What advice does Jonas Blixt have for those who aspire to be professional golfers?
Find another hobby, he said, chuckling.
It was a joke, of course, but he wants players to understand how much work is involved in making it to the highest echelon of the sport – the PGA Tour – and that even he didnt realize it at first.
In is first year as a professional, in 2008, he about wore himself out.
I worked myself to death, he said. It was 14 hours a day for the whole year, just trying to get to the PGA Tour. By the end of the year, I ran out of gas. You have to pace yourself because your hobby becomes your life, your livelihood, and you get really excited about it. But when you get older, you learn how to pace yourself.
Today, Blixt is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour – he won the Greenbrier Classic last month – and hes earned more than $4.24 million, including more than $2.25 million this year.
He is the model for what the Web.com Tour – one tier below the PGA Tour – is trying to provide: Experience for up-and-coming players, who can also hit the ball well enough to give galleries a thrill.
Thursday through Sunday at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, the inaugural Hotel Fitness Championship will take place; it is the first of four legs on the Web.com Tours Finals and the winner will rake in $180,000 of the $1-million purse.
Twenty five PGA Tour cards will also be decided in the Finals, so its your chance to see the next Blixt, 29, who is from Nassjo, Sweden.
My game has changed a lot, Blixt said. Ive gotten a lot better since I first moved to America and went to college (at Florida State). I keep trying to learn and get better.
According to Blixt, his time on the Web.com Tour was crucial to his development. In 76 tournaments on that tour, he never won, but he had 14 top-10 finishes, four second-place finishes and earned $597,353.
But it more about learning the grind than winning the dough.
I recall it being a good time, he said. Being on that tour taught me a lot and thats why Im here today. You learn how to travel and what to do on tour, what to practice and how much to practice. Its preparation for the PGA Tour and the life out here. I wasnt ready for the PGA Tour coming out of college and the Web.com Tour was a springboard for me.
Along the way, coincidentally, Blixt got to play at Jack Nicklaus-designed Sycamore Hills twice in the Mad Anthonys charity Pro-Am, which is now aligned with the Hotel Fitness Championship.
A great golf course, absolutely fabulous golf course, Blixt said. I dont think they had it set up the way they will for the Web.com, of course, but its definitely a very good golf course. I remember struggling a bit there. They have some really, really good holes and it will be a good test for the players there.
The biggest test for the future stars of golf we see this week may not be the course, but the way they handle the rigors of being professionals.
Youve got to realize its your job now and you have to work on it every day and you have to have something else you do to take your mind off it or you will beat yourself up, Blixt said.