Guest blogger from First Tee Open: Alex PhillipsSeptember 03, 2009
PGA TOUR staff
Today was great, I played in the Core Values Cup over at Del Monte. My group finished at 9-under par, which was competitive, but most importantly we had fun. Kraig was the other junior in our group (a local sophomore) who was a real good player, and then we had two amateurs, from Walmart, Bart and Bryan. They were both great, and if they didn't live across the country I would love to meet up with them for another round!
A special thanks for watching (all 800 times) to my two biggest fans, my sister's volleyball coaches out of Rochester, New York.
This is my last blog as I am headed out of here, unfortunately leaving Pebble Beach for reality, homework and school. But this week was fantastic, I had the best golf experience I could ever ask for. Hopefully if I am fortunate enough to come back next year, I can show Mr. Player that his tips worked and helped my game improve (I am going to Cal Poly next year so I need to be ready for collegiate-level golf!). The Nine Core Values were exemplified throughout the week here. From the volunteers to the pros, from the juniors to the celebrities (Bill Murray and George Lopez were both out playing today at Del Monte, just for us kids). I want to again thank everyone that has helped make this possible for me and the rest of the golfers that got to play Pebble Beach, meet professional golfers, and learn about the game of golf and the game of life. The First Tee is an amazing program, I am so glad I have been a part of it, coaching, volunteering, and participating. The First Tee is a huge part of my life. I wouldn't be who I am today without it, and I would not have been here, at Pebble, without this program. A special thanks to everyone that has made it possible for me to blog, it was fun to share my experiences.
I also want to thank my caddie once again. Patty, you made my week 5 billion trillion times better than I could have ever imagined.
Thank you to everyone, for everything.
SATURDAY'S BLOG II Mr. Player broke his age today! That was his goal and it was great to see him play hard -- he was saving par putts from everywhere. And his approach on No. 18 (No. 9 at Del Monte) almost flew in for eagle, but it was a great birdie to end the day.
I played alright -- I missed some putts and some fairways -- but it was still a great round, and afterwards Mr. Player gave me some great tips. He talked to me for about an hour on the putting green and told me I need to keep my right knee bent with my driver. When it straightens is when I'm losing it left, and then a few chipping tips. Also, he told me to read Diet for a New America, a book about nutrition. And he said, in his South African accent, "It'll change your life Alex, it'll change your life." He is fantastic, and he does know that nutrition in sports in the biggest thing in the future, and just for overall health in America.
Of course, Patty Sheehan being on my bag for the fifth day in a row was again amazing. She was fantastic all week and I'm going to miss her tomorrow. She went home to her family -- it was Bryce's first week of middle school and she wants to get her ready for her second. (Here's a shout out thank you to Bryce, Blake and Becca for letting her be with me all week!) My Executive Director, Liz Shoemaker (just teasing, her real name is Liza Schumacher and, really, I can't thank her enough for all she has done, especially helping with getting my application in so I could be here) will be on my bag tomorrow during the Core Values Cup, switching halfway with my Papa for the back nine. They aren't Hall of Fame Golfers, but they are going to be great!
SATURDAY'S BLOG I
My first round with Gary Player was something I will never forget. Patty Sheehan had me hitting the ball fantastic -- if only a few more putts fell early on. Mr. Player and I made a good team; when I didn't make par, he'd save me, and vice versa. I birdied Nos. 8 and 10 -- two of my favorite holes out there -- but I had some bad luck on Nos. 6 and 18 when I went for the green in two and just didn't have great lies. On No. 18, I was between two roots under that tree short right of the green -- impossible.
But the round was great, and Mr. Player taught me so much. We talked about nutrition, and he definitely helped Heidi, Peter and me with a few golf tips throughout the round. I hit some shots I am happy with; that drive on 18 was piped! That was the most memorable round of my life. Pebble Beach with Patty and Gary: I'll never forget it.
The Ueberroths were great playing partners, and I wish them good luck with their round tomorrow. Gary and I tee off bright and early at 7:52 tomorrow morning at Del Monte; hopefully I won't be sleepwalking through the first holes.
I heard I was on TV today -- hope you saw me!
FRIDAY'S BLOG I
First, I'd like to give a shout out to my sister Corey out in New York (Rochester Area College Athlete of the Week), the only one missing from this amazing week. She would have loved last night -- Boys Like Girls concert. It was so much fun; the band was amazing, and we got their new CD (it's not even out yet -- Corey, I'll be sending it to you soon). The dinner was great last night, and the concert out behind the 18th green was just fantastic. After dinner, I met Ms. Rachel, she has been a volunteer here since the days of Bing Crosby's tournament. For 37 years, it has been people like her who make this event possible, and all of the competitors are so thankful for all the help from the volunteers and the other people in charge. I just can't wait right now; I tee off in less than three hours with Gary Player. Look for me on TV.
FRIDAY'S BLOG II
Yesterday was the best day of golf, a relaxed round on Pebble Beach. I played a lot better than the previous day out at Del Monte, so I was much more confident over my ball. Patty Sheehan was again amazing and had me set up on every tee shot and knew where we were going on the greens. I got a lot of practice in, and I'm ready to improve today... although No. 6 will have little room to improve on after reaching it in two and having less than 20 feet for an eagle. (Today I'll actually make the putt.) And 18, if the wind hadn't been in my face, I would have hit the green rather than the bunker. I loved the course, and my group was great; I played with two fellow junior contestants and the president of the Seattle Chapter, who was just great. I'm excited to finally play with Mr. Player and the Ueberroths; this round will be great. I have to go warm up -- I tee off at 12:22. Watch me on GOLF CHANNEL. I'll be with the Black Knight!
The Beach House is amazing, all glass windows overlooking the 18th and out to the Pacific, a beautiful view. Last night, all the professionals and juniors and some of the main sponsors were there for the Legends and Leaders night. During the night I got to meet Gary Player for the first time! He gave me a big hug when I introduced myself, as in I got to hug golf legend Gary Player. And I'm actually taller than him -- as Olin Browne pointed out to him after I met him as well, who I met after shaking hands with Bill Murray and Craig Stadler. Yeah, everyone was there! The speakers were great. The speeches were on the Nine Core Values, and the speakers included Bill Murray, leaders from Walmart, and Caroline and Sal who are both junior participants. The speeches were great. They spoke of personal experiences on how the Core Values are seen in real life, on and off the course. Today I am playing Pebble Beach! 12:20 tee time, and I can hardly wait (it's 10, I still have two hours!!!!). Last night my caddie, Patty Sheehan, walked an extra 18 holes to get yardages for me so we will be ready for our round today. It took her almost an extra 4 hours! As I was walking to the beach house for the dinner, I looked over and she was walking down 17! She is amazing, and I could not have asked for a better person to be by my side during this tournament.
Fuzzy Zoeller, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Gary Player, Patty Sheehan and Alex Phillips. Never would I have thought my name would be in the same sentence with such legends, nor have I ever dreamed of having a Hall of Fame golfer as my caddie. Patty has been absolutely fantastic, we're working well together and she is helping me out so much on the course. Then, last night, I found out I will be paired with Gary Player this weekend in the tournament, another Hall of Famer in my group. I'm living a dream -- please don't wake me up! Along with my two legends, I will be playing with Peter and Heidi Ueberroth. Mr. Ueberroth could be the president if he wanted to -- he is so influential! On top of everything, I am at Pebble Beach! I have played Del Monte the last two days but I get to play Pebble tomorrow and Saturday (hopefully Sunday as well!)
I have met Tom Kite (amazingly nice and photogenic) and Fuzzy Zoeller (while sharing lunch with Patty and my parents in the Pebble Beach Tap Room). And while warming up this morning I heard an Australian accent behind me -- I was hitting balls beside Greg Norman. Ben Crenshaw was sitting next to Reggie Jackson, and Patty went to talk to their group at the "19th hole" and Mr. Jackson came and introduced himself to me.
Patty is the best person I could have asked to be on my bag, not only is she a great caddie, she is a great person and a legend on the course.
Blogger bio WHO: Alex Phillips AGE: 17 GOLFING EXPERIENCE: 7 years HOMETOWN: Reno, Nevada MEMBER: The First Tee of Northern Nevada
I'm looking forward to the pressure of playing with two golf legends, the experience of Pebble Beach, and enjoying every last second!