I just played in the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior and the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Dallas, Texas, and had a great time at both events.
At the Thunderbird in Scottsdale, Ariz., I tied for fifth with fellow Golfweek blogger Matt Gilchrest and Chris Petefish from Arizona. I was hoping for my second Thunderbird win, but had a bad first day, shooting a 75. I followed up the next two days with 70-68, but fell a little short. I hit the ball great all week, but the first round came back to haunt me.
The Thunderbird is an awesome tournament that has given me a lot of great memories. I remember two years ago, as a 13-year-old, watching Billy Kennerly and Jake Higginbottom attempt birdie putts to tie me for a playoff. Fortunately for me, both their putts stayed out of the hole, and I won my first AJGA Invitational! I also remember an AJGA staffer helping me write my very first AJGA victory speech.
The Thunderbird is played at Grayhawk Golf Club, an awesome course that gives you an opportunity to make a lot of birdies. But if you aren’t careful, you can find your ball in the fairway-lined desert areas or in a tough spot around the greens. My brother-in-law, Matt Roy, took me to the event. Having him along made the tournament even more fun. Thanks, Matt!
I am so glad I have at least two more tries at winning the Thunderbird again. It is one of my favorite places and the volunteers are incredible. Also thanks to the Thunderbird organization. Each year they ask us to list a charity that is important to us so they can reach out and support those charities. The past three years I have listed Hope Link out of Oklahoma City, Okla. My brother Brian and his wife Allison are very active in this organization that provides support to families who have children with rare, serious or undiagnosed conditions. These families carry tremendous burdens both emotionally and financially, and I want to say thanks to the Thunderbird for contributing to Hope Link.
A week after the Thunderbird I played the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Lakewood Country Club in Dallas, Texas, where 68 players competed for four spots. I knew I would have to put a couple of low scores out there, but I shot 74-71, missing by 10 shots. I actually played pretty well, I just didn’t get the job done. My instructor, Joey Wuertemberger, caddied for me. Having him on the bag was incredible and a lot of fun. Thanks, Joey!
Jordan Spieth qualified from the Lakewood Sectional and I had the opportunity to play with Jordan several weeks ago. We met up at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, the day before it was closed to prepare for the Crowne Plaza Invitational. We had quite a match going, but he beat me by three shots, 66 to 69. He gave me a lot of pointers that day and I look forward to competing with him on the big stage someday.
Thanks to the AJGA for putting on another great tournament at the Thunderbird! Can’t wait for the AJGA FootJoy Invitational, which is my next event. I will be traveling with my brother Tommy. We went to the AJGA Junior Players Championship together last year where I was runner-up. He might be the lucky charm! Following the Footjoy, I will play in the Dogwood Amateur in Atlanta. I will keep you posted.
Until next time, Boomer Sooner!