Friday, February 26, 2010

Ouch!

I've been sitting at the computer all day watching scores come in from the second wave of the second round here at the Savannah Quarters Classic. The top 70 and ties make the cut, and moments ago my T74th place finish became official. Missed Cut. The cutline was +4, one painful shot lower than my total.

Again, I feel like this was a very positive week for me. I battled the tougher half of the conditions and played reasonbly well. I learned some valuable lessons about dealing with tough weather and suspensions of play this week and regained a lot of good feelings about my golf game. I'm terribly disappointed to be done this week, but I'm very excited about the future.

I'm going to practice out on the course on which I am staying this afternoon, and I'll make the drive home to Tennessee early tomorrow morning. I've got two weeks off to get fully prepared for my next event, which will be another Tarheel Tour event in Charlotte, North Carolina. Anyone have a housing connection in Charlotte? : )

I'm heading in the right direction, and I know good results are soon to come! Stay tuned for practice reports and updates.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blown Away (Literally) in Round Two

The second round of the Savannah Quarters Classic was unlike any day I have ever before experienced in a golf tournament. Though it was in the low 30's with winds of 20-25 miles per hour in the morning, there were no delays. Then, shockingly at 10:50, after I had played six holes, the horn was blown to suspend play. We were told that balls which had come to rest were being blown off of the putting greens, and the courses were unplayable. So for four and a half hours we sat inside the clubhouse and looked out at a cloudless sky. It was bizarre.

I played nicely in the treacherous conditions this morning. After I butchered a simple up and down on my first hole of the day to make a bogey, I played the next five holes in the frigid wind at one-under to sit at even-par when play was suspended. I felt very relaxed during the break and even got a little bit of really good putting practice in while we were waiting, but when we took to the course again, I was unnerved from the get-go. I hit a few wayward shots in the wind, and also hit a few poor chip shots. The end result was a five-over-par 77.

I'm not yet certain whether or not my five-over-par total of 149 will make the cut. In all honesty, I'm not optimistic about it. Half of the field will have to complete their second round tomorrow morning, and the forecast is somewhat less ominous for tomorrow than it was for today. My wave of tee-times was certainly dealt a difficult lot in this tournament. We had to play our first round in a cold rain while the morning wave enjoyed warm sunshine, and today we were forced to endure severe cold and wind while the afternoon wave will play the majority of its second round tomorrow. I hate hate hate to make excuses when the bottom line is that I should have played better, but the point I'm trying to make is that I played way better than a five-over-par missed cut this week. So I am very encouraged moving forward!

Like I said, it's not certain that I have missed the cut. If conditions continue to worsen, it is conceivable that the cut line could dip as high as five-over-par tomorrow. I will not know until early afternoon. Either way, I feel good about my effort and the progress I've made, and it will be full steam ahead. I'm excited to keep getting better, and I'm particularly excited about the possibility (however slight) that I might get to keep competing this week!

Keep it here for more news!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Had Fun Today in Round One

My main goal today in the first round was to keep my thoughts simple and enjoy competing. I succeeded at both, and the results were pretty fair, too. Despite a couple of poor drives on the front nine which resulted in penalty shots, I battled some rough afternoon conditions and posted a first round score of even-par 72. I hit a lot of quality shots and really putted nicely, even though I couldn't get any longer putts to drop.

I had an awesome day leading up to my afternoon tee time in round one. I slept in a little bit, but then went for a run and did a nice workout before heading out to the course on which I am staying for some putting practice. Then I had some lunch and made a smooth half hour trip out to the Savannah Harbor course, and I felt great. I think this whole year I've been stressing too much heading into my tournaments. Today, I had a thoroughly productive, yet relaxed morning, and I tried to keep that relaxed attitude with me on the golf course. I was able to do that, and I truly enjoyed myself while working hard on the course today.

It seemed that I might be in for another long day when I hit a horrendous hook into a pond that borders the second fairway, but I remained calm and confident, and proceded to play quite nicely after the early mistake.

It was not easy for me today, as afternoon temperatures plummeted and a light rain was joined by an light but significant wind. Conditions will be absolutely brutal tomorrow morning with temperatures predicted at or just below freezing and the wind forecast calling for a steady wind of 20-25 miles per hour. The way I see it, I have spent more time out practicing in that type of weather than anyone else, so advantage me! I'm looking forward to it tomorrow. I tee it up at 9:10 at the Savannah Quarters course, and I'm ready to have some more fun doing what I love!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Go Time 2010!

The Savannah Quarters Classic starts tomorrow, and I am ready for it! The second event of the year on the Tarheel (officially now called the "Egolf") Tour is going to be a good one for me.

I had my best practice session of the year on Sunday afternoon. I was working on my alignment and rhythm. I was hitting it great, and I really feel like simplifying my thoughts is going to help me return to top form. I also continued to work on my wedge play, short game and putting, and I felt like my comfort level over all shots is continuing to improve.

I played a decent practice round at the Club at Savannah Harbor on Monday, and then played a really good practice round at Savannah Quarters today. Both courses are fairly straightforward, and I plan to make a lot of birdies on each. If I hit the ball and putt the way I did today, I will be in good shape. And I think I'm going to keep getting better as the week progresses!

I play at 1:20 tomorrow at Savannah Harbor and then in the morning on Thursday at Savannah Quarters. I'm going to have fun and go low this week! I am ready! Stay tuned...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In Savannah, Moving Forward!

I stayed in Hilton Head for two days after taking my early exit from the event last week. I can honestly say that practicing at the golf course where I should have been playing the final two rounds of a tournament was a disappointing experience. I did not let that slow me down, however. I worked hard the last two days, and I regained a lot of the good feelings that disappeared during the two tournament rounds last week. My wedge play is going to be dramatically better this week, and I still feel good about my ball-striking. I am going to continue to search for that "lovin' feeling" the next few days with hopes that I will be ready to go when this week's event starts on Wednesday.

I'm in Savannah, GA, and the courses I will be playing are the Savannah Quarters Club and the Savannah Harbor Club. The Quarters Club will be the host course for the event, which means that three of the four rounds will be held there, while the Harbor Club will host one of the first two rounds. I will play a practice round on one of the courses on Monday and the other on Tuesday and will be ready to GO LOW on Wednesday!

I am fortunate to have a nice couple to stay with this week on Skidaway Island, which is just across the Intracoastal Waterway from Savannah. A sincere thank you to everyone who helped with this arrangement! The Island has a golf club that is home to six 18-hole golf courses! I am leaving momentarily to go take advantage of one of the driving ranges. The weather is perfect today, and I am going to have a great afternoon of practice! Between this afternoon and my practice rounds the next two days, I am going to be ready to go this week!

Stay tuned for practice reports and course descriptions...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Long Day 2 at First Tarheel Tour Event

Day two at my first Tarheel Tour event seemed to last forever. The pace of play was very slow, and it took a full eight hours on the course to play the 24 holes of golf that I had to play today (the final six holes from my first round along with my second round). Of course, those eight hours would have flown by had I been playing the way that I expected I would, but I was struggling. After fighting to get my first round back to three over before being suspended for darkness on the first day, I went out this morning and opened with a bogey and a double bogey on my first two holes. Though I fought hard and had some bright stretches, that start set the overarching tone for the whole day.

The end result was a 78 in my first round on the Cupp course, and an even more disappointing 76 on the easier Hills course in the second round. After a lousy second round start that saw me at two-over-par through three holes, I had a good stretch on holes 5-8 where I made two birdies and missed two other good opportunities at birdies. Holes 9-11 all offered very good opportunities to make birdies, and I really felt poised to make a run. Unfortunately, lousy wedge shots turned three very good birdie chances into two bogeys and a par. I threw away at least three shots in that three-hole stretch, which is disappointing. I was excited, however, to be in a position to make a run and get myself back into the tournament. A few good days of practice will have me ready to capitalize on that opportunity next time!

While the second round is not officially over due to the frost delay and today's slow-play, I can say for certain that I will not be around for the final two rounds this week. While the feeling of missing a cut makes me miserable, I know that I will be able to use the next few days to practice and really get my game in shape for the second tournament of the year next week in Savannah, GA. I'm going to continue to try to sharpen my ball-striking, but I will be working particularly hard on my wedge-play and putting. I felt that both of those areas of my game were pretty reliable heading into this week, but I clearly have to keep working to get and keep my short-game sharp.

I'm not happy with my performance this week, but I'm not discouraged either. While at times I looked pretty bad, I still feel like I'm one or two good feelings away from playing well. I spent about an hour on the putting green after completing my long day today, and I think I may be on the verge of getting one of those good feelings with my putter. I'm going to get it--that "lovin' feeling!" Stay tuned for a practice report from the next few days.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

2/3 of Round One Complete

Frost. I'm sick of frost. My 1:20 tee time for the first round became a 2:30 tee time because of a frost delay that pushed everything back in the morning. Therefore, I've only completed 12 holes of my first round thus far.

My Tarheel Tour career did not get off to a promising start. A three putt bogey on my first hole, followed by a missed three-footer for birdie, a four-putt, and a snap-hooked drive into a lake on the next three holes left me five-over-par through four holes. I was rattled and shocked, but determined to trust my routine and keep fighting. Since the horrible start, I have made three birdies and one bogey. I'm heading in the right direction, and I'm ready to keep it going tomorrow!

I've got 24 holes to play on Day 2. I feel like I'm going to commit to my routine, execute well, and post a couple of really good numbers. Stay tuned for good news!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two Practice Rounds Down... Go Time!!

I have now played both of the courses at Palmetto Hall that will host the Tarheel Tour's first event of the year starting tomorrow. The Cupp course, which will be used for one of the first two rounds and then both the third and fourth rounds is one of the best and most demanding courses I've played. I played it today, and really enjoyed it. The other course, the Hills course, is also a great course. It is not as demanding as the Cupp, but both require good golf shots and punish wayward ones.

I hit a lot of very quality shots on both courses in my two practice rounds the last two days. I am continuing to feel very comfortable with my ball-striking and have started to drive the ball really well in the past week. Drives that are both long and accurate are required on the Cupp course, and accuracy is also at a premium on the Hills course. The greens are challenging on both course and particularly so on the Cupp course, so a premium will also be placed on good iron play to avoid tricky shots on and around the greens. I feel like I am prepared to play the kind of precise and solid golf that these courses require.

I tee off tomorrow at 1:20 on the tenth tee of the Cupp course. That is a great draw! I get to avoid the coldest morning of the week, and I should have good conditions to go out tomorrow afternoon and play a great round to start my Tarheel Tour career. I'm confident that I will do just that!

Stay tuned for round-by-round updates and analysis. I'm going for the WIN!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

At Hilton Head, Feeling Great!

Well, it wasn't for a lack of effort (a sincere Thank You to my great support team who tried hard to find me a place to stay), but I'm settling into a cold hotel room for the week in Hilton Head, South Carolina. That is the only bit of bad news I could possibly have to convey, however. I feel great about the way my game has been progressing lately, and I cannot wait to get the Tarheel Tour season started!

After being forced by some snow into an indoor practice session on Wednesday, I was able to get outside and get a lot of work done on my game each day after that. The temperatures in Tennessee were not great, but never cold enough to prevent me from having very productive days of practice. I am finally settling into a comfort zone with my ball-striking. I have hit the ball better and better each day, and I really feel good standing over most shots for the first time all year. I have also worked a lot on my wedge play, and I feel that it and my chipping are both very good right now. The only frustrating thing from the past week has been a slightly balky putter, but I have no doubts that that area of my game will be just fine!

My game is all coming together. It doesn't quite feel as easy right now as it did last fall when I was playing at such a high level, but I'm getting those same sort of feelings back. I believe that I will be at and beyond that level again very soon. I fully expect to be in position to win this week.

The tournament is at the Palmetto Hall Golf Club. The facility has two courses, the Hills course and the Cupp course, and both will be used for the first 36 holes of the tournament before the final 36 holes after the cut will both be played on the Cupp course. Tomorrow I will play a practice round on the Hills course and will play one on the Cupp course on Tuesday. I'm going to play good, smart practice rounds and will be ready to go when the tournament starts on Wednesday!

Stay tuned for updates!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Right on Track!

I'm home in East Tennessee, and though the weather is not perfect, home always has its advantages. I was able to work with "Bobbo" yesterday, and we had a great session. Today I dodged a horrible-looking forecast and managed to play and practice all day out at the beautiful Dandridge Golf Course--the course where I learned to play.

Bobbo (Bobby Bray) has helped me with my golf game for a long time. We work really well together because I am a feel player and he teaches me "feelings" in my golf swing. We never get overly technical, and never need the use of a video camera to diagnose things. Between his eyes, my feelings, and the ballflight, Bobbo is able to find flaws in my swing and always tells me something simple that I need to feel in order to get everything back in order. Yesterday I was actually hitting it as well as I have this whole year when we got together, but he noticed a couple of small things on which I need to work. As always, I completed our time together on the range hitting it better than I was when we started. That is a good feeling, and I'm excited to have confirmation that despite my struggles in Florida, I am not (and never was) far from being in sync.

Today I walked nine holes in a chilly rain, and spent 10-20 minutes around each green working on my short game. The nine holes lasted well over three hours, and I hit a great variety of golf shots. My ball-striking continues to gain consistency, and I really like my short game. I also spend a couple of good hours on the putting green after I played. I feel good about where my game is heading!

The weather forecast calls for tomorrow to be an "indoor" day, but improves steadily each day thereafter. If I do get stuck inside tomorrow, I will get some quality work done on my putting stroke.

I feel like the week that I have to get ready for the first Tarheel Tour tournament of the year will be more than enough to have me ready to go in that event! Stay tuned for more details.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Super Bowl: I'm Disappointed but Inspired

As a big Peyton Manning and Colts fan, I was disappointed to watch the Super Bowl go south for Indy after a dominant first quarter, but I think the game revealed an inspirational truth about the world of sports: with the right work-ethic and a lot of heart, the underdog can win! The Saints obviously weren't huge underdogs in this specific game, but given the franchise's history and the hardships that they've gone through in the past few years, they were a great underdog story! Again, I'm not happy that the Colts lost, but it makes me feel good to see the Saints overcome long odds to reach the pinnacle of football.

It is a stretch of a comparison, but I feel like I, too, face long odds to reach my goal of being considered among the elites in my chosen sport of professional golf. Personally, however, I feel like I have the the right work-ethic and that "no-quit" spirit in my heart to realize that goal. The Saints did it, and I can, too!

I continued to have good days of practice at Callaway Gardens, despite some persisting cold and wet conditions. I did get completely rained out on Friday, but was able to play and practice both days on the weekend. I really enjoy practicing on the golf course, and I feel like I get a lot from that. I did a lot of work on my chipping and wedge play out on the course and can say that I feel as comfortable as I ever have around the greens right now. I need to work to dial in my medium-range wedge play, and my ball-striking still has a lot of improving to do, but I feel like everything is moving in the right direction.

I watched the Super Bowl and spent Sunday night with my sister just north of Atlanta and will be driving home to Dandridge, TN, in the morning. I'm very excited to see Bobbo and let him take a look at my game. I think he can put me on the fast track to finding "that lovin' feeling" with my ball-striking as well ensuring that all areas of my game look sound.

I've got one week before I will hit the road for the Tarheel Tour's first event in Hilton Head, SC. The weather does not look great in East Tennessee, but it will be good enough for me to keep getting better. I will do just that.

If the Saints can win a Super Bowl, Peter Malnati can make a Ryder Cup team. I truly believe that, though I'll start with a win on the Tarheel Tour this month! : )

Friday, February 5, 2010

Heading Home, Getting Better!

I left Orlando at 6:00 a.m. yesterday morning and started my journey home to Tennessee.

I drove just under seven hours to the little town of Pine Mountain, Georgia, where Callaway Gardens, the site at which I played the Second Stage of PGA Tour Q-school last year, is located. I'm going to stay here for a few days and take advantage of the hospitality of the wonderful hosts (and the great golf course) I had while I was here for Q-school in the fall. I had a great afternoon of practice yesterday in cool, drizzly conditions. I walked nine holes (the back nine, which had my number during the Second Stage) with three balls and hit a lot of shots from many different spots around the golf course. It was so much fun (and so good for my game) to be practicing on a golf course again. I still didn't feel great about my ball-striking and definitely hit plenty of poor shots, but I feel like my comfort level on the golf course is trending upward right now.

The weather here is far from ideal, but this is winter-time golf. Today is very rainy this morning, but I'm hoping it will clear up and allow for some good practice this afternoon. Tomorrow is supposed to be chilly but nice, and I'm hoping to get back on the golf course.

The weather at home in Tennessee does not look any too promising, either, but I will definitely be able to get in some good work while I'm there. I'm hoping to get some input from the man who knows my game best, Bobby "Bobbo" Bray, so that I can expedite the upward trend I'm feeling in my game and be fully prepared to play well in 12 days when the Tarheel Tour season begins.

The Tarheel Tour season kicks off with the Palmetto Hall Championship on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The event is February 17-20, and I'll probably get to town on the 15th to play a couple of practice rounds. I'm very excited to get started, and I fully expect to have a great year! Stay tuned for more updates...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Positive Signs are Showing

Well, I can't yet say that I have been hitting it well in my practice sessions. Frustration has still been the norm, but there are moments when my game starts to feel right. The last two days have been pretty rainy, and that has inspired some alternative practice sessions which have been very good for me.

Due to a fairly steady rain Monday afternoon, Bay Hill was quite empty. My friend John, with whom I am staying in Orlando, is a member out there, so he and I have been practicing together a lot. Since the course was empty, we decided that we would sneak (don't tell anyone from Bay Hill) onto the Charger course, which is an additional nine-hole course to the Championship Course at Bay Hill. Getting on the golf course allowed me to turn off some of the mechanical thoughts that have been bogging me down on the driving range. I was just seeing the golf shots I wanted to hit and letting my body react to that. I actually hit some really nice shots. I still didn't feel particularly comfortable over many golf shots, but I felt some good feelings, and that is definitely a start. After some more routine practice, John and I did the same thing Tuesday afternoon and I found similar results on the course.

I feel like I'm heading in the right direction. I know that I can manage my way around the golf course well enough to compete even if I'm only hitting the ball mediocrely, but I really do feel like I can hit it well consistently. I will keep working on my ballstriking, and when I find it, I'm going to be dangerous!

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,...