Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Travel Report: 2011 LAPT Punta del Este, Pregame

Andes Mountains, ChileAm presently sitting in the airport in Santiago, Chile, having hopped on the Starbucks wireless here. My buds Brad and Mickey are similarly behind their laptops, reconnecting with the rest of the world. We have a lengthy layover here prior to our final flight to Montevideo, Uruguay. So a little coffee and catching up before proceeding onward.

The flights down were fine. We were just now joking about seat draws, and it sounds like we all managed to do pretty well, avoiding the loose-aggressive and/or unpredictable types that can make flights less than comfortable.

On the way to Dallas-Fort Worth I was next to a young woman who spent much of the flight enjoying The Hangover on her portable DVD player. Seemed a reasonable segue from my most recent flight home from Vegas.

Then on the long trip down to Chile I was seated to the left of a young Argentinian golfer who was returning from a junior tourney in Houston where he apparently crushed, finishing second out of a field of 150-plus (by one stroke!).

Thankfully he had enough English to make up for my lack of Spanish, and so we chatted about his plans to start attending a U.S. university a year from now on scholarship, then become a tour pro. I told him how I was a teacher, and had golfers in my classes. Or rather, had golfers miss my classes, as they were often away at events.

I also told him what I was up to, telling him about the tourney and how I wasn’t playing but reporting. “Texas hold’em?” he asked, and I nodded as he described how he sometimes played with friends.

Watched the Paul Giamatti flick Win Win, which had a few decent moments but seemed to struggle with the ending. Managed to get some decent sleep after that -- unusual for me when flying -- and was awake and alert by the time we saw the glaring reflection of the sun on the snow-capped Andes mountains of Chile.

Before we parted, I got my neighbor’s name and wished him luck, and he told me to keep an eye out for him on the PGA tour in a couple of years. His story -- and self-assurance -- kind of recalled the young phenom wrestler in Win Win. As we’ll no doubt see this week at the tournament, confidence can go a long way.

Meanwhile, I’m reasonably confident the last leg of our trip will go well. If so, we’ll be checking into our rooms in Punta del Este, then hitting the LAPT party later on tonight at the Nogaro Casino. Tourney begins tomorrow (Thursday) at noon. LAPT Punta del Este drew 307 players the last time around (back in early 2010), when Jose “Nacho” Barbero won the first of his back-to-back LAPT titles, the second coming in Lima that summer.

Gonna finish this coffee now and maybe snap a picture or three during my last hour or two in Chile. Where it is chilly. Might need to pull out one of those long-sleeved shirts I packed.

Funny how they schedule winter in the middle of summer down here.

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