Nocatee’s Jared Wolfe will return to his day job this weekend at the Korn Ferry Challenge at Pete Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass. The Korn Ferry Tour event marks the first time since the PGA TOUR, along with its support tours, stopped play following the first round of THE PLAYERS on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wolfe is sixth in points with a victory at the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic last January, as well as three career wins on the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica. Wolfe talked about getting back on the golf course and his plans for the rest of the year ahead of Thursday’s first round.
As told to Don Coble.
How eager are you to get back to playing competitive golf again?
I’m ready to go. I feel like you use every cliché or phrase to describe how it feels. I’m ready to get going. I’ve been playing the course the last few days and seeing how good of shape it’s in, so I’m really ready to go.
How is the course set up? It the rough up, which really makes hitting fairways so important?
The fairway is going to be a premium. The rough’s going to be up. I played it in the morning basically every time. That rough gets wet. It’s pretty hard to get that club through there.
What have you been doing the last three months while the Forn Ferry Tour shut down?
I’ve been practicing a couple days a week. I’ve also been doing a lot of medical sales with a friend of mine, a couple friends of mine. They own a company in Jacksonville. About six or eight of us, golfers and caddies in the area, have gone to the Augusta and Warner Robins (both in Georgia) area and distributed these tests. They test for COVID-19, but they also test for any infectious disease. It was kind of fun.
How did that all come about?
These two guys came to us. I’ve known them for awhile and they heard the news all the Tours were shut down, so I got a call the next day. They wanted me to find five or six guys I’d think would want to do this three days a week and make a little money. It helped out other people as well. I got two guys from the Korn Ferry Tour – Danny Walker and Thomas Walsh – and Colin Monagle from Jacksonville, he’s playing on the Latin America Tour and Johnny Watts on the Latin America Tour and my caddie, Stewart Gibson, he did it as well. We had a blast doing it.
Did working a job make you appreciate your day job on the golf course?
It did. We would play some golf around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. At 3:30 I’d be ready to go play some golf. I understand why people who don’t play golf for a living want to play golf when they’re not at their day job. I get it now. It makes sense to me.
How did you work on your golf game during the layoff? Did you spend more time on the course or on the driving range?
A mix of both, whatever was available to me. If all I have is a driving range, I put my mind on ‘OK what can we do with this hour-and-a-half?’ Sometimes I just played nine holes. I just wanted to get something out of it. We’d work on being competitive, get a little game going with the guys for dinner. I’m not really a big range guy unless something’s not working well. When things are going well, I like to go play.
This is a very ambitious field for the Korn Ferry Challenge with a lot of PGA TOUR regulars and former TOUR winners. What’s your attitude toward them playing on your Tour?
I think it’s awesome. As far as being able to play in competition, fortunately I’ve been able to play against some of these guys, FedEx winners and Hall of Famers, at TPC anyway. To be able to play a four-day event with hopes of being able to play against them anyway (on the PGA TOUR) in 2022, it will be fun. We’re ready to get back. I’m sure you’ll see some rust from a lot of players.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to win the tournament, but do you have something in mind you’d like to accomplish this week at TPC Sawgrass?
I’m in a position where I’ve already won once this year. The way I’m looking at it, there’s maybe 40 more events (this year and next) to possibly win two more times and get the battlefield promotion (to the PGA TOUR). That’s my mindset for the rest of the year. Top 10s are always good, but you want to win. I don’t think anyone would be upset with a Top 10 or a Top 5. I’m looking for a few more wins.