First Tee to Last Call: Lemonade in Charleston
I have been looking forward to this week for almost a year. My fiancee has a tendency to go overboard on gift-giving and this was supposed to be a bucket list trip for me.
We celebrated our fifth anniversary in August and she gifted me week-long passes to the PGA Championship in South Carolina. I was beyond speechless. I have never been to an actual tournament in all of my years of being an avid golf lover. Not to mention a major with every single big-name player I could want to see competing at the highest level.
The bonus to this trip is that my parents live in South Carolina. They retired there a few years ago and because of the distance from where we live, it’s often hard to get down to see them. We make it a priority and see them about once a year, but it’s still not enough. Given our trip schedule, we would get to see them a few days before the tournament starts but still not have a lot of time with them.
As crazy as it may sound, this was my fiancee’s second attempt at getting me to a PGA event. Her first effort was weekend passes to the Ryder Cup in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is slightly closer but still a full-fledged trip. I was out of my mind with excitement. The COVID-19 pandemic had other plans for us and, unfortunately, the tournament was canceled altogether.
Surely the PGA Championship would give us enough time for COVID-19 to be under control. There’s no way I’m getting screwed out of two amazing golf adventures. As time went on and no announcements had been made, the less and less optimistic I became that we would get to attend.
Finally, the announcement comes. The PGA will allow ten thousand spectators at the event and admission will be determined by what purchasing group you were part of. We were in group “A”. At this point, I’m pumped. Group “A”? We have to be in!
Weeks go by. No confirmation email from ticketing. A month goes by … nothing.
Finally, we get the email. To our surprise, “we regret to inform you that due to COVID-19 restrictions we will not be able to honor your 2021 PGA Championship tickets.”
There isn’t a fairy tale ending here. We aren’t going and we have no shot at going. The resale ticket market is astronomical. Disappointment sets in.
So what do we do with our week’s worth of time scheduled in South Carolina? Party with my parents of course!
I’ve mentioned in previous columns that my parents have an amazing setup in South Carolina. Their house is sandwiched in-between two of the top-100 golf courses in America. My parents have already booked tee times for every day that we are there. They are less than 10 minutes from the beach. There’s a great downtown area with small mom-and-pop bars and restaurants. The house is always stocked with great food and amazing wine, beer and whiskey. Most importantly though, we get to see them for an entire week!
We managed to salvage a few days of our hotel stay, so we will be taking a short trip to Charleston, South Carolina. We’ve never been there. We have friends in the area though and have been assured of a solid bar scene. If you read my columns before you know we are no strangers to the bar scene.
I’ll be spending my time playing golf and drinking too much whiskey celebrating our engagement with my parents, which we still haven’t had the chance to do. I couldn’t be more excited. We will still be in Charleston for Thursday and Friday of the PGA Championship as well. We won’t be at the course but the town should be buzzing, so not a total loss.
When life gives you lemons you make lemonade (or in our case vodka lemonades).
I’ll be coming to you live with Nate Polvogt (@JenNateJackFF) next week from South Carolina to talk about the PGA Championship on “The 19th Hole.” But until then let’s talk about the Byron Nelson!
This week, for the first time ever, the tour is headed to McKinney, Texas for the AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch. The weather this week is looking good. We may see some wind this weekend, but no tee time stack advantage so far.
The course is a par 72 playing at about 7,468 yards. An interesting mix of grass: Zoysia fairways, Bermuda rough, and Bent greens. This will be the first time the PGA has held an event here so there isn’t much history to go off. I will say that this venue is going to be a vast improvement from the previous host course, Trinity Forest. That course was painfully boring to watch. Craig Ranch should provide lots of scoring opportunities and hopefully a more competitive tournament.
I’m looking at a balanced build in terms of skill sets, not necessarily in terms of salary. I’m not exactly sure what to expect, so I’m trying to put together the best players that compliment each other. We want guys who score.
Some Metrics I’m Looking at this Week:
- Driving distance
- Shots-gained approach
- Greens in regulation
- Putting on Bent grass
- Birdies or better gained
AT&T Byron Nelson Picks
Daniel Berger ($10,100)
Daniel Berger is rating out third overall in my model this week. He may be the most well-rounded of anyone above $10K this week. He is in the top 10 for every key stat I looked at. If he has a shortcoming, it’s driving distance.
However, he is accurate off the tee so the lack of distance may not be a detriment here. I like his form. He has 10 made cuts in 12 starts with four top 10’s and a win this season. His salary also gives you some good opportunities to stay away from players sub $7,500. It’s slim pickings down there this week.
Cameron Champ ($8,000)
Cameron Champ rates out in the top 20 overall for me this week. He is second to only Bryson DeChambeau in driving distance and is coming in seventh overall in opportunities gained.
The short game is what worries me. He struggles on and around the green. That being said, he has been known to get hot from time to time. Champ is a bit of a leverage play at a projected seven percent ownership and he fits another priority, salary relief, coming in at the bottom of the $8k range.
Wyndham Clark ($7,000)
I’m hoping I don’t have to play guys from this range too often, but Wyndham Clark does fit the mold of what I’m looking for. He is long off the tee rating out fifth overall. He is a good putter, especially on Bent grass rating out 12th overall. His approach game is suspect at best, but I’m hoping his driver and putter can do the work this week. On a positive note, he has made the cut in his last three starts. So that’s promising.
Other Golfers I Like this Week
Bryson DeChambeau ($11,200)
Jordan Spieth ($10,700)
Will Zalatoris ($9,700)
Thomas Pieters ($8,600)
Erik Van Rooyen ($7,400)
Brooks Koepka ($9,900)
Jhonattan Vegas ($7,200)
Roger Sloan ($6,900)
Thanks for reading, and good luck this week!
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Conor Coughlin @Cough_DFS