By Ken MacLeod
A honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas should be a memorable experience. For Brendon Jelley, it was both a dream and a nightmare rolled into one.
The young professional golfer from Tulsa and his new bride, the former Landon Garcia of Colgate, had a wonderful honeymoon in the Mexican resort last February, right up until the day before departure. That’s when Jelley tested positive for Covid-19 and was barred from traveling back to the United States.
Not only could he not travel, for the next 15 days Jelley was basically under house arrest, confined to his room and his balcony 24 hours a day. For company he had a television with two Spanish language stations, spotty WiFi service, a few podcasts and an occasional conversation with a man several balconies away who was similarly confined. And lots of room service.
Jelley was stunned when he tested positive as he had no symptoms and Landon never tested positive. In the intervening months, however, he has lost both his sense of taste and smell, regained them, only to lose his sense of taste again three weeks ago.
After not having played for a week prior to the honeymoon, he basically went over a month without swinging a golf club, which has led to a slow start this season. His 4-under 66 Wednesday in the first round of the All Pro Tour’s Supreme Lending Classic at The Club at Indian Springs put him in a tie for 11th and gives him confidence that his game is slowly returning to normal.
“It was terrible,” Jelley said. “You couldn’t leave the room at all and they checked on you every hour. I still have nightmares where I wake up and think I’m back in the room at Cabo.”
He began his season by making the cut but finishing 33rd in the APT event in Alexandria, La. Coming into this week, he has made just under $6,000 in six events and has not been near as sharp as he was last summer, when he feels he was playing well enough to advance through the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school. The problem there is it was canceled by the pandemic, throwing an extra year of mini-tour grind into the lives of hundreds of young talents.
His plan now is to begin to pick up momentum this week and hopefully be peaking when the KFT qualifying events begin this fall.
Jelley, a standout at Jenks and Oklahoma State who won the OGA State Amateur Championship in 2014 and 2015, said he is seeing progress each week.
“There’s no way to tell what Covid did to my golf game, if anything,” he said. “But I’m starting to feel more like myself. I’m starting to drive it better, putt it better. I’m hoping to be peaking when the qualifying school starts.”
Told he should not get vaccinated for three months after having had Covid, Jelley got his first shot the day he was eligible. He wants nothing more to do with Covid-19 and its strange side effects. His taste for rooms in Cabo may have disappeared as well.
Notes: Alistair Docherty and Brandon McIver shared the first-round lead with rounds of 6-under 64. Among eight golfers at 5-under is former University of Tulsa golfer Logan McCracken. Jelley is in a group of 11 golfers at 66.
Former Oklahoma golfer Blaine Hale won the Long Drive Contest Monday with a blast of 357 yards off the first tee.
The first and 15th holes are normally par-5s for the members but both are playing as par-4s in the neighborhood of 530 yards for the APT event, changing the par for the tournament from 72 to 70.
Between contributions from the title sponsor Supreme Lending and the Tuesday Pro-Am, the tournament raises a significant donation for Happy Hands Education Center in Tulsa, which benefits children who are deaf, hard of hearing or with communication disorders. Many of the students were at the course Tuesday having a great time.