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Q&A with OMEGA Player of the Year Rufus Brijalba

November 1st, 2018

Q: What was the difference-maker in your game that kept you playing at a high level all season?
There was definitely a difference in the putter. I have been struggling with my grip for some time now, and finally studied someone I enjoy watching roll the ball on tour, Rickie Fowler. I have been trying for so long to have the perfect grip, and after looking at his I realized I was overthinking it and just needed to feel comfortable. Then the confidence came back and I stopped caring if I missed a putt or made it. All I focused on was making sure I had the intention on making the putt and pulled the trigger when I was ready.

Q: Following the Effex Management Texas Team Championship, you had your third straight runner-up finish before you won at the Tradition Championship. Were you beginning to wonder what you had to do to get to first?
I really didn’t, I knew it would happen at some point, even if it was next season or the following. Patience is something I never really had much of in the years past. I think growing in the business of golf and taking on more responsibility at my club has taught me that golf is a privilege and should be enjoyed. Sure I get frustrated on the course, but it doesn’t last long and I try not to let it affect how I think. One shot at a time and see what happens.

Q: What was the best shot you hit all season during a STPGA tournament?
It was on Hole 12, the par-5, at Riverbend Country Club. My tee shot was down the middle but into the wind. It left me a 4-iron in. To go for the green I had to hit a high draw over a tree and over water, off of a downhill lie. I had been working on shallowing out my swing for a few months now, and needed to trust it to get the ball up quickly. I committed to the shot and hit it to 15 feet, then made the eagle putt. This is when I knew my swing had finally changed enough for me to trust, and so I became more comfortable as the round went on.

Q: What does it mean to be crowned as OMEGA Player of the Year?
A: This is a huge deal for me and a complete surprise. I am extremely grateful to be able to accept such an award and look forward to playing in a PGA Tour event next season, as it has been a lifelong dream to play in any Tour event. When I got into the golf business four years ago, I didn’t realize the opportunities that would lie ahead. I have made some incredible friends and learned so much, all while doing something I enjoy every day. Its great to be a part of the Southern Texas PGA Section. I enjoy the competition, the tournaments, and interacting with the sponsors. The Section has a family atmosphere with the way fellow golf professionals take care of each other when given the opportunity. I owe a lot to golf and will use awards like these to help grow the game.

Q: What are you going to work on with your game this winter to ensure it stays sharp so you can keep up the high level of play in 2019?
A: Getting in better shape and chipping/pitching the ball. I’m getting better, but still put pressure on my iron play sometimes so I don’t miss the green and have to chip. If I can pitch the ball better I think it will free me up to swing at my target more often with the irons and not bail out and just hit the green.

Q: If there’s one piece of advice you could give to other Section Professionals trying to contend more in tournaments, what would it be?
Most of the guys in the top 20 are great players inside 100 yards. I see guys warming up absolutely striping the ball, yet shoot 78+ on the round. Since we don’t have a lot of time to practice, chipping and putting are what we need to spend time on, not the practice tee. Coach Fields, Head Coach at the University of Texas, told me last season that all he asks of his players is to make 30 putts from 4 feet every day and he is satisfied. This is what I try to do now, and it really reminds me how to set up to the ball consistently more than anything else.

Q: What are your goals for 2019 in competitive events?
To be a class “A” before next years STPGA Championship and Texas Joe Black Cup Matches. I enjoy meeting new professionals in the Section, traveling to Houston to play in events, have dinner with friends, and talking golf and business. I’m excited for the career that is in front of me and am grateful to the PGA and STPGA for the opportunities to make a living in this industry. If I can get away from the club for two days at a time and tee it up with my fellow professionals, life is good and I’m happy.