UCLA freshman Chris Heintz begins play this week in the Buick Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Chris qualified in October by shooting a one-under par 71 and earning one of two spots available for amateur competitors.
Monday, Feb. 9th
Today I was at the course all day. I played a practice round, hit balls and putted a lot. I spent some time in the lockerroom, found out where my locker was and got to know my way around.
I played nine holes in the morning, had lunch, then played another nine holes after lunch. I played my first nine holes with Kevin Muncrief, a TOUR rookie from Oklahoma. We played the North Course, which is shorter and easier than the South. Itís a beautigul layout with many views of the ocean. The weather was spectacular; it was a postcard day. Kevin was very much into his round, and my focus was figuring out what club to hit on the holes. The course has narrow fairways and the rough is brutal around the greens. The greens were a little bumpy and long, but Iím sure by the end of the week, they will have been mowed and rolled.
I had lunch in the playersí dining area. It was a buffet and the food was incredible. I was sitting by myself and Hal Sutton came over and introduced himself and sat with me. I was finishing my lunch, so we didnít talk long. He told me to have fun and enjoy the week.
After lunch, I played the back nine with Craig Bowden. He was a nice guy, about 35, who has played on the mini-tours and the Nationwide Tour for a long time. Heís short off the tee ó I was out-driving him by 20-30 yards. He played with Michelle Wie at the Sony Inivitational, and he told me he was very impressed with her game.
The back nine is a little tougher than the front nine. Itís got longer par 4s, but overall, the North Course plays about 2-3 shots easier than the South.
After my round I went over to the range and hit some balls. I was a few players away from Vijay Singh. After about 20 minutes he left. So now I can tell everybody that I lasted longer on the range than Vijay. Vijay was hitting wedge shots to the exact spot and every one of them landed within five feet of each other. You could definitely feel his presence. Heís a big guy and he commands a lot of attention. There was a big crowd watching him and a lot of media around.
I went over to the putting green and saw Sergio Garcia while I was there.
Overall, it was a great experience. I loved it. I had a blast. I wasnít intimidated. I felt like one of them and I didnít feel inferior.
Tomorrow, I hope to get out around 6:30 a.m. in the first couple of groups off the South Course. Iíve heard Tiger likes to tee off at the crack of dawn. It would be a great experience to play a round with him. To see him in action, to learn something from him would be great.
On Wednesday, Iím not allowed to play in the pro-am, so Iíll be writing a mid-term paper in the morning. In the afternoon I hope to go out to the range and hit balls.
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