The first round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor (Tampa), Florida, was a bit of a surprise to the players. Well, maybe more like a big surprise. The day dawned cold and blustery and many players were unprepared for it.
Kevin Na best captured the lot of the crack-of-dawn starters:
I hit 20 balls and went back in the clubhouse. I’m going to sit here for 20 minutes until the sun comes up. It was tough this morning.
Most everybody had similar stories; coming to Florida, they all left their cold weather gear at home.
How did Ben Crane find it?
I found it four layers deep on my body. Just had a beanie and I should have brought my mittens, that’s how cold it was. You don’t expect that in Florida.
So, when I packed those things I was like, “Oh I’m not going to need this.” You never know. So, it was extremely cold.
Russell Knox just sort of “grinded” his way through it:
Yeah, just had to grind it out. Just being cold this morning and having more clothes on than you’re used to last month, I just wasn’t quite in rhythm at the start of the round. I had to kind of go through it.
Gary Woodland may be able to crush the ball a mile, but he still gets cold like the rest of us:
The key this morning was trying to stay warm. I didn’t know if I had enough clothes today. The cold and the wind was eating through the sweater. All in all you got to stay patient. People are going to make bogeys. It was playing really tough, especially early. It was definitely tough this morning. The sun helps a little bit.
And Michael Putnam went for the Michelin Man look too:
It was cold. We all had layers on. That’s for sure. I had three layers on. I had a shirt, sweater and another sweater on. That wind was whipping pretty hard this morning and it’s still blowing right now, too.
But as an indication of just how good PGA Tour players are even on a challenging course like Innisbrook, there’s a four-way tie for the lead at 3-under 69 between: Matt Every, Pat Perez, Greg Chalmers and Danny Lee.
There were seven guys T5 at 2-under 70 including Robert Garrigus and Bill Haas and fourteen guys T12 at 1-under. So all totaled, just 25 guys in this field of 156 were able to break par with no low rounds. It had to be cold and windy.
But by far, the best interview exchange belonged to James Hahn, one of the guys at 2-under. Hahn, you may recall, is the Cal-Berkeley grad who made a splash for himself by breaking out into his take on “Gangnam Style” dance after he birdied the raucus 16th hole at Phoenix.
The interview today began with Hahn saying that he’d done some work on his swing:
Going through some swing issues earlier in the week. Glad to iron it all out.
Q. What adjustments did you make and how surprised are you, how quickly maybe they’ve taken shape?
So, I don’t have a swing coach that’s the number one thing. I was going to YouTube a couple days ago and looking at some stuff and got some good swing tips from Seve Ballesteros, how he was swinging when he was swinging well back in the days and tried to make the same moves.
Q. What do you look for when you’re looking on YouTube? There’s a lot of different places you can go.
Anything in slow motion, the Konica Minolta stuff is pretty good because you can see how bodies turn and how things react.
Really just trying to get some good visuals because I don’t have — I didn’t bring my camera out this week so I don’t know what it looks like. Trying to get the feel of just a solid good set-up and good balance.
Q. Why Seve?
Because he’s awesome. It just happened to be up there and clicked on it and watched about 20 minutes of it and just watched him hit balls on the range and it was fantastic.
On the one hand, it’s inspiring to know that top-level Tour players are a serious lot about their learning and maintenance and walk the face of the earth with their cadres of swing coaches, trainers, et. al.
And on the other, it’s refreshing that other players trust themselves enough to go get some ideas from the Seve Ballesteros YouTube library when they feel that they need a little help.