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18 Holes with Three ProsPosted Monday, June 28, 2010, at 7:05 PM
I know that this event happened a couple of weeks ago, but I'm just now getting a chance to share this with you all.
A couple of weekends ago, I was given the opportunity to attend the PGA Tour's St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis. This was the PGA's tournament before the U.S Open, so a lot of players were playing in this event as a warm up for the Open.
The first time I went to the tournament was actually the day before the first round. My dad and I went to the Championship Pro-Am for the day and had the opportunity to follow Retief Goosen (South Africa) for nine holes as he played alongside amateurs. Usually, these pro-ams are just for show as many fans that couldn't afford going to the actual tournament could come to this event and see their favorite golfers have a good time playing with normal, everyday people. Goosen was very nice to fans throughout the day. He greeted everyone throughout the round and appreciated people following him and his group that day.
I will say that I've never experienced something like a PGA Tour event. The crowds showed up for these events in the thousands just to hopefully see some of their favorite golfers compete against each other. The course at TPC Southwind is absolutely amazing. The course is a par-70, 7,244-yard championship course that was specifically designed for the competitive nature of the PGA. Let's just say that this tournament didn't disappoint the crowds that came.
Just a few days after the Pro-Am, I returned to the St. Jude Classic for the second round. This time I would be walking 18 Holes with one group that started in the morning. Oh, I forgot to mention that I wasn't alone, my fiancée's father, who is a HUGE golf fan, came up for the day. He has been attending a round of this tournament for several years and enjoys walking with one group in the morning and then another in the afternoon.
The group that I followed included names that people would recognize without knowing much about golf. Retief Goosen, Ian Poulter (England) and Justin Leonard (USA). Coming into the second round, Poulter and Goosen were at +2 for the tournament and Leonard was at +4.
You would think that those scores would force these guys to be cut after their second round, but one guy played well enough to make the cut and play in the final two rounds of the weekend (which equals MORE MONEY).
With these guys starting their round on the 10th hole, they would have to play hardest holes first with the front nine being the easiest holes to play throughout the tournament. Leonard had the worst day out of the entire group as he shot a +2, despite ending the round with a birdie on the final hole of the day. His best shot came on the par-5 3rd hole when he put his second shot on the green. With him missing the eagle put, Leonard sank the birdie shot to improve his score to +1 after three holes.
I'd have to say that the one thing that I'll remember about Poulter's day is when he completely broke down on the par-3 4th hole. His tee shot fell in a deep bunker right beside the green and then his shot out of the bunker was an absolute shank as it stayed in the bunker. Poulter was so mad at himself he started beating his club against the sand. Let's just say I had to hold back my laughter as he was making a fool of himself.
Goosen was my favorite guy in the group. He had the purest swing I have ever seen and watching him play was great as I learned some new techniques that, hopefully, improve my game. Although he had five bogeys in the second round,
Goosen was able to erase them with birdies that brought his score up. Heading into the last hole, Goosen needed to a birdie to get at even par for the tournament and make the weekend cut. It was his second shot on the par-4 9th hole that fell just a few feet from the hole that allowed him to birdie the hole and make the cut. I can still remember the smile on his face when he realized that he had made the cut.
I really enjoyed going to the St. Jude Classic and experiencing golf at the professional level. The people of Memphis and TPC Southwind put on a fantastic tournament and I encourage everyone to attend this event next year. It's an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed and I know that I'll definitely go back if I have the opportunity. PGA Tour golf is such an amazing experience to witness in person.
Dustin Sullivan is the Sports Editor for the Daily Dunklin Democrat. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Former DDD Sports Editor and current ESPN video editor Dustin Sullivan shares his experiences and stories from working for the Worldwide Leader in Sports!
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