2015 Goals

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chitimacha Louisiana Open Rounds 1-4

Alicia and I have been back in the States for a full seven days now, and they have been quite eventful. We arrived at the Houston airport after a ten-hour redeye flight from Santiago, Chile, last Monday at 6:00 in the morning. We both rested fairly well on the flight, so we hopped in a rental car in Houston and made the three-and-a-half hour drive to Lafayette, Louisiana, to begin preparations for the Chitimacha Louisiana Open. We really enjoyed our three weeks in South America, but it is nice to have some of the comforts of being in the USA--namely our own (rental) car, a full grocery store, Chipotle, Jason's Deli, and Pei Wei. We have taken advantage of all of these "comforts" over the past week. 

During the re-acclimation to the USA, I was very focused on having a great tournament. The golf course for the event, Le Triomph Golf Club, suited my game nicely, and some good practice and preparation had me feeling ready heading into Thursday.

I played just 12 holes on Thursday due to a pair of long weather delays, but I played beautifully. I hit all twelve greens in regulation and stood at three under par when play was suspended for the day. Unfortuately, my final shot Thursday settled into the crotch of a tree in the left rough on the 13th hole, so I knew that my friday morning would start with some adversity. Cold and breezy conditions made Friday morning's conclusion to my opening round slightly uncomfortable, but I did not handle those conditions well at all. After recovering nicely on the 13th hole and making a good bogey from the tree, I never hit another good shot. I ended up with four bogeys over my final six holes of the opening round to post a one-over-par 72. I had no time to shake it off as we marched straight to the 10th tee to begin round two. I hit some quality shots over the first three holes of my second round, but couldn't convert any of the birdie putts. Then, on the difficult par-four 13th hole, I drove my ball into a pond right of the fairway, and my heart sank a little bit. My only option for a drop was just 100 yards in front of the tee box, so I was in a tough spot. I sulked for a minute, but, with Alicia's help, I rallied my positivity. I hit two great shots and rolled in a big putt to save bogey. The wind was picking up, and the relatively easy course was playing tough. Still, I knew I needed to get something going. I birdied hole 16 and then holes two and three as well. I just couldn't keep the momentum going. I missed a good opportunity for birdie at the par-5 fifth hole and then misjudged the wind and watched helplessly as my ball plugged in the face of a front bunker on the par-3 sixth hole. I chopped it out and made a bogey, and I walked to the par-5 seventh hole knowing I needed a good finish to play the weekend. I hit two great shots to reach a greenside bunker and blasted that shot out to four feet, but made a poor stroke and missed the birdie putt. I missed from twenty feet on the par-3 eighth hole, and walked to the ninth tee believing that only a hole-out on the long par-four would get me into the weekend. I hit a great drive and tried to make it with a five iron into the green, but the shot settled some twelve feet behind the hole. I didn't believe that the putt meant a lot, but I gave it my very best effort anyway, and I rolled it right in the middle. I spent the entire afternoon certain that I had missed the cut, but somehow the cutline never moved, and I snuck into the weekend. It was a great feeling! A very up-and-down round of 70 (-1) on Saturday did little to improve my standing, but I played beautifully on Sunday. I would never want an early tee time on Sunday, but this week it worked out well for me. I played the first nine holes in fairly calm conditions and took advantage of that. I made four birdies and an eagle on the front nine to turn at 30, and I shot one under on the back nine as the winds picked up. My final-round 64 (-7) moved me all the way up into a tie for 16th place. It was a great way to finish a roller-coaster of a week!

I have more analysis from last week to share, but right now, I'm going to share one more quick story and go before this turns into a novel. As I walked to the ninth tee to play my 36th hole on Friday, I was fairly certain I would miss the cut, but I told myself that I was playing too well to go home empty handed, so I decided that if I birdied that hole, I would sign up for the Monday Qualifier for the PGA Tour's Houston Open. I did make birdie, so I did sign up. Therefore, I'm in Houston right now getting ready for a 2:03 tee time this afternoon in the Monday Qualifier for the Shell Houston Open. I just shot 64 yesterday; time for another one!

I have more to share and a practice report from last week, but I'll leave you with this image! There is absolutely no reason to celebrate anything yet, but I like being on top, and you can bet that I am motivated to do the work required to stay there!
Thank you for keeping up with me! Sorry for the lack of updates this past week. Keep it here for more news moving forward!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chile Classic Round 2 & Process Goals Update

The joy of a victory is quickly extinguished by the misery of a missed cut. I'm still thrilled with the state of my game and to have emerged from the South American swing of the Web.com Tour schedule with a big win, but my week in Chile was cut short by a poor performance on Friday, and that stinks. I definitely still feel great about things, but I am quite disappointed with missing the cut here at the Chile Classic. 

My play in Thursday's opening round was some of the most solid ball-striking I've ever experienced. I felt totally in control. Had I putted well, I feel like I could have shot a very low score on Thursday. I'm not certain what happened on Friday. I came out and was just a little bit off from the beginning. I still hit the ball quite solidly, but didn't have the same control as I had on Thursday. Additionally, I continued to struggle with my putter. After playing bogey free golf on Thursday, I made five bogeys in Friday's round. The last of my bogeys came on the par-4 15th hole, and it knocked me back to two under par for the tournament. It was fairly clear that the cut-line would be four under par, so I knew what I had to do. I did a nice job of staying in the present and playing one shot at a time, and I actually executed quite well on the last three holes. I hit two good shots on the par-4 16th but my approach bounced some 25 feet past the hole and I two-putted for par. On the long par-3 17th, I stuffed my three hybrid in close to a back hole location and made a birdie. Then, on the watery but reachable par-5 18th, I hit a beautiful drive and a high fading three-wood over the water and onto the green. My ball settled roughly 60 feet behind the front hole location. I felt great over the first putt, but misjudged it and left it four feet short. From there I made a nervy stroke and pushed my birdie putt and it rolled over the right lip. It was extremely disappointing. I practice hard so that I'll be good in that situation, and less than a week ago in Brazil, I was dynamite on those "clutch" type of putts, but this week I didn't handle it well. I watched helplessly as the cut wavered between three and four under par all afternoon. With two groups still on the course, it looked as though I was going to sneak into the weekend, but it wasn't to be. The cut moved to four under with the second to last group of the day and stayed there, so I got this weekend off. And that stinks. 

There are still plenty of positives from this week. I really did hit the ball as well as I ever have on Thursday. It was a nice testament to the hard work I've done over the past several months. In fact, from a statistical standpoint, this was one of my better ball-striking weeks. On a fairly long golf course (7,400 yards, par 71), I hit 17 greens in regulation on Thursday and 13 on Friday. That's pretty good stuff. I wasn't hitting it close very often on Friday, but at least I was hitting it solidly. I won't leave here feeling terrible about my game--just motivated to keep getting better. 

Speaking of getting better, I need to say a few things about my Process Goals. First of all, I really like my Process Goals for this year. I think I have a great system, and I believe that it is working. Secondly, last week in Brazil was the final week of the second five-week segment of the year. During that five-week segment, I faced a week of snow and ice, a week of 30+ miles per hour wind everyday, and two weeks with extensive tournament delays. These factors all combined to create a very challenging environment for completing practice drills and workouts. I did not complete all of my Process Goals during the second five-week segment of the year, but I can honestly say that I put full effort into getting my work done every week. The good habits are still there, and that is very important. With the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer, I'm confident that I will get back on track completing all of my Process Goals moving forward. 

I am off to a good start. I decided early this week in Chile that I needed some rest, so I set out to complete a Light Fitness Routine and Light Practice Schedule. I have completed both, and it feels great. I am particularly pleased with getting my putting drills done. I struggled on the greens this week, but my putting has started to feel much better, so I feel great about that moving forward. 

I am going to make one modification to the Practice Goals within my Process Goals. My Goals currently state that during each five-week segment, I must complete three weeks of Full Practice Schedule and one week of Light Practice Schedule (and one week with No Practice Requirements). As an addition option, it is acceptable to do two weeks of Full Practice Schedule and three weeks of Light Practice Schedule during each five-week segment. Without lightening my total amount of practice, this option gives me more flexibility as my tournament volume increases. 

So that is where I am. It absolutely stinks to miss a cut, and I definitely am feeling a little bit of "down-ness" because of this week's result in Chile, but overall, I'm great. My game is still good. I'm excited about my process. I know that it works. And I can't wait to keep getting after it! I don't have to wait long to get back in action. Alicia and I are on a red-eye flight back to the USA tonight and we will be in Lafayette, Louisiana, by mid-day Monday getting ready for the next week's event on the Web.com Tour. 

There is more great stuff to come! Thank you for following me and for your support! 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Chile Classic Round 1

It is a new week and a new tournament, and I am determined to follow my plan and continue to work towards my goals. I definitely don't want to forget the great feelings from last week or diminish the joy of that accomplishment, but there is much that I still want to accomplish. I need to stay focused on the present. 

After two and a half light and restful days Monday through Wednesday morning, I have done a good job getting back into work mode for this week, and it showed with a solid start to the tournament Thursday afternoon. I did not putt the ball as well as I would have liked to, but I hit it beautifully in round one and posted a bogey-free 68 (-3) to open the tournament. I hit 17 greens in regulation in the first round, and I honestly had reasonable birdie putts on most of them. My putting practice has felt great this week, so I'm confident that I can get it going with the putter. 

My plan this week is to keep doing what I did last week: have fun, play one shot at a time, and trust myself. I'm off to a good start. Come back for a round-two report Friday evening. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Brasil Championship Sunday and Tournament Wrap-up

knew it. The results lately had not matched the feelings I was having in my game, but I could tell that things were starting to click. This past week in Brazil, it all came together. I drove the ball well, my iron play was fantastic, I controlled my wedges beautifully, and, after missing a three-foot putt on the first hole of the tournament, I putted extremely well. It all resulted in a 22-under-par total and a victory by four shots in the Web.com Tour's Brasil Championship! 

The final margin of victory was four shots, but don't let that deceive you. Nothing about the last two days was easy. My second-round 62 gave me the 36-hole lead, but I never led the golf tournament by a comfortable margin until a birdie on the 71st hole pushed my lead to three. The weekend was an absolute blast, but it was stressful the whole time. 

When play was stopped on Saturday, I was on the 13th hole of round three and was tied for the lead at 15 under par. We were back in position at 6:45 a.m. to resume play, and I had an adventurous time finishing my third round. I started the day by birdieing the par-5 13th, but then dropped a shot on 14 after very nearly driving the ball out of bounds. I followed that with one of the best shots of my life when I hit my three hybrid to about ten feet on the long par-3 15th hole. I converted that birdie putt and went on to birdie the next two holes as well. I stood confidently on the 18th tee but missed the fairway wide right with a three wood and ended up finishing my round with a disappointing bogey. Still, it was a third-round 68 (-3), and it sent me to the final round tied for the lead. 

The tournament committee decided to re-group us for the final round, so after finishing my third round at 8:20, I had just more than two hours to think about things before my round-four tee time. I did a good job not thinking too much during that time, and I had a great warm up before heading to the tee to begin the final round. I actually was feeling very good on the tee, but my opening tee shot told a different story. I was simply hitting a little three hybrid up the fairway of the short first hole, but I pulled it badly into a bamboo forest and nearly out of bounds. I actually executed my next three shots really well, but my par putt lipped out, and my final round began with a lousy bogey. I told my trusty caddie (Alicia) that I was determined to stay relaxed, have fun, and play one shot at a time. After a par on number two, I made a nice putt for birdie on the par-5 third, and that got me rolling. I birdied holes three through six. I pulled a five iron into a bunker on the par-3 seventh and dropped a shot, but I made a great putt for birdie on the par-3 ninth to make the turn at three under par for the day. At that time, I didn't know how I stood in the tournament, but I knew that I had to keep my foot on the gas. I made frustratingly routine pars on holes ten and 11 and then a good par on the 12th hole after hitting the wrong club into a back bunker. On the par-5 13th hole, I drove it in the fairway, laid up to a perfect yardage, and then hit a sand wedge from 95 yards to one foot for a tap-in birdie. It was a great feeling to play that hole so well. Unfortunately, I made two of my poorest swings of the tournament on the next two holes. A pulled drive on the 14th and a pushed three-hybrid on the 15th both led to bogeys and an increased stress level. I mustered all the composure I had on the 16th tee and striped a three wood down the fairway to a nice wedge yardage on the short par four. From 111 yards, I hit a gap wedge to about eight feel below the hole. For the first time since early in the round, I snuck a peak at the scoreboard as I approached the green. I was tied for the lead at 19 under par. I told myself to stay committed to the one-shot-at-a-time approach, and I (somewhat) calmly rolled in the birdie putt. On the par-5 17th, I over-cut my tee shot just into a right fairway bunker. From their, the decision to lay up was an easy one, and I hit a great iron shot out of the bunker. I left myself 87 yards to a back hole location. I decided to play a little bit conservatively and take long out of play. I hit a lob wedge right at the hole but left it some 15 feel short. Before it was my turn to putt, I again checked the scoreboard. My nearest competitor had bogied the 18th hole.  I knew better than to let myself relax at all. I went through my routine thoroughly, and I hit a great putt. I made it, and I walked to the 18th tee with a three shot lead. I told Alicia at least three more times that I wanted to continue playing one shot at a time on the final hole. I striped a tee shot, and with water looming short and right on the approach shot, I played a perfect nine iron off a slope to the left of the hole and gave myself a six foot putt for birdie. I rolled it right in the middle for a final-round 66 (-5) and a four-shot margin of victory. 

It was thrilling! It was fun! It was stressful! But I handled it all with composure, and my game held up incredibly well through all of it. I am very pleased with the work that I have put into my golf game throughout my career, but I feel particularly proud of the commitment I made this offseason, and it is very rewarding to see that paying off already. I still feel like I have a long way to go, but this is one heck of a giant step in the right direction!

So, what does this victory mean? It takes care of one of my Outcome Goals for the year (Win a Web.com Tour event), and, because the Brasil Championship is the largest purse of the year on this tour, it darn near wraps up my number one Outcome Goal for this year (Earn my PGA Tour Card for the 2015-2016 season). More importantly, it means that my hard work is working and my game is good. It also means that I am one third of the way to the last of my three Outcome Goals for year (Win Three events on the Web.com Tour to earn a mid-year promotion to the PGA Tour). One thing I definitely learned this weekend is that winning is not easy, but I also learned that I am good enough to do it. This win means a lot of things to me, and I am definitely going to soak it in and enjoy it, but I am already motivated to keep getting better so I can do it again and again and again! 

What a thrill this is! Thank you for believing in me and sticking with me through some struggles over that past year and a half. Golf will always have ups and downs, but I am definitely trending in the right direction right now. Keep it here to enjoy the ride with me!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Brasil Championship Saturday

I don't have time to write much of a post because I have to get up very very early to go finish the third round. Saturday was a great day, though. After birdieing four of my first five holes in the second round on Friday, I played the final 13 holes of round two on Saturday morning. I played some of the best golf I have ever played and ended up carding a bogey-free, nine-under-par round of 62. I also played the first 13 holes of round three in the afternoon. I hit some squirrelly shots early in the round, but have really settled down nicely and have been striking the ball beautifully since the fifth hole. I don't have a lot to show for it, but I just birdied the par-3 12th hole to get to one under par for the round before play was suspended for the day. We are scheduled to re-start at 6:45 a.m., so I need to get to bed! I'm really excited about the way I'm playing and to be in contention. I am going to keep having fun and playing one shot at a time tomorrow! Come back for a report sometime soon. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Brasil Championship Friday

Friday was interesting at the Brasil Championship. The threat of rain and storms existed all day, but I arrived at the course more than three hours before my 12:30 tee time, and the weather was beautiful for a morning practice session. I practiced well and then had an early lunch before beginning my normal pre-round warm-up routine. I was feeling great, but thirty minutes before my tee time, thunder rumbled and play was suspended. After an hour inside, we were sent back out and I began warming up again only to be called back in twenty minutes later. After another hour inside, we went back out and I had my third warm up of the day. I should have been thoroughly prepared, but my opening two shots of the day suggested otherwise. I missed the fairway at the short opening hole well right and then left my approach shot short of the green in a bunker. I hit a great bunker shot and tapped in for par, and as I walked to the second tee, I reminded myself how great my game has been feeling and committed to playing one shot at a time. I proceeded to hit some great shots and birdie my next four holes. I hit two more really nice shots on the par-four sixth hole, but play was once again suspended for dangerous weather as I approached the green. We weren't able to get back out on the course, so I will begin my Saturday morning on the back fringe of the sixth hole with a 20-foot chip for birdie. I definitely have some great momentum going, but more importantly, I am just feeling good about my game. I'm going to keep playing one shot at a time and keep having fun. If things go well, I will play 30.5 holes tomorrow, and I am looking forward to every one of them! Keep it here for a good Saturday report, and thank you for following me!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Brasil Championship Round 1

Obviously, I'm coming off a disappointing performance last weekend in Colombia. I did a great job of putting that behind me, and three nice days of preparation had me feeling ready for this week's tournament in Brazil. Still, on my first hole of the tournament on Thursday morning, I had to shake off some demons. After playing my final 46 holes in Colombia in 22 over par, I missed a short putt on my opening hole and began the Brasil Championship with a bogey. Momentarily, I panicked, but during the walk to the 11th tee (my second hole), I remembered how great my game has been feeling and once again resolved to play one shot at a time. The results were beautiful. I trusted myself and executed very well the rest of the day. Of course I hit a poor shot here and there, but for the most part, I was very good. After the bogey on my first hole, I made six birdies and no bogeys for an opening-roud 66 (-5). It felt good and was a testament to the fact that my mind and my game are at least very close to nice tournament form. 

After my round, I had another great practice session, and I am really feeling good about things. I tee it up at 12:30 in Friday's round, and I am confident that I will execute well. I'm going to play one shot at a time and trust myself on all of them! Come back for a report in the evening. Thank you for following me and for your support!