Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Justin Peters: Chasing the PGA Tour continued

Another installment on Justin Peters, aspiring PGA Tour pro as he tries to realize his goal of making the PGA Tour as a full time member. He is in the field for this week's U.S. Bank Classic.

Monday qualifiers for PGA Tour events are about players on the outside of the tour, either chasing down their dream of making the tour like Justin or trying to get back into the game like former PGA Tour player Mac O’Grady. Both were out there attempting to qualify for this week’s PGA Tour event, the U.S. Bank Championship at Brown Deer Park Golf Course.

"It's all about catching lightning in the bottle," Justin said as he qualified by shooting 3-under-par 69 at Fire Ridge Golf Club to get one of four available spots. Justin, who is from Plantation, Florida, recorded seven birdies over the 7,049-yard Fire Ridge layout. This was the ninth PGA Tour Monday qualifier he has attempted this year and his second PGA event he’s qualified for. The Booz Allen Classic here in DC back in June was the other PGA Tour event Justin played in.

"This is a tough way to make a living and if you're not doing well, it's probably not worth doing," he said. "But I look at each one of these (Monday qualifiers) as a mini Q School. This is great preparation for when I go to qualifying school this fall."

For O’Grady, a two time winner on the PGA Tour in the '80’s, things didn’t work out. He shot 71 and did not qualify.

Mark Farnham, who is caddying for Justin this week, recapped the qualifier and Justin's preparation.

It was a very difficult day out there. Fire Ridge played hard and long, and it was one windy and wicked day. Justin made 7 birdies, and 4 bogies... and shot 69 and tied for medalist. Justin grinded it out and finished off his round with a great birdie on #9, Justin's last hole of the day as he started off on the back nine. Standing on the tee, he said that he thought he needed to make birdie to avoid a playoff, and he piped a drive right down the middle. A wedge to 15 feet in windy conditions... and then while looking over the putt he looked at me and said "Here's where we find what kind of stuff I'm made of" and he stepped up and rolled it in center cut. A double fist pump, and then we waited to see if anyone would catch him. One player in the last Group matched him, and now it's off to the PGA TOUR for the week. It's an accomplishment just to win a qualifier against a group of hungry and solid players. That's all going to be put behind him now. He's been here before, just a few weeks back. This afternoon was about courtesy cars and knowing you belong. Tomorrow is about the day job... The fascination is over, it's time to punch the clock and get to work.

Tuesday arrives and we head to the course. This is where JP and I have to put up a little bit of our walls. He and I are friends, but I am now a caddy for the week and he is a tour player... so he heads off to grab some breakfast while I take the clubs down to the range and make sure the bag is ready for the day. We are going to play a practice round, so a basic warm up at the range is in order... and although the clubs are clean, I spend the time to make sure the grooves are spotless and everything is exactly where I want it. This is my office for the week, and as I am normally a CEO in real life... I like things in order. The range is starting to get a few players on it, but most of the activity is from the club manufacturers... they work the hardest at this hour.

The club manufacturers and their reps are there to service their players, and also scout for new players. Anything they need is available. Tour vans are there to make it on the spot, and every available combination imaginable is on offer. Prototypes you haven't heard of are dangled in front of pro's hands, and techs are constantly making clubs all day.

I hear a fun conversation from an agent talking to another agent about one of his players from the qualifier, and about that "guy" Peters who shot 69 to get in again. I was pretty proud to be standing there with his bag when they turned around a few minutes later and realized I was hearing their conversation and who I was.

A bit later, Justin arrives...The range is now getting pretty busy, and we settle in next to David Frost, and Justin sends me over to get range balls. On the Tour, they actually have balls from each maker... and all pristine. Justin asked me to get Titleist with red numbers... and that's what I asked for and they gave me. Everything is in order. Justin works through his usual warm up routine, although a bit more brief than normal as this was a practice round and the opportunity to hit multiple shots was there... and off we head to the first tee.

At the first hole, we walk up and standing there is Bill Haas and his caddy who invite us to join him for a practice round. Off we go on our first view of the course, and my first trip inside the ropes. Brown Deer Park is a big place, but a fair course with thick rough right off the fairway. Scoring is going to be low here, and Justin is going to have to find fairways and greens to do well this week. Scrambling will not be easy here, but that isn't the name of the game at this level.

Bill is a fantastic player. He and his caddy were a real joy to play with. Very nice people, and made the round a pleasure. At the turn, we were joined by Dan Forsman and continued on through the practice round with Justin trying a few different shots here and there. The thing about a practice round is that you don't really have your focus, so you'll hit a bad shot, then you drop another ball and you laser it right in.

Justin seems relaxed and the course suits him. His drives work L to R and this course favors that flight which is an advantage, as there are few if any draw holes. Several of the holes on the course require an iron or fairway metal off the tee, and a lot of course management.

We wrap up the practice round with JP signing autographs and giving away his practice balls to the kids, and then off to the range for some more work on some irons and fairway woods. A bit of time with the folks from Ping to talk with them about his driver... and schedule some time on a launch monitor. Checking our tee times, we get a late start on Thursday and an early one on Friday. Weather up here can be interesting with the thunderstorms... so it means a staff bag full of rain gear and umbrellas! Good times. :)

Wednesday is a lighter day, as there is another Pro Am that Justin is not involved in, and we aren't allowed on the course. Instead, it is time on the range, and putting and chipping to get a feel for this thick rough.


Previous Posts:
July 11, 2006
June 23, 2006

Note: Mark's daily posts will be posted in the Comments section.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Rookie Dad: Nine Months!

Today Benjamin turned nine months old. We are taking him to the doctor for his nine month appointment on Friday so I'm guessing he is around 22 pounds. He's crawling around the house now and while he's not yet talking, he's making all kinds of goofy little sounds. He has two teeth and he's very content, happy and he loves music. He is also progressing well at his day care. We have been truly blessed with a wonderful son and each day we marvel at his progress. I could go on and on but the real reason family and friends drop by is for the pictures. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Huge Road Point For D.C. United

Chicago Fire 1
D.C. United 1
Chicago: Jaqua 5th goal, 29th minute
D.C. United: Eskandarian 7th goal, 74th minute

A hard-fought point on the road for D.C. United. They had a bad first half but they came back and scrapped out a tie for the point. Championship teams manage to find ways not to lose and with this result, DC's unbeaten streak is now 14. I'll take it. Chicago played 40 minutes with a man down as Logan Pause got his secong yellow card in the 50th minute. One could look at this tie and be disappointed but when Pause's ejection took place, D.C. was down 1-0. Next game: Saturday July 29 at Salt Lake 9:00 PM EST

George Solomon wrote a little bit about D.C. United in the Sunday Post. For those who check in here and want some info about this year's D.C. United team, read this.

United Stands Apart
Fans will notice Washington Nationals banners alongside those of D.C. United's -- an example of coexistence among the two RFK Stadium tenants. But that's where the comparisons end. While the Nats struggle to escape the cellar of the NL East, United is running away from the other 11 teams in Major League Soccer. Consider these facts: Going into this weekend's games, United had 44 points on a 13-1-5 record, 11 points more than its nearest rival (FC Dallas), and boasted an 13-game unbeaten stretch. It also has seven players and Coach Peter Nowak on the league's all-star team that plays the two-time defending English Premier League champion, Chelsea, Aug. 5 outside Chicago.

With the lengthy regular season slightly more than halfway completed, Nowak, United's intense third-year coach, isn't concerned about his team peaking too soon before the playoffs begin in late October. "For 19 weeks, we try to teach our players to win," Nowak said after practice at the stadium on Wednesday. "First things first -- win the games and the regular season and then worry about the playoffs."

Nowak, 42, played pro soccer for 23 years before becoming a coach. He has a reputation as a no-nonsense taskmaster whose infrequent use of teenage prodigy Freddy Adu in 2004 and 2005 was criticized by the media here and in Europe. But this year Adu has become a regular and Nowak put the 17-year-old midfielder on the all-star team.

"The fact my coach selected me was very satisfying," Adu said. "When I started here three years ago the expectations, including my own, were ridiculous. But I'm more relaxed now and just trying to play my game."

"I'm a tough teacher," Nowak admitted, adding that he signed as a player in Poland "when I was 15, so I know it's difficult at Freddy's age. But he's made a lot of progress the past three years and has become a stronger person. He's on the all-star team -- because he's earned it."

Still, Adu's success in Washington this season has not deterred his determination to leave United and MLS to play in Europe next year. "I'll be 18 -- and that's where I'm headed. I'm just waiting for the right situation," he said.

Nowak's take: "It's very demanding to play in the best of the European leagues. But everyone has dreams. When he's ready, he'll know it."

One of Adu's mentors, Jaime Moreno, 32, United's six-time all-star, says that nowadays "most young players are spoiled." Moreno, who has played 225 games for United and is a steadying force, remembered his early days, "cleaning shoes and doing stuff for the older players." But he respects Freddy.

I asked Moreno if he'd like to be 17 again? "Not 17," he answered. "I'd be happy to be 20."


The best source of the history of D.C. United was written by my friend Dave. Scroll down on his blog and read his D.C. United.com articles.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Update

Not a whole lot going on. I've been sick with a lingering cold and congestion that won't go away and unfortunately Benjamin caught it. The past couple days he's missed day care so Weena and I each took a day to take care of him. Monday he was congested, coughing and he had a fever. We took him to the pediatrician then and it was discovered that he has an ear infection as well. They gave us some antibiotics to give to him. He was a trooper on Tuesday and yesterday he was fine and his usual playful self. The fever is gone but he's still got a cough and another week of antibiotics. Been a rough month for all of us.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Justin Peters: Chasing the PGA Tour

I’ve decided to add a new feature here, Chasing the PGA Tour. Last month I watched aspiring PGA Tour pro Justin Peters play in the Booz Allen Classic. Justin remains committed to his PGA Tour dream. He doesn't have any status, even on the Nationwide Tour, so he has to take on what's called a "prequalifier". These tournaments are held so that players must prove they are worthy of even entering the Monday qualifier. So far Justin has passed done well in those but he's struggled in the Monday qualifiers. He did shoot 65 at Little Bennett to make the Booz Allen field. That was his second PGA Tour event.

Here is a recap of Justin’s attempt to Monday qualify for the John Deere Classic, written by Mark (Moose) Farnham, one of the The Golf Channel's Big Break I contestants, who caddied for Justin. As Justin progresses, I’ll post whatever updates I get. Here is Moose’s recap:

Justin came into the John Deere Classic Qualifier playing some solid golf, and we went into the Pinnacle CC with some optimism. He shot a 69 on the first practice round... and on Sunday, shot a 66 with a bogey he more or less intentionally made just to try and un-jinx himself by making a risky attempt on a drive instead of the easy route for a par.

Heading into Monday, we knew that the previous year... a 69 got into a play-off and 68 was safe. We were figuring on a 67 being the right number. We were paired with a pro he had played with from Florida named Tom Foley, and a local guy from St. Louis just trying to figure out if he had the game to be a pro. Ours was the 3rd tee time.

After a par on the opening par 5, JP made a good birdie on the par 3 2nd hole, but in a harbinger of things to come, the local pro lost a ball... and we spent 5 minutes looking for it, and this sort of thing more less kept happening throughout the day and would keep a good rhythm from forming. A poor drive on 3 forced an amazing recovery that could have led to another birdie, but a putt left just short... and -1 thru 3. Tee ball on 4 was crushed, and just like 3 was a block, and this one found a tiny 1 foot wide hazard and unplayable lie under a rock. Going back 50yds, a great recovery shot left a 12' putt for a par saver and again just on the lip... so back to even.

We never manage to birdie the Par-5s, despite being 220 on one, and although he finally got it to -3 with 5 to play, it was just never to be. A blocked tee shot on 17 left him an impossible recovery, but somehow he still had a chance at a par saver from 25 feet that he nearly made. So back to -2 and a par at the par 3 18th, and we knew our day was done.

-2 on a bad day... -5 got in... it was tough to take, because it was his driver that let him down, and the days prior he never even had a bad drive. Every single one was center cut.

Next up for Justin? Either Milwaukee or BC Open. Life chasing the Mondays... preparing for Q-School, and knowing he is getting closer with every step. He's 29 now, about the average age for a Rookie on the PGA tour.

I had fun caddying for him and after the qualifier, Justin did something really cool for me. We went over to the Deere and using his PGA Tour credential from the Booz Allen, we got into the grounds and parked in the players lot. From there, we walked straight onto the range... and here's the thing. You guys on here (The discussion board has its naysayers) can give him whatever grief you want, but to his peers (PGA Tour quality players), he belongs. Guys like Jason Gore and Tag Ridings struck up a conversation with him and wanted to know how he was playing, and were telling him that he belonged out there and that it was only a matter of time. Guy after guy said the same thing to him. Tour winners. It was pretty cool.

Highlight for me? As his "caddy" we went over into the Tour vans where they build the player's clubs, and where Sonartec was making some fairway woods for him (the reason why we came over to the course). When we finished we go over to the putting green, which is sacred ground, and off limits to schmoes like me... except today.

We talked to one of the manufacturers who makes Justin's putters, and Justin continues to talk to various tour players... and JP introduces me to everyone (some even admit to watching the show. Next thing you know, I am getting fitted for a new putter... right on the green at a PGA event. Putting next to me is Zach Johnson, Jason Gore, and last year's winner Sean O'Hair. Michelle Wie has made the smart move and run like heck away from the Moose and is nowhere to be seen. Shockingly, I manage to start making putts... and while the media are trying to figure out who the fat stowaway is on the putting green, I end up with a new putter, some great memories, and my one (and only!) time inside the ropes at a PGA Tour Event. ;)

Only thing bittersweet was driving away, and giving a wave to Justin Rose as he was parked next to me, and stopping to say hello to Justin's friend Mike Sposa... and knowing that Justin should have qualified for this event. Knowing that he has enough game to be out there, and that he just needs to keep focused and keep playing and have a great fall and great Q school, and then the Monday qualifier will just be some fun memories for him...


I'm rooting for JP to make it. He's definitely got the game to play out there on the PGA Tour. A long road awaits though as the PGA Tour Qualifying School is very grueling and so few make it each year.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Italy Wins World Cup in PK's

A couple days ago I had earlier talked about Zinedine Zidane and how he had been a tremendous leader in taking France to the finals of the World Cup. I originally planned to add some things into that post from Friday but I accidentally deleted it. Zidane was incredible in this World Cup but what he did today was atrocious. For those who missed it, he headbutted an Italian player in overtime today and got a red card ejection.

Instead of being a gracious, classy member of the losing French side, Zidane will be forever remembered for this thuggish behavior just as Roberto Alomar is remembered for spitting at that umpire in 1996.

What was he thinking when he did this? I know you can have a tendency to do dumb things sometimes when you are tired, but this was nuts!

Nor do I know what was said to Zidane to force him into such rage.

He didn't even come back and pick up his silver runners up medal. Guess the shame in what he did was too much and he couldn't face the team he let down.

Truly a sad spectacle today. He really was a great player. Eight years ago in the World Cup final he won a World Cup for his nation with his head. This year in the World Cup final, he just lost his head.

So Italy wins its fourth World Cup title, beating France 5-3 in in only the second final decided by penalty kicks.

Monday 7/10: The day after. It was reported from a player on the field that the Italian player called Zidane a "terrorist" and also insulted his Algerian heritage. More here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Little Guy's View on Sports by Benjamin




Since the little guy snagged my sports page and wouldn't give it up, he'll do the blog sports recap. Enjoy!

D.C. United are hot, unbeaten in 11 straight and lead the division by 17 points!

Ryan Zimmerman comes through again in the clutch for the Nats.Dad hasn't been this excited about a rookie ball player since Cal Ripken broke in with the Orioles.

Wizards need to make some moves if they are to advance further in the NBA playoffs.

Caps let their Captain Jeff Halpern sign with the Dallas Stars. I heard some unfamiliar words out of Daddy's mouth when he read this.

PGA Tour passes on Washington DC as a tour stop in 2007. The earliest DC could get another event is 2009.

Redskins open training camp soon! Plus Terps football is coming too! You know what that means for me? Cool new gear for me to wear while watching the games with my Dad!!!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Update

Nothing much going on except a stomach virus is passing through our house. First Benjamin had it. He was throwing up a lot on Friday and into Saturday morning so we took him to a branch of his pediatric office that had Saturday hours. He's fine, we gave him some Pedialyte as recommended by the physician on duty and that, mixed into his formula, stopped the vomiting. He's teething big time now and we see two little bottom teeth coming in. Now Weena has the stomach virus. I expect I'll get it next and I'll make a prediction that it hits me around this time tomorrow night. UPDATE on the Update. Sure enough, the stomach virus hit me around 7:00 AM this morning.

Next, we have found a new day facility for Benjamin. We were taking him to a relative's house, who is a licensed day care provider with ten years experience. She came through in the clutch for us as we needed someone in June. However, the commute was just too far for the two of us and we got lucky when a spot at a day care facility three miles from our house opened up. He starts July 10 as Weena is off this week on vacation.

The World Cup semifinals are as follows:
France vs Portugal and Germany vs Italy. My two teams, the US and Spain both crashed out of the tournament so I am pulling hard for Germany to win this. I was pleased to see Portugal beat England. I was stunned to see Brazil go out like they did. Click on the center link below and check out this goal by Thierry Henry of France. Zinedine Zidane, #10, set this up wonderfully. I'm not a fan of France but since I started watching soccer seriously again in the early '90's, Zidane's been an absolute delight to watch.

Brazil Vs France - 57th minute, Thierry Henry - France Goal