PGA Professional teeing it up at Torrey Pines

By Kirk Kenney
Published on

It's difficult to imagine anyone in the field for the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open preparing the way Coronado's Brian Smock is for Thursday's opening round at Torrey Pines.

Smock plans to work his regular Wednesday morning shift in the Coronado Golf Course pro shop, checking in men's club members, pushing some product, maybe lining up a few clients for lessons.

The following morning, Smock will be on the tee going against defending champion Jason Day and Phil Mickelson, among others.

"It's pretty special," said Smock, a journeyman on the tour who turned to teaching 3 1/2 years ago because of a back injury. "I'm trying not to overprepare because I'll just end up tweaking something or something will flare up. So I'm just trying to stick to my normal routine here. I'm giving a lot of lessons and just doing extra putting and chipping."

Smock, 42, qualified for the Farmers two weeks ago when he shot a two-under par 70 at Bear Creek in Murrieta to win a club pro event, his first as a PGA professional.

"It's cool for me," Smock said, "but to see how excited everyone is here and how much support everyone's been giving me, it's been a fun thing around the course this week.

"I'm looking forward to representing Coronado Golf Course. I'm going to have a blast. I expect to play pretty darn well."

Edward Bevilacqua answered the phone in the Coronado pro shop on Sunday afternoon and said of Smock's PGA tournament appearance, "that's all we're talking about. We're behind him 100 percent. It's really something. It's pretty incredible. ... A lot of guys would say, 'Ok, I need all the time in world off to go get ready.' It's just going to be another round of golf for him."

Smock played in the 2011 Farmers on a sponsor's exemption while still an active player. He shot 73-73, missing the cut by three strokes.

He has a much different mindset for this appearance. It comes from being at a different stage in life. Can it really be a quarter century since Smock won the 1991 CIF individual championship as a senior at Coronado High? Yes. He is a family man now, living four blocks from the golf course with his wife and 5- and 7-year-old children.

"It has a totally different feel this time," Smock said. "It's not life or death now. It's not how I pay the bills. But it's a great way to get out there, see where my game is and get back into it."

Smock has to be careful with his practice routine because of the herniated disk and spinal stenosis that forced him from the tour.

"It's just about being smart and conserving myself," Smock said. "My game has stayed extremely sharp. I'm more disciplined about the way I play. I had to become more savvy with how I approach things."

With Tiger Woods not in the field this year, Smock may have the largest gallery this side of Mickelson.

Smock said the middle school junior golfers he teaches will be among those in the Torrey Pines gallery, along with friends, family and others he has gotten to know at Coronado.

"I'm sure it will be a good little crowd," he said.

Bevilacqua will be among them. He should have more insight than most after he works that Wednesday shift in the pro shop with Smock.

"I can't wait to see what he does," Bevilacqua said. "There's going to be a whole crowd of us. It's going to be like in the President's Cup when they get those rowdy Australians."

This article was written by Kirk Kenney from The San Diego Union-Tribune and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.