Saturday, September 25, 2010

Winner Winner #2

It was a long (but very fun) day today at Old Hawthorne in the second and final round of the Missouri Open. In an effort to get the entire field out in one wave, tournament directors decided that play would be in groups of four, so the pace was definitely a drag all day. Fortunately, there was enough drama in the final groups to keep things interesting. I started the day one behind the low professional in the field and two behind the tournament leader. Both were in my group, so that made for some excitement.

I got off to a very good start in terms of ball striking. I had good looks at birdie on four of the first five holes, but played that stretch one over par. My putting was less than stellar, obviously. I told myself walking down the sixth fairway that I was going to putt awesome the rest of the day. I never did putt awesome, but I got things turned around. I had fallen three shots behind the low professional through six holes, but birdied holes 8 and 9 to turn at one under par and stand just one shot behind. After starting the back nine with a sloppy par and a bogey at the 11th, I found myself three behind again. I was determined to stick to my game plan and try to play solid golf regardless of what any of my competitors did, and I was more or less able to do that.

I made a great birdie on the par-four 13th; converted a great up and down for birdie at the par-five 15th; and got up and down from 68 yards for birdie on the 17th. Walking up the 17th fairway tied with the professional in my group, one of the officials told us that the groups ahead had fallen away from the lead. I knew that I had a battle with the guy in my group and we were tied at that point. We both birdied 17 and had great looks at birdie on the 18th. I putted first at the last and missed my 10 footer and watched nervously as his putt from the same distance slid to the left of the hole. It would be a playoff.

I wasted little time in the playoff. I busted a drive right down the middle of the first fairway, hit a three quarter sand wedge about fifteen feet behind the hole and rolled in the birdie to seal the victory on the first extra hole.

Winning in Columbia, MO, at Old Hawthorne is really a cool feeling. I have a ton of good friends who have supported me and cheered for me here, and this feels like a win for home team! I was way more nervous than I would have liked to have been at a lot of times on the back nine, but I always believed in myself and was able to get it done. It feels great!

Thank you for following and keep it here to see what's next. There is more excitement to come!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Playing Solid; Okay Score in Round 1

I'm not at all thrilled with the score I shot in the first round of the Missouri Open at Old Hawthorne today, but I really did like the way I played. I missed very few fairways and seemed to have things pretty well under control all day. I was bogey-free and three under par through 14 holes, and absolutely striped a drive into the wind on the par-five 15th. Facing 225 yards into a strong wind, I tried to hit a good high three wood so that the wind could knock it down and help it fly the correct yardage. I executed fairly well, but pulled the shot just a little and had to watch it knife through the wind and end up in a hazard long and left of the green. I failed to convert the tough up and down after my drop and made bogey. I made a poor swing on the next hole and hit a six iron way over the green into another hazard and made a great up and down to save bogey after dropping. I recovered with a nice put for a birdie on the 18th to end the round on a good note, but my opening round score of 70 tasted a little bitter after giving two back close to the end.

That being said, I'm pumped! My game is good. I'm excited. Everything felt pretty comfortable today. I drove it well and putted nicely. My wedge play left a lot to be desired, but I really feel like I'm playing well. It will be interesting to see where that score puts me heading into tomorrow's final round, but I know for certain that I will be within striking distance! I'm going to keep having fun, and I feel like I'll shoot something low tomorrow! Check here tomorrow for a good report!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Still Moving Forward; Ready to Win Again

It has been a really productive ten days since my win in the Nebraska Open. I was back in Columbia, Missouri the day after that tournament and quickly got back into a good practice routine. I have been working to tighten up some looseness off of the tee while just trying to keep "that lovin' feeling" in other areas of my game. I have had some really good practices and some not so good, but I feel really good about the status of my game.

One somewhat disappointing thing that happened last week was the discovery of a slight flaw in my putting stroke. I have been working all year to make sure that hands aren't involved in my takeaway and that the putter head doesn't swing back too far to the inside of the target line. The past couple months I have been rolling the ball very well, so I was a little bummed when one of my former teammates helped me discover that I had exaggerated what I was working on earlier this year to the point where the putter head was actually traveling quite a bit outside the target line in my backstroke. I was tempted to ignore this information and continue doing what I've been doing because my putting has been really good of late, but I know that a flawed path will ultimately lead to inconsistent putting. I set up a few drills on the putting green and had a couple of frustrating days of feeling awkward and uncomfortable over the putter, but I am feeling very good about it now, and I know that I will be a more consistently good putter for working on this now.

Other than just some really good, full days of practice, the last couple weeks have been really good for me because I've been working my way back into a great workout routine. Fitness has always been something that has been important to me--as much for just feeling good in general as for excelling in golf. The hectic schedule of the summer made it tough to get in full workouts, so I just didn't do very much working out at all. I never really felt like I was out of shape or anything like that, but I could tell that I wasn't as limber and athletic as I have been in the past. So when I got home from my second Nationwide Event on Labor Day weekend, I committed myself to getting back into a good routine, even if I did have to start with really short, light workouts and runs. I have been very good about sticking to my plan, and this past week have even surprised myself with some longer runs and more intense workouts. I'm feeling great, and I know that a good level of fitness can only help me on the course.

It's getting close to Go Time again, now. The Missouri Open is this Friday and Saturday at Old Hawthorne, which has been my home course while in Columbia for the past three years. My game is every bit as sharp as it was in Nebraska, and now I'm going to be competing at a place that I know better than anyone else in the field. I need to have another good day of practice tomorrow and do a good job of staying present and trusting my routine for one shot at a time, but I'm really feeling good about this event. The tournament is just 36 holes, and it starts Friday morning. Keep it here for good news after each round!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Winner Winner!

I didn't make it terribly easy on myself, but I played some great golf today and captured my first winner's check. Flawless ball-striking through the first seven holes gave way to a few erratic shots in the next eleven holes, but my attitude was great and I managed to hit more good shots than bad on my way to a five-under-par final-round 66, which was good enough to capture the Nebraska Open by one shot.

My first bad shot of the day came at the par-three 8th hole where I pulled a five iron into a pond left of the green. I swung momentum in my corner, however, when I calmly dropped on the side of the pond's bank and got up and down for a bogey. I then birdied holes 10 and 13 to carry a two-shot lead into the last five holes. That's where I made things adventurous. While I felt confident and really did trust my routine, I missed the fairway on each remaining hole with the exception of the par-three 17th. Playing from the rough or trees, I scrambled my way to a bunch or pars and even managed a birdie from the trees on the reachable par-five 15th. My scrambling saved me during that stretch of holes, and I iced the victory with a long chip from short and right of the 18th green which I cozied within inches of the back left hole location.

I am very pleased with the way things went today. I felt some nerves but handled them fairly well. I definitely have some work to do as I did hit a few wayward shots, but I feel like I'm really managing my game nicely right now. I'm very excited moving forward.

It's time to keep getting better and go get win number two!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Good Play and Good Position

I got a pleasant surprise today hours after completing my second round in the Nebraska Open. I played very well and shot a six-under-par round of 65 but never imagined that my ten-under-par total of 132 would have me in the lead by myself heading into tomorrow's final round. That's exactly where I am, though!

Today's round was a lot of fun. With my good friend Charlie Schorgl caddying, I stayed really relaxed all day and played a very solid round. A couple of loose tee shots and a few missed opportunities around the greens cost me a few shots today, but for the most part all aspects of my game were very good. I made six birdies and no bogeys and felt pretty comfortable all day.

Tomorrow is going to be a fun day. I'll be in the last group of the day at 10:50, and I'm sure that if I stay relaxed and continue to go through my routine on every shot, I will continue to play well. I'm going to really enjoy the experience tomorrow, and I really believe that I will play a great round! Check here for the good news tomorrow evening.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Good Start in NE Open

It was an interesting first round for me at the easy Elks Country Club in Columbus, Nebraska. I hit a lot of good shots and felt good about my game all day, but found a way to struggle on a lot of the easy holes. I did make four birdies and an eagle, however, and managed to post an opening round of four-under-par 67. I holed a 61-yard wedge shot on my last hole of the day for eagle, so I've got some good momentum heading into day two. 64 is in the lead right now, and I'm sure that if I keep smiling and having fun, I will find myself in good shape after the next two rounds. I peg it at 9:30 tomorrow morning, so I had better get some sleep, but check back here for a good report from round two!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ready in Nebraska

After having a great Labor Day weekend with my family and good friends, it was back to business as usual on Tuesday morning. A really solid practice session with Bobbo on Tuesday morning got me ready to hit the road for the Midwest feeling good about my game. I rolled into Columbia, MO, late Tuesday night and have had two of my best days of practice all summer the past two days. I made the trip to Nebraska this afternoon, and I'm staying with my good friends in Lincoln and getting ready for a late tee time tomorrow afternoon in the Nebraska Open.

The tournament is Fri, Sat, Sun at Elks Country Club in Columbus, Nebraska. Last year I made my professional debut in the same event. I'm really excited to come back to the same venue with a year of experience under my belt and see how much more comfortable I feel. I'm confident with my game and with my mindset right now, and I really expect that I will be in contention for a win this week.

Keep it here for updates over the weekend!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bummer in Pittsburgh but Feeling Good

I couldn't ride the momentum of last week's Nationwide success into this week's event in Pittsburgh. Though I played very well for quite a bit of the event, I made too many mistakes and just couldn't seem to make any birdies today in round two. I did a lot of things right, but posted a second round 75 to stand at four-over-par 146 for the event. It looks like the cut will likely fall at 142, but in any event, I will not be around for the weekend. I'm definitely bummed, but I know that my game is strong and that I belong at this level. In fact, I know that with more experience and a little more consistency, I can play at the highest level. As much as I wish I was getting ready for the third round of this week's event, I am really pumped about the last two weeks!

I've got some more stuff coming up on the schedule, and I'm excited to go get some wins! Check here in the next couple days for a report about what lies ahead.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Solid Golf (for the most part) in Round 1

I played great in the first round. I hit the first ten greens and was never outside of 25 feet for birdie during that stretch. I got three putts to fall during that stretch, and had it three under par through the first ten holes. On the par five 11th, I hooked a tee shot into a creek and completely misjudged the lie of my ball. Though my ball ended up on a grassy area in the creek, the grass behind the ball and the ground underneath it where extremely thick and wet. I swung hard at a wedge but only advanced the ball a couple of feet into the stream. The mistake led to a double bogey and kind of thwarted my momentum. I played hard the rest of the way, but just couldn't get any of my good looks at birdie to fall. One more poor driver swing on 15 caused another missed green and a bogey, but other than that, I had a good look at birdie on each hole coming in. My even-par total of 71 today is definitely a disappointing score given how well I played, but I know that I can keep it going tomorrow and shoot a really low number. I tee it up at 9:20, and I am going to play well and have a lot of fun. It's going to be a good day. Come check back here for a post-round update!

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,...