The GCAA's Interview with NGA Pro Golf Tour Member T.J. Bordeaux
The Golf Coaches Association of America, in cooperation with its long time corporate partner, the NGA Pro Golf Tour, will feature a monthly Q&A with former collegians who are currently playing the NGA Pro Golf Tour. Long considered the premier developmental tour in the United States, thousands of former college players have started their professional careers there. More than 250 NGA Pro Golf Tour alumni have or continue to play on the PGA Tour.
This month we speak with T.J. Bordeaux. The Tacoma, Wash., native joined the NGA Pro Golf Tour after excelling on the links at the University of the Pacific. As a Tiger, Bordeaux was a four-time Big West All-Conference selection and won the Oregon Duck Classic in 2008 and the Pacific Invitational in 2010. He also holds the school record for lowest round (61) and lowest tournament score (198). Bordeaux has continued his success in the NGA TOUR Bridgestone Winter Series by winning at Red Tail in just his ninth professional start.
Q: What was the most difficult transition for you from collegiate golf to the next level?
It was difficult for me coming from the Northwest to the East Coast. The grass was difficult and just being away from home was tough. But being away from your comfort zone forces you to grow up quick and be comfortable being on your own.
Q: What do you feel has best prepared you for this transition and contributed to your success on the NGA Professional Tour?
My college coach at Pacific Brandon Goethals. He played as a professional and prepared me well for the next level. He was 95 percent of the reason I went to Pacific. He taught me what it was to be a professional golfer and how to handle all the ups and downs. That helped me to get better and keep pushing forward.
Q: What is the best piece of golf advice you have been given?
There was a guy at my home course, Ken Still, he played in the Ryder Cup. When I was 8 years old, he told that “if you think, you stink.” I always find myself going back to that saying. I try to get in the zone and get out of my way.
Q: What three people would make up your dream foursome?
[Long-distance runner and 1972 Olympian] Steve Prefontaine, Fred Couples and Michael Jordan.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you offer current collegiate golfers hoping to have professional careers?
You need to get outside of your comfort zone. Get out there on the road and be uncomfortable. If you’re playing one- and two-day events around your hometown, you can get a false sense of confidence. If you’re from the West, come out and play on the NGA TOUR and test yourself; it’s part of the learning process. You need to get uncomfortable as quick as you can so that it eventual becomes comfortable being on the road.
Q: Your first professional victory came in playoff fashion against PGA Tour veteran Danny Ellis and Nationwide Tour veteran Rob Oppenheim. What did this win mean to you and did you take away from this experience?
It was a huge win for me. The biggest thing I learned from it was watching Rob in the final round. He had a go-to shot. There were a lot of holes at Red Tail that don’t fit the eye, but he hit shots he knew he could hit. He made it look easier than I did. After that, I knew I needed a go-to shot. In the playoff, Danny was the same way. He hit the same shot every time in the playoff and I was grinding. I won, but I had to make everything to do it.
Q: What is your most memorable golf moment from your time at the University of the Pacific?
There was 1A and 1B. The first one was shooting a 61 in our home tournament. It was the course record and school record, plus our team won by 20 shots. I won three times in college, but to do it at our home tournament – after all the work coach did to get it there – was unbelievable.
The second was my freshman year. The first time my parents came to see me play, I won. That was special.
Q: Is there a certain moment/event that you feel served as significant turning point for you and your golf career?
I’d say when I made the U.S. Amateur team in 2008. I won in the spring at Oregon, but it wasn’t until I made the U.S. Amateur team that I thought I could do it. My game didn’t change, but I was more confident. And when I won on the Bridgestone Winter Series, I knew that I belonged.
Q: Do you have any superstitions or rituals that you do to prepare for an event?
I use the same ball mark every round that I got at the 2010 U.S. Amateur. I also write “Pre” [Steve Prefontaine’s nickname] on my ball. I doesn’t matter if I’m on the putting green, “Pre” has got to be on my ball.
Q: Outside of golf do you have any activities that you enjoy doing that help you decompress?
I actually love playing basketball. I don’t run around and play it like I used to because I don’t want injuries, but I still play it. I also like to run, hence the Prefontaine connection. I just like being outside. I didn’t grow up with a Playstation, I wanted to be outside.
11. What aspect of your game are you most confident in?
I’m hoping with the work I’ve been doing that it’s going to be my long game, but right now it’s my short game. When I started playing golf, I didn’t understand the game. I would just go play 54 holes and hit it everywhere. If I was under a tree, I could still get up and down. My short game and putting have helped me stay in the hunt a lot of times.