Sunday, July 16, 2017

Catching Up on a Positive Last Month

I've been too busy playing golf tournaments and working on my game to update my blog! That's really not true, but I have been keeping myself busy. I've played the last four weeks, and I am making some great progress. In the last four weeks I have:

1.) Made it to Saturday at the Traveler's Championship in Hartford, CT. I played poorly on Friday and then struggled again on Saturday, and I missed the secondary cut, but I played a nice round on Friday to make it to the weekend at one of my very favorite events on Tour.

2.) Put together a fantastic effort on a demanding course at the Quicken Loans National just outside Washington D.C. I began the tournament with a triple bogey on my second hole (the 11th) and proceeded to play the 11th hole in seven over par for the week. A great round on Friday had me in the middle of the pack heading into the weekend and despite a cold putter and a few big mistakes, I played hard over the weekend and finished T38th.

3.) Posted four rounds in the 60's (69, 69, 68, 69) at the Greenbrier to finish T29th at the Greenbrier Classic. I hit the ball beautifully for most of the week in West Virginia, and was very close to having a great finish there.

4.) Overcame a double-bogey, bogey, bogey start on Thursday at the John Deere Classic to post four rounds of par or better and a nine-under-par total to finish T44th.

My play is really starting to come around. All areas of my game have shown promise over the last month, and I really feel close to putting it all together.

I'm going to keep playing. I will tee it up next week in Opelika, Alabama, for the Barbasol Championship. I've got some good energy going right now, and I'm excited to keep working and keep playing. There are only four tournaments left this season for which I am currently eligible, but I can make a late-season push and qualify for the Fed-Ex Cup Playoffs. It will take some great play over the next five weeks, but I'm ready for some greatness.

Mostly, I'm just going to keep working hard, keep being the best that I can be, keep having fun, and keep loving life. I'm excited to get after it! Thank you for following me and for your support. Keep it here to enjoy the journey with me!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Close Calls and More Progress

I'm playing good golf, and it's really fun! I haven't been able to put enough consistently good play together yet to have a good tournament result, but I'm thrilled with the progress that I am seeing.

After spending the two previous weeks at home working on my game, I had a busy week last week. I played U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying on Monday. 36 holes in Memphis in June can be a draining task, but I relish the physical challenge of it. I felt good heading into the qualifier, and I really played beautifully. For the day, I made nine birdies and three bogeys to post a pair of 68's and a 136 (-6) total. Unfortunately, the last few spots were decided in a playoff at -7 total, so I missed out on a chance to play in this year's U.S. Open by the narrowest of margins.

I know better than to live in the past, but just to emphasize how well I played, I truly have just three regrets from the qualifier. On my 11th hole of the day, I hit two perfect shots on a dangerous par-five and then misjudged a chip and had to settle for par despite being just in front of the green and only 30 feet from the hole in two. Then, on my 27th hole of the qualifier, I again found myself just in front of the green in two on a par five. I hit a nice pitch, but didn't trust my instincts on the read of the putt. I second-guessed myself and missed from five or six feet. I can be completely at peace missing a putt of that distance, but it bugs me that I missed because I over-thought it. Lastly, I got greedy with a wedge shot from the rough on my 32nd hole of the qualifier. I had 130 yards to a front pin from a wispy lie in the first cut of rough. I felt like a pitching wedge would jump a little bit and probably go past the hole, so I tried to hit a hard gap wedge and knock it close. The ball didn't jump at all and I was left with a tough pitch from short of the green to the front pin and made a bogey. With these three exceptions, I was proud of how I played all day at the U.S. Open Qualifier. My putter was a little cold, but I was still in it until the very end, and that feels good.

I was definitely bummed to have nothing tangible to show for my efforts on Monday, but I was confident in the way I was playing. I moved on from the qualifier and turned my attention to one of my favorite events on Tour, the FedEx St. Jude Classic. I restfully prepared for the tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday, and when my early tee time rolled around on Thursday, I felt ready for it.

Then I made a double-bogey six on the first hole of the tournament. I was slightly rattled, but also felt strangely calm and confident. I proceeded to play 17 of my best holes of tournament golf. I drove the ball beautifully, hit some great iron shots, and made a couple of good putts. I turned my double-bogey start into a three-under-par round of 67. It was great!

I still felt just as good when I came out to play on Friday afternoon, but my execution was just a little loose. I narrowly missed the first three fairways, and found myself battling early. I hit a poor iron into the water on the par-three fourth and then watched in disappointment as a good iron shot rolled into a tough spot over the back of the green on the long par-four fifth hole. I made bogey on three of the first five holes but really felt like I had only hit one poor shot. I was still feeling good, but things only got harder for me. After a couple more bogeys, I found myself standing on the 15th tee needing to play well on the last four holes. I responded with my only very poor drive of the week as I toe-hooked a three wood into a creek well left of the fairway. I made a good bogey from there. I felt a strange combination of things walking off that green. I was rattled, disappointed, and worried; yet somehow I felt some calm in there, too. I proceeded to hit two nearly perfect shots into a green-side bunker on the par-five 16th. I hit a great bunker shot to five feet and nervously rolled in the putt. I hit two great shots on the long par-four 17th and lipped out my 15-foot birdie putt. I walked to the 18th hole not knowing if a par would be good enough to make the weekend. I was nervous on the tee and I pushed my drive way to the right (away from the pond on the left around which the fairway bends). I ended with a good lie, but I was 206 yards from the hole. I had a little helping wind and a lot of nervous energy, so I grabbed my five iron and hit a great shot. It landed on the front of the green and released to end up just 12 feet right of the hole. I felt strangely in the zone over the putt and rolled it in for a closing birdie. That felt really good!

I didn't parlay that great finish into a big weekend performance. I actually shot a lousy score on Saturday and ended up missing the Saturday cut. (If more than 78 players make the cut, an additional Saturday cut is used to limit the field so that the tournament can finish within the TV window on Sunday.) I still get credit for a made cut, but it feels yucky to not have the chance to move up on Sunday.

So, again, I am not leaving Memphis with the results that I am looking for, but I feel so great. In small spurts, I'm playing the kind of golf that I feel prepared to play consistently. I'm really excited. I will keep working on things, and I'm going to start playing well consistently.

I have this week off while my peers go battle it out for that U.S. Open trophy. That's okay with me; I'll be there soon! I'm going to work hard and prepare for a fun stretch of events ahead. Great stuff is coming. Keep it here to enjoy the journey with me!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Visible Progress

I’ve been making a lot of invisible progress lately. By that, I mean that my scores have been consistently rather stinky, but beneath that, I have felt subtle improvements growing. At last week’s Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas, I made some visible progress. The end result of the tournament was still pretty stinky, but I did get to play four rounds, and I’m excited by some of the steps forward that I took.

The visible progress was in the form of a first-round 67 (-3). I played late in the day and the winds were incredibly challenging on Thursday afternoon. I birdied the first hole of the tournament, and though the blustery winds wreaked havoc, I dropped just one shot on Thursday. I executed beautifully all day and rolled in some nice putts on my back nine to shoot three under. There was one score of 66 posted in the afternoon wave, but my round on Thursday was the next best of those who played in the afternoon.

I wasn’t done with my signs of visible progress. I came out Friday morning and got my putter heated up. Starting on number ten, I made a great putt of eight or nine feet to save par after a sloppy opening approach shot. I then proceeded to take advantage of some beautiful ball-striking by holing birdie putts of 10, 8, and 20 feet on the next three holes. After a couple of solid pars on holes 14 and 15, I executed three good shots on the par-five 16th hole and rolled in a seven footer for another birdie. Through 25 holes of the tournament I was -7 and in first place by myself!

Okay, reality check time. I finished the tournament at +4 for 72 holes and in a tie for 61st place, so obviously, a lot of that stinky stuff came out over the last 47 holes. I’m really not sure why. I had some nervousness playing in one of the later groups on Saturday, but I have often thrived on that kind of nervous energy in the past, so I don’t think that was the problem. A wickedly cold putter on the weekend was certainly a big part of the reason for the disappointing performance, but I really don’t know why that happened either. At the end of the day, I don’t think I can explain why I went from so good to so bad last week, but, fortunately, it doesn’t need to be explained.

I’m super excited and encouraged by the visible progress I made last week. It only lasted 25 holes, but it was (is) there. I’m going to embrace that, and I’m going to keep working hard to improve my game so that I can perform at a great level more consistently.

I entered last week with a renewed focus to become the best player in the world from 150 yards and in, and I shaped my preparation accordingly. That is going to be a point of emphasis for me moving forward. I will continue to nurture and develop my long game, but the majority of my practice will involve putting, short game, wedge-play, and short irons. I want to be the best player in the world in these areas, and that goal is attainable.

I now have a two-week break to work on my game and make more progress. The next time I tee it up will be for U.S. Open Qualifying on June 5. Between now and then, I’m going to celebrate the visible progress I saw this past week in Dallas and also work really hard to keep improving.


I am excited, and I am having fun. Despite the poor results that have stretched on for quite some time now, I feel that I am in a great spot. I can never say for sure when, but I feel like great things are just ahead. Thank you for following me, and keep it here for a practice report sometime in the next couple weeks.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New Belief

Results-wise, I still don't have anything good to report. After two more tournaments--the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina and The Player's Championship in Florida--I still haven't gotten things to click in competition. I actually did a lot of positive things both weeks, but didn't have the consistency to post good scores. I ended up missing both cuts.

I know this is sounding like the same song on repeat, but I actually do believe that I am close to playing well. Conditions were challenging in North Carolina, and I posted a two-day total of five over par. In a ten-hole stretch on Thursday, I was +7. That means for the other 26 holes on Thursday and Friday, I was two under. That is significant because the leader was only -6 through two rounds in North Carolina. Clearly, I need to play better and clean up that sloppy stretch, but this shows that there is good stuff in there.

In The Player's Championship, I had a similar positive experience despite the disappointing result. I began the tournament with a one-under-par back nine on Thursday, and after a solid par on the first hole and a perfect drive down the reachable par-five second hole, I really felt like I was going to post a good score. I made a mess of the second hole after my great drive, but even after that setback, I executed really well over the last seven holes. Unfortunately, I had a few errors in judgment on the firm and difficult golf course, and my good execution was not rewarded. I actually made bogey on three of the final seven holes without ever hitting a shot that landed more than a couple steps from where I was planning. I posted a 75 (+3) in round one, but it felt really good. I hit a lot of good shots in round two, but I also hit some lousy ones and posted another 75 to miss the cut by four shots.

I am really sick of reporting this news, but I'm not discouraged. If anything, I feel like I'm having a re-awakening of sorts. The frustration of the last 16 months has forced me to do some evaluating, and I had a revelation yesterday morning. My practice for the last two years has been focused largely on becoming a better long-game player. I've worked hard on my golf swing and become a better five iron player. This work has been valuable and necessary, but it has taken me away from my essence and from what makes me great at golf. I want and need to be the best player in the world from inside 150 yards. And the good news is that I can be! And what's more? I haven't been even close. In fact, this year, I've been a below average wedge player and an average-at-best putter. With a renewed focus on the things that make me great, I'm going to get after being the best in the world from 150 yards and in. My long game has improved, and it good enough to allow me to accomplish everything I want in golf, but I must (and will!) be better than good from inside 150 yards.

This revelation and the new practice mindset it is encouraging does not guarantee that things will turn around immediately, but I'm filled with a new belief that I am going to get things turned and going in the right direction. I'm super-excited to get after it.

I'm currently on my way to Dallas for the Byron Nelson Tournament. I'm excited for a great week. Thank you for following and please keep it here for more updates!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Rats

After two weeks that truly were great fun for me, I don’t have a whole lot of good news to report results-wise. The Valero Texas Open in San Antonio is definitely one of my favorite stops of the year, but unfortunately I didn’t play very well so my week there was cut short. Then, I played the Zurich Classic of New Orleans for the first time since 2014. Brand new for this year, the event featured a team format. I paired up with one of my closest friends, Mark Wilson, and despite having an absolute blast, Mark and I had a tough start and couldn’t quite play well enough to recover. So, I’m heading home early from New Orleans, too.

It stinks to miss cuts and to not be competing on weekends. I’m really sick of it, but I am still proud of the effort that I’ve been putting in and am confident that my hard work will bear results.

I’m not really sure which variables will play the biggest role in helping me to get things turned around, but I do have some definite areas in which I need to improve. First of all, I need to regain my swagger on the greens. It’s not just that I haven’t had any great putting weeks lately; I’ve actually been putting poorly. My putting practice has been going okay, but I’m never feeling great over my putts right now. I know that I am brilliant with a putter in my hands. Through smart practice and a free mindset, I can release that brilliance again and do so consistently. Next, I need to be much more consistent with my wedges. I have weeks when I feel okay about my wedge play (Hilton Head), but then I also have weeks where my wedge play is atrocious (Texas Open). Even at my worst, I need to be an above-average wedge player, and I know that I can be through disciplined practice and smart execution. Finally, I need to clear my mind to compete more freely. I am currently feeling a lot of stress, pressure, and anxiety when I’m on the course because I feel desperate for better results. I know I play my best golf when I feel freedom, and I also know that I can choose that feeling. It is very difficult for me right now, but I can choose to feel free, and I am progressing toward doing it.

Finding excellence in these three areas is not a far-fetched task for me. I can do it. I’ve been excellent in these areas before, and I will be again.

I’m definitely disappointed, frustrated, and even sad about my results lately. But all I can do with the past is learn from it, and I feel like I’m ready to do that. I am excited to keep going and keep growing. I have incredible opportunities ahead, and I’m ready to seize them! I’m still living my dream, and I still have the best job in the world. I’m ready to do it well.


Thank you for believing in me and following my journey. Keep it here for great news moving forward!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Progress at Harbour Town

I moved forward in a big way last week at Harbour Town. A slow start to the tournament created a challenge and a disappointing final round kept me from have a good finish, but in between, a lot of extremely encouraging things happened. I'm continuing to make physical progress in all areas of my game, but more importantly, I am moving toward feeling more freedom and having more mental clarity on the course as well. I'm excited to keep playing!

Last week was fun. Harbour Town is possibly my favorite course on Tour, and I had one of my best friends, Ryan Nelson, caddying for me for the week. I had three great days of preparation, and really felt ready for the tournament. Despite a frustrating and unsettling poor start in which I was three over par through six holes, I still felt like I was ready to play well. I chipped in under the watch of the lighthouse on Harbour Town's iconic 18th hole (my ninth) on Thursday for my first birdie of the tournament, and for the next 45 holes, I played a lot of good golf.

The strongest memory for me from the week will be the way I played the final seven holes on Friday. Though I'm trying hard to not let outside distractions affect my mental process towards each shot, I must admit that I was acutely aware of the cut as I was playing on Friday. That definitely caused some stress for me, but I executed beautifully over my final seven holes. I converted two beautiful shots on the par-four 12th hole into a birdie. I continued to hit really good shots, but narrowly missed great birdie chances on holes 13, 15, and 16. I stood on the 17th tee believing I would need to play the final two holes one under par to make the cut. The par-three 17th was between an eight iron and seven iron for me on Friday. I wasn't sure that I could quite get an eight iron to the hole, but I knew that I would have a hard time stopping a seven iron on the green with a strong wind at my back. I decided to commit to the eight iron, and I hit a beautiful shot. The ball flew high with just a tiny draw and fell perfectly on my selected target just right of the flag. The ball rolled out perfectly and finished twelve feet short and right of the hole. I definitely felt some nerves, but I was composed, and I rolled my putt into the left edge of the cup for a birdie! It was a great feeling. I proceeded to hit a shockingly poor tee shot on the closing hole, but I hit a great four iron from right of the fairway to just in front of the green, chipped close, and finished with a par to post two under par for the first 36 holes.

I still felt way more stress and anxiety related to the cut than I would like to feel, but this time, I took control of those feelings and stayed in the present. It was a huge step in the right direction!

I played an interestingly great round on Saturday during which my ball-striking felt a little off the entire time, but I managed it very well and shot a 67 (-4) to move up quite a bit on moving day. Then, on Sunday, I had the most beautiful warm-up session and striped my opening tee shot. I felt confident, but it didn't happen for me on Sunday. I hit too many errant shots and never got the good stuff flowing. My Sunday 75 (+4) dropped me down the final standings quite a bit.

I did have one very cool Sunday highlight, though. On that same 17th hole, with the same wind and the hole location just a little farther back on the green, I hit a seven iron that landed just over the front bunker and released right into the middle of the cup for a hole-in-one! What a memory!

I am striving to improve in many areas, and my week at Harbour Town was definitely a move in the right direction. I'm excited to keep it up. Physically, I'm prepared to play well and feel like I'm only getting better. Mentally, I've had a lot going on inside my head, but I feel ready to quiet some of the noise, come back to the present, and have a lot of fun.

I am currently on the way to San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open, and I'm excited to keep progressing. Thank you for following me and please keep it here for more updates moving forward!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Close in Houston

A birdie-free 75 in the opening round was not the start I was looking for or expecting after two weeks of great preparation for the Houston Open. I was feeling primed physically and mentally to get after it, so I was definitely pretty bummed after the first round. When I look back on it though, I really was prepared. I just had a rough day. I hit some bad shots at the wrong times and didn't make any putts. I was prepared, I just didn't execute very well. That first round had me behind the eight-ball for round two, and I did end up missing the cut, but this week felt different and better than some of my recent disappointments. I'm prepared to play well, and it's going to happen soon!

Round two was really fun. I woke up Friday morning feeling a little bummed about my poor score from the day before, but I discussed those feelings with my caddie (Alicia!), and we decided that I was going to forget about everything and just go play as if I was having a fun round with my buddies. I had absolutely not given up on getting back into the tournament, but I knew that the best way to do that would be to go have some fun. I felt relaxed and confident during my warm-up and was  genuinely excited to go play. The wind was picking up for the afternoon, and I felt ready for the challenge. I hit a good drive down the middle on the first hole and then hit my second shot too well as I pierced an eight iron through the wind and over the flag into the back fringe. From there, I casually rolled in a fifteen footer for my first birdie of the tournament, and I smiled real big. I went on to birdie four of the first six holes in round two. After a good drive on the par-five eighth, I was really feeling it. I committed to my second shot and was feeling good, but I splashed my three wood into the pond right of the green. Despite the bogey, I was still feeling good, but I just couldn't get it going the rest of the way. Still, with winds increasing and conditions becoming more difficult, the cutline began to rise, and I still had a great chance to make it to the weekend with four holes to go. I hit a disappointingly poor wedge shot into the par-five 15th hole and made a par. I then hit a lot of good shots over tough final three holes, but ended up finishing par-bogey-bogey to post a score (72, even par) that wasn't nearly as good as how I felt I had played. It was really fun to play well and feel some excitement again, though!

One more cool story about the second round: I ended up bogeying the final hole, but that doesn't tell the story of what really happened. After my bogey on the 17th hole, I needed an eagle on the 484-yard 18th hole to make it to the weekend. I smoked my drive down the watery par four and had 187 yards to the front left pin which was tight to the water. The wind was helping off the right, and I had 179 yards to the front edge of the green. I knew to make it I had to hit a seven iron up in the air and have it land softly right on the front of the green. I hit the most beautiful shot, and it was falling left on the wind and going right at the flag. It landed on the edge of the front fringe and skidded forward past the flag all the way to the back tier of the green. It was so cool to hit that shot and actually see it have a chance while it was in the air!

So, at the end of the day, this will go down as a missed cut and that is always a little bit disappointing for me, but this was actually a really good week. I am feeling physically prepared to play great, and I will continue to work to make my swing more autonomic so that it's more consistent in tournament situations. I'm also really close to feeling mentally prepared to play great. There is definitely a big part of me that still wants success too badly and is too obsessed with results right now, but the attitude of just having fun and being relaxed is a good start to overcome that. I was close to getting it in Houston, and I am going to get there!

I now have Master's week off unfortunately, but I will use it to prepare well for a long and great stretch of golf after the Masters. I'm super excited, and I know that great stuff is coming.

Thank you for following and believing in me, and please keep it here for good news moving forward!

Catching Up on a Positive Last Month

I've been too busy playing golf tournaments and working on my game to update my blog! That's really not true, but I have been keepin...