Nelson Mandela Championship
I finished up my final tournament of calendar year 2013 here in Durban missing the cut, scoring 76, 66. My pairing caught some windy and rainy conditions in the first round and I couldn’t do enough to make up for it in the second. It was a good week nonetheless. A lot went on honoring the life of Nelson Mandela and I learned a good bit about him and the people of South Africa.
This course in Durban was much different than the one in Malelane a couple of weeks ago. There wasn’t nearly as much wildlife wandering about but I still had to be on the lookout since you never know what kind of beautiful or scary creature may pop up around here.
Overall, my game was pretty good during this three-tournament trip. I’m starting to get a feel for the European Tour and I’m hopeful that I can compete favorably out here. I’m excited about the opportunities ahead!
2013 has been a long but very good year. I’ve grown and learned so much – more than I imagined possible. I’m grateful for all of the wonderful happenings and all of the great things that were done for me. But I’m also eager to keep going.
I am planning to take the next few weeks off of tournament golf to rest and recuperate. The next European Tour event is the Volvo Golf Championship (starting January 9), but the field is limited to winners of Euro events last year (which doesn't include me yet :) ). The following three events are in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai) and they are very selective and have large purses. I have a small chance of getting into Qatar but not much likelihood with the others, unless a sponsor exemption develops. I’ll definitely pick up with the Joburg Open in South Africa during the first week of February, and I should get in quite a few events consecutively after that!
I’m so looking forward to getting back to the U.S. on Sunday, December 15 and seeing family and friends. Best wishes for you and your family for the Holidays!
Hong Kong Open
Hong Kong is an incredible place with enormous population in a small area. The number of people here is truly amazing! Jon and I learned a lot and we enjoyed our time here. I did some good things on the course and I played well until the final eight holes but a tough finish put me in 69th place.
Each day more and more spectators showed up. Attendance was much different than last week in the jungle in South Africa as more than ten thousand people watched us compete today! It appears that most of them live in the tall buildings and come out at meal time. Every restaurant has at least an hour and a half wait time for serving. The food was good, though.
I’m looking forward to being in South Africa during a historic time next week. Our European event there this week is actually named after Nelson Mandela. Of course, this year it’ll be even more of a tribute to him.
Overall, I feel quite good and I’m looking forward to a positive event this week. Afterward, however, it’ll be good to get a rest. I just looked at my itinerary and counted flight time in the air on this three-tournament trip at 68 hours. This event will be my 17th tournament in 22 weeks and all of them have been in different countries. It has been a great run and I’ve enjoyed and appreciated it but the break over the Holidays will be welcome. I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family back in the states!
I enjoyed my first European Tour event this week in Malelane, South Africa (November 28 – December 1)! I played well and finished tied for 24th.
Leopard Creek is a tough and beautiful golf course. From a playing standpoint, it required precision in shot-making and the greens had a lot of slope but they ran as true as any. From an aesthetic standpoint, it’s just incredible walking around it seeing all of the animals and reptiles in the adjacent Kruger National Park (the Crocodile River borders the course... and it is aptly named). As I walked down the fairway on several holes I saw hippos, rhinos, elephants, leopards, lions, tigers, wild boar, buffalo, deer, eagles, and a few other animals! At any given time there was always some kind of unique animal in view. There even was a two-foot lizard on the wall in our bathroom when we checked into the hotel!
All of the players were warned (almost constantly) to stay out of the brush off the fairways because there are so many nasty snakes, crocodiles and other beasts in there. I was very careful whenever I had to go in the rough or near the water. All in all, though, it was a very memorable way to start my career on the European Tour. I am looking forward to the events to follow- especially my next event in Hong Kong!
Tonight I have the opportunity to go on a night-time safari! It should be amazing as long as we keep a healthy distance from the animals :). Then tomorrow morning we leave for Hong Kong! Thanks for all of your support; I really appreciate it! More to come later!