Hello from Minnesota, the second-to-last scheduled regular season event for me! I had been looking forward to this tournament for a while, as our family would vacation at Fair Hills Resort in Detroit Lakes, MI for a golf-and-lake-filled week every summer. Two highlights of this week were the annual closest to the pin contest (where you got free ice cream if you beat the pro) and speed golf, which consisted of running 9 holes as fast as possible with one club. Though I had never played TPC Twin Cities, I already had a stockpile of “competitive” golf memories in the land of 10,000 lakes!
The tournament got off to an inauspicious start- I woke up Thursday morning with some type of food poisoning, and was +2 thru 3 holes. But a combination of great driving and an improved wedge system (essentially 3 different swings with each wedge), as well as a more settled stomach, I brought the score back to even par by hole 6 and birdied the 7th. A four under par back nine put me into a tie for 10th after the first day.
The second day had plenty of fireworks as well… another 67 put me in a tie for 7th, despite a one-shot penalty for stepping on my own ball in the fairway. This was my third penalty for inadvertently moving my ball this season (R3 at Pebble, R4 at John Deere), but I was a tad distracted by a playing partner snapping his wedge over his knee to be fully aware of how many steps I had taken towards my golf ball. I looked down at my yardage book to get the number, and felt my foot kick my ball about two feet. Nice.
A 68 in the third round, highlighted by a chip-in on the 14th hole, vaulted me into a tie for 2nd place and a spot in the second-to-last group on Sunday. While Sunday wasn’t my best (+2) due to one of my worst putting rounds of the year, I took a lot of confidence away from the improvements I had seen in my short irons. I was able to knock down and take spin off my wedges which opened up all of the back pins to me, and I was one good putting day away from my first win. Lots of positives!
I also made a trip to Mall of America, the scale of which is hard to describe. For reference, it made the neighboring IKEA look like a Starbucks drive-thru…
One week later, I made my way to my favorite lake in the world, Lake Tahoe, for the Barracuda championship. I started the week with one of the most fun rounds of golf of my life- two 4somes (which eventually turned into an 8some due to slower groups ahead) with my brothers, roommates, and other friends at the Incline Village Mountain Course… I shot a very cruisy -9, which served as a great reminder that the best golf is often played when you are having fun and grateful to be where you are…and we finished the afternoon off with a bonfire and s’mores. The best 19th hole!
In similar fashion to the previous year, I scored 9 points in each of the first three rounds in the stableford format. Also like last year, I followed each round with a cold plunge in Lake Tahoe (though he water levels were so low this year that the lake was at record warm temperatures!). Unfortunately the weather went from beautiful to unbelievably smoky overnight with a wind change, and the AQI was 500+ for our second round. I must say it was the worst I’ve felt on the golf course- I felt like I had a sore throat by the 5th hole. The final round was again slightly disappointing, only scoring 5 points, again a slow day with the putter.
The good news is that with these two top-20 finishes, I clinched my spot in the top 70 of the FedEx Cup and a tee time at the BMW! One week off, and then off to New Jersey for the Playoffs!Thank you for your continued support! We will be sending out the Birdies Season 3 update in the next week or two. Please visit www.BirdiesForEducation.com when you have a chance for updates on your donations status, the season, and, if you haven’t done so already, please sign up for “Birdies Season 4”. This year we are converting the Birdies program to follow the calendar year so participants can plan their year-end giving. Birdies 4 will cover September 2021-December 2022.