In the Winner’s Circle with Blake Olson
September 11, 2018
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Blake Olson is coming off a victory at the Mackenzie Investments Open presented by Jaguar Laval. (Allen McEachern/Mackenzie Tour)
Blake Olson thinks his swing looks goofy.
A left-hander in a right-handed world, Olson has made his swing work just fine over the last couple years since turning professional, and that culminated in a victory last Sunday at the Mackenzie Investments Open presented by Jaguar Laval.
Olson moved to eighth on the Order of Merit with the win, with just one tournament left on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada schedule this season.
Now he’s got his eyes on making it into The Five.
Before this week’s season finale in London, Ontario, Olson spent a few minutes with PGATOUR.com talking about his win last week, his hometown of Pensacola – and its minor league baseball team, and who has the best left-handed swing of all time.
I’ve got two other professional wins, but this is the big daddy so far. I held a pretty big lead in Thunder Bay, I had played well the first two days, and then was leading all the way until the last six holes and did a lot of scoreboard watching and it was more manipulating my game to see what I needed to do to win. This time there was a little less pressure. The gallery was following (Corey Pereira) and I didn’t have as much media coverage. I birdied Nos. 8-10 and that’s when I knew.
I didn’t look at the leaderboard after nine, but I knew it had to be close. I didn’t look at the leaderboard until No. 16, and I glanced at it and saw my name at the top. I just assumed I was tied for the lead.
I didn’t make birdie on No. 17 and I hit my tee-shot on 18 and that’s when I asked my caddie, ‘Hey. What’s up? What’s in?’ and he said there were two (18-unders) in and ‘the guy behind you is at 18-under also.’ That’s all I needed to know, because that 18th tee shot is narrow. The hazard is on the left and it was easy to bail out way right. I had to make sure I got that in the fairway.
A win is a win in my book. I walked to the front of the green after I made my putt (on the first playoff hole) and I had it in my mind (Pereira) was going to make (his 5-foot par putt). He was playing great golf. He was going to make it and we were going to have to go back to 18… I had to get my mind right. He hit it and I wasn’t even really watching, I just heard the crowd. Then it was kind of a shock, plus also OK, ‘we played great today and we deserved to win.’ He had a really tough putt. That might get overlooked. Back-left, where that pin was, he had to up and over a slope so it’s not like he played poorly, he just came up too short with that first putt and he left himself a tough one. Any time you have a five-foot slider to stay in a tournament, it’s tough. Obviously I was shocked, but I was thrilled.
I was like, ‘Wow, you won. Finally.’ I’m extremely happy that I won, but there are a lot of things that could happen this week. I’m just pushing off all reality until next week. I can reflect and say how great I did once it gets to next week, but I still have one more week of the season that I need to go play solid.
My goal was to get into the top-10 (on the money list), but now it’s shifted. I have a chance to get into the The Five and lock up starts, so I want to refocus my attention. It’s like, ‘OK Blake, you’re playing very good golf. You’re at a smaller field. What better time to be playing well… let’s take advantage of it.’ That’s going to be my attitude going into Thursday. I just want to make it as easy as possible and see where I stack up at the end.
I played PGA TOUR Latinoamerica last year and had a great time, but sometimes the language barrier hinders you from being able to explore as much as you like. I go about my work and get my prep in, but I’ve got my guys I travel with – a bunch of us who were on the Web.com Tour and now play up here – and (Canada), just such a cool country. We go from West to East. The weather is great, the volunteers are great, and they make you feel so welcome. They want to see you do well.
I Monday Qualified into the Wells Fargo Championship (on the PGA TOUR) after I shot 64 (in 2016). It was an awesome experience. There’s nothing better than a PGA TOUR experience. I played my practice round with Davis Love III and Jim Furyk on Tuesday. I was just eating it up.
I was probably more nervous in the practice round than I was the tournament. That was a great opening to it. I didn’t play well that week because I was soaking it all in, but I’ll be definitely be much more prepared when I get into that situation again.
Best left-handed swing I’ve ever seen? I’m a big Phil (Mickelson) fan, but his swing is ugly (laughs). And Bubba (Watson) is from Pensacola [Olson is from Pensacola, Florida as well – about an hour from Mobile, Alabama], so I’ve seen that ugly swing a lot growing up. If I had to pick I would probably say old-school Phil. Videos of him when he won the PGA TOUR event in college… his swing then was money. If I could pick a time period, I would say “young Phil” is the best lefty swing I’ve seen.
Everyone tells me that all lefty swings look so good. When I look at mine, I feel like I look goofy. And when I look at everybody else’s… I guess because I see so many righties, I think, “man, all righty swings look good.”
I lived with JT Poston for a while in Sea Island, Georgia, and Joey Garber was there with Rick Lamb – you want to talk about good lefty swings, Rick’s is pretty pure – and they’re all on the PGA TOUR. Now Sea Island did a lot of changes this past year that were good for them as a brand but maybe not as great for professional golfers. They made some changes to make it a little more ‘resort-y’ and I’m in my mid-20’s and wanted something a little more, so I moved to Jacksonville. I never had lessons or worked with anyone, but I started with Todd Anderson in December. I started working with Alex Bennett who does all the fitness at TPC Sawgrass so it’s just about building a group around me that can keep me in line. Sometimes it’s easy when you’re on the road for nine weeks to get a little negative on yourself, but it’s nice to have some people bump you back and get you on track. It was a bit of a refresher when I’m home, and it was something a little new.
Bubba is super involved with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (minor league baseball team) and the amount that guy does in terms of giving back to Pensacola is unbelievable. We have to give him tons of respect because he does a ton. Every time I’m in town he’s at games, he’s shaking hands, he’s dealing with everybody and he’s going to be a Hall of Famer. The guy is unreal. For kids in Pensacola and junior golf, he’s done so much.
Going to a game is really family friendly, but Thursdays are $2 tall boys… so you’ve got your college vibe there too (laughs). It’s right on the water… there are guys who hit homeruns into (Pensacola Bay). It’s by far the best minor league atmosphere and ballpark I’ve ever seen. It’s cool to have that in my backyard when I’m home.
My Dad was an All-American in college, and he’s going to love me bragging on him. He was good. He played professional for a little bit but then started popping out kids. He decided to get something a little more stable. He got me playing, and I have an older sister and a younger brother and all three of us played college golf on scholarships… we’re just a golf family. None of them play golf any more but they’re the first people I text when I play poorly or play well.
I think my Mom has my first trophy when I won a tournament at five years old. I used to have a huge thing of all my trophies and my parents moved from Pensacola to Alabama. My Mom had a big spring cleaning and sold everything, but she kept all the good ones. The first trophies… and I won the City Championship four years in a row so she loves that one. There’s a bunch of stuff like that she keeps. I brought the big cheque home from this event, so she can hang that one up.
Blake Olson pulls of the win after one-hole playoff at Mackenzie Open