Colt Ford takes another crack at the PGA Tour Champions — this time at TimberTech Championship

Among the 81 professional golfers in this week’s TimberTech Championship is a guy who can whip out a guitar and croon some awesome country ballads.

We’re not talking about John Daly, either.

Colt Ford can outperform Daly on a stage as much as Daly can outdrive Ford on the golf course. Ford, who in his previous life was a professional golfer named Jason Brown, played briefly on the now-named Korn Ferry Tour and other mini-tours in the 1990s and taught golf before turning his interest to country music.

Ford was given a sponsor exemption into this week’s PGA Tour Champions event at Broken Sound Club. Not only will Ford be playing in both pro-ams, he will be matching scorecards with the likes of Hall of Famers Bernhard Langer and Ernie Els – and Daly – in the 54-hole tournament that runs Friday through Sunday.

Ford also received a sponsor exemption into last month’s Sanford International in South Dakota – both tournaments are run by Pro Links Sports — where he broke 80 all three rounds but finished last in the field by a shot.

“I’m super excited to get another start out here,” Ford said Monday before getting a lesson from PGA Professional Mike Malizia at Banyan Creek Golf Club in Palm City.

“I did it (played professional golf) for a long time in the past, but that was a long time ago. While I have been playing music, those guys have been playing golf every day.”

The 51-year-old Ford has done well with his career mulligan. He has sold 3 million albums and co-wrote one of the biggest-selling country music songs of all time, “Dirt Road Anthem.”

He knows the difference between making birdies and hit songs is like night and day.

“In golf, it’s time to get up when most musicians are going to bed,” Ford said, smiling. “Guys are getting up to hit balls when the party is just winding down.”

You could write a country song on Ford’s life. He played college golf at Georgia and turned professional afterward. Known as “JB,” he won a couple of mini-tour events, but after getting married and having a child, he knew he needed more financial security.

Actor Andy Garcia celebrates his chip with Colt Ford to give his team the win on the 18th hole during the 3M Celebrity Challenge at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on February 06, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Ford turned back to his second love – music – and reinvented his image. He knew Jason Brown wasn’t going to move the needle, so his wife suggested Colt … Ford?

“I thought, ‘perfect,’ ” Ford said. “What sounds more American than that?”

Malizia has known Brown, er, Ford, since they were playing junior golf together at 12. Malizia said Ford was always a good ball-striker who also could sing.

“He was always performing and rapping,” Malizia said. “He was good, but a lot of people weren’t into country music back then. Once country music became mainstream, his career took off.”

Ford shot rounds of 74-78-72 at the Sanford International, finishing just a shot behind Gary Nicklaus. Ford failed to accomplish his overall goal of not finishing last, but he beat several players in the first and third rounds.

“I was really nervous, and it didn’t help it was 52 degrees and raining,” Ford said. “I learned my good is just as good as their good. But my bad is not as good as their bad.”

Ford plays in celebrity events such as the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Diamond Resorts International and the American Century Championship. He once won $100,000 for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital in a closest-to-the-pin contest at Pebble Beach.

Ford realizes he needs to work on the mental side if he wants to play well in his second try at competing. “I just have to make better decisions,” he says. “You don’t aim at every pin out here. Just because you can hit a shot doesn’t mean you should hit a shot.”

Malizia got a call from Ford three years ago to start working with the entertainer’s game. Malizia said he wants Ford to act more like a singer on the golf course.

“When he’s performing on stage, he’s not thinking about what he’s doing,” Malizia said. “He’s focusing and reacting to the crowd. That’s what he needs to do in golf. Get out of the left (analytical) side of the brain and just compete.”

Ford would rather be performing with a mic in his hand than a golf club, but the coronavirus pandemic has all but shut down the music industry (there will be no spectators this week on The Old Course). Ford said he normally plays 130-plus shows a year, but managed just 40 this year.

“I’ve done more shows than anyone, but it’s not enough,” he said. “My band and my crew, my bus driver, this is not a hobby. This is what we do for a living. Playing golf has helped with my mental state of mind. I don’t take it lightly getting a chance to play with these guys.”

Ford said some of his old golfing friends such as Chris DiMarco and Jim Furyk might call him “JB” this week, but they probably won’t get much of a response. He’s not being a big shot.

“I’m just not in that frame of mind,” he said. “Besides, Colt Ford sounds a lot cooler than Jason Brown.”


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