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Joel Dahmen was in a slump. Missing the cut in six of seven tournaments at the start of the calendar year, the University of Washington product had slipped out of the 125 on the FedEx Cup standings for the first time in years.
He needed something to help kick him from his funk. Something to completely clear his mind and make him forget about the PGA Tour grind.
He needed … Vegas, baby.
Rather than playing in the Honda Classic, Dahmen went to meet some buddies in Sin City for a long-planned bachelor party. The result was favorable — Dahmen returned to action in the Dominican Republic and captured his first PGA Tour title at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.
“We went to Vegas for two nights last weekend and reset the system, had plenty of fun. We played golf, we played at TPC Summerlin and we played at Shadow Creek. We had a blast,” Dahmen said on Wednesday in advance of this week’s Valero Texas Open. “I actually played really well on Saturday at Shadow Creek and I was kind of chirping at the guys, this is the day it’s going to turn around for me, kind of jokingly through a couple cocktails maybe, but I really did believe it was going to turn around.
“Getting away from the game for a couple days, like really getting away from it. I didn’t follow any of the Honda. Normally, I watch golf on Sundays. I watched Matt Jones, I know — huge win for him after a long time. But I just was totally checked out from the whole thing, so when I showed up in Puntacana on Monday, it was kind of a fresh start for me.”
Dahmen, one of the more affable players on Tour, finally got that elusive first victory by virtue of some scintillating play amid the island breezes. And while some players come on Tour and find instant success, Dahmen said that’s not the norm for most professional golfers, many who toil as he has for years, hoping to finally find their way into the winner’s circle.
“Most people see Viktor Hovland and (Collin) Morikawa and (Matthew) Wolff and these young guys come right out of college and they win right away and they’re top 20 in the world and winning majors,” Dahmen said. “That’s not reality. The reality is you’re going to go through mini-tours for a little bit. I was fortunate enough to play the PGA Tour Canada, actually was up there for five years. The first couple years I was just kind of a kid dinking around, and then for the Korn Ferry Tour for two years, played out there.
“You learn to travel, you learn to do all these things so when you are out here, it’s not as big a shock and that helps a lot, too.”
Joel Dahmen poses with the trophy after winning the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship on March 28, 2021 in Punta Cana. (Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
This week, he comes into the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio’s Oak Course with renewed vigor, on a track he thinks he can score on.
Dahmen hasn’t enjoyed much success at this venue — in fact, his final round in 2019 was an 80 as he dropped to 69th place — but he does believe it could be the perfect spot for another high finish.
“On paper, this course sets up pretty well for me. I think as far as the metrics of it and all the data, it says I should be able to play well here,” he said. “I’m not a long hitter, so obviously that’s a big advantage to hit the ball far. But you have to place it around these greens, and the wind typically blows so you have to control your golf ball as well.
“I don’t know how hard it’s supposed to blow this week, but obviously it blew really hard last week and (Wednesday) in the pro-am it blew. It’s blowing just as hard, it’s blowing 25 plus out there. Maybe that will kind of help me playing windy conditions last week.”