major. Things have changed since I first played the Tour in 1985. Many of the tournaments then players had to buy their own range balls. Now each player uses whatever company’s ball off the range that they play in the tournament.
SUNDAY: I left my house at 5 am and drove to Mount Vernon to pick up Curt Lindsey who caddies for me a few times a year. Curt came to me in 2002 to improve his game and we have become great friends. Our flight left at 9 for Atlanta. On the plane I read Bob Rotella’s “Putting Out of Your Mind” for the millionth time. The reminder for proper thinking never hurts. I also watched “Something’s Gotta Give” with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Its a MUST see.
MONDAY: With the time change I went to the Atlanta Athletic Club around 10. Getting registered, lockers and just finding where everything is takes time. While checking in I saw Bob Rotella for the 1st time in several years, we caught up and I told him how he has affected my teaching, playing and we laughed about how many times I need to redo his stuff. Mike Bender, who comes up to Semiahmoo was there with Zack Johnson and Jonathon Byrd. I hooked up with Zack and Lukas Glover to go play the front nine. We all wacked it off the first tee, Lukas much further and off we went. A fourth player to be un-named wanted to join us, Zack and Lukas did not care for him at all. To watch the dynamics the next couple of hours was educational. My friend Curt’s eyes were wide open. Monday night was the premiere for a new golf movie coming out in September. It is called “Seven Days at the Links of Utopia.” The book was great, I’ve given many away. The movie stars Robert Duval and Lucas Black were there. It is a very well done film. Being a part of the premiere was fun.
TUESDAY: Now players and spectators are flooding in. Its getting difficult to get anywhere! I get to the course at 6:15 which is 3:15 at home. I go off #10 with a young man named Scott Stallings. Phil Mickelson is going off #1. I have not seen him since The PGA in 2005. He grabs me and said, “I’ll always remember being your standard bearer at age 14 in the San Diego Open, play well.” That felt good! Scott and I hit it off playing that morning. On 15 I asked him his best finish this year. I found out he won two weeks ago. We had a good laugh! I met Rickie Fowler that morning and we happened to be in the work out trailer at the same time that afternoon. He was working out with his normal Puma hat on. Crazy. Nice you man, only 22. I can remember being 22. Nice.
WEDNESDAY: The food is good. Served all day, every meal. Had egg whites and oatmeal, I could get used to this. I was putting and TIger walked up and dropped his golf balls right next to me. He is wearing a type of athletic shoe. Very lite. I met him in 2004. We shook hands, said a quick hello, he was cool. I played the back nine at one with Zack. Just the two of us. It was good. Zack is a great guy. I told him he was one of my picks to win it. I lost $10 to him on that back nine. Darn. The course is tough especially the back nine. The last several hole are serious! It will be a great tournament. I almost forgot. Kelly wanted Adam Scott’s autograph. She has this crush on Adam. I’ve knows Adam since 2000, we played at the Air Canada the first two rounds. Well Kelly, I got your autograph and told him about your crush. You owe me!
THURSDAY: I’m in the last group of the day; 2:45 start. The late start gives me time to work out in the trailer, get stretched out and eat. I love to work out, it gives me energy. Getting stretched out makes me feel 20 years younger. I was paired with D.J. Trahan, a multiple winner on tour and a young Korean 20 year old, Sung Noh. Both wonderful players. Noh turned pro at age 17. He is a fearless and very aggressive player. He will be a player to be reckoned with. I ripped it the first few holes and had good opportunities but did not convert. Number 4 I made a mistake hitting a 4 iron in the water made 5. I birdied the next hole. Made a bunch of pars, messed up on easier holes 12, 13 and 14, now I’m 6 over with the difficult finishing stretch. Parred 15 through 18, finished with a 76. Reconnected with Davis Love. Davis is a class act and hits it as good as ever. I wanted him to get it done. Golf is weird.
FRIDAY: Started on the demanding back side. One birdie, one bogie. I pushed a bit on the final nine. Bogie on #2, double on 3. again a bunch of pars, shot 73. Reflecting on my 36 holes. 3 double bogies and bogies on easier holes Thursday hurt. I did not drive the ball as well as normal. That was the difference to not see the weekend. To eliminate mistakes or unforced errors is key to any round, especially a major. I did many good things so I will take that with me. I wanted something EXTRAORDINARY. I’ll be back.