Carter Eckl: Appreciation for being near home again
There’s about 1,000 different things that have reminded me of home since I started working and living in Northern Nevada in the last two months.
Being within 30 minutes of Lake Tahoe, the mountains, the entire valley cooling off at night – even living with a good friend from high school.
It’s been a surreal experience to be back in the Pacific time zone.
The whole journey back has been better than I could have imagined and has given me a chance to reacquaint with friends I haven’t seen in years.
Over the hill
This past week was a whole new experience watching a fellow San Ramon Valley High School (Danville, California) alumnus take on Stage One of qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour at Dayton Valley Golf Course.
Not only did Connor Blick qualify for Stage Two after shooting an 7-under 281 at the longest-running qualifying tournament in the nation, he did so while staying consistent under constantly changing conditions.
The 2014 SRVHS grad had his worst round in round three in which he shot 1-under 71, still good enough to push his way up the leaderboard of potential qualifiers and only one shot off his other three rounds of play.
After playing collegiate golf at Saint Mary’s in Moraga, California, Blick stepped into the field at Dayton for his first Stage One qualifying tournament, about four hours away from home with his dad on the bag.
The first two days played like two different courses due to variable wind changes and cold weather, according to several golfers at the event. It didn’t affect the Korn Ferry Q-school rookie too much as he posted consecutive rounds of 2-under 70 to move to 4-under.
“Just learning on the fly cause every day has been different,” said Blick after his second round Wednesday. “I don’t know where the wind is going to be blowing tomorrow.”
The final day of the event, Blick stayed as consistent as he had all week with another 2-under 70 to advance to Stage Two.
Shooting under par in all four rounds came out of two practice rounds and a scoping of the course a month prior with his older brother, Cody.
However, the wind essentially forced Connor to re-learn everything about the course except the distance of the pin locations.
“(On) 18 when I came out here with my brother it was driver, 4-iron. Yesterday, because it was downwind I went 3-wood, 7-iron and today I went driver, 3-wood so it’s been wild,” said Blick.
Cody was a 2012 graduate of San Ramon Valley and is also a professional golfer after qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour last year.
Connor followed his brother’s footsteps last year, playing on the Canadian Tour after qualifying through Canadian Q-school before testing his hand at the Korn Ferry Tour.
The younger Blick cast the weather aside last week in finishing tied for second in the field with 20 birdies over the course of four rounds. He also posted the second longest birdie or better streak of anyone in the field, scoring under par on four consecutive holes spanning from the end of his third round to the beginning of his fourth.
Next up for Connor will be the second stage of qualifying where he will have to finish in a select top percentage at one of five tournaments across the nation. Should he advance through the second stage, he will head to the final stage of qualifying at Orange County National Golf Club in Winter Garden, Florida.
The final tournament in Florida will run from Dec. 12-15.
In the meantime the two brothers get to continue their ever-growing sibling rivalry as Connor looks to get on the same tour level as his elder counterpart.
The younger brother joked after his second round that most of the time, he ends up on the wrong side of the scorecard compared to Cody when the two go head-to-head.
“Yes, very much so,” said Connor of their continuing sibling rivalry. “I catch the short end most of the time, but it makes me a better player in the end.”
After his second round Wednesday and reflecting on high school, Connor laughed at some of the brief moments his brother Cody and I had when we were freshman in high school.
All in all, the whole experience just added to how surreal it has been to be back in this part of the world.