Friday, November 26, 2010

Enjoying Family; Moving Forward

I had a great Thanksgiving yesterday, and I definitely have very much for which to be thankful. Right now I'm with my mom, dad, and sister spending the Thanksgiving Holiday with with my dad's parents in southern Maryland. After a great weekend here, I'll head to Tennessee with my parents for just enough time to load up and be on the road to Missouri for some good time with Ms. Alicia. After a disappointing end to my run through Q-school this year, there is no better reminder to me that everything in my life is still wonderful than time with the people I love the most. Golf is still on my mind, but the encouragement of everyone who supports me has helped me turn the disappointment of last week into excitement about the future. I'm definitely going to emphasize time with Alicia and my family over practicing for the next few weeks, but I'm already starting to get excited as I think about improving and preparing for a great year next year!

I've been hitting a few balls or doing something golf related every day, but haven't really had any thorough practice since the end of Second Stage. I'm going to spend a day with Bobbo before going to Missouri, and we will pinpoint some things on which I can be thinking and working, and I will slowly start getting back into golf mindset working towards 2011. I'm not planning on competing again until next February, but I am determined that I will be playing the best golf of my life by then.

I wish you all the happiest of holidays. Thank you for supporting me. Keep it hear to stay up-to-date as I develop more detailed plans moving forward. 2010 has been a very fun year, and 2011 is going to be even better!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bad News

I don't really know what to say or how to feel yet. I played my heart out and enjoyed every minute of Q-school this year, but in the end I just came up one shot short of advancing to the Final Stage. I have never been better mentally on a golf course than I was the last two days here in Houston at Second Stage. I never got ahead of myself or thought about a score that I needed to shoot. I never got down, discouraged, or scared when things didn't go my way. I just gave my full attention to every shot and really did have fun under the most intense pressure that I have ever felt on a golf course. My execution was not great this week. I missed quite a few shots here and there, but I never stopped believing that I would make it. I didn't make it today, but I still believe that I will reach my goal of playing on the PGA Tour soon.

I played solidly today, but missed a few birdie opportunities and made too many mistakes to get the job done. A poor iron shot into the first got an awful break when it plugged deep into the face of a front bunker. That led to an opening bogey. Poor mid-iron shots on the 9th and 14th holes resulted in my other two bogeys of the day. I offset those bogeys with three birdies, but again failed to convert birdie opportunities on any of the par-fives. The one that really stings right now (and has me feeling a little heart-broken as I write this) came on the final hole of the day. The 18th is a long par-five, but the tees had been moved up two tee boxes so that it was actually reachable in two shots. I wasn't thinking about score, but did know that a closing eagle or birdie would give me a chance to advance to the final stage. I missed my drive badly on the heel of my driver, and the short tee shot left me no chance to reach the green in two. I laid up down the fairway but advanced the ball closer to the green than I had intended to and left myself a very difficult 65 yard wedge shot off of a very tight lie to a hole cut on a downslope just over a bunker. I gathered up my courage and confidence and executed one of the greatest wedge shots of my life, settling the ball just three feet behind the hole. I just couldn't calm my nerves over the putt, though, and shoved it into the right lip and watched mortified as the ball spun out of the hole. In the end that putt would have been enough to push me through to the final stage, and it is the only putt that I missed all week from inside of five feet. I want it back so badly, but there is no use in thinking like that. The bottom line is that I played fairly well for the week but made a lot of little mistakes here and there and one big one on the last green. I'm not far at all from where I want to be and I know I will be there soon, so I will just keep my head up and keep moving forward.

My disappointment right now is great, but I can honestly say that my belief in myself is still growing. I know that I'm good. I know that I belong at golf's highest level. I know that I can make it there.

I'm not really sure what comes next. I'll take a little time to figure that out and set some new goals moving forward, but you can bet that good things are in my future. I can't wait to share more good stuff with you. Thank you for following me and cheering for me. I really appreciate everyone's support. Check back in a couple days to see what's happening.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Still Hangin' in There

Round 3 was a tense battle today because I could never get anything going. I actually played really well, but failed to make any birdies today on my way to a two-over-par round of 74. The course played a little bit tougher today than it did yesterday in round 2, so my score really didn't move me down very much at all on the leaderboard. I feel very good about the way I hit the ball today and especially good about my mindset out there on the course. I never got impatient or tried to force anything, and for the most part I really feel like I committed to every shot I tried to hit today. The only disappointing thing looking back on my round is the fact that I was near the green in two shots on three par-fives today and failed to make my birdies. Other than that, I just let a few opportunities slip away here and there but more or less played very solidly.

I really do not know what to expect scores to be like for tomorrow's final round, so I'm not going to worry about that. I'm in a good position right now. I'm currently tied for 23rd at three over par for the event and there are a total of 21 people standing at one over par or better. All I need to do is a play a good solid round of golf tomorrow and I can easily move up into the top 19. My game feels good and my attitude great. If I stay relaxed and continue to believe in myself on every shot, I know that I will take advantage of my opportunities tomorrow and play great. The stakes may be high, but the formula is the same: patience + confidence + fun = success. I'm going to let it happen tomorrow, and it's going to be fun! Check back here to hear all about it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moving Up

I played a nicely today in round 2. The wind was blowing quite a bit, but the course is drying out and played a little easier today. I started with a two-putt birdie on the par-five 10th, which was playing straight down-wind, and proceeded to make three more birdies and just one bogey for a three-under-par round of 69. Scores were quite a bit lower today, but that round still moved me back into a great position at the midway point in the event. I was tied for 49th after round one and currently sit in a tie for 20th place. The top 19 players and ties will advance to the final stage. I'm in great shape, and I feel very good about my game now. I hit it more solidly today and putted very nicely. I know I can do it again tomorrow. Patience + confidence + fun = success. That's still the formula. I tee it up at 9:10 tomorrow morning. It's going to be a good day. Check back here to hear about it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just Keeping It Interesting

I've decided to challenge myself this week at the Second Stage of PGA Tour Q-school. I opened the event today with a very rough four-over-par round of 76. The golf course is hard, and scores were fairly high today, so I'm not really in too much trouble but will definitely have to play well over the next three rounds to get the job done. Though in all honesty it really felt awful today, I know that my game is good and that I can easily get it turned around tomorrow.

Today was funny from the beginning. Playing from the right rough on the first hole and trying to hit a hard pitching wedge, I shanked the ball right of a water hazard that protects the right side of the green. It was shocking more than anything, but I'm sure it rattled me a little bit moving forward. I proceeded to bogey three of my first five holes by missing fairways, hitting poor iron shots, and failing to chip the ball close to the hole. I did not ever get discouraged during my pathetic start however, and I bounced back with birdies on holes 7 and 9 to make the turn at just one over par. Then on the back nine, I actually hit the ball much more solidly, but never really had any good looks at birdie and managed to make three more bogeys with a few shots that were just slightly off target. I wasn't sharp today, and I paid for my misses. The truth is, however, I could have easily shot a higher score than I did after the unsettling start. I am pleased with the way I remained positive all day and scraped everything I could out of a day on which I brought my D game.

After the round today, I practiced for a little while, but just didn't feel right. I decided to leave the golf course a little earlier than usual. I returned to my host house and went for a short jog and had a nice easy workout. It was perfect. I know that I'm good at golf, and my body is going to remember that tomorrow, too! I'm still in this thing, and I just need to have three solid days of golf to get it done. I tee it up at 10:30 tomorrow morning, and I'm going to play well. Patience + confidence + fun = success. It's a winning formula, and it'll be in action tomorrow. Check back here for better news from round 2 tomorrow!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ready at Redstone

I've had two days of practice at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, TX, and I'm ready to get going tomorrow. I have played two practice rounds at the course, and while my game has been just a little bit off the last couple of days, I feel like my practice rounds were really productive, and I know my way around the course well. I have hit some lousy shots the last couple days, but everything still feels really good. I am going to have a good week!

The golf course is LONG. It's been rainy and chilly for both practice rounds, and I have played from the back of every tee box, but even though the weather is supposed to improve and the tournament directors will likely move some tees forward for us, the course is still going to play long for the event. For the most part, the course is fairly forgiving off of the tee and even offers quite a bit of room around the greens, but there are plenty of things to make the course very difficult. A lot of long irons, some gnarly bermuda rough, and a lot of huge slopes and run-offs around the greens will present some challenges while the lack of any reachable par-fives or short par-threes and fours will ensure that birdies don't come easily. It will be a battle, but I love that!

I'm ready to get started. I really do feel like my game is strong, and I know that I have both ability and the attitude to be successful this week. I'm going to keep smiling and enjoying myself. I'm also going to commit to my routine on every shot and believe in myself from beginning to end. 72 holes is a lot of golf on any course, but it is a whole lot of golf on this course. I'm going to be patient and confident, and I'm going to have fun. If I do these three things, I will be successful. I can't wait to go do it! I start at 9:20 tomorrow morning. Come back here for a Round 1 update tomorrow and follow the results at: http://pgatq.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/pgatq10/event/pgatq1025/contest/1/leaderboard.htm

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On My Way!

I'm literally on my way to Texas, but figuratively on my way to great things! After a really good day of practice on Friday and then a very fun and productive day of golf today (Saturday) in beautiful Dandridge, I made the drive to my sister's house just north of Atlanta, and I'm ready for an early wake-up call tomorrow to head to the airport and a 7:30 flight to Houston. I am just comfortable with everything right now. All aspects of my golf game are sharp, I feel great physically, and I know that I have great people pulling for me from all of the great places I've been in the past few years. I'm really excited to get to Texas and get in some good time on the tournament course before Stage 2 officially begins on Tuesday. I feel ready now, but I know that I will be ready by then! I'll let you know what I think of the course in the next two days, and then it'll be time to do my thing! Keep it here to hear about it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Plans are In

Alright! I still know that my game is ready for Stage 2 of PGA Tour Q-school, and now I know how I'm getting there, too. My friends Kay and John Ballard, who have twice hosted me in Lincoln, Nebraska, have taken care of me yet again by setting me up with a family in the Woodlands, which is a golf community some twenty miles north of Humble, Texas, the town where I'll be playing Second Stage. So with that confirmed, I have booked a flight and reserved a car. I'll fly out of Atlanta, Georgia, early Sunday morning and arrive in Houston at 8:42 a.m. I'll pick up my car at the airport and head straight to Redstone Golf Club for a Sunday afternoon practice round. Flying is a great idea because it will both save my back from a 15-hour trip in the car and allow me have great days of practice on Saturday at home and on Sunday at the tournament site. Special thanks go out to the Ballards for finding me a host, the Hauns (my hosts, whom I look forward to meeting), and my sis Gina and her husband Jake for the help they are going to provide getting me to the airport Sunday morning. I'm very excited about the way everything has worked out, and I think these travel plans will be a great part of a winning formula for Second Stage!

My golf game still feels great, too. I played a fun round of golf with some friends and a little cash on the line on Wednesday. The bet probably wasn't fair even before my partner and I both dropped bogey-free 66's on the opposition. Needless to say, we did alright! Today seemed more like "work" as I spent a lot of time on the driving range and putting green before walking nine holes with a couple balls in my pocket late in the day. I love my work! My tee shots, wedge shots, and putting all were extremely good today. I actually hit some lousy iron shots and will definitely address that with some practice tomorrow, but I don't feel like it's anything to worry about. I know I'm swinging well, so good shots will most definitely follow.

I'm going to have another full day of practice Friday and a fairly full day on Saturday as well before driving down to Atlanta Saturday evening. I want to have a long session working on distance control with my wedges one day, but other than that, I think I'll spend most of my practice time out on the course working on getting the ball in the hole. I'm already pretty good at that, but I love getting better! Keep it here for another report before the trip to Houston. Thank you for following!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Getting Closer

Exactly one week from today (next Tuesday), I will tee it up in the first round of the Second Stage of PGA Tour Qualifying. I'm still not entirely certain how or when I will be arriving in Humble, Texas, (just north of Houston) but I am certain that my golf game will be very good when I do. I've had two really good days of a practice the last two days, and I've narrowed my travel options down to two possibilities for getting to Houston, so I'm feeling good!

On Monday I did a little practicing in the morning and then played a round of golf with a couple of my best friends from back in my high school days. It was a fun afternoon, and my game felt pretty solid. Today, I did something that I rarely do: practiced for almost six hours without playing any holes. I had a very good session by myself on the driving range this morning before having some great practice on the putting green and around the chipping green for hours this afternoon. I ended the day by going back to the driving range with Bobbo. He confirmed exactly what I've been feeling: everything looks solid. I was hitting all sorts of shots today, from little three-quarter wedges to high drawing drivers, and for the most part, I felt comfortable with all of them. It was definitely a great day of practice.

For my trip to Houston, I have two possible travel plans. I might fly into Houston on an early flight Sunday morning, or I might road trip it down there on Saturday with my good friend Buddy McMahan from East TN. There are a couple of variables that I'm waiting to hear about that will influence my decision. I hope to have a firm answer by Wednesday afternoon so that I can start moving forward with a game plan in mind. Both options are good, and in either case I'm just excited to get there and get in some practice on the Member's Course at Redstone Golf Club.

Everything is feeling good. My golf game is great; I've been staying commited to a good workout and running routine, so I feel great; and it is getting close to time when I get to compete again. I can't wait! I've still got a few more days to make sure that everything is fine-tuned, and I will definitely take advantage of them. Keep it here for more updates and a confirmation of travel plans.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Great Weekend

My weekend with my sister, Laura, and my Mom and Dad was so good. I snuck out on my own Friday afternoon and got in a really good practice on the first cold day of the fall, and then spent the whole day Saturday doing all sorts of fun things with the family. Sunday morning was more good family time before Laura took off to head back to work in Washington, D.C. around noon, and I was back to "work" myself soon after she left. The weekend went perfectly, and I am definitely feeling great heading into a big week of preparation leading into the Second Stage of PGA Tour Qualifying next week.

Here's a quick report of the weekend fun: Saturday started early with me and Laura in the kitchen whipping up some pumpkin pancakes before the sun had risen. After we all chowed down on the perfect fall breakfast, we were in the van heading for the Great Smokey Mountains. It was cold when we left and the forecast for the mountains was even colder with a chance of some snow, but we were all in good spirits. We were heading for the Mt. Camerrer Trail, which is a beautiful 5.6 mile climb up to one of the most beautiful 360 degree vistas in the Smokey Mountains. The 11.2 mile round trip hike features a climb of 2,100 feet from the trailhead in Cosby Campground to the 5,000 ft. peak at Mt. Camerrer. It started to snow on us as we approached the campground, but we were ready for anything. Little did we know that just a mile into the hike, we would be climbing through half a foot of snow. By the time we reached the Appalachain Trail about three miles into the hike (around 4,000 ft) we were walking in ten to twelve inches of snow. Normally it is the fall foliage and the impressive views that make Mt. Camerrer an awesome hike, but on this trip, the snow made the hike so unique and beautiful that no one was disappointed about the lack of visibility. After a great journey up and down the mountain in the snow, we were all ready to head home and enjoy the day's next fun activity!

On the drive to the Mountains, we had stopped at one of my sister's (mine, too) favorite spots: Carver's Apple Orchard. We got more than a bushel of different kinds of apples, and when we got home after the hike, it was homemade applesauce time! Laura and I cut and cored apples for a while until we had filled a huge pot and a smaller pot. We made a big batch of traditional applesause with just a little cinnamon and nutmeg added to the apples, but I also made a small batch of chocolate applesause. A little cocoa powder added to the sweet apples creates a surprisingly tasty treat! Making homemade applesauce after a long day in the mountains is pretty darn good. I know it was a good day because I was so whiped out that I feel asleep on the couch before 10:00 o'clock and didn't even wake up to go into bed until well after midnight.

After all that fun, I got to go back to work today and do another thing that I absolutely love: practice golf. The weather was brisk but beautiful today, and I had a really nice practice session. I feel pretty comfortable with all aspects of my game right now, so this week of practice will consist of a lot of fine-tuning when I'm on the driving range or chipping/putting green and a lot of time on the golf course just hitting shots and practicing getting the ball in the hole. I'm still not sure what my travel plans are for getting to Houston or when I will leave, but I do know for sure that my golf game will be ready when I get there!

Keep it here for updates throughout the week and to hear how and when I'm traveling to Texas!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Enjoying My "Work"

I'm chasing my dream right now and having a blast doing it. I've been home in Tennessee for the last five days and have known for four days that I'll be heading to Houston, TX, for the Second Stage of Q-school at the end of next week. That means I'm combining two of my favorite things in the world this week: time with my family in East TN and preparation for an intense competition. I love the relaxing nature of life at Home, and I also love the feeling of my competitive juices flowing as I work to get ready for Stage 2.

My sister Laura drove in for a long weekend from Washington D.C. where she practices Physical Therapy, so this weekend will provide some awesome distractions from golf--thought I don't think I'll take any days completely off. I'll fit in some sort of practice every day just to keep everything feeling fresh, but it will be really good for me to enjoy some time in the Great Smokey Mountains and with a frisbee out in the yard, too. A healthy balance in life is definitely one of my keys to success, and the great people around me all the time help keep me from getting too one-dimensional.

With that said, I have been putting in full days of work all week up to this point. My practices have been great. I have spent some solid time on the driving range this week, but my most productive work has come on the chipping green, putting green, and especially the golf course. I feel pretty darn comfortable with all aspects of my game right now, but I have really dedicated a lot of time this week to my wedge play and short game. I'm still chipping with a variety of clubs from around the greens, and I'm finding that doing so just helps make a lot of shots around the greens easier for me. I've also been trying very hard to dial in my distance control with my wedges, and really like the way I've been able to hit the "in-between-yardage" wedge shots lately. In addition to all of that, I have been hitting a lot of fairways and have been very solid with the putter. My game feels good!

I'm going to have a fun weekend with my family. Some short to medium-length practices will ensure that my golf game stays at a physical peak, but more than that, some fun times with people I love will ensure that I stay right where I need to be mentally. Life is great, and I absolutely love what I do! As long as I remember to smile and enjoy myself, I know that can make it a long way in golf. And with the awesome people that give me unconditional love and support, I ought to be able to smile and enjoy myself all the time!

Come back here at the end of the weekend for a report on the weekend's activities and a good practice report!

Monday, November 1, 2010

I Know Where I'm Going!

That title of today's post can be interpreted a couple of different ways. It could mean that I know where I'm going in terms of the trajectory that my career will take. I'm fairly certain that I do know that. My game has been progressing so much throughout this year that I believe it is just a matter of time before I make it to the highest level of golf. However, in a more immediate and concrete interpretation of that title, I know where I am going for the Second Stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School. I got my course assignment today, and I'll be heading to the Member's Course at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas, for Second Stage. Humble is a suburb about twenty miles north of Houston. I've never been to Redstone before, but I know that it will be a great course, and I'm sure that if I continue to have fun and play well, I will be successful there.

The dates of competition for Second Stage at that site are November 16-19 and official on-site practice will be the 14th and 15th. I haven't really decided exactly what my travel plans will be or what route I'll take to get to Houston, but I'll get that figured out in the coming week. I'm going to inquire with the Club about the possibility of getting some host housing on site, but if anyone has any contacts on the north side of Houston, I would love to find a nice family to stay with for the week. I have had some great luck finding hosts this year, and I'm so thankful to all of you who follow and support me and have helped in so many ways!

I was in the middle of a practice session today when I went inside for a minute and got on the computer. I checked my e-mail and saw my course assignment had been sent a day early. It was so motivating for me to have that information in front of me. I had a great practice today in which I worked on a little bit of everything. I spent time on the range working on alignment and hitting different types of shots before spending a couple of really solid hours on the putting and chipping greens. At the end of the day, Bobbo spent about half an hour watching me hit some more balls on the range. He said everything looks great, and that is what I wanted to hear because it is feeling really good, too. Second Stage begins for me in two weeks, and I know that I will be firing on all cylinders when it does.

I'm going to spend a lot of time practicing on the golf course in the coming days, and will also continue to really emphasize wedge play and putting in my practice routine. Keep it here for practice reports and more news as I prepare for Second Stage. It's an exciting time of year, and I'm going to work hard and enjoy every minute of it!

Catching Up on a Positive Last Month

I've been too busy playing golf tournaments and working on my game to update my blog! That's really not true, but I have been keepin...