Atlas Pro Tour - Team USA Blog
Palmeraie Golf Club (Marrakech, Morocco)
As part of the eGolf Tour's ongoing relationship with the Association du Trophee Hassan II de Golf (ATH) and the country of Morocco, a few select members of the 2012 eGolf Professional Tour will be serving as ambassadors overseas, competing in select events on the Atlas Pro Tour (Alps Tour/EPD Tour) in order to create awareness for Morocco as a world-class golf destination. Tim O'Neal, Tommy Schaff, Chris Condello and Jhared Hack are four of the ambassadors selected, and are currently participating in Atlas Pro Tour events. The four players have been asked to blog, as a group, daily from Morocco, so that everyone can follow their experiences as they test their games against some of the best international players in the world.
Monday, February 6th:
It was a long day.....no rest for the weary. We arrived in Casablanca, Morocco early this morning to a chilly 40-degree temperature. To be clear, it was a cold three-hour van ride. We were all shivering as we watched the sunrise during the drive! The language barrier was difficult trying to communicate with the driver to turn the heat on, but we managed to get a few words across to express our need for heat. Upon arrival in Marrakech, Morocco, it was a bit of a circus as we tried to check-in to the wrong hotel as our driver unloaded all our bags on the curb. Hard to blame anyone but ourselves for that one! Once hotel accommodations were situated at the Holiday Inn, we enjoyed a satisfying breakfast before heading to the course to practice and walk nine holes. The host course this week - Palmeraie Golf Club - is fantastic. Very reminiscent of American courses in the Southwest, and offers a good number of birdie holes if you're on your game. Everyone here has been really accommodating towards us from the hotel receptionist to the ATH rules officials. It is amazing that you can fly halfway around the world and be welcomed by total strangers with open arms. We came back to the hotel after golf and tried to stay awake but crashed hard and napped all up until dinner. Dinner was great, but all we could think about was sleep. Sleep, as it turned out, was not a problem. Looking forward to tomorrow!
Tuesday, February 7th:
Got off to a great start with a nourishing breakfast! We got to the course, chipped and putted a bit, then went and played the back nine for a practice round. After nine holes, we stopped by the clubhouse for lunch and met up with Moroccan International Faycal Serghini, who actually competed on the eGolf Tour in the fall of 2010 and at the 2011 Morocco events as well. Faycal was extremely helpful in communicating with the servers and getting lunch situations figured out. After lunch we played the front nine, got a good practice session in, then headed back to the hotel feeling prepared for the tournament. Adil, an official of the ATH, was kind enough to take the four of us on a trip to the supermarket. It was a little wild on the trip there as scooters and cars were weaving in and out of passing lanes like the Blue Angels - literally. But, that's part of the fun of traveling internationally, right? The supermarket was packed with Moroccan locals and we were able to score some deals on bottled water and candy bars. After we got back from the supermarket, we had a productive team pow-wow, translated our yardage books from meters into yards, Skyped with some friends and family, and got some rest. The first round of the Open Palmeraie starts tomorrow, and I think we're all ready to play!
Wednesday, February 8th:
Tim, Jhared, and I (Chris) drew morning wave tee times, while Tommy was in the afternoon wave. Tim scorched the front nine with SEVEN birdies including five in a row en route to a 10-birdie opening round of 6-under 66. He is atop the leaderboard, tied with Sebastien Gros from France. It was good to see Tim playing well. As most people know, he had a few near misses at Q-School that garnered a lot of attention, but he also had a lot of success on the Nationwide Tour. I think it could be a good year for him on the eGolf Tour. I (Chris) hung in there with some up-and-down ball striking but consistent putting to card a 3-under 69, which put me in a tie for 8th place. Jhared struggled a bit with a 77, but he'll bounce back tomorrow. Tommy was the lone American in the afternoon wave holding it down with a solid 1-under 71 to move into a tie for 24th place. The tournament has been very well-run, and all of the officials have been great to work with. Course conditions are hard and fast for the most part, but the greens are in great shape - very impressive for this time of year. We'll probably keep the same routine tonight as we did the past two nights - pretty low key, just getting prepared for round two. The four of us are ready to get after it tomorrow!
Friday, February 10th
eGolf Tour ambassador Tim O'Neal posted rounds of 66-67-67--200 to win the Atlas Pro Tour's Palmeraie Open. To read a full story on O'Neal's win, please click here.
Saturday, February 11th
After celebrating Tim's win with "bottled waters" all around last night, the four of us woke up early and headed to breakfast for our daily omelet and crepes. We're still amazed at how great the food is over here after a week. It's always nice to get a taste of home mixed with a taste of abroad, all in one sitting. After breakfast, Tommy rushed ahead and accidentally hopped on the wrong bus heading to Samanah! We're in good hands here, but in a foreign country, you always want to make sure you're on the correct bus. Minor scare, but he figured it out just in time to make the pro-am. Unfortunately, I (Chris) was the reserve for the pro-am and wasn't able to participate, but at least that gave me extra time to practice and work out some kinks. The guys commented on how it was a relief that they were provided caddies for the day as their shoulders could use the rest. One great thing about golf in Morocco: You can get a caddie at virtually any golf course and at a relatively cheap price (think cart fee at any U.S. golf course). Team USA managed to collect two more victories as Tommy's team won the gross and Jhared's team won the net! Tim was honored to play with ATH deputy vice chairman Mustapha Zine and had a great time. Tommy was paired with ATH deputy vice chairman Mohamed Chaibi, and the two groups had a semi-grudge match between them. The three of them also enjoyed the Moroccan lunch after the pro-am. Lots of good food at the lunch, a common theme in Morocco - delicious food, and plenty of it.......you're never hungry. Tommy was in love with the Moroccan desserts. He wanted to pack up a whole suitcase full of those chocolate pastries! Anyone who knows Tommy knows that he's not afraid to set up shop at the dessert bar and call it his own. After the pro-am, I joined up with the three of them, worked out, ate dinner, and rested up for the pro-am tomorrow. We're looking forward to the Samanah Open!
Sunday, February 12th
Jhared and I got up early as Tim and Tommy had the day off. Their day consisted of working out, watching movies, catching up with family, and practicing a little bit at Palmeraie - sounds pretty rough, right? Jhared and I caught the early morning bus with the other guys participating. The 45-minute bus ride wasn't too bad as most of us slept - something that goes under reported in professional golf......the need for sleep, always. We got to Samanah and the course was in GREAT shape! Greens were immaculate. Some of the best greens we've seen in a while, and surely not a surprise given the work these superintendents put into the events in Morocco. I got a fantastic pairing in the pro-am - I was paired with a dentist, his intern, and an architect from Rabat, the capital. All were great guys, and we had a great time. The great thing about playing pro-ams overseas is that you really get a better feel for the people and the culture, as your exposure isn't limited to bus rides and restaurants. It was fun to play Q&A with them regarding Morocco and the golf course. I didn't play my best golf, but our team managed to tie for first in the pro-am. We lost in a scorecard playoff but went up to get our picture taken with our 2nd-place trophies. Of course, I was sporting my Golf Morocco ATH shirt proudly, as we have done for each round over here - be it tournament round or pro-am round. It just reminded me how thankful I was for this opportunity and experience. It's not often that an opportunity to serve as a Moroccan ambassador presents itself while you're passing time on an Orlando driving range. After the pro-am, Jhared and I were exhausted and caught the first shuttle back to the hotel. We took a power nap then met up with Tim and Tommy for dinner. Ready to scout out the course in tomorrow's practice round!