Sunday, February 20, 2011

Evaluation of Tournament Week #1 + A Look Ahead

As I said in yesterday's post, I feel incredibly positive about my game, my attitude, and the year that waits ahead of me after my first tournament this week. I learned a lot from the Egolf event at Palmetto Hall and know some things that I definitely need to practice as I move forward. I have nine days on American soil to practice and prepare myself for my next events--two Egolf Tour events in the country of Morocco, which is on the northwest corner of Africa. I'm very excited about the opportunity to be taking my game abroad, but even more excited to simply go out and compete for my first win of the year. I believe that I am more than ready to win at the mini-tour level, but I have to take care of business and make sure that I am firing on all cylinders next time I tee it up in competition.

When I look back on my first tournament, the first thing that stands out to me is the fact that I hit more than enough good shots to win the tournament. For the 72-hole event, I totaled 18 birdies and 1 eagle on two golf courses that are very demanding. The problem this week was that I also made 4 double-bogeys and 1 triple-bogey. I hit a lot of very good golf shots, but clearly I also hit a few very bad shots. A few of the troubling scores can be blamed on my putter, which turned cold in stretches over the final two rounds, but for the most part, I made the big numbers due to a particularly bad golf shot here or there. There is an old cliche that claims, "Golf is a game of misses." That statement is very true because no matter how I am hitting the ball, poor shots are inevitable, but in order to be competitive, I have to be able to play my misses. This week I hit a few shots into places from which recovery was simply impossible. I'm not terribly worried about it because I know that my game will sharpen with a few more tournaments rounds under my belt, but I am going to work hard to tighten my misses in the next week. When I eliminate the big numbers, I will be that much closer to the top of the leaderboard.

Another thing that jumps out at me from my first tournament is my low production on the par fives. I played 16 par fives for the week and was only two under par on them. The par fives at Palmetto Hall are not very easy, but I had the ability to either reach the green in two or lay up to a favorable wedge-shot yardage on each of them. To play them only two under for the week is giving many shots back to the field. After thinking back on my par-five play for the week, it is clear to me that my decision-making was quite good but my execution with my wedges and my putter was not good enough to achieve the results that I expect. I know that as I continue to work particularly hard on those two areas of my game, my par-five scoring average will plummet. My mindset is to attack and dominate the par fives, and I believe that I will do so moving forward.

I have to admit that my work towards my weekly process goals took a hit this week. I was struggling to complete some of putting drills, and I let short, insufficient wedge practice sessions be the norm for the week. I hid behind the excuse that "I was doing the things I needed to do in order to be successful in the tournament," but I clearly was not because my putting failed me at times in the final two rounds and my wedge play was not quite as sharp as I needed it to be throughout the week. I did achieve my fitness goals for the week, but only because I got up and pulled a "two-a-day" workout this morning. I think that my tournament-week process goals are very realistic and something to which I need to hold myself accountable in the future. I am going to give myself a pass for this past week and chalk it up as a learning experience, but I now know that I need a strong focus on the processes of getting better in order to achieve the outcomes I am looking for in my tournament play. I am going to start with a clean slate tomorrow, but I will be committed to my tournament-week and non-competition-week process goals moving forward.

Now I want to brag on myself for a minute. My attitude was fantastic this week. I got a little bit down in the third round when I missed six putts from inside of five feet, but I never got discouraged or stopped believing in myself. I was four over par through the first four holes of the tournament, and I came back to not only make the cut but actually be in contention on the weekend. Of course, a great attitude facilitated my comeback from the rough start, but it was good execution that actually made it happen. I drove the ball beautifully nine times out of ten this week, and from 10 to 20 feet on the greens, I rolled the ball as well as I can ever remember. I was creative around the greens, and made a lot of really hard shots look easy. (I also made a few easy shots look hard, but I'm going to use the "it's early in the year" excuse for those.) I felt awesome 90 percent of the time, and I really feel like I have a great groundwork from which to start as I try to sharpen all the areas of my game moving forward.

I will be home in East Tennessee for the next week or so as I work on my game and prepare for the trip to Morocco. I will balance some quality time on the practice facilities with time on the course by myself as well as having some matches with friends in the area. Bobbo and I will also spend some time together to make sure I'm working on the right things that I have everything on the right track. Bobbo and I never make drastic changes to my game, but his insight is always something simple that has remarkably positive impact.

I am super excited to break in my new clubs (which haven't arrived yet, but should be here very soon) and know that they will do wonders for my golf game. I did have new wedges waiting on me when I got home, and I can't wait to see the positive effects that they will have for me. I am changing from carrying a 54 and a 60 degree wedge to carrying 51, 55, and 60 degree wedges. My pitching wedge is 47 degrees, so adding the additional wedge will help me a lot by decreasing the large yardage gap that has long existed for me between my pitching wedge and 54 degree. To allow for the extra wedge, I'll be taking my three iron out of the bag, but when I underwent the club fitting two weeks ago, we experimented with a couple of four iron options that will help my new four iron stand in for both the three and four irons. I know that creating smaller gaps between my wedges will make it easier for me to control my spin and be more precise with my distance control. I will be a better player because of this switch. I'll keep you posted on my progress as I work on my wedge play this week.

I am excited about where my game is now, and I know some things that I need to work on to get it to where I want it to be moving forward. I really feel like the sky is the limit for me this year, and it is a firm commitment to my process goals that will help me realize my potential. I am going to have a great week of practice this week. Come back every couple of days for progress reports as I work to get my game ready for a couple of wins in Morocco!

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