PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
Alex Cejka making early noise on PGA TOUR Champions
April 20, 2021
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- April 20, 2021
- Alex Cejka at the 2021 Cologuard Classic. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Alex Cejka has won golf tournaments all over the world. He has finished in the top 10 in majors.
So he couldn’t explain to himself or his wife, Alyssa, why he was such a mess at the PGA TOUR Champions Cologuard Classic in Tucson, Arizona, in February. Sure, it was his first start since turning 50 in December, but still. He has a PGA TOUR victory and four European PGA TOUR wins on his resume. And he had gotten into the Cologuard by winning the Monday qualifier.
It didn’t matter.
“I was super nervous in Tucson,” Cejka said. “I was not even in contention but I don’t know. My wife didn’t understand it. I told her I was so nervous. I didn’t make good shots. It was my debut, and I didn’t know what was coming. I didn’t know how I’d play. There was a different aura around it.”
Cejka ballooned from a tie for 15th after two rounds to a final-round 78 that dropped him 23 spots.
Undeterred, Cejka, a native of Czechoslovakia who grew up in Germany, won the Monday qualifier for last week’s Chubb Classic. And this time, the nerves were gone. There was just the player who had posted more than $1 million in earnings on the PGA TOUR as recently as 2018.
Cejka posted rounds of 68-65-68 to finish in a tie for second with Robert Karlsson, one shot behind winner Steve Stricker. Cejka earned $128,000 and more importantly, by finishing in the top 10, he gets an automatic invite to the next PGA TOUR Champions full-field event, the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in Duluth, Georgia.
“That obviously saves you a lot of headache and energy,” Cejka said. “I still will have to go and play well no matter what. I’m just pleased I can play. If I have to Monday qualify, or top 10, or get in on my status … I’m just pleased. I will take whatever I get. I’m just excited for this year. I’m in a great situation. I still can play a couple of tournaments on the PGA TOUR, the smaller ones, still have a bit of Korn Ferry status. If there is a long break I can fill it in, maybe one or two KFT events.
“Obviously my priority is on the Champions Tour. … The schedule is pretty full, but so far I’m loving it.”
Cejka was eager to try PGA TOUR Champions. He got the lowdown from his friend Bernhard Langer, one of his golfing idols.
“He talked to me about making the transition and I was really looking forward to it,” Cejka said.
Because of his status as a winner on the PGA TOUR and the European PGA TOUR, Cejka already is in the U.S. Senior Open and The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex. He also has secured an invite to the DICK’S Sporting Goods Open. That means he’ll play three consecutive events in July and really have a chance to push for more status.
In just two events he has shown that he could be a threat any time he tees it up.
“In Naples I played like I shook off the rust in Tucson, and I felt really comfortable, not nervous,” Cejka said. “You have a couple shots when you’re up there, yes, you have butterflies. But that’s just being excited, adrenaline flowing. I was surprisingly not nervous.
“I think I’m gonna feel very comfortable once I maintain a fully exempt status on Champions Tour hopefully. Then I will be very comfortable out there. I just want to play as much as I can and see what happens.”