PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It was cool and dreary. A light rain fell all morning during the annual charity shootout during Media Day at The Players.
And none of that mattered to former PGA Tour player and North Florida resident Jeff Klauk. He was back on the golf course, thinking about yardages, the wind and the shot he needed to hit under pressure.
“Normally that would be a nice, smooth, easy wedge but the wind picked up and the cool temperatures with the rain, that was 125 yards,” he explained after winning the shootout, hitting it to one foot. “It was just as soft a 9-iron as I can hit because I didn’t want to hit it a hard wedge. So, that turned out to be the best shot in a long time.”
Success on the golf course is familiar to Klauk. At this point, just being on the golf course is a win. Klauk’s golf career was derailed by epilepsy six years ago. He’s undergone several lengthy procedures, most recently a potential “fix” at Emory in Atlanta.
“It went well,” he explained. “I’m still in the process of healing up and getting used to things. I am getting used to the word time. I have heard that word an awful lot, time of healing, so I am just trying to be as patient as I can.”
It’s the third time he’s won the shootout, but his time on the course has been severely curtailed.
“I haven’t played much golf to say the least,” he said after accepting a check for $10,000 for his charity, Athletes vs. Epilepsy. “I have hit a few shots with my son and that’s really about it. So it is good to be back out here at the course.”
“Especially today being out here with people watching, hitting shots with everybody around, having my parents here and everything. That’s what you feel in tournaments, feeling a little bit of pressure representing your charity and showing people you can still hit some good shots. It was great, a lot of fun.”
His golf tournament raises money for epilepsy research and is coming up next month.
“April 9th, the Monday after The Masters is my tournament at Palencia,” Jeff explained. “I need people to come out and play so they can go register at athletesvsepilepsygolf.com. I would love to get everybody out there, it will be a lot of fun and we will have a good time.”
And as a competitor who’s been on the course and in the field with Tiger Woods, Klauk is as impressed as anybody with what Tiger has been able to do in his latest comeback.
“It is impressive. He is going to do it (win) soon. Obviously his short game is back, that’s the most impressive, and that putting, making all of those up and downs. I know he was saying he was between yardages yesterday but he will get those wedges dialed in. I wouldn’t be surprised if he shocks everybody at the Masters.”