Friday, May 04, 2012

Round of a Lifetime


Jacobsen Duo Tee it Up with Tiger at the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am
By Seth Jones

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Troy Murray and Joe Guerra won the lottery.

Murray, the director of corporate accounts for Jacobsen, and Joe Guerra, president and CEO of Sequoia Golf, won the first pick at the Tuesday night pairings party at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte.

Of course they selected Tiger Woods to join them for 18 holes the next morning.

“One of the most exciting times of my life was looking up at that board and seeing my name and Troy’s name (with Woods’) and thinking, ‘We’re playing with Tiger Woods tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. We better stop drinking wine!’” laughed Guerra.

The two had made a list of their top 20 picks, expecting to land between No. 8 and No. 20. The list was quickly discarded after being drawn No. 1.

What ensued the next morning was the round of a lifetime.

“From the very first tee there were people. But every next hole, there seemed to be another 100 people show up out of nowhere,” Murray says of the gallery. “For me, (the biggest crowd was) No. 16 -- the entire fairway, both sides, and the entire frame behind the hole, there were people as far as you could see. It looked like Augusta.”

And their playing partner?

“We were reluctant to go over and engage him in conversation. But he made us feel comfortable right out of the gate,” Guerra says. “(Swing coach) Sean Foley was the same, (agent) Mark Steinberg -- they were with us literally the whole round. (Caddie) Joe LaCava is one of the most personable guys around. I thought (Tiger) went beyond accommodating. He was like one of the guys, talking, joking, talking sports.”


Woods was teeing off from the back tees, while the amateurs used shorter tees. On one hole, after Murray and Guerra started walking, Woods jogged from the back tee to catch up so he could walk down the fairway with them.

Both Murray and Guerra are skilled golfers -- Murray plays to a 4, Guerra is a 12.

“Troy hit it relatively straight. Me, on the other hand, I was having trouble out of the gate,” Guerra recalls. “I asked Troy, what are these people thinking? Not only are they standing there lackadaisically, but people have their back to us, heading in the direction of the next tee to see Tiger… I’m going, ‘You could get killed!’ We had some errant shots, but we settled down. We didn’t hit anybody.”

Murray out-drove Woods on a few holes. Woods would chide Murray, saying, “Come on man, are you kidding me?” “You’re going to destroy my confidence!” and “You Jacobsen guys must not have to work much!”

As they settled down, their scores improved. The crowd began to suspect that Murray and Guerra might be celebrities too.

“There’s a retired Chicago Blackhawks player with the same name (as mine),” Murray says. “My wife was following us and hearing all these conversations going on. People were Googling us.”

“They started rooting for us. People actually got into it,” Guerra says. “They probably thought we were closer to Tiger than we were.”

At the end of the round, both were handed an autographed plaque of the three of them together. But better than a souvenir, they enjoyed a golf round they’ll never forget. And they also took away a new appreciation for Tiger Woods.

“I never stopped liking him, (but) I was disappointed for a while. I’ve always been a fan, I continue to be a fan, and even more so, because we see the veneer… now that we’ve been beyond that a little bit, I have a vast appreciation for what he goes through every single day of his life,” Murray says. “We had a very candid conversation walking to the 18th tee, walking through this throng of people, lined with kids, every one of them just want an acknowledgment from this guy. I asked, ‘Do you ever get used to this?’ He said, ‘No, I don’t get used to it and it’s difficult. When I’m working, I have to say ‘No,’ 1,000 times a day.’ I can’t imagine living like that.”

“For me it was another validation for Tiger, and his importance to our industry. Being the owner of 30 golf courses, managing a bunch of others, I know he moves the needle, period,” Guerra says. “Whether people want him to win or lose, everybody’s watching Tiger Woods, and that’s the point. There’s no other factor that moves the needle that much when it comes to participation, viewership, etc. We need him. He seems to still enjoy (golf). I think it’s a win-win situation, I was pleased to see him enjoying the game as much a he is.”

1 comment:

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