NOVEMBER 7 — To be honest, I don’t really know where to start. I was quite numb after that eagle putt went in on 18 and you imagine yourself being full of euphoria and being ecstatic, and I was just numb. I think it’s because of everything that’s happened with my friend, Jon Trasamar being so sick. I guess the moment hasn’t hit me yet.
I was calm during the final round because there is bigger stuff in life than golf. If you look at my ball, there’re music notes on there and “JT” written on it and it’s for my best friend. He’s got melanoma and he’s not going to make it. Every shot out there was for him. When you’re playing for something bigger than winning some trophy, it puts things into perspective. At the end of the day, whether I won here or lost, it did not really matter. When something motivates you like that, when you make a putt or miss a putt, who cares.
The emotions got to me after the second round. I’d shot 8-under, I get back to my room and I just break down in tears. It wasn’t that calm all the time but when I step onto the golf course, I’ve got a job to do and that’s what it comes down too at the end of the day, doing your job. Now we can celebrate and cry. Until the last putt, it was all focus and doing it for Jon. We love him so much and I’m still in disbelief what he’s going through. I wish I could take all his pain away. We’re flying up to Minnesota to see him and we’ll give him a high five.
When I left South Africa to the US as a 19-year-old, it’s never easy as I grew up in a really small town. Leaving home wasn’t easy. Jon and his family lived about two hours away from
Minneapolis, and I arrived in Minnesota in September of 2009 and they were there at the airport to meet me, to say hi, because he was going to be my roommate and teammate at University of Minnesota soon after. We obviously became best friends. He’s like a brother to me. We were roommates for three out of the four years I was in college. I still think he’s got one of the best short games I’ve ever seen and he pursued a career in golf up until recently.
Jon was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma about a year ago. He was clean in April when he gave me a call and sent a picture of the scan and he was free of cancer. So obviously that was an incredible moment for all of us. Not soon after, it came back. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle. On Tuesday, he sent us a text, saying he’s got six to 10 weeks left. They did a bunch of scans and cancer was in all his organs, everywhere. I don’t think he’s got that much time left. I hope he was watching the final round. We’ve texted and I’ve told him how much I love him. All I want is to go play nine holes with him somewhere. And extremely selfishly, that puts all of this into perspective. Is it fun to win golf tournaments? Yeah, it’s fun. I’ve been playing golf since I was 8 years old, extremely competitive and we want to win. But it doesn’t matter. When I kick the bucket one day, whenever that might be, this is not what I’m going to be thinking about. I’m going to be thinking about the people I love the most and Jon Trasamar is one of those people.
It’s been a trying year up until about two months ago when it came to my golf. For sure, it’s been the worst year of my career to date. I was struggling and made a coaching change and started working with Sean Foley the week of the US Open and started turning things around.
Sean helps mainly with perspective. I wasn’t hitting it that bad when I started working with
him, but I wasn’t getting great results. I was missing cuts. I think at one point, I missed 10
cuts in a row. So I think what makes Sean so great is, he’s got this awesome knowledge about the golf swing and the human body, and how the body functions and how to get the club square
on the ball, but just perspective. When we talk, sometimes it’s an hour and we don’t even talk about golf. We talk about life and the person you want to be, how you want to be on the golf course, not being an idiot out there and being the person off the course and being the same person on the golf course. That’s really the conversations we’ve had.
It’s also quite special to win on a golf course designed by Tiger Woods. I saw Tiger earlier in the week and he’s obviously an absolute legend of the game and to play on a golf course that he’s designed and to win a PGA TOUR tournament that is somehow in a small part linked to him, it’s extremely special.
* South African Erik van Rooyen claimed an emotional two-stroke victory at the World Wide Technology Championship at the Tiger Woods-designed El Cardonal at Diamante in Los Cabos, Mexico for his second PGA TOUR career win. The triumph was bittersweet as he had received news earlier in the week that his best friend, Jon Trasamar, was terminally ill with cancer.
** Note: Fans can watch the world’s best golfers compete in this week’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship on the PGA TOUR on Astro Golf Channel.
*** This is the personal opinion of the columnist.