It is so exciting to be back in Ponte Vedra Beach for the The 2021 PLAYERS.
The TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course is in immaculate shape – the fairways are pure, the overseeded Rye rough is about 3” and sticky, the greens are rolling about 13’ on the Stimpmeter and they are guaranteed to firm up as the dry weather continues.
Despite my excitement, my mind does wander back to last year around this time when the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, the USA locked down, and The PGA TOUR ground to a halt.
I was part of the Thursday afternoon PGA TOUR LIVE and DirecTV Featured Groups coverage. We had the blockbuster grouping of the current Top 3 golfers in the world, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.
Everything was going along fine until we turned to the back nine. The announcement that there would be no fans for Rounds 2-4 was made and word began to filter around the course.
On the 14th hole Rory and I had a brief chat after he hit his approach. We were both incredulous at the developments, and to be honest with you a little unsure of what the next day would bring.
Fast forward to about 10pm that evening. My Producer called to let me know that the tournament had been canceled and the following 3 or 4 events had been canceled too.
I was shocked. Eventually I fell asleep confused and concerned.
After a fitful night’s sleep I woke up, grabbed coffee and started packing my bags to drive back home to Columbus. On a Friday morning – to this day I still cannot believe it.
Whilst I was packing I watched PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan’s presser. I remember feeling for him, yet at the same time respecting him, his manner and his leadership. It was so emotional and I did shed the odd tear.
I got on the road and was about an hour into the 5 1/2 hour road trip when I got a text message that The Masters was also postponed. The world of golf seemed to be crumbling.
I called my wife, Tracy. We didn’t have much to say; we prayed a bit, and then she asked me to buy some toilet paper, (if I could ind any on the way home.) In the end managed to find a few rolls in a Piggly Wiggly in Sylvester, GA.
Eventually, after a long drive, and a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head, I arrived home.
I hugged my girls and so began the 2020 lockdown.
Now I’m back in Ponte Vedra. I am once again walking with the Thursday afternoon Featured Group. This time it is Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau, and I am excited.
It’s going to be a great week. Savor it. Enjoy it!