You name it, Jerry Kelly is passionate about it.
He classifies himself as a “10 out of 10” sports fan, is a diligent spokesman for colon cancer screening research and started a fundraising page to help a former PGA Tour rules official with cancer.
Never one to hold his tongue, Kelly is also quick to bluntly assess his performance during his first season on the PGA Tour Champions calendar.
“I made a swing change right before the first tournament, and there were a few times I almost whiffed shots,” Kelly said. “[A week later] in Tucson, I hit some of the worst shots I’ve hit in my entire life, and from there on it’s progressively gotten worse and worse. It’s painful.”
Wait. This is Jerry Kelly, right? Inside the top 25 on the money list. Four top-10s this season. Finished third to start the year despite that swing change and shot 10 under par in the Tucson event?
“Aw, it wasn’t that great of a start,” Kelly said. “I have not played well yet. Haven’t played my game yet this year no matter what the results are. Nothing has fallen into place in any way, shape or form.”
What has happened is an eye opener.
Kelly welcomed the “fresh start” on a new tour but looks back and laments not putting in the time and effort on and off the course to hit the ground running.
“When my body is strong then my mind is strong and I can dig things out of the dirt,” he said. “I’m close. I really feel like I might have found something this week. I’m excited.”
Kelly played three full seasons from 1993-95 on what was then known as the Nike Tour. Now the Web.com tour, professional golf’s top farm system is attracting some added attention this week with an appearance by NBA star Stephen Curry, who received a sponsor’s exemption into the Ellie Mae Classic in the Bay Area.
On one hand, some argue Curry’s spot froze out a deserving young professional’s chance at picking up a much-needed paycheck.
Kelly stands with the other side of the debate.
“It’s great for golf,” he said. “People have to lighten up and realize if you put me on the basketball court with Steph, he’s going to destroy me. These Web.com players are going to destroy him on the course, and he knows that. But it’s bringing attention to our game, and I thank him for it.”
Curry shot a 4-over 74 in the opening round.
TPC Twin Cities picked up 1.15 inches of rain on Thursday, washing out the morning pro-am. The afternoon wave started late but played. Many players scheduled for morning tee times hit the driving range after the rain cleared but did not get the chance to see the course.