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Tour Rundown: Welcome back, Lydia Ko!

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Last week’s installment of Tour Rundown, very quietly, was the 300th piece I published for this tasty website. Some of those 3 centuries of articles were inspired, original material; while others have followed a pre-determined format for ease of consumption and digestion. Over that period of nearly 6.5 years, two essential credos compel me forward: no one films the photographer, and the writer never outweighs the word. Deposit number 301 might be the last you read from me, or it could represent the beginning of another perfect game. Now, back to the business at hand: Tour Rundown!

Horschel and Piercy claim PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic

If the Zurich Classic were simply a better-ball event, red ink would be in short supply and one-dimensional couples would do battle for the title. The inclusion of alternate shot on 2 of the 4 days is a bit of brilliance, on the part of the organizers. Why? Ask Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer. They finished double-double (not the Tim Horton’s kind) on Friday to fall from in-the-mix status to missed-the-cut doldrums. On Sunday, we saw more of the same.

How Horschel and Piercy stuck a fork in it

Their best score of the week was a Saturday 61, 11-under in better ball. Their best performance, however, was their Sunday 67. Only one other team was able to shoot 67 in alternate shot all week, and they had to slap each other’s faces to do so. While third-round leaders Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown and Michael Kim/Andrew Putnam were each giving four shots back to Old Man Par, the 2013 Zurich Classic individual champion and his partner were flawless on Sunday. Five birdies and nary a bogey eased them to 22-under, one ahead of the 40s, Pat Perez and Jason Dufner.

See the clubs Horschel and Piercy used

How Duff and Perez nearly made their comeback

The old guys were flawless on Sunday, too. If Horschel and Pierce were FL on the diamond clarity scale, Dufner and Perez were just behind at IF. Four birdies and zero bogeys totaled the day’s second best, and brought them from fifth to second alone. As mentioned above, the overnight leaders (Kisner and Brown at 20-under) and the overnight chasers (Kim and Putnam) could not repeat their earlier successes. The chasers had three consecutive bogeys to open their back nine, punctuated by a double-bogey at the 16th. The leaders also had a miserable inward half, with a similar score of 41.

Alexander Björk returns on investment at European Tour’s China Open

In 2012, Björk listed himself on an investment site, offering 10 percent of winning to those who bankrolled him. Six years later, the Swede cinched his first Euro Tour title, overtaking the third-round leaders with an impeccable 65. Bjork’s win came by one shot over Adrián Otaegui. The Basque bogeyed 17 to fall to 16-under, and a final-hole birdie offered only the solace of solo second spot.

How Björk bjecame a tour winner

Björk’s week was solid from start to finish, with only a topsy-turvy 72 in round 2 standing out. He was mid-60s in the other rounds, revealing an affection for Beijing’s Topwin course. After three bogeys on day two led to an even-par round, Björk made just one more blue square the rest of the week. 13 birdies over the closing 36 holes allowed him to ease past a coalition of challengers. The Swede concluded an unmatched fortnight with his win, coming on the heels of a third-place finish last Sunday in Morocco.

How things came apart for Wallace and company

As happens so often these days on the tours, nothing less than final-round perfection will do. England’s Matt Wallace had won twice when holding the 54-hole lead. On Sunday, he notched seven birdies of his own, but fumbled twice for triple and single bogey. He tumbled to a third-place tie with countryman Jordan Smith and Spain’s Jorge Campillo. Otaegui was oh-so-close on Sunday. Six birdies brought him to the brink of triumph, but the one stumble, at the penultimate hole, was his undoing. Olazabal’s twin had secured top-2o finishes in his previous four tour events, so runs at a second career title should continue to come.

Welcome back, Lydia Ko! Playoff win at LPGA’s Mediheal

It had been a challenging few years for New Zealand’s national golfing treasure. Lydia Ko had not won since July of 2016, and she had no desire to celebrate a two-year anniversary. Ko entered the final round of the Mediheal with a slim lead over Jessica Korda, who had experienced a 2018 comeback of her own. While Korda faltered, Ko weathered a difficult front nine and was able to gather herself enough to reach a playoff with Minjee Lee.

How Ko conquered her doubts

When you begin a final round with three bogeys in six holes, your path is usually clear, unless you have greatness in you. Ko found a way to make five birdies against one more bogey over the final 12 holes. When she birdied the 18th, she found herself in a playoff with Lee, who has flirted with greatness of her own during her years on tour. Unfortunately for her, Ko is most at home in a playoff, when she can go head to head with her competition. Suffice it to say that she won this overtime affair, her fifth in six extra-hole battles. How she did it? Well…

How Lee nearly conquered all

Minjee Lee has three LPGA tour wins of her own but, like Ko, none since 2016. The Aussie had seven birdies in her final round, including 3 of the final 4 holes. She even had one more in the playoff, on the par-5 closing hole. Unfortunately for Lee, Ko went one better, with an eagle 3. The runner-up finish, couple with Lee’s Australian-tour victory at the Victorian Open in February, bodes well for the soon-to-be 22 year old.

WATCH Lydia Ko describe why her 58-degree wedge is so different

Expected win for Mexico’s Rodríguez at Web.Com’s ULC Championship

They say that Victoria National was built to host a U.S. Open championship. I’m here to tell you two things: with all the water, it’s completely not a USGA course. It may, however, be the most demanding course on any tour. If tournament organizers set the course up at its penal worst, golfers might not break 75. Maverick McNealy can attest to this: after opening with 64, he didn’t smell par the rest of the week. Still in the lead after 54 holes, the young Cardinal struggle again on Sunday to tumble from the race. As for the winner? Read on.

How José de Jesús Rodríguez locked up win No. 1

Rodríguez shouldn’t be a surprise to many, despite the thinking that some young American (McNealy, Ethan Tracy, Wyndham Clark) would break through for an inaugural Web win. The Mexican champion has risen steadily this season, with a 3rd-place tie in the Bahamas as his previous-best finish. On Sunday, Rodríguez stood 4-under par through 14 holes, the equivalent of chasing 59 at Victoria National. Although he closed with 2 bogeys over his final quartet of holes, he did so smartly and strategically. Rodríguez went from bunker to bunker at the last, but avoided those heavy numbers that derailed many challenges this week.

What Wyndham and the others have to learn

In Clark’s case, not much. He scorched the back nine in 30 strokes, to jump from 10th to nearly-first, one back of Rodríguez at 5-under for the week. Only three outward bogeys kept the former Oregon Duck from reaching a playoff or better. McNealy had a three-day case of the nerves, after opening with 64. Needing to play his final three holes in 1-under, he instead went 2-over to finish tied for third with Kyoung-Hoon Lee, two back of Clark and three off the lead. Unlike that other National, the annual site of the Masters, this one demands absolute precision off the tee, and JJR was the king of accuracy this week.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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  1. Tommy

    Apr 30, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Hey Ron, since when is a 3-wood to a foot in a playoff not worthy of a mention? Wow…

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Pro overcomes bad math to win | Koepka | Rory may not limit Euro Tour schedule after all

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

December 13, 2018

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. (featured image credit: PGA.com)
1. Overcoming bad math
Craig Dolch writing for PGA.com with the details of, a computational error that ultimately worked out in a club pro’s favor at the PGA Tournament Series.
  • “It’s a good thing for Matt Borchert he’s better with his putter than with his math…Borchert thought he had shot a 69 Tuesday and finished a shot behind Bob Sowards until Sowards told him they both had 68s. Borchert re-checked his scorecard and realized his mistake. They were tied at 8-under 136.”
  • “Ten minutes later, Borchert drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win Event No. 4 of the PGA Tournament Series at PGA Golf Club. It was the first PGA Tournament Series victory for the PGA Professional at Isleworth Golf & Country Club near Orlando.”
  • “It was too long of a day on the golf course,” Borchert said of the scoring issue. “I was trying to figure out where I stood on 18. I thought we both played great. Bob was solid. I was just lucky to sneak a few more putts in.”
2. Papadatos!
Meanwhile, early at the Alfred Dunhill Championship…
  • EuropeanTour.com report...”Dimitrios Papadatos opened up a one-shot lead over defending champion Brandon Stone as round one of the Alfred Dunhill Championship got under way at Leopard Creek Country Club.”
  • “Papadatos is playing on an invite after narrowly missing out on gaining his card via the PGA Tour of Australasia and made four birdies in his first 12 holes to move to four under.”
  • “Home favourite Stone was also bogey-free after nine holes to sit a shot ahead of Spaniard Adri Arnaus, Scot David Drysdale, Swede Robert Karlsson, Welshman Stuart Manley and South African Erik van Rooyen.”
3. Brooks on top, chip on shoulder
Eamon Lynch examines some of the criticism of Brooks Koepka and the reality as he sees it.
  • “He became the first man in almost 30 years to successfully defend the U.S. Open. At the PGA Championship, he joined Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington as the only players in the last two decades to win two majors in a season. He was voted Player of the Year, an honor he promptly celebrated by winning the CJ Cup and ascending to No. 1 in the world.”
  • “Anyone else, they’re on the cover of a Wheaties box,” said Claude Harmon III, Koepka’s longtime coach….There won’t be a Wheaties box, of course.”
  • Also…”The lazy rap against Koepka is that he doesn’t win often enough on Tour. The 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open – the first of his five Tour wins – is his only non-major victory in the U.S. It’s an anomaly that puts him in rarefied statistical company with Andy North as players who have more wins in majors than in regular tournaments. It’s not a ledger imbalance that troubles his team.”
4. Rory to remain European Tour fixture?
Despite suggestions to the contrary…
  • “The Forecaddie is pretty certain Rory McIlroy won’t quit golf’s European Tour in 2019, despite what he said during the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.”
  • “European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has taken steps to make sure his star player keeps his status.”
  • If it were to be that I don’t fulfill my membership next year, it’s not a Ryder Cup year so it’s not the end of the world,” he said…Not the end of the world for McIlroy, but pretty close to it for the European Tour and Pelley, The Man Out Front thinks.”
  • “Pelley wasn’t about to hang around to let McIlroy make a decision detrimental to the tour. Pelley jumped on a plane to Northern Ireland and McIlroy’s home in Holywood for an emergency meeting with his star player.”
While nobody knows what was said, it seems Pelley was pleased with the result.
5. Highlights from Valentino Dixon
A few of the best sections of Michael Williams’ excellent interview with Valentino Dixon, who served 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit – and took up golf course-related artwork as a hobby during that time.
  • On getting started doing golf course art…”Right. Well, I was known as the artist in Attica. I spent, out of the 27 years, I spent 25 of those years in Attica. So over the years I had publicity on my case because the local newspaper had came to believe in my innocence, but there wasn’t a judge in Buffalo that would do anything about it. So the warden and the officers in Attica knew that I was innocent of the crime and would always check in on me and look in and see if I was all right and everything like that, but they knew that I drew also. So the warden came to me one day and asked me could I draw his favorite hole, which was Augusta, the 12th hole at Augusta.”
  • “I’d never golfed before. I mean, I’m from the inner city. So it was like all right, I guess I can do it. I knew nothing about golf. I drew the Augusta 12th hole. He loved it. Other inmates loved it and one of the inmates encouraged me to draw more golf holes. I said, “What are you talking about? What for? That doesn’t even makes sense.” He says, “I love the golf course, I think you should draw more.” He planted the seed.”
  • “A week later I went around and I got some old golf magazines, Golf Digest magazines, and I start pulling out the pictures that I loved. The guy gave me some really old ones that he had in his cell. So I start pulling out the ones that I liked, the ones that I thought was pretty and then from there I started drawing them. Whenever I put my mind into something, I just go in and really hard. So for months and months, all I did was draw golf courses. Okay. “
  • “Eventually I started reading the columns out of the Golf Digest magazine and I came across Max Adler’s, called Golf Saved My Life. I kind of put the two together because it was like golf was saving my life because being there was really, really stressful and hard and every day was a challenge. I have friends that committed suicide. I didn’t know if I was going to be the next person that my mind was going to snap.”
6. The Rexys!
Rex Hoggard handed out his (annual?) Rexy Awards for outstanding achievements in the world of golf.
Here are two
  • Enigma Award. It was an eventful year for Patrick Reed….He won the Masters for his first major and unabashedly torched his former team partner Jordan Spieth and U.S. captain Jim Furyk following the Americans’ loss at the Ryder Cup….”The issue is obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me,” Reed told the New York Times, adding, “For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don’t think it’s smart to sit me twice.”…You know the deal; it’s not me, it’s him. But if we learned anything about the former “Captain America,” it’s that there is definitely an ‘I’ in Patrick.”
  • “Armageddon Award. Just after 8 a.m. on Jan. 13, a quiet Saturday in Hawaii was shattered by an emergency message sent to cell phones across the islands: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
  • “It would take 38 minutes for officials to confirm to the public that the message was a false alarm. For those preparing for the third round of the Sony Open, it felt like an eternity…Jordan Spieth said he hid in his bathtub for a few moments before giving up on his “shelter” plan. “I just felt stupid,” he admitted.”
  • “But the award for having the best attitude when faced with the end of the world goes to Charles Howell III, who told reporters, “We sort of looked at one another. Part of you thinks you grab a Mai Tai, go to the beach and grab a front-row seat. Part of you thinks what are you going to do?”
7. GolfTV signs European Tour deal
Sports Pro Media report...”The wide-ranging deal with European Tour includes international multi-platform live rights, in selected territories, to all European Tour events and the next two Ryder Cups, as well as Discovery collaborating to further grow the golf body’s digital platforms. The partnership will bring coverage of the European Tour and Ryder Cup together on GolfTV.”
“From January 2019, Discovery will hold exclusive European Tour linear and digital rights in major markets including Italy, Romania, Russia,and Turkey. Additionally, GolfTV has digital streaming rights in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Portugal, Balkan countries, Eurasia, India, Latin America, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and a number of territories in Asia.”
8. The Ryder Cup is never over
Shane Ryan points out the competition has swelled in scale, as has the hype. Is this a good thing?
  • A morsel…”There are approximately 20 phases to a modern Ryder Cup cycle-scholars disagree on the exact total-and while I won’t bore you by listing them out here, I will say that somewhere around Phase 9 or 10, there is a three-day golf exhibition. The rest of the phases revolve around this event, and they range from aimless speculation to strategy to pre-tournament second-guessing to shock to dread to post-tournament second-guessing to lengthy evaluations to national hand-wringing to dramatic but ultimately feckless reform … and back again.”
  • “The cycle lasts exactly two years, and although the 20-ish phases encompass an impressive and diverse array of existential conditions, there is absolutely no phase called “nothing is happening right now” or “hey, the next Cup is two years away, why are we worried about this?” or “seriously, we’re not talking about the Ryder Cup for at least a month, please leave me alone.” It’s rumored that such a phase existed once, in the fog of history, but in the current golf climate, the Ryder Cup is as ubiquitous as an American election-it’s never over, even when it’s over. Especially when it’s over.”
9. Maybe stagger the announcements, Rolex/PR folks?
(also, earthquake) The below via D.A. Points on Twitter.
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Kevin Kisner reveals the level of hatred former college teammates have for Patrick Reed

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Patrick Reed hasn’t made many new friends recently after he was the fulcrum of the messy fallout after the USA’s heavy defeat in the 2018 Ryder Cup. Reed’s outspokenness at the time didn’t provoke Tour players to voice their personal opinion on the current Masters Champion, but this week Kevin Kisner aired a stark revelation of how the Texan is view by his former college teammates.

Speaking to Golf Digest, Kisner talked about the level of animosity that Reed’s ex-college teammates still have for him, stating

“They all hate him — any guys that were on the team with him (at Georgia) hate him and that’s the same way at Augusta. I don’t know that they’d piss on him if he was on fire, to tell you the truth.”

In a book written in 2016 by author Shane Ryan, it was revealed that there had been cheating and stealing accusations leveled against Reed from his teammates at Georgia while he was playing for the university. Reed denied the claims, though was subsequently removed from the team in 2009.

It’s worth noting that, Kisner, though a graduate of the University of Georgia, did not attend the school at the same time as Reed, and none of Reed’s teammates from his time in college, including Tour pros Brian Harman, Harris English, and Russell Henley would confirm Kisner’s view to Golf Digest.

Kisner’s revelation comes after an anonymous member of the U.S. Ryder Cup side told the New York Times after this year’s team event that Reed “is so full of shit” and that the 28-year-old “has no clue how to play team golf”.

Reed held his tongue following those incendiary remarks, but whether or not he will do the same after Kisner’s statement remains to be seen.

 

 

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Valentino Dixon on his time in prison, his golf art, gratitude, and hope

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Valentino Dixon, who served 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit — and took up golf course-related artwork as a hobby during that time — joined Michael Williams on the 19th Hole podcast.

While the full interview doubtless represents one of the most important and impactful GolfWRX podcasts to date, we wanted to present a few excerpts for the more textually inclined.

On the events that led to him spending 27 years in prison

Valentino Dixon: “This was Buffalo, New York…I grew up in a bad area, a drug infested area, a lot of violence and stuff like that and these guys pull up, they start shooting, they shoot a friend of mines and another friend of mines return fire, ended up killing the guy. Anyway, long story short, when the shots rang out I was inside the deli across the street and I actually ran out afterwards and ran to my car, I pulled off.

“Shortly thereafter I was pulled over and taken into custody and questioned and ultimately charged with shooting three people.”

“I knew that I was going to be cleared or at least I felt I was going to be cleared because there was 80 witnesses. So I said, there’s no way that they’re not going to straighten this out and I’ll be out the next day, but that didn’t happen. Two days after I was arrested, this friend of mines turned himself into police, told them what happened. Actually the physical evidence matched his story, they found the dead guy’s gun on the scene and they disregarded him, told him that they didn’t believe him. Seven witnesses came forward, they disregarded those witnesses.”

“I found myself going to trial ten months later, my lawyer promised the jury that he was going to call these witnesses and introduce this confession and did not do it, and this is all on public record. I had a public defender and the jury found me guilty. I didn’t know that later on the jury foreman went to the judge and asked the judge, “Hey, why his lawyer didn’t call the witnesses he promised us?” The judge told him not to worry about it, to go home and sleep well and the judge never revealed that this happened.”

“It was our local paper that went to the foreman and said, “Hey, what happened during the deliberations?” He said, “Hey, I went to the judge and told him I didn’t feel right about this, that something was wrong here.” Anyway, the judge denies that that even took place. I was given 39 years.”

On getting started doing golf course art

VD: “Right. Well, I was known as the artist in Attica. I spent, out of the 27 years, I spent 25 of those years in Attica. So over the years I had publicity on my case because the local newspaper had came to believe in my innocence, but there wasn’t a judge in Buffalo that would do anything about it. So the warden and the officers in Attica knew that I was innocent of the crime and would always check in on me and look in and see if I was all right and everything like that, but they knew that I drew also. So the warden came to me one day and asked me could I draw his favorite hole, which was Augusta, the 12th hole at Augusta.”

“I’d never golfed before. I mean, I’m from the inner city. So it was like all right, I guess I can do it. I knew nothing about golf. I drew the Augusta 12th hole. He loved it. Other inmates loved it and one of the inmates encouraged me to draw more golf holes. I said, “What are you talking about? What for? That doesn’t even makes sense.” He says, “I love the golf course, I think you should draw more.” He planted the seed.”

“A week later I went around and I got some old golf magazines, Golf Digest magazines, and I start pulling out the pictures that I loved. The guy gave me some really old ones that he had in his cell. So I start pulling out the ones that I liked, the ones that I thought was pretty and then from there I started drawing them. Whenever I put my mind into something, I just go in and really hard. So for months and months, all I did was draw golf courses. Okay. “

“Eventually I started reading the columns out of the Golf Digest magazine and I came across Max Adler’s, called Golf Saved My Life. I kind of put the two together because it was like golf was saving my life because being there was really, really stressful and hard and every day was a challenge. I have friends that committed suicide. I didn’t know if I was going to be the next person that my mind was going to snap.”

On the positive reception his art got in Attica

VD: “Well let me tell you this. Right. Like I said, there’s so many guys … I mean guys that done killed three, four people were stopping at the cell saying, “Wow, I love that golf course.” These are guys that had never golfed before. So I’m saying if these guys love the golf courses that I’m drawing, I can only imagine how golfers would feel, because I mean these guys never golf. Maybe one out of 10 have golfed. You know what I’m saying?”

“So it really gave me the boost, the determination it gave me and inspired me to keep pushing it. I felt like, wow, this is something that you really like doing now because I got satisfaction out of other people looking at my drawings and loving them. This is what motivates me.”

On how he spent his time in prison

VD: “Well the thing is, is this. God was always with me. I prayed a lot. I prayed every day. Okay. And I just stayed positive. I read hundreds and hundreds of self help books, motivational books, anything to fill my mind with positive things and energy so that I wouldn’t become negative or fall into that whole negative thing that you see. I’ve seen a lot of prisoners fall into where they lose hope, they become bitter, angry, upset with the world and all that other stuff. I was determined not to allow that to happen to me. So I had to push my willpower to the max.”

“At the same time, I was drawing up to 10 hours a day. So I was really like, listen, if I got to become the best artist in the world in order to get my freedom, then that’s what I’ll do. And this is why I mean I pushed myself to the limit. I’ve done some golf drawings that were … these are all drawings now, not paintings. I’ve done some drawings that people have never even seen. I got a 60 by 90 drawing.”

On his artistic style

VD: “…I had to develop my own style over a course of I would say 20 years. Just every day I had to learn from error. I didn’t have no teacher, so I had to learn through trial and error of what to do, what not to do, how to blend colors, what worked, what didn’t work, how to layer everything on top of each other. My goal has always been to make the drawings look like a painting.”

“Take the whole paper out of it. So when you look at it, you’d say, “That ain’t done on no paper.” That’s the whole goal there. So I had to put so many colors on top of each other to get that painting effect and then drawings are so much more strenuous than paintings because I know how to paint also. But drawing is so much more strenuous because there’s no shortcuts. You got to sit there for … I might sit there for two hours and just do one little corner because you got to get all the detail in there. You know what I’m saying? So it’s way more work that goes into what I do in regards if I was painting. I mean if I’d had done this stuff in painting, I would have thousands of golf painting.”

On gratitude and his perspective

VD: “I’m a very grateful person. I don’t want to sound too religious or anything like that, but we should always be grateful to the creator for what the things that he’s given us. So I mean, I was in a bad situation. I’m sitting in the cell and I’m looking at the people around me and the people around me is doing 10 times worse than me and I had to be grateful. So that’s how I look at it. We had these little eight inch TVs that we could buy on commissary for like $149. Okay. So, right. Yeah, they would beat us on every level that they could. So I’m watching this TV when I can and I’m looking at the world. I’m looking at what’s going on with people out in society.”

“I hate to say it. I was in the worst prison and I’m in a six by eight cell and I felt like I was more blessed than a lot of people on the outside, but people are really struggling out there and doing really bad. Here it is, God preserved me, he kept me in shape, he kept my mind sane, he gave me this talent, he gave me a loving family.”

“So I had to count all those blessings and say, “You know what? I could really be twisted up in here and messed up. So you know what, don’t be bitter, don’t be angry, don’t complain, don’t cry, count your blessings, push your willpower to the highest level. Just push, push, push, push and be the best artist that you can be in the world.” That was my goal.”

You can find the full podcast here, or click here to listen on iTunes, or here to listen on Spotify.

All images via Valentino Dixon’s website. His golf art is available for purchase here.

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