The last time the PGA Championship was played at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island Rory McIlroy ran away from the competition in capturing his second major title by eight strokes over the nearest competition. One of the players fighting for second place was former Georgia Southern golfer Blake Adams who jumped 18 spots on the final day to finish -5 for the tournament and tied for seventh place. Adams has battled injuries since that impressive finish and is currently the director of player development at Reynolds Plantation
Q: Take me through your thoughts on reflecting back on the 2012 PGA Championship in Kiawah
A: 2012 was shaping up to be a great year and my game was in a good spot heading into The PGA Championship at Kiawah. I was coming off a streak of 9 consecutive cuts made which included pretty good finishes and learning opportunities in big events at both The Players and The US Open. The PGA Championship was my second career major with my first being at The US Open earlier that year. Even though my score didn't indicate how well I played in the final round of The US Open, the experience that I gained from having a chance to win and playing in the second to last group with Ernie Els on Sunday of my first major was immeasurable. This learning experience paid huge dividends at The PGA Championship at Kiawah. The entire week was special because so many close friends and family made the trip to Kiawah along with friends who I hadn't seen since college. This support meant a lot to me throughout the week and it really helped to see familiar faces in the crowd.
Q: Your kids mean so much to you but were so young at the time. Do they remember anything about it ?
A: My son, Jake, was 5 at the time and my daughter, Libby, was 2 years old. We stayed at a friends house just a few minutes from the course which was a huge advantage. Beth and the kids were able to come to and from the course as needed and I was able to avoid traffic and the difficulties associated with big tournaments. I always love when my family comes to tournaments because I am forced to leave the good and the bad at the golf course. In 2012, my kids were too young to know or care what place I was in or my score was on any particular day. Good round or bad, I walked in the door and it was time to be a daddy. Having them on site during The PGA Championship at Kiawah was a huge blessing because I didn't have time (or want) to get distracted with my current standing in the tournament. Evenings were spent at the house together as a family and I don't think we even turned on the TV.
Q: How difficult was the course? You tied for 7th where does that rank on your all-time list of accomplishments?
A: The course was difficult but only because the winds were in full force that week. On the Sunday prior, four of us flew in early to get a head start on our preparation. We played 9 holes with little to no wind and the HIGHEST score out of anyone was 31.
From day one, I felt very comfortable with the course layout and the wind. I have always relied and leaned on my ball striking, course management, tournament prep, etc which is why I am normally successful on tough courses and/or difficult conditions. The PGA Championship at Kiawah was a great test of golf, and I was proud of how I battled the adversities throughout the week. Unfortunately, I fell one agonizing shot short of qualifying for The Masters which made my drive back to Georgia really, really long.
In regard to all-time accomplishments, I would say that my finish at Kiawah was good but not great. It was good because I proved to myself once again that I belonged on the Major stage with the best players in the world and I played Sunday's final and very difficult round in 5 under par and bogey free. It wasn't great because I failed to accomplish my only two goals that week...Win and/or qualify for the Masters. It was also good because I was only 2 shots from 2nd place BUT it definitely wasn't great because I was 10 shots from the winner, Rory!
Q: You played solidly the first 3 rounds but closed with a 67 moving you up 18 spots into a top 10 what was it about that final round that you recall being different.
A: I've always had the ability to stay patient and control my emotions during rounds and that Sunday was no different. I knew that the course and Mother Nature was going to make it a very difficult day but as long as I controlled the things that I could control, my attitude and my effort, then I would be fine. I played solid on that Sunday and finished bogey free which was a great accomplish.
Q: Have you been watching coverage or hearing about the changes as they made the course even longer? What do you think about changes and how will it affect golfers this week?
A: I haven't watched any of the coverage this week due to being busy with my family, but I heard they added some length. If the wind blows like it did in 2012, then the guys will have a tremendous test of golf. If not, I think they will play well despite the added length. The players on Tour right now are extremely talented and they aren't afraid of length, competition or difficult conditions so I expect a phenomenal PGA Championship regardless of whether Mother Nature plays a role or not.
Q: What makes the course so difficult? What kind of golfer do you think the course sets up best for and what do you see being the winning score?
A: To be honest, the difficulty lies in the wind and its direction. In 2012, the wind howled all week there were a ton of cross wind and into the wind shots. One of the toughest holes all week was the long and difficult par 3, #17. The wind was directly in our face every day and the green is guarded by water along the front and right side of this green AND bunkers to the left side of the green. This hole was extremely tough to just make par and I witnessed several players hitting woods off the tee. Somehow, I made birdie on Sunday to a back right pin which to this day, is arguably the loudest roar I have ever heard towards one of my shots.
Q: You have had so many injury setbacks, how are things going currently? Do you hope to play again competitively?
A: Unfortunately, but fortunately, I hit a root with a full 7 iron swing during a tournament and I tore ligaments and broke my left thumb in two places. Unfortunately, this injury put another stop to my injury plagued career which has seen two left hip surgeries in 2013 and 2014 with the last one being total hip replacement. Fortunately, it has allowed me to be home with my wife and kids which has been a huge blessing. I've been a professional golfer for over 20 years, and I averaged 32-34 weeks on the road each year. I've missed a large part of my kids growing up and my marriage. This time away from the road has allowed me to spend time as daddy and husband and I am forever grateful for this opportunity. My left thumb injury has been really slow to heal. I can't lift things of weight or maintain the leverage that is created in my swing which has resulted in not swinging hardly at all. In fact, I have only hit about 75 short wedge shots in the last year and a half and the last 9 holes that I played was immediately after a cortisone shot in July of 2019. God has a funny way of slowing us down and I truly believe that this injury occurred so I could be at home. I rushed back to the PGA Tour following both of my hip surgeries and I honestly, never truly healed. This thumb has been stubborn and there are days when I have issues with the simplest of tasks. The good news as I mentioned, is that I am able to be at home with my family, but it has also opened a door to teaching golf. Shortly after my injury, Reynolds at Lake Oconee asked me to come and serve as Director of Player Development at The Kingdom. I teach players of all abilities but most of my students are elite juniors, serious amateurs, college players, and pros. I've enjoyed shortening learning curves by teaching these individuals things that not only got me to the PGA Tour but kept me out there. I simplify the game for these players and eliminate the noise that often clouds a player's mind. I teach players how to score, practice correctly, course management, metal aspects, etc and we spend a lot of time on-course and on the short game. I've really enjoyed given back to the game and these players who love the game just as much as I do.
Q: Do you hope to play again competitively?
A: My plan is to return to playing professionally but I am going to do it on God's time, not mine. Not that he cares or wants my opinion, but an ideal scenario would be to get healthy, play one more season of limited tournaments on the PGA Tour and then play on the Champions Tour. When I turn 50, my son Jake will be 18 and the plan is for him to caddy for me on Tour. So if your listening God, that would be a lot of fun!
Q: Have you been keeping up with Georgia Southern as they are playing in NCAA regionals?
A: I have and always will follow and keep up with Georgia Southern and the golf team. Coach Collins has done an incredible job once again and the program is in tremendous hands. The players have a ton of talent, and the future is certainly bright for them and the program. I am proud of them and all their accomplishments and will forever be fan and supporter.