2015 Goals

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New Week

I won't try to make up for a long time without a good blog post. I just want to say that after a week off last week and a meaningful start to this week, I am feeling really good in Bethesda, Maryland, for the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club. I wasn't nearly as productive as I wanted to be towards my golf game last week at home, but I do feel rested and refreshed, and I also have a renewed sense of perspective after playing an outing for the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland on Monday. Life is good. My golf game is, too. I'm ready to have some fun and play well. Keep it here for reports from near our nation's capital. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Home

Golf has been such a struggle for me lately. Here are some objective facts. I have played the last six weeks on the PGA Tour and have missed every cut. My game at times has shown very positive signs, but I haven't been able to put it together well enough to post consecutive rounds under par in a long time. I also failed last week to qualify for the US Open. It has been a rough stretch.

You know me well enough to know that I will not be thinking negatively about this for long. I will be honest enough to say that my last two weeks in particular have had me really down. I feel like I am putting in the correct effort to get better results, but things have not quite turned around for me yet. It's frustrating, but, here comes the good news. I am home this week. I have some time to rest and live on my own schedule for a week. I have time to think, process, plan, and practice exactly as I want. Here comes the even better news. I'm still excited. I still love the mystery and the challenge of this silly game that I am lucky enough to play for a living. I definitely have some stored up frustration and disappointment inside right now, but the strongest emotion I feel is eagerness to stay after it. I love golf, and especially love the feeling of conquering it for small stretches of time, so I'm excited to keep working.

I have a little bit of analyzing planned for early in this week during which I will look into what's been causing my poor results and come up with a plan to attack it. Don't worry; I will also enjoy some lazy, quiet, restful time as well. Keep it here for an update by mid-week at the latest.

Thank you for following and caring about me. I can tell that a lot of people are rooting for me and that means a lot. Really good golf is in my very near future.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Feeling Positive at Colonial

I played my final ten holes last week in three under par. That did nothing to affect my fate at the Byron Nelson Championship; my first 26 holes had me well out of any thoughts of making it to the weekend. Still, after struggling mightily in tournament play lately, I was determined to get some positive results, and I did that. Those last ten holes actually allowed me to post a one-under-par round of 69 on Friday at the Nelson, and though that is certainly not a great accomplishment, it felt really good. I have felt that my game is better than the scores lately, and I saw a glimpse of that on Friday in Dallas. I am excited to build on those late holes from last week.

The Tour has moved just down the road to Fort Worth this week and the famed Colonial Country Club. I am inspired. This is one of the classic courses on Tour. Tree-lined fairways, great bunkering, and bermuda grass rough demand placement over power. The course presents a strong and fair test, and I am ready to tackle it.

There's no two ways around the fact that my results have been disappointing lately, but I'm doing all the right things. I sat down over the weekend to honestly analyze what has been causing the disparity between how I feel about my game and the scores I have been shooting. I think it boils down to a couple of main things. I have been putting very poorly and have been hitting a few shots that are just atrocious. I'm following a disciplined practice routine with my putter, and I'm confident that my brilliance on the greens will shine as bright as ever in the near future. As for the occasional yucky shots, I am working to tidy those. I am hitting the ball more solidly than ever right now, and this week I have really focused on reigning in my misses. I have been intentional with my practice, and, as I said earlier, I know I am doing the right things. I will keep doing them, and the results will come.

I am excited to play this week. Challenges will exist. The course presents some tough holes. The weather promises to bring tough conditions and potentially distracting delays. The negative thoughts that accompany a slump will be present. I am ready for all of those challenges. I am also ready for the challenge of making good decisions and executing a good game plan coming down the stretch with a chance to win a tournament. There is a lot of work between now and making that situation a reality, but I am ready for that, and it could happen this week. I am excited to go play.

I have put in the work and will continue to do so. Now it's time to go live my motto: Don't worry, have fun, play with Freedom. I'm going to get after it!

Thank you for following me and for your support. Keep it here for reports from Colonial.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rut

Prior to stepping away from golf with his back surgeries last Fall, I can remember Tiger Woods telling the media time and time again after disappointing rounds that he was "close to playing well." I would think to myself, "no, Tiger, you're not." He seemed all over the place and lost--quite the opposite of "close." I'm starting to have some sympathy for him now because I feel very close to playing well, but my recent results do not exactly hint that great play is hiding just around the corner. On a rain-softened golf course here at the Byron Nelson that was yielding great scores on Thursday, I posted a birdie-free, seven-over-par round of 77. That sounds closer to playing in the second flight of a club tournament than it does to contending on the PGA Tour. Still, I truly do believe that I am close to playing well.

That belief is not blind optimism. There are positive signs despite my egregious scores lately. I am driving the ball well. In fact, I hit 11 fairways just today in the first round of this tournament. My  iron play is there in practice, and I hit some good ones in the tournament, too, but even with my good ones, I haven't been able to dial it in close to the hole. I definitely feel like my full swing is better now than it has ever been, but clearly I need to get things synced a little bit better. The weakest part of my game lately has been my putting. It has actually been downright awful in my last three tournament rounds. I know that to be successful on Tour, I have to be an above-average putter. The good news is that I am; I just haven't been lately. Much like with my iron play, however, my putting is feeling good in practice, and I know that performance fluctuates, so I am confident that I will get it going in a good direction here soon. Again, I feel like I am close.

I'm just in a rut right now. My game is still in there; it's just hiding at the moment. In fact, once I get it going, I believe I'm poised to play the best golf of my life. My process is all about steady improvement over time, and my plan works. I'm not changing. I'll keep getting better, and I will get out of this rut.

I'm going to have some fun on Friday in the second round of this tournament. I have no expectations to make the cut--a feat which will likely require a score of 60 or better--but I do think that I can climb out of my rut with a solid round. My scores lately don't indicate it, but I'm telling you, I'm close!

Thank you for keeping up with me and for your support. Great stuff is coming!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Quick Step Back

I am frustrated with my poor results lately. There is no doubt about that. I work really hard on my game, and it feels bad to play poorly for an extended period. In the last 11 weeks, I have played nine PGA Tour events and made just one cut. That is not good.

I want to take a look at this from a different perspective, though. Three years ago in May, I was a mini-tour player with a big plan to Monday-Qualify my way onto the Web.com Tour. Two years ago in May, I was a completely overwhelmed and over-matched PGA Tour rookie. Last year in May, I was on the Web.com Tour playing well and earning my way back to the PGA Tour. This year in May, I am a PGA Tour winner who presently happens to be in a bit of a slump. Now that seems like a healthier way to look at things than that first paragraph.

I struggle to think this way when I'm mired in stretch of disappointing play, but when I take a step back and see a broader perspective, I know that I am doing great. My "big-picture" trend of improvement and accomplishment is incredible; and I have the work-ethic and attitude to ensure that it continues.

Since my last post, I have played two events. I prepared really well for both and felt good heading into them, but the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow and The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass ended for me after 36 holes. The results disappoint me, but my game is showing some encouraging signs each week. At a long and wet Quail Hollow course, I struggled off the tee and left myself too much work to do around the greens. At The Players Championship, I felt that my full swing was as proficient as it has ever been, but I struggled around and especially on the greens. My practice has been feeling good in all of these areas, though, so I know that I will get things clicking soon.

I am currently soaking up a few quick days at home. I will fly Wednesday morning to Dallas for the Byron Nelson Championship this week. I truly am excited to have the opportunity to keep playing. Great things are in store, and I am pumped for a busy summer.

One last note: I haven't blogged much lately. I guess I haven't really felt like it. I want, and even need, to do more of it. Sharing my thoughts on here is cathartic for me. It helps me process things more healthily. I say this simply to hold myself accountable for using this valuable tool more.

Thank you very much for following and caring about my career. I really appreciate the support. Keep it here for reports(!) from Dallas.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Fun Update

The word "Fun" is going to be a big part of this post. It is in the middle of the motto by which I have been trying to live my life (Don't worry; have fun; play with Freedom), and remembering to do it is a key to success for me. Many people believe that they will have fun only when they succeed, and I have certainly fallen into this trap, too. The truth is that enjoying the journey is essential for me to achieve the results I want. I have always loved to play and practice, but sometimes I let thoughts of results and stress and pressure rob some of the joy from my profession. I don't want to let that happen anymore. I'll always work hard because that is a part of who I am, but I am going to make sure I have fun while I'm doing it!

I've actually been doing a nice job of this lately. Two weeks ago on Hilton Head Island, I had an absolute blast playing at Harbour Town. It quickly became one of my favorite venues on Tour. I did a lot of things well and was really close to having a good tournament, but I faltered just a bit down the stretch on Friday and missed the cut by one shot on a very bunched leaderboard. Though I was having a very fun week, I definitely let some anxiety get to me during that Friday round. That is where I've got to get better--remembering to fully enjoy myself even in the heat of the competition. I am getting better at that, and Alicia and I stayed on Hilton Head Island with our friends and had a lot of fun that weekend despite not getting to play. 

From a fun week in Hilton Head, Alicia and I traveled to San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open, and we definitely had a fun week there. We started by participating in a fundraising "Game Show Night." Alicia and I were contestants in the Not-so-Newlywed Game, and we were the talk of the evening with our mind-meld answers. We were easily the Newlywed game champs, but I'm pretty sure that was a fun night for everyone. After the game show night, I went to work more or less as usual to prepare for the tournament. The one thing that really makes the Texas Open fun for me is the fact that the host hotel is at the golf course, and it has a huge waterpark! Everyday I couldn't wait to get done with my work and go ride the waterslides. I even spent about an hour riding them Friday morning before my afternoon tee time for the second round. I was like a kid in a candy store, and I was having fun. One of the slides was fantastically horrifying. To ride it, you stood almost perfectly upright on a plexiglass floor that dropped away to release you down the slide. It was terrifying but so much fun!
It is silly to say, but I think the waterslides reminded me to have fun on the course, too. I found myself facing difficult shots and thinking that golf, like a waterslide, is great fun for me so I should just enjoy it! 

Not surprisingly, I played some great golf in San Antonio. I fired an opening-round, bogey-free 67 that featured a hole-out from 92 yards for a two on a par four. I overcame two bogeys in my first three holes on Friday to post a 71 and stand tied for 6th heading into the weekend. I maintained a great attitude throughout a troublesome 76 in the third round. (And I rode the waterslides on repeat afterwards with Alicia and my friends!) Then I calmly put together a bogey-free 67 including a chip-in birdie on my final hole to climb back up into a tie for 13th place on Sunday. I played beautifully for most of the tournament. It was fun!

There's no doubt that good golf is more fun than bad golf. Similarly, it's more fun to have good results than to have weekends off. These things are obvious, but I am convinced that the more I commit to having fun and enjoying the process, the more I will get to experience the good golf and the great results. Bad golf and tough stretches are going to happen, but if I can remember to keep having fun even through the challenges, I know that the sky is the limit for the success I can achieve. 

So I say to myself once again, "Don't worry; have fun; play with Freedom." After all, my life is essentially one big waterslide!

Thank you for keeping up with me and for your great support! I am enjoying a week off this week, but I'll be back in action for several tournaments in a row starting next week in Charlotte. Keep it here to enjoy the journey with me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ready at Harbour Town

My caddie, Shane Joel, left an awesome note in my car this morning after we finished up a good practice session. It simply said, "Let's make this your 2nd win on the PGA Tour. You Belong!!!" Much like all of the great people I have around me helping me, Shane is not one to focus on outcomes, but he knows that if we follow our plan well, we can do something special any week. I have had a great few days of preparation here on Hilton Head Island, and that note was a nice reminder of what I have already accomplished and what I can accomplish when I let my good stuff come out. 

So now it's time to follow the plan well and let the good stuff come out. My plan this week has two components. I'm going to give focused attention to every single shot, and I am going to commit to living my motto: don't worry; have fun; play with Freedom. If I do these two things, I will do my best, and that could be good enough to win on any given week anywhere in the world. I am going to follow the plan well. 

I am super-excited to play and am enjoying Harbour Town so much. This is truly a unique stop on the PGA Tour. The course is a fantastic test that demands precision with tight driving areas and firm, tiny greens. Throw in winds that are forecasted to gust quite a bit, and it is a recipe for a very challenging tournament. Demanding elements around this course will definitely require precise ball-striking, but I think even the sharpest of players will find some trouble, so I think recovery skills and putting will be at a premium. I really enjoy playing this style of golf course. It is going to be a fun week.

Thank you very much for keeping up with me. Keep it here for an update or two from the tournament. I get started at 7:50 on Thursday morning. I'm going to go have fun, follow my plan, and do my best. Let's see if I can't fulfill Shane's request!