Player diary: Brad Dalke (Part 10)
Thursday, December 19, 2013
I played two tournaments since my last blog - the AJGA Winn Grips Junior Cup Challenge and the AJGA Polo Golf Classic.
The AJGA Winn Grips Junior Cup was in Las Vegas at Rio Secco Golf Club, home of Butch Harmon's golf facility. The Three Tour Challenge was held at Rio Secco a few days before we arrived. The AJGA selects two boys and girls from the East, and the same for the West, based on Polo rankings. I have been fortunate to be a part of this challenge for the last three years. I have to admit, the captains for each side make the event extra special. The West captain was Natalie Gulbis and the East captain was Butch Harmon.
I am proud to say that the West team, consisting this year of Austin Connelly, Amy Lee, Andrea Lee and myself, won for the third year in a row! The East team was Jorge Garcia, Ben Griffin, Abbey Carlson and Megan Khang. The best part of the tournament was when the three guys and I went to ride the rides atop the stratosphere on the Vegas Strip. I love roller coasters and those rides got the adrenaline flowing! Thanks to the AJGA and the guys at Winn Grips, Mike Coelho and Don Bumer, who made that weekend so special.
Over Thanksgiving break I played in the AJGA Polo Junior Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. It was my last tournament of the season so I wanted to have a solid finish. The first two days consisted of 78 boys and 78 girls playing 36 holes of stroke play. At the end of the 36 holes, the low 32 in qualifying compete in match play.
I didn't have my A-game during stroke play, but was fortunate to advance to match play. This year I drew Michael Pisciottia in the first round. We had an incredible match and both of us played solid, but I found myself 1 down with four to play. The "Bear Trap" at PGA National is hole Nos. 15-17, so we had some tough holes left. I hit it to a foot on 15 to win the hole, made a 20-footer to take 16, and got up and down on 17 to halve the hole. I was 1 up with one to play and on 18, a par 5, I hit my 3-wood to 10 feet and two-putted for birdie to win the match, 1 up. I finished birdie, birdie, par, birdie to win. It was thrilling and boosted my confidence.
My next match was against a French player, Paul Elissalde. I ended up winning, 4 and 3, but it was a tough match. I shot 5 under and made a lot of birdies, but Paul just never went away. He was making pars and a birdies, and finished 3 under. Fortunately, I played well enough to stay ahead. My next match was against Cameron Young from New York. Cameron is a great competitor and I knew I would have to play really well to beat him. Sadly, I never got anything going. I won the first hole but then gave it away the next hole. I didn't make enough birdies, but I fought hard. I birdied 17 to go 1 down with one to go. He hit a good shot on 18 and made birdie to my par, and I lost, 2 down. Cameron went on to win the AJGA Polo Junior Classic, playing great golf! Getting to the final eight was an accomplishment I am proud of, and a good finish to my year.
I have a lot of goals set for 2014, and I can't wait to get started! I am currently taking some time off to give myself a much-needed mental and physical break. My family and I believe that taking a break each winter rejuvenates me, and gets me ready for the nearly non-stop competition the rest of the year. My next tournament will be the Jones Cup Amateur at Ocean Forest CC in Georgia, Jan. 31-Feb. 2. The best college golfers will be there and I look forward to getting some revenge after a middle-of-the-pack finish last year.
I have many people asking me why I am now from Hobart, Okla. My family moved from Texas to Hobart, my dad's hometown, in June of 2013. My dad is a football coach and accepted the head football coaching job at Hobart High School, where he played many years ago for his dad, and the football field is even named after my Grandpa! I had continued going to a private school in Texas along with attending the Jim McLean Junior Golf Academy for my fourth year. It didn't take long for the four-hour trip home to become difficult. I really wanted to be with my family more. It was a tough decision because I totally believe that I have had much of my success because of what I have leaned from my instructor Joey Wuertemberger and the Junior Academy. I now attend Hobart High School and love living in a one-stoplight town of 3,700 people. I'm still part of the golf academy and get down to Fort Worth plenty for lessons so I can stay on top of everything. The move has required me to take total ownership for my practice time, but I have been taught by the best and I believe it is working out great.
Now on to football. You probably know that my Sooners are playing the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2, 2014. If you could just shoot up a quick prayer for them so they might pull off an upset. I would appreciate that!
Until next time, Boomer Sooner!