Most of my packing was done given the massive day that was planned, so at least my clubs and clothes were ready for the journey even if I wasn't. This time of year is hectic as professional golfer on tour so for me today was a special day. A day to spend with my family doing the things I love the most in life. We headed off to our church, something I miss so much on tour, and today we were greeted with a guest speaker. She was very talented and there were a number of key points that hit home for me in what she spoke about. One of them was how close we hold tight to the gifts and talents we have in our lives. Do we hold on so tight for the fear of losing them, that they never truly get to be used for their full potential? I was encouraged to let go more and more and watch those gifts and talents truly blossom. That's my challenge as I head into this week's event and beyond through until the end of the season. I was also encouraged to open my arms and be more welcoming and loving of all. I know that's tough at times but in the world we live in surely that would make a difference if we all did a little more of that, love a little more and have no dividers in place, no race issues or religion issues or social standing issues but that we could just "pay it forward" man to man!
Home from church on a rainy Sunday to open our place to the stampede of kids feet and the laughter and chats and food of a party that wasn't a party, as my wife doesn't like parties for her. It was a joy though to celebrate with friends the life of an amazing woman and I can't wait to continue the journey through life together. I learn so much from her every year and this past 6 weeks have been no exception as she has been recovering from a severed tendon in her finger. She has been unable to drive for 6 weeks and that has allowed me to learn just how much hard work she does for this family particularly in the tournament weeks when I am away. In that time I withdrew from the NT PGA champs to be home to look after her and take on her role for a few weeks. It was a hard slog I can tell you, my hat goes off to all the mum's out there and particularly the mum's that spend time on their own with husbands away or even more so, the single parents out there. Looking after three kids is exhausting and relentless. This time though has motivated me highly to work harder and harder at my game so that when I'm away I make the most of every opportunity I have.
I must say this start to a tournament week was particularly tough given I was leaving home on Rachy's birthday. I really wanted to stay and continue to enjoy what had been a cracking day. Work is work however and with the doctors clearing her to drive again and removing her splint that had been a part of her life for the past 6 weeks, at least I knew she was going to survive loads better. International airport it was for this one and given the small number of flights heading to New Cal the lounge was loaded with players. I met up with my coach Cameron Strachan, who was heading overseas with me for the first time this week. He will double as my caddy this week too and I can't wait to work together. It will be great to set the wheels in motion this week working together before heading to the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland next week. Cameron has been instrumental in implementing some big changes in my game and we can't wait to see the fruits of all the hard work.
The downside of limited flights to New Cal is that this one was a night flight and with the time change it meant landing and getting through customs right on or around midnight. To go with that the plane hit probably the biggest turbulence I've experienced in a big plane for some time. It was a very sudden whack and serious altitude change, met with some squeals and tears from some passengers. I was asleep however and despite it waking me and throwing my iPad out of my hands and into the air, I figured that it would settle soon enough and sure enough it did. Despite the late arrival one of my very good mates here in New Cal drove out to the airport to pick us up, Kiki you are a legend my friend!! That's what I love about this week, the locals here just love the week so much and love having the Aussie Tour in their backyard for a week. They are so welcoming and my hosts for the week were there after 1am to open their house and show me inside. I showed Cameron to his room and announced to Nadine "It's good to be home!" as I threw my bags into my room. After a very brief hello it was time to hit the sack and get some sleep ahead of my practice round on Monday.
I was very quickly reminded of the beauty of this island paradise as I stretched my legs and made it outside for breakfast, admiring the gorgeous day and amazing scenary. What a spot Tina Golf Club is located at, surely prime land and location. After breakfast I headed up to the club to register and play a practice round. The main man for the week and a man responsible for so much over the years in getting this tournament to where it is today, Patrick Koch was floating around so it was great to see him and catch up. Patrick is a member at the same club as me in Qld on the Gold Coast too, but it is always great to see him over here working hard for the tournament, in his element.
My practice today was really good and the course is in great shape for the week. It may be the best I have seen it for a few years even. The greens are rolling a little faster than usual and the addition of a couple of new tee blocks have set the course up for what should be a great event. I think this course is a beauty. It has a little bit of everything and when you reach that back nine and get to play 12-15 along, around and over the superb scenary of the Pacific Ocean, it's both breathtaking and exciting. The winner this week will get to admire that ocean from afar instead of retrieving balls from it or sending them to a watery grave. The back nine holds the key to your score as always as the risk v reward holes will yet again close out a good round or shatter your dreams in a moment.
It's great to be back at Tina GC and I can't wait for the week but before the tournament starts we have the all important Pro Am. These days are so critical in our weeks. As professionals we get to entertain, coach and befriend a group of amateurs for the day. A lot of those people are closely tied to the event, whether they be sponsors large or small, player hosts for the week, club members or even just keen golf enthusiasts looking to have that experience of playing with a professional. For that reason I love these days, without these people I don't get to do what I love for a living and I try to give my all to these days. Pro am day can still be a learning day for me on the course in preparation for the week but the number one priority of pro am day is to give my group an experience that they will enjoy and talk about over the year ahead before next years event. Tomorrow I get to do that, can't wait.