Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quigley is Riding the Roller Coaster

It's amazing to me how quickly these TOUR pros can go from ice cold to red hot, not only with their play, but with their confidence.  Brett Quigley, who has just come off of consecutive runner-up finishes, is a prime example.  Brett had a bumpy start this year, missing three of his first four cuts, and his attitude was in the toilet.

At the end of February, I was working the scoring tent at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.  Brett had finished round two in the morning, and after scores of 70-72, he was straddling the cut line.  "Casey, please tell me I can go home!  My golf game is so depressing right now."

He didn't like my answer.  "I'm sorry, Quigs, but I think 142 is going to hang in there.  You're going to have to play this weekend."

Brett actually packed his bags and checked out of his room on Friday, hopeful that I would be wrong with my cut prediction.  Unfortunately for him, my educated guess was correct, and Quigley reluctantly returned to the course on Saturday morning for round three.  After a frustrating 73 in the third round, Quigs rebounded with an easy 67 on Sunday.  In the scoring area after his final round, he said with a big grin, "You know what?  Something clicked today..."

And just like that, the switch was flipped.  The next week Brett tied for 13th at the Honda Classic.  The following week he birdied the final hole at the Puerto Rico Open to finish in a tie for second, and then last week in Tampa he posted three straight 68's to place second again.  Quigs is flying high right now, having made almost $875,000 and averaging 69.17 per round in his last three tournaments.  All this from a guy who was so sick of his game a month ago he didn't even want to make the cut.  You gotta love this crazy game.


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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mayakoba To-Do List: Wear a Visor

I was on the road for two more TOUR events in February.  People often ask me what is my favorite tournament of the year.  The Heritage on Hilton Head Island is always my #1, but I admit that when the weather's nice, the AT&T at Pebble Beach is hard to beat.  With clear skies and a sparkling sun, the golf-lover's vibe on 17-Mile Drive is intoxicating.  Unfortunately, this year one of the best tournaments turned into one of the ugliest.  Sustained 30-40 mph winds with buckets of rain on Sunday and Monday cancelled the final round, and Dustin (Hoffman, see my "Now on the Tee" blog post) Johnson won the gold without hitting a shot for two days.

Did anyone notice this about the CBS telecast on Sunday?  During the delay, Gary McCord and Ian Baker-Finch went out to the par three seventh for a televised three-hole mini-match.  They were battling the gale-force winds with a small crowd of spectators cheering them on.  There was only one problem...the reason none of the pros were playing at that time was because of high winds AND dangerous conditions!  Trash cans were blowing across fairways, tee signs were ripping loose from wooden posts, tents and bleachers were rocking back and forth, even a huge pine tree was uprooted on the third hole!  When TOUR officials saw what was going on, they terminated the match immediately.  That's why you viewers at home were abruptly switched (without explanation) from McCord and Finch hitting tee shots on #8 to a replay of Phil's 2007 AT&T victory.  For the record, IBF won the match 1-up after one hole.

While Geoff Ogilvy was steam-rolling his competition at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, I was working the opposite event, the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.  This tournament has become another favorite of mine since its inception three years ago.  The Mayakoba Resort and El Camaleon Golf Course are spectacular, and the nearby beach town of Playa del Carmen provides a quaint, tourist-friendly atmosphere to enjoy dinner and drinks every night.  Mark Wilson, this year's champion, and his caddie Chris P. "Crispy" Jones did a generous thing Sunday evening after their victory...they stopped by the popular watering hole and bought everyone in the place a round of celebratory cervezas.  I was glad to see these two well-deserving guys follow up their first win at the 2007 Honda Classic.

I had actually predicted that Mark Wilson would win the tournament on Thursday afternoon, after his opening 66 put him in a tie for fourth.  My reasoning was simple...the inaugural Mayakoba champion was Fred Funk, who wore a visor that week.  Last year's winner was Brian Gay, who also wore a visor.  The only guy playing well after this year's first round one who was wearing a visor?  Mark Wilson, of course.  Once the word gets out about this obvious necessity for victory, expect half of the 2010 field to be sporting visors in Mexico.


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