The first two rounds of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open are in the books with two tied at the top, Jonas Blixt and Brendon de Jonge. Blixt shot a pair of 64s to get to 14-under and de Jonge joined him with 62, 66.
I’ve written about de Jonge before: from Zimbabwe, went to college at Virgina Tech graduating in 2003 and currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He’s yet to win, but his name has been at the top of the board more than a couple of times and it would be no surprise to see him finally break through.
Which is the same thing that’s attracted me to Blixt. From Sweden, he graduated from Florida State in 2008 with a degree in International Business. He managed a T37 in his first crack at Q-School. That won him his ticket to the Web.com Tour where he spent three years learning how to play. His top-25 finish for 2011 — he was 5th on the Money List — earned him his PGA Tour card for 2012.
He’s made 11 of 17 cuts and had three top-10s, his best being a T3 at the Byron Nelson in Dallas. With $993,401 in the bank and ensconced in the 89th spot on the Money List, he’s got his card for 2013 locked up. And the consequence of that is that he can just go play.
And he’s accomplished all of this having taken two months off to heal up an injury:
At the beginning of the year I was really excited. I was hitting my woods a lot better than I did last year. I try not to change my equipment, but I changed my irons because they were getting worn out. It didn’t really match my game that well, so I was struggling up to April.
I switched back to my old irons and started playing really well after that. I got to give credit to my new swing coach as well in Jacksonville. He’s got kind of a plan for me that he’s been working out too.
I played well for like a month and a half, and I then I got hurt. I got a rib injury and I was gone for two months.
And wait until you hear what it was and how he did it:
My body wasn’t really used to the release I was doing, and that’s what we think made me put more pressure on my ribs on the right side.
Nothing was cracked. Nothing was torn. Just had to grow into place so it would fit my body and my swing better.
So now I’m good, I’m back, and I have no issues.
I can relate since the work I have been doing with my new swing coach put me in positions that caused me to put too much torque on my right knee; my fault, not his. And like Blixt, I’m playing again and expect a good outcome…and maybe even shooting two 64s.
How Blixt managed his 64s was with a clean-card, seven birdies in the first round and a bit of a hodgepodge in the second: he had an eagle-2, eight birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey.
And to what does he attribute his good play?
Well, I’ve been working a lot on my ball‑striking the last few weeks when I’ve been off. It’s not really there yet, but I got a hot putter and it’s been helping me out a lot the last two days.
So making a lot of putts.
But there were some other contributing factors:
I think it’s a lot of things that makes me play well this week. I got my family in town, my brother and my sister, a couple friends from overseas, which makes it really relaxed. We’re renting a house together and just having a good time.
I don’t think about golf at all coming off the golf course. Just hang out with them. It’s easy to think about something else when you’re in Las Vegas, right?
And it helps a lot when you like the golf course and you and your caddie see it the same way:
You can miss it a little bit when the greens are really pure. It’s not the longest course on the earth either, so it’s a little tricky. I like when a golf course has character to it and is not just long.
I think I have a good relationship with my caddie, Williams, and we maneuver the ball pretty well around golf courses.
And sitting on top of the world at the halfway point, this just might be his week.
And while everyone else is scratching their heads trying to figure out who he is and why they should care, you’ll be able to say that, of course you know who he is.