Today was not the finish I had in mind to my best tournament of the year, but I'm excited to finally see some good results to match the improvement I have felt in my golf game. I had that "got-a-chance-to-win" feeling in my gut for the first time in a while this morning, and that was really cool! However, I was determined to just stay relaxed and play one shot a time, and I can honestly say that for a long time I did just that.
I got off to a really good start today. I followed a couple of solid pars on the first two holes with a six iron to literally inches on the par-three third. After missing a good look for birdie on the fourth I made a twenty-foot birdie putt on the fifth. I was feeling great. After a good drive on the sixth, I pulled an iron shot into a bad position in a greenside bunker and made bogey. Not daunted, I was determined to be aggressive and hit another good drive on the very narrow par-five seventh hole. Unfortunately my ball did not fade as I had planned and found its way against the face of a left-side fairway bunker. I barely got the ball out of the trap and proceeded to make a disappointing bogey on what is probably the easiest hole on the course. That bogey dropped me back to even par for the day. From there, I tried to stay patient, but I must admit that early in the back nine I began to press a little. I had a pep talk with myself on the 12th tee box and really executed well from that point on. A poor shot on the par-three 17th led to another bogey, but I did birdie three of the last seven holes to post a final round score of one-under-par 71. That is certainly not the score for which I was hoping at the start of the day, but I'm happy with the fight that I showed to earn it after the mid-round struggles.
I ended the tournament at 13 under par in a large tie for 16th place. I definitely wanted to finish better than that, but this was easily my best outing of the year. That makes a lot of sense because my game feels the best that it has felt all year. My ball striking was very good for most of the week. My putting and wedge play definitely could have been better, but I am happy with the way everything felt. I think that this finish and the good feelings I have about my game right now will really give me the jumpstart that I need to finish the year strong.
I have a week off now and will be spending it at home in Tennessee. Some things I really need to improve are my putting and wedge play, and I also want to spend some practice time moving the ball left-to-right. While my ball-striking was very good this week, I was very reliant on a right-to-left ball flight. I worked the ball left-to-right a few times successfully off of the tee, but every time I tried to cut an iron shot the result was mediocre at best. I don't mind at all for the draw to be my predominant shot, but I want to be fully confident working the ball left-to-right as well.
I finished this tournament eight shots behind the winner. I know that the three areas that I just mentioned cost me way more than eight shots this week. I'm not saying that all I need to do is go work on them and then I'll win next time I play, but I now know for absolute certain that I am close to breaking through in a big way. I'm excited to do some practicing and improving so that I'll be able to have that "got-a-chance-to-win" feeling again very soon (and often)!
Next up is another Tarheel Tour event in Salisbury, North Carolina, June 16-19. I'm going to be ready to bring my best!
**Does anyone have any housing contacts for me in the Salisbury/Kannapolis area in North Carolina? Thank you!
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