Michael Sombroek

My first day out on the PGA Tour

My first day out on the PGA Tour

When writing this I am sitting at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar. The waitress at the Golfclub in the morning told me that’s a pretty cool place. Okay I must admit it’s a bit quite on a Wednesday, but the live music is good and I even got my drink on the house. Perfect after a long day on the PGA Tour.

It all started lot earlier, I got myself some of my brand golf balls at Walmart and arrived at the course at 8am as my tee time was supposed to be at 10.03. But there was a big delay because of fog and so the had to reschedule everything because the forecast for the afternoon had been thunderstorms. You quickly learn that the PGA Tour is quite a business with a hard schedule. The round has to be done today no matter what, and so everything was changed to flights of 4 players and my tee time rescheduled to 12.18 from Tee number 10.

I did some putting even the practice green was totally overcrowded. Then I went to the range and actually my shots where pretty good. After that some coffee as everything delayed more and more. And then finally it was time to go to the tee.

First let me put it in simple words. This is so scary. Maybe the most scary thing I have ever done. Those who know me know that normally nothing can really scare me on a GolfCourse as I really feel no pressure. But I can tell you……PGA Tour, that’s scary stuff to do if you do it for the first time.

We are a flight of 4 players, 3 caddies and a cameraman (actually a woman) as one of the players is really one of the best future players here in Texas. There are so many spectators around the tee box watching and then the starter welcomes everyone to the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson. And then at some point it goes “on the tee Michael Sombroek from Roermond in the Netherlands” and everybody claps. Well and that means you have to play. That’s scary.

So this is how a great scorecard looks at the end of the day. Unfortunately it wasn’t mine! It has my signature on, but as a marker as I was lucky to be marker for the future PGA Tour star who really played good and has qualified today! My score is on the lower part and has some numbers on where you need a computer with a lot of ram to be able to calculate the score!! (The holes 10-18 on the Scorecard are our first nine as we started on hole 10)

So back to the scary first tee. I did really hit it bad, but I flew straight as hell and rolled out to about 265yds center of the fairway. Actually the others nearly all missed the fairway. So yes, nobody can feel that the contact was bad and thought that it was a great tee shot. So that’s pretty cool hitting it center fairway with that kind of pressure. Second shot a little thin 6 iron, but again in perfect position to play the approach on the Par 5 with a nine iron and that landed easy on the green leaving me a 26ft putt for birdie. Unfortunately I underrated the green speed with that much adrenaline and left myself a back putt of 6 ft which I missed to make a bogey. Usually that kind of stuff never happens to me, but getting the speed right when you are under so much adrenaline is tough. But okay, it wasn’t the worst start you can make.

Hole 2 I hit the fairway again, I left myself a 5 iron to the green which I hooked left of the green from where it bounced into some wet brown stuff. Pitching it out was tough and so I had a little chip left. Then I holed out the 8ft bogey putt which actually was pretty cool.

Then we go to hole 3. The wind started blowing hard and was opposite to yesterday. So my drive that easily carried the water yesterday ended up left in the water. After the drop I still had about 190yds to the flag into about 30mph wind. But I made my 4 iron get up there and funny enough my ball was the only on the green in the group. I went up there a 30ft putt left for par (as I got a penalty shot for the water ball) and you know what. I just holed the 30 footer for my first par on the PGA Tour. And I zeven was the only one to make par and had the honor on the next tee.

Next hole perfect drive again. Okay I must admit that the two other guys who played good hit it way past me, but only about 50 yards or so, and believe me, they crush it around 330yds nearly all the time. But yes their combined age is not much more than mine and so I am pretty happy with my 280yds tee shots. From the fairway I miss judge the club selection and hit a 9 way over the flag into some brown earth stuff onder the trees again. Hard to chip from there, but I get it within 10ft or so, two putts bogey. But yes actually I didn’t play the hole that bad and had a tough chip.

When talking about not playing bad. Well now we get to the problem. The third guy in our flight doesn’t hit a ball. And I mean really doesn’t hit a shot. He hits shanks in between, skulled chips, two bunker shots and that goes on since we even started. Man he plays to spots on the course that nobody has seen before. So I am not talking about missing the green and making a bogey like me, no it goes like smashing your approach with an iron 45 degrees right into the woods, water and anything that is available. And even around the green he is always in for a little skulled chip that sails all the way over the green. So that gets a problem as we are not really fast. Actually we are already two holes behind the group in front of us and so the PGA official friendly tells us that we are put on clock and get 40 seconds per shot.

So this is how it works on tour. If a group is too slow the official clocks every shot and you get penalties if you are out of the 40 seconds. That goes until the group has cached up with the group in front.

So the Par 3 number 5 is already a bit hectic. I still have the honor, hit my wedge on the green, overpower the birdie try, but make the 10ft return putt. Par!

The next hole is where it goes wrong. My drive goes a bit left and hits a tree. It is below the trees, but sitting in between the branches. That’s normally not a problem if you have the time to make a decision what options you have. But still you only get 40 seconds with the guy with the stopwatch chasing you like he is deer hunting. I think if I had the time I would maybe have declared the ball unplayable as it nearly was impossible to make contact. But I had to decide quickly and tried a maybe impossible shot. So it took me 4 shots to get it out back on the road ending up making an 8 on the hole. Shit happens.

Next hole still chased by the goy with the stopwatch everyone starts playing a bit bad. I miss the green long, make a great chip, but miss the short 5ft putt. (which hasn’t been the last missed one today) So bogey.

Next hole, great drive, bad iron left of the green, fantastic pitch, but unfortunately missed the 6ft putt. Bogey.

The par 5 hole number 9 I crush a great drive, okay second, guess a PW to the green as we even didn’t have time to measure the distance due to being still chased by the PGA official. Left it a bit short, but make a great chip and safe my par.

At this point we where so out of game all of us that the other player that played good up to the moment we have been clocked joked that the only good thing about getting chased is that we will get our beer faster. That’s the perfect way to sum up the front nine.

So after getting taxied by cart to number 10 (the first hole on the Scorecard) the official tells us that we are off the clock as we now have the group in front of us and have to wait. So time to ask him a question which none of the other officials in the morning could answer. Am I allowed to smoke during competition. Yes you are sir! Great because I had not one cigarette on the front nine as nobody could give us answer to that before. Can you imagine me not smoking 9 holes. I know it’s a bad habit and not healthy, but it’s hard and being hunted down by an official did not make it easier. He laughed and said, well now you have time for a cigarette as we had to wait. Yes that’s the funny part, now we where stuck behind the flight and had to wait on the next 5 holes all the time.

But on number 10 I crush the drive again long and straight into the now almost 35mph wind. I hit my wedge on the green, two putts Par.

Next hole a long par 3 into the wind, I miss the green, pitch on and make a 3 putt double bogey! So that got the problem on the next holes. I just missed an awful lot of putts from within 6ft.

The pin positions on tour are so difficult. All those short putts still break like hell. Sometimes a 4ft putt might have 4-6 inch of break or more. I was just not used to that today. I played the putts and started them on line that I wanted. The line was just way wrong. On the longer putts that wasn’t a big deal as I made a few. But on the short putts I just read the putt wrong playing the ball much to straight at the hole as I am used to back home.

Hole 12 I miss my birdie by a few inch, but make a par again.

Next hole we all missed the fairway, but mine was still very good playable, long recovery out, wedge to about 15ft, but yes, miss a short putt again and make another double bogey.

Then 14 another long par 3. I miss the green left in the water and have to drop in an awkward position. I could not even stand without the risk of falling into the water. So I recover into the bunker, make a good bunker shot and yes you guess it, I miss my putt and make an unfortunate 6.

Next hole great drive again, but overhanging trees are blocking my way, so I have to play left of the green. From there I nearly hole my pitch out, but as the greens are so fast the lipped out pitch ends up 15ft from the hole and I idiot make a 3 putt again missing another short one.

16 I hit another great drive, good second, but actually I did not know that there is a tree behind the corner blocking my shot. But you know what, I curve it flat around and get it about a years next to the green. Fantastic chip to about 5ft and then, yes another missed short one. It was just driving me crazy those short putts that break like hell. But yes it gives you an idea of how fast and difficult the pins are put on tour. And I just have to get used to it.

Next hole again good drive, but again short putt missed bogey. I must admit at that point I was getting tired a lot as well and focus just went gone. They always say it is hot in Texas, but the last two days it was actually pretty cold. Today, well yes, it is hot, you actually get burned alive out here. It was up to a max of around 35’C today. And yes I walked. Man this is hot!! But yes actually the long shots still went pretty good.

So final hole. Man I smashed that drive. I was nearly as long as the two guys that played good. Okay the top player was still around 40yds in front, but his drive was 375yds!! So mine was still above 300!!! Proud as hell that I wripped that drive center fairway I hit my PW to about 15ft of the pin for birdie. But make another 3 putt bogey.

So that sums up my round, I missed 11 short putts I normally always make as putting is together with the short game my strongest part. And it took me 4 shots to get out of the tree on hole 6 being on the clock and chased by an official. So yes that’s 15shots that are just lost. Leave out those 15 and I did not play that bad. And yes, I have 12 days to get used to the breaks on short putts until the US Open qualifying. But you see how quickly you can loose shots even without really playing bad.

But yes, we still had a great day. The player I was marker for made the qualifying with even making an eagle on 17!! It was so much fun with the two really talented young top players that I can tell you really hit it far. And both are really nice and great sportsmen and we will keep in touch. So yes I missed a lot of putts and made a real bad score. But that’s okay for my first day on the US PGA tour. And it still has been one of the most fun rounds in years. (Especially hitting a 300yds drive on the last hole)

So after a long tournament day I got myself an amazing barbecue brisque at Garland at a spot which the waitress in the clubhouse in the afternoon had given me the adres to. (You already see that my social skills today where better than my putting)

So now I am going to listen to some music, they are just playing “sweet Caroline” and drink my coke and then go back to the hotel. So that’s it for today from the pga tour.

Groetjes Michael