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Nick Rousey's Pro Tour Season Ramps Up WAAAY Down South

Nick Rousey's Pro Tour Season Ramps Up WAAAY Down South

Nick Rousey is a member of the Tour and hopes to play his way into some PGA Tour events in 2014. In 2013, Rousey made 12 cuts in 21 starts on the Tour, including top-3 finishes at the Stadion Classic and Mylan Classic.

Getting Back on the Tour with 2nd Swing’s own up-and-coming pro Nick Rousey

It was a par-5. I put myself in great position for my third shot to try to make birdie. But the shot went long because of a switch in the wind, leaving me a 20-footer downhill for my birdie. I missed that putt, and I ran it by eight feet because the green was so fast.

Now I had to make this eight-footer to have any chance of making the cut and getting a paycheck after traveling all the way to Bogota, Colombia on a limited budget for the Tour season opener.

I said a little prayer, went through my routine and put the best stroke I could on the ball. It went in! I was so happy to pull off a shot under pressure, especially since it had been 4 1/2 months since I’ve had to perform like that.

It’s finally February and, for me, that means the off-season is done. It’s time to see if the work I poured into my golf game is ready to be put up against some great courses and top-notch competition.

This year, tourney site Country Club De Bogota, which typically is a hard-and-fast course, was slowed mightily by storms. With visions of earning a PGA Tour card at the end of the season, all 144 of the players grabbed their passports, bought their plane tickets and got a hotel room (and often sharing one).

(Rousey finished tied for 47th at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship Feb. 13-15, earning a $2,177 purse. The winner, Alex Cejka of the Czech Republic, beat the sluggish conditions to take home $135,000. But Rousey, 33, of Anniston, Ala., will have a three more successive shots at Central and South American purses, all in the next several weeks.)

Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship Presented by Claro - Round Three Tour players — including 2nd Swing blogger and pro Nick Rousey — battled Bogota’s rain all week in the season opener. Rousey details myriad challenges and thrills at the PGA’s precipice. Photos courtesy

This year I have “full status” of the Tour, which means I can play in all the tournaments (if I choose). Otherwise, I would have to contend with the reshuffle, where the order of a player’s entry priority into tournaments is based on year-to-date earnings.

It’s used on both the and PGA tours as a way to reward “conditional” players that are playing well and allow them into tournaments. A reshuffle normally takes place every four tournaments.

All that being said, I bought my own airline tickets from Pensacola, Fla., and roomed with another player. We must pay for all travel expenses as well as caddies for every tournament.

I arrived in Bogota on Monday, three days before the tourney began. After a long travel day, I decided to relax and head to the course the next day. I registered for the tournament later and paid the standard locker room fee.

Here’s an idea of some of the costs involved. The tourney entry is free. But the locker room is $20 and a yardage book $20. The hotel runs roughly from $350 to $600 a week and flights are $750 to $900 to Bogota (and will be more expensive when we go farther south next month). A caddie’s fees range from $500 for a local all the way up to about $1,500, depending on what you want to pay your guy.

Of course, we all try to work deals everywhere we can to save money.

(Rousey finished last year ranked 47th in earnings with $117,486. He participated in 21 tournaments and finished as high as third place twice, while missing the cut nine times.)

I use the early-week pro-am to get to know my playing partners and learn the golf course. I was very fortunate that I had four guys who could speak English because my Spanish, which I’ll should know more of soon enough, is not very good. In Bogota, I also needed the time to learn how far my ball was flying because the city’s elevation is at 8,680 feet.

Needless to say, the ball went far! It was about 12 percent to 15 percent farther than at sea level. Instead of doing the math, like some players, I just figured out my new yardages for my clubs for that week and went with it. This is much easier in my mind than figuring out the percentage on every single shot.

On Wednesday, I played a short, 12-hole practice round with good friend Dicky Pride and my tourney roommate, Darron Stiles. This gave me time to do some final preparation on the course and another chance to figure out how it would play.

The golf course in Bogota was a brick and had bigger runoffs than Pinehurst No. 2. There were spots around the greens where I was eight to 10 feet below in a collection area. The whole time during the pro-am and my Wednesday round I think I fixed two ball marks on the greens. They were the firmest greens I have ever seen by far.

In fact, I asked 2004 British Open Champion Todd Hamilton, after we did a junior clinic together, if he has ever played greens this firm in his life — outside of the British Open — and he said no. It was going to be a challenge to control your golf ball, so I thought.

Steve_Wheatcroft_07 CC 2 Tour player Steve Wheatcroft gauges the cup before the leaderboard at the Columbia Championship last week. Rousey said the rain and shortened week helped him manage the otherwise hard-and-fast course. 

The first round our group teed off late, but I started well at 2-under par through 10 holes. This is when the rain hit. Play suspended for the day, and we were told to come back the next day for a 7 a.m. restart of the first round. I came out Friday and finished my first round by shooting a 1-under 70, and then almost immediately started my second round. I didn’t play great in my second round, but I was fighting hard for every shot.

The electronic scoreboards on the course were saying that even par had a chance to make the cut before the afternoon guys played their second round. I stood on the 18th tee at even par thinking I might have a chance to make the cut with a par, and a birdie to get me to one under would definitely make the cut.

I was very nervous over that 18th green putt because I didn’t want to start the year with a missed cut. So, once again, I was extremely relieved that it went in.

Now I would just have to sit around and wait to see if even would be good enough.

The wait was longer than I expected. For the second day in a row, we had rain and a suspension of play. The golf course was now super soft and getting much easier than it was on Tuesday. On Saturday, everyone finished their second round as I slept in my hotel room.

When the second round was over, I had done it; I made the cut at even par. Seventy players would be getting a check at the end of the week, including me.

We got into new groups and tee times and started our third round. I was two-under par through three rounds when the rain came yet again. You could almost set your clock to the weather this past week. Play was suspended once more, and we were asked to restart at 7 a.m. on Sunday.

In the third round, I shot a two-under 69, which moved me up the board a little bit, but not much. Now the course was so wet and soft we could throw darts at every hole location. The eventual winner shot 63 in the third round, which would have never been possible had it not rained.

The fourth round was started, but so did the rain one last time. The course became unplayable; and since there was no chance to finish on Sunday, the tournament became a 54-hole affair. It was unfortunate that the course didn’t stay hard and fast for the whole tournament, and that we couldn’t finish 72 holes. However, for the first tournament of the year, I think it was a great start.

The people that we dealt with in Bogota were awesome. They were so nice and happy to help us in any way. Also, it was such a beautiful city! I felt like I was in North California because of all the eucalyptus trees, but also in Colorado because of the mountains encircling the city. I look forward to returning.

Well, it’s the start of a new year, and I’m really looking forward to it. I now have two weeks off before the tour travels to Chile, Brazil and Panama for consecutive events.

Time to get to work! The players on this tour are very good, and I need to play better than I did this past week.

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