My first PGA Tour event was a real eye-opener after I made it to last year’s RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont., for winning the Titleist and FootJoy Canadian PGA Club Professionals Championship in Port St. Lucie, Fla., the year before.
You learn a lot in a heartbeat about what those guys do and how hard they work. They’re out there beating balls and beating balls and sure, they’re chatting and joking around, but they really grind it out in practice.
The first thing you realize when you first get there is how well the players are treated. It took me a few days to get comfortable with all the people around to look after you.
It’s just the little things. You will walk into the locker room after hitting balls and one of the locker room attendants will ask you if you’d like your shoes cleaned. My first reaction was, `What? What do you mean?’
That’s what I mean by the little things. The locker room has coolers filled with drinks. There’s food and company reps are there to take care of you. It’s eye-opening and it’s hard to take it all in and still stay focused.
I remember taking away from it how much I would like to do it all again just because now, I would know what to expect and I wouldn’t be caught off-guard.
I didn’t want to leave. I’m generally not a big practice guy, but I practiced so much that week because I didn’t want to leave the range.
My buddy Gene Lockerby, who caddied during the Open for me, and I got talking about how there’s very little difference between what I do and what PGA Tour players do in terms of ball-striking. Where there is a big difference is in short game and putting.
I worked on my short game to get it to where I thought it was good, but I quickly found out that I’ve got a long way to go. If I’m successful, maybe I can have another go at it and live the dream once again.