3M Championship – Blaine, MN
Travelling through Scotland and England was nice but you miss the little comforts of the U.S. Cheeseburgers, hot showers, driving on the right side of the road with no roundabouts, and a toilet that flushes regularly were high on my list.
It was a quick turnaround landing Sunday at o’Hare and then hitting the road for Minneapolis Monday noon. Zach, my dog, was riding shotgun and the Brooklyn Park Motel 6 was the only hotel in the area that allowed both of us. It had hot showers, flush toilets, and a good cheeseburger joint down the road so it was perfect. We didn’t expect all the police activity in the eclectic community but we survived.
I spent Monday evening in Eau Claire with friends and tried to shake off the jet lag then cruised into Brooklyn Park Tuesday morning planning to meet Jim for an afternoon practice round. About three the text read “Not coming to the course, see you in a.m. for pro-am. I checked out the course during the wait and headed back to a parking lot full of cops. It was going to be an exciting week off the course.
This was Jim’s last ditch effort to maintain exempt status. Since he hadn’t made a lot of money his status after this week wouldn’t let him play any more tournaments. There was a lot of pressure but he’s been playing reasonably well the last month and the Twin Cities TPC was right for him. Wide fairways and reachable par fives make for low scores and Jim fired an easy 67 in the Wednesday pro-am, we were both fired up. After a long practice session I headed for police central, took Zach for a long run, and settled in early.
The toothache started about 8 p.m., the throbbing persisted until about four in the morning, and I showed up at the caddy shack with a swollen left jaw late Thursday morning. Luckily, every tournament has an on-call dentist and he pulled me off the practice about one, took me to his office, jerked the culprit out, and had me back on the practice range at 2:30. I was a little stiff and sore for the weekend but caddying was no problem.
We were on cruise control Friday managing our game well but the putts weren’t falling. Two under with one hole to play disaster struck and we finished even par. One bad drive all day and it cost us a double on the last hole. Tough finish but you have to come back the next day, regroup, and go low. We didn’t, fired a 73 and teed off very early Sunday morning.
Jim’s wife Cheryl and daughter Lauren were there for the week and it was a bit tough on every one Sunday morning knowing this may be Jim’s last round for the year. There wasn’t a lot of conversation we just went about our business and managed birdies on the last two holes finishing in the red.
There were puffy eyes saying our good-byes but I sincerely believe Jim will be back next year. He learned a lot; hopefully I helped a bit, and knows what he needs to work on. Everyone we played with this year admired his swing and he has the talent, there’s a comfort zone you need to work yourself into, and he’s getting there. It’s just going to take a little more time and some attitude adjustment sessions.
It’s an off week next week, I wish I was heading to Whistling Straits but the cabin is a close second. It looks like Misun Cho for Portland, Bob Gilder in Seattle, and Dave Stockton called last week wanting me to work with one of his protégés, Sandra Gal. I had to juggle a few things with Misun but she understood. It’s a long drive to Portland, I’m ready for a road trip, hopefully the van is up to it.