Thursday, July 29, 2010

Great Week of Practice

Since the conclusion of my last Tarheel event, I've been home in East Tennessee and have been having some really good days of practice. I have played at least nine holes everyday since getting home and have also had some really solid sessions on the range and putting green. I am still hitting the ball beautifully and making a lot of birdies, so I'm feeling very good moving forward.

I am determined to feel better over my putter next week in the Tarheel Tour Championship, so that has been one of my focal points this week, and I really can tell that my stroke is in very good shape. I still do not feel fantastic on the greens, but in the first half of this week, I have progessed a long way from where I was in last week's tournament, so I'm confident that I'll have that lovin' feel heading into next week.

On Tuesday I did something that I have been telling myself I needed to do all year. I took my bag of practice ProV1's into a nice open field at Dandridge Golf Club and hit wedges for three hours. I practiced until I was hitting them consistently and then really worked on dialing in my distances. For the first time all year, I'm confident standing over a wedge that I know exactly how far I'm going to hit it. That is a great feeling. I really feel like I am going to be able to pour on the birdies when I get into wedge-range!

I'm going to try to spend a lot of time between now and the Tour Championship practicing on the golf course. In fact, I think the fairly steady rain which has been falling for the last half hour is passing, and I'm going to go play right now!

Check back another update once I get on site at Spring Creek Golf Club in Virginia next week.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Great End to a Good Tournament

My game felt good everyday at this week's Tarheel Event, the Forest Oaks Classic. I hit the ball beautifully all week and never could seem to get it in the hole quickly enough to shoot a good score until today's final round. While I still missed a couple of very make-able birdie putts and suffered a disappointing double bogey on the simple par-four 9th, I did manage to make eight birdies and shoot a final round 66 today. The round moved me into a three-way tie for 12th place, and ended the Tarheel Tour regular season on a very positive note.

There was actually a little added pressure on me this week. This was, in fact, the final event of the regular season on the Tarheel Tour, and in two weeks the Tour Championship will be taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia. Only the top 50 members from the money list are invited to play in the Tour Championship, and at the beginning of this week, I was on the outside looking in. I'm glad to say that I did a good job ignoring that fact and simply focused on my golf, and the results were good enough. My twelfth place finish and the ensuing check has moved me to 48th on the money list and punched my ticket to the tour championship!

Today's round was particularly good. I knew that I needed to play a good round and move up the leaderboard in order to make the Tour Championship, but I was determined to commit to a game plan on each shot and stay in the present. I did that remarkably well. When I birdied the 14th hole to get to five under and then hit my eight iron to three feet on the next hole, I did let my thoughts drift a little to the future, but a poor putt that lipped out quickly brought be back to the present. Other than that one slip, my mentality on the golf course was great today, and with the exception of a very bad drive on number nine, my execution was sharp as well.

My putter still was not hot today. Had it been, I could have really shot a scary-low score. I'll be working hard to get that lovin' feeling back with the putter before the Tour Championship, but I plan on really making some noise at that event. The Championship is at a place called Spring Creek Golf Club in Gordonsville, Virginia, on August 4-7. I've got a week off to continue to hone my game, and I have a feeling I could be dangerous come tournament time!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Confidence-Boosting Step Backwards in Round 3

The seeming contradiction in this blog post's title is an accurate description of my third round today at Forest Oaks. I really felt good and struck the ball beautifully for most of the day, but missed putt after putt after putt from very make-able distances for birdies. My only holes under par were two par fives where I was able to hit the green in two. I made an eagle, a birdie, and a pair of lousy par-3 bogeys for a one-under-par round of 71. This score dropped me back down the leaderboard into a tie for 27th, but I really feel great about the way I'm playing and about my chances to fire a very good score tomorrow!

Today's round looked very solid from the start. I missed mid-range birdie putts on the first three holes before rolling a thirty footer for eagle in the hole on the fourth. Then, I had birdie putts inside ten feet on four of the next five holes but could not make one of them. I also bogeyed the par-3 8th after a poor tee shot. The back nine saw more of the same with missed opportunity after missed opportunity as I swapped a three-putt bogey on the 13th hole with a two-putt birdie on the 18th. The round left me thinking what could have been, but now all I'm thinking is what CAN BE tomorrow!

I tee it up at 8:10 on the first hole and will be playing with one of my good friends, John Kelly. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and know that my practice on the putting green after my round today has me ready to go shoot a great score in the final round. Check back here for a final round update. It's going to be a good one!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Solid in Round 2

I played well in the second round today at Forrest Oaks Country Club. After a surprising first-hole bogey to start the day, I rattled off four birdies in my next six holes and made the turn at three under par. A mid-round stretch on holes 9-14 saw me miss a lot of really easy birdie putts and also butcher an easy par-five for a bogey before I righted the ship with closing birdies at 15 and 18 to finish with a four-under-par total of 68.

I'm bummed that I threw some shots away in the middle of the round, but I'm excited to be in good position moving forward this week. My total of seven-under-par 137 has me five shots behind the leaders in a tie for 19th place. The leaderboard is very bunched, so a good performance on the weekend could take me all the way to the top!

I tee it up at 8:20 on the first hole for tomorrow's third round. I'm really looking forward to playing another solid round of golf. I'm going to be intelligently aggressive and be fearless over every shot. The putter is going to get hot. It's going to be a great day! Check back here for the round three report.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Good Start in Greensboro

Sorry for the long time since my last update. After the early exit from last week's tournament, I visited a great host family in Greenwood, South Carolina, who took great care of me earlier in the year. I recieved more of the same from that family this past weekend, and had such a great time that frustrations on the golf course seemed a million miles away.

Since then I have journeyed north on I-85 to Greensboro, NC, for this week's Tarheel Tour event at Forrest Oaks Country Club. After two solid practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday, I teed it up this morning in the events first round at the co-host course, Willow Creek Country Club. Starting the day feeling good but not too eager, I played a nice steady round. I made a couple of slightly poor swings with the driver but was fairly solid off of the tee. My iron play was also very good, and my only complaint of the day was a couple of lousy three putts on my second nine holes where I simply gave shots back to the field. At the end of the day, though, it was a three-under-par round of 69 to start my week. A good, not great, start, but I feel good about my game.

Tomorrow afternoon I tee it up at 12:30 at Forrest Oaks. It's a course that used to host a PGA Tour event, and I'm going to play like a PGA Tour star tomorrow! Check here for good news!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where Does It Go?

Sometimes my game just leaves me. I am really proud of the way I stayed positive and stayed committed to my game plan today in round two, but my execution was just not sharp enough to put together a good round. I shot one over par today to make my two-day total one-under-par 141. Unfortunately, the cut fell at three under, so I will not be competing on the weekend.

Disappointing? Very much so, but I can't imagine that the game which was so good just two short days ago is very far gone. I definitely am not happy with the way I played, but I have just got to go get it back and be ready to go next week in Greensboro. I can do that, and I will!

Today was strange because I cannot blame my poor performance on mental errors. Typically when I play poorly it is because I was not thinking properly. Today, I was thinking the right thoughts at the right times and somehow my body wouldn't translate those thoughts into good shots. I started on the difficult back nine and failed to take advantage of good tee shots early in the day before suffering a pair of bogeys after hitting terrible iron shots into the long par-four 16th and long par-three 18th. I executed a little better on the front nine, but could not get any putts to go in until an anticlimactic 15-footer for birdie on the last hole dropped straight in the center.

I'm not sure where my game went. It felt so good heading into the week, and I went into both rounds certain I would play well. I just didn't. My game hid from me last couple of days, but I'm going to go find it and make sure I know right where it is for next week. It's back to work tomorrow, and I'm ready!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Round 1

Well, after feeling really good heading into round 1 of this week's Tarheel Tour event, my performance on the first day was surprisingly bad. I'll start by saying that I am very proud of the fact that I got back on my game plan late in the round and that I did manage to finish with three birdies in my last five holes to shoot a two-under-par round of 69, but all in all my game looked terrible today at Warrior Golf Club.

I was a little bit out of sync all day and just couldn't seem to find the rhythm that has been so natural for me the last few weeks. My shots were flying every which way, and I just couldn't seem to get it back on track. Even the closing five holes were not characterized by a lot of great shots, just well-planned ones that were executed well enough to give myself some good chances at birdie. I rolled in a twenty foot putt on the 14th hole before hitting a good sand wedge to about six feet for birdie on the next. I made that putt and then finally took advantage of a par five two holes later at the 17th when I played a conservative four iron to the back of the green and two-putted for a birdie.

It is really cool that I was able to shoot 69 today. It could have been a lot higher given how out of control I felt at times. I lost my patience for a while, but did regain it in time to have a successful finish to a lousy round. Now I've set myself up to get back in position with a good round tomorrow.

A good afternoon of practice has me feeling ready to go tomorrow. In all honesty, I never did find my proper rhythm even on the range afterwards today, but I know that it will return tomorrow. I tee it up at 12:40 tomorrow afternoon at the Club at Irish Creek. I'm excited to go play a great round!

**Next week the Tarheel Tour is heading up I-85 to Greensboro, NC. Does anyone know anybody in Greensboro that might want to host me (or me and another player) for the week?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Time for a W!

I have played a pair of practice rounds for this week's Tarheel Tour event in Kannapolis, North Carolina, and I am feeling ready to go. Tomorrow I play the Warrior Golf Club for my first round before heading to the event's host course, the Club at Irish Creek, for the second round on Thursday. I play at 8:30 tomorrow morning and then will be at 12:40 Thursday afternoon.

Warrior is a good golf course. While it is fairly short and has greens that are fairly soft and not overly fast, plenty of difficulty exists to keep it interesting. Tree-lined fairways and very long bermuda rough make hitting tee shots in the fairway important, but I should be able to go low as long as I do that. The greens are very undulating, so it is important to be able to control approach shots so as to hit the correct section on the greens in order to have good looks at birdies. I feel like I have a good plan for playing each hole out there tomorrow and really expect to hit a lot of fairways and greens and capitalize with a lot of birdies and a really good score.

Irish Creek is a great golf course. With a few tight exceptions, it is fairly forgiving off of the tee, but most of the fairways are well protected with bunkers and some decent rough. The greens are all very unique and have enough slope to make them very challenging. The short front nine offers a lot of good birdie looks, but the back nine seldom yields less than a medium iron into any green and will present a fun challenge. My iron play was very very solid today, and the club at Irish Creek will give me a chance to show that off this week.

I'm really playing nicely right now. I think if I can stay in the present and execute a wise strategy fearlessly over every shot, I should be in contention late this week. I'm going to get it started tomorrow! Check back here for a good report!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Great Practice; Feeling Ready to Win

I'm back at Home in East Tennessee after a very good trip to the Midwest. I've been spending a lot of time in the evenings unpacking and organizing stuff from my apartment in Missouri, but I've been spending most of the daylight hours getting better. My practice sessions have been great, and I got together with some friends for a round this morning at The Country Club in Morristown and played really well. I feel very comfortable with my game right now, and I'm excited to get back out on the Tarheel Tour the next couple of weeks!

I'll be leaving pretty early tomorrow (Monday) morning for Kannapolis, North Carolina, and this week's Tarheel event at a place called Irish Creek. Irish Creek will serve as the main host facility for the tournament while one of the first two rounds will take place at Warrior Golf Club. I'll get a chance to check out both courses the next couple of days, and I feel like good things could be coming this week!

I'm still working to really dial in my wedge play, but I feel like it's heading in the right direction. My ball-striking is solid and I feel good on and around the greens as well. I'm heading out for another quick practice session and then will be heading home to get ready to hit the road tomorrow. It's going to be a great week. Check back right here for details!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

No PGA Tour Event, but Feeling Good!

I played in my first Monday Qualifier for a PGA Tour event yesterday. This week's PGA event is the John Deere Classic in the Quad Cities area of Illinois and Iowa. The qualifier took place at a course called Pinnacle Country Club--a fun course which was fairly short and tight with a lot of doglegs and extremely firm and undulating greens. Combined with blustery winds yesterday, the course was actually quite a good test. There were about 80 of us yesterday playing for four spots in the tournament, so I knew that I would have to play well, but I really felt good about my game and my chances.

I teed off in the first group of the day at 7:30 and striped a drive down the fairway of the par-five first hole. Three very average shots following that drive left me tapping in for par on the easy opening hole. That would set up a trend for my day. I played great golf, but never took advantage of the par fives all day. In fact, my only bogey of the day would come on a par five and I never made a birdie on any of them. I played the other 14 holes very solidly with two birdies and no bogeys, but playing the four par fives in one over par killed me. My total of one-under-par 71 came up three shots short of qualifying. 68 got in without a playoff.

While I wish I was playing a practice round today for the John Deere Classic, I'm still excited by the way I played. My game feels good and I know that I can play at a level to get myself into TOUR events. I'm going to carry that confidence back to the Tarheel Tour with me as I head back East later this week to start getting ready for next week's Tarheel event in Kannapolis, North Carolina. I think it's about time for a win, and I really believe that it could happen in the next couple weeks!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Good Stuff Since Last Post

It's been a while since my last post, but good things have been happening. I am in the midwest right now. I had to make a trip up to Missouri to get moved out of my apartment where my lease ran out on June 30. A day of travel and then two days of seemingly endless packing severely cut into my practice time, but I managed to get a few hours of golf in each day, and any distractions served to get me refocused.

When I took off for Missouri, I made a last minute decision that I would play in the Qualifier for the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic which takes place next week in the Quad Cities area of Illinois and Iowa. Qualifying for PGA Tour events got much more complicated last year when what is called a "a pre-qualifier" was instituted. Monday qualifying used to consist of one round of golf on the Monday of tournament week. Now, there is another preliminary round which takes place either the Thursday or Friday of the week before the event. I played in the pre-qualifying round today at a place called Pinnacle Country Club in Milan, IL.

There were 148 guys today playing for 50 spots (and ties) in the Monday qualifier next week. I got off to an interestingly bad start. For some reason my motivation level was low and I was quite lackadaisical. I hit a lot of good shots, but would lose focus easily and suffered a couple of really poor three-putts and butchered a simple up-and-down on another hole. I stood at two-over-par after twelve holes and had a little pep-talk with myself after hitting two good shots on my 13th hole. Facing a 12-footer for birdie, I reminded myself that as well as I've been playing lately, I could be just a few short days away from my first PGA Tour start. My motivation returned and I rolled in that birdie putt and went on to play nearly flawless golf the rest of the round. I birdied four of my last six holes to post a two-under-par total of 70 and advance to the Monday qualifier next week.

The round on Monday will be at the same course that I played today. The field will consist of the 5o or so guys that advanced from todays pre-qualifier in addition to about thirty other guys who have either weak PGA status or Nationwide Tour status and thusly were exempt from pre-qualifying. We will be playing for four spots, and I feel like if I stick to a good game plan and have a good day, I could definitely be one of those in the top four.

I'm going to get some good practice in while enjoying this July 4th weekend, and then will have a great day at the office on Monday! Check here for some good news early next week!

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