Friday, October 21, 2011

Bad News (But a Happy Delivery)

I did not advance through the First Stage of PGA Tour Qualifying this week at the Club at Irish Creek in Charlotte, North Carolina. Three mediocre rounds left me a little bit behind the eight ball going into the final round, but I felt like I was ready to have a great final round. I went out today and handled the nerves like a champ. I was very calm given the circumstances, and I executed very well. I hit every fairway and every green on front nine and, despite misreading a couple of very make-able birdie putts, made the turn at three under par. I did hit a couple of squirrely drives on the first few holes of the back nine, but after bogeying number 11, I played stellar golf the rest of the way, but could not get any birdies to fall. The closing four holes at Irish Creek are all very long, and I hit two four irons and two hybrids into the greens on that stretch of holes. I gave myself great looks at birdie on 15, 17 and 18 and hit the four iron on 17 right over the flag into a very difficult spot long of the green. I hit great putts all day, too, but could never quite get anything to go in the hole. I ended the day with a one-under-par round of 70. That score left me three shots short of the eventual qualifying score for the week, but I am thrilled to know that I played well enough to get it done in the final round even though it didn't quite happen for me.

I am obviously very disappointed with this result, but I am not discouraged. My round today was very encouraging, in fact. I need a couple days to process all the events of the past week and spend some time with my family, but then I'll come back and talk more about the year in summary and what comes next. One thing is for certain: I am not slowing down or giving up! Thank you so much for following me and for all the support you offer. Come back for more news soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Keeping It Interesting

Two absolutely horrible swings cost me three shots during a very blustery third round, and my score of two-over-par 73 dropped me down the leaderboard a little bit. I feel like I played quite solidly with the exception of my two huge mistakes in round three, however. I was decent in all facets of the game and very good from close range with the putter. I feel like I found some rhythm on the driving range after the round today and have a lot of confidence in my short game right now, so I feel like I'm ready to play a great final round tomorrow. I will have to play well in order to advance, but I am ready to do just that. I feel good about things, and if I can stay calm and trust myself tomorrow, I'll be in good shape! Come back to hear the good news tomorrow!

On a side note: I got a healthy dose of perspective today. My Mom's mom passed away late in the night yesterday. My Grandmother has been suffering from an inoperable brain tumor for some time and has really declined a lot over the past couple of years. Her death is a blessing for her, my Grandfather, my Mom, and all of us who loved her, but everyone will miss her greatly. Tomorrow on the golf course, I hope that I can remember that what I do for a living is just a game. Golf is my career and Q-school is important, but at the end of the day, I am privileged to have the opportunity to play a game everyday. I hope I can remember that and have a smile on my face all day tomorrow. Thank you, Grandma, for everything that you have meant to all of us in your life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Battling on Day 2

The second round of Q-school's First Stage here at Irish Creek was a very challenging day. Rain fell on and off throughout the day and certainly added to the challenge of the situation. I was fairly pleased with my play through the tough conditions, but a pair of uncharacteristic misses on short par putts left me with a score of even-par 71 for my round. Conditions certainly were not difficult enough to make that a good score, but I was pleased with the way I overcame a bit of adversity and turned in a solid score.

I made three bogies in my second round, and all of them were fairly sloppy. A series of poor shots led to a bogey on the par-five 6th hole before I made a pair of back-nine bogies by missing putts from inside of five feet. The first miss was truly just a misread, but the second one was a case of not getting comfortable over the putt and trying too hard to make it rather than just relaxing and trusting my read and my stroke. I was definitely feeling some tension at times today, so I will really try stay more relaxed and enjoy myself a lot more in the final two rounds.

My game feels good. I have played well all year and really feel like my skills are all sharp right now. As cliche as it sounds, I really do just need to go through my routine and trust myself on each shot and play one shot at a time, and I will be in great shape. My buddy, Clint Jenson, is trying to spoil my plan of winning this stage (he is 16 under through two rounds and leading the field by seven shots), but still feel like I can make a good surge in that direction over the next two rounds.

High winds are in the forecast for Thursday's third round, so it will be another challenging day. My game is ready for the challenge, however, and will be having fun out there! Come back for a round 3 report in the evening.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Slow Start But in Good Shape

My first round of Q-school did not go exactly according to plan, but the end result has me in good shape moving forward. I started on the back nine of the Club at Irish Creek and did not make my first birdie until the the fifth hole (my 14th). For the first 13 holes, I made 12 pars and one bogey. I definitely was not very sharp during that opening stretch of holes, but I did hit a lot of good shots and had a few well-played holes. Standing at one over par with five holes remaining, I flipped a switch, I guess. I rolled in a twenty foot putt for my first birdie of the day on the short par-four fifth and then added birdies at the reachable par-five sixth and the par-three eighth. I ended up with a two-under-par round of 69. The course offered a lot of birdie opportunities today, and my score was certainly not a great accomplishment, but given the slow start that I had, I am happy to have posted a decent number. I am excited about my strong finish and feel confident that I can roll that into tomorrow's second round and have a great day. I get started at 10:00 tomorrow morning. I am going to continue to play smart and have a lot of fun, and I still think I can win this Stage. Come back tomorrow for a round-two report!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back to School

It is time to get Q-school started! "Q-school" is the shortened name for the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament each fall, and it is the avenue through which players can earn status on the PGA and Nationwide Tours for the following year. I have been working hard and playing well all year with thoughts of performing well here late in the year and advancing to a higher level in the world of professional golf. I have steadily improved all year, and I truly do believe that I am ready to compete at the Nationwide or even PGA Tour level. This week is the First Stage of Q-school, and I am competing at a course called Irish Creek, which is just north of Charlotte, North Carolina. First stage is a 72-hole competition and approximately the top 25% of the field will advance to the Second Stage. This is definitely a high-pressure environment, but it is also extremely exciting and fun to compete in this event.

My game is good, and I feel very prepared heading into Tuesday's first round. I have had two great days of practice on site at Irish Creek, and had an extremely thorough week of practice at home last week. I'm confident that my skills are honed, and I know that I am prepared mentally to handle the stresses that can accompany Q-school. My plan for the week is to treat it much like any other tournament I have played and go out and win the thing! I feel comfortable on this golf course and know that if I play intelligently and have fun out there that I can win this week. I get started at 8:50 on Tuesday morning, and I am feeling good! Come back for an early report after round 1 in the evening.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Great Preparation

I have been having a fantastic week. For the first time in a couple months, I took an entire day off from golf on Monday and had a nice time with my sweetheart, Alicia, in Athens, Georgia, where she will be working next spring. My alarm went off at 3:30 on Tuesday morning, however, and, since dropping Alicia at the Chattanooga airport for an early flight, I have been back to business. The last three days have been filled with morning workouts and full days of practice. I have been able to have some competitive little matches with a couple different friends each of the last three days and have also gotten to spend some quality time practicing. My ball-striking is feeling very good again, and I have had great practice with my putter. I need to re-sharpen my wedge play, but I feel like I am just one good practice session away from feeling great about that area of my game as well. I have two more days here at home before I will hit the road for the Charlotte, North Carolina, area on Sunday where I will compete in the First Stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School at the Club at Irish Creek. I need to complete a few more putting drills and get in some quality work on my wedge play, but I feel like I have already had a great week of practice and know that I am in great shape heading into next week. I feel awesome, and I know that the coming days will only help to cement that feeling as I begin Q-school next week. Keep it here for another progress report in the coming days. Thank you for following!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Disappointment Today; Excitement Moving Forward

My season on the Nationwide Tour has come to an abrupt end. After finally breaking through and qualifying for this week's event in Chattanooga, my worst, and most frustrating, ball-striking round in recent memory has cut my event short by two rounds. I opened the tournament with an under-achieving round of 68, but was in great shape heading into round two and felt awesome about my game. On the second day, however, I was a little bit off from the get-go. Despite feeling good about things, my execution was awful on Friday. I was close to driving the ball well but hit enough poor ones to keep things stressful, and my iron play was pretty darn bad. I missed a lot of greens, and even though I scrambled well, I was in too much trouble to recover a couple of times. In addition to that, I never gave myself any good opportunities for birdies on Friday, and the end result was a two-over-par round of 74 that left me at two under par for the tournament and two shots on the wrong side of the cut line.

It is incredibly disappointing to miss the cut here in my only Nationwide Tour start of the year, but I am not worried about the state of my game. My two days here at this event served only to confirm my belief that I belong at this level. I was very comfortable in the situation, and really do believe that my game is good enough to compete on the Nationwide Tour or even the PGA Tour. I wish that I was still playing this weekend, but I know that I will be ready for bigger and better things in the near future.

I have the next ten days off from competition and will use them to become even more thoroughly prepared for PGA Tour Qualifying School (Q-school). My game is ready, I just need to make sure that I re-capture that "lovin' feeling" with my ball-striking and further sharpen the other elements of my game. I am extremely excited about what the near future might hold for me, and I look forward to getting started soon. Keep it here for practice reports and more information about Q-school in the coming days. Thank you for following me, and I really appreciate all the support I was shown this week!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Feeling Prepared

At this point in my golf career, the opportunity to play in a Nationwide Tour event is a great opportunity. With that said, I really do feel as though I belong out here, and have tried to have just a normal tournament week. My ball-striking has been a little bit off all week (including the Monday Qualifier), but I was able to have a very productive practice round at Black Creek, the tournament course, on Tuesday and also played a very fun and slightly competitive match at another course in the area on Wednesday. I would be lying to say that I was "firing on all cylinders" in either of those two rounds, but I do feel like I am swinging the driver very well and am trending in the right direction with the rest of my ball-striking. In addition to that, I feel very confident about my ability to manage my game and shoot good scores. In my Wednesday match, I recovered from a sloppy bogey, double-bogey start to shoot three under par (and win my bets!) on a good golf course called Council Fire. Everything about this week has me feeling good heading into today's first round at Black Creek. I do not tee off until 2:20, but a relaxing morning practice session and a long lunch hour should lead me into my tee time nicely. I am excited, confident, and just the right amount of nervous. I can't wait to get out there and get started, and I know that it is going to be a blast. Keep it here for good news throughout the week!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I'm In!

My performance in the Monday Qualifier for this week's Nationwide Tour event certainly left something to be desired, but I was able to scrape and claw my way around the course at Cleveland Country Club, and in the end, I got the job done. Some poor ball-striking, atrocious wedge play, and lackluster putting had me behind the eight-ball through 13 holes, but, standing at even par with five holes to play, I turned things around. I birdied the fifth hole and the seventh hole (my 14th and 16th) to get to two under par, but was very disappointed not to birdie the easy par-4 eighth with a short wedge in my hand from the middle of the fairway. My finishing hole was a downhill par three that was playing 209 yards to a tough back right hole location. I hit a great four iron, and it settled nicely just 15 feet behind the hole. The ensuing putt was a swinger from right to left, but I trusted my read and hit the most solid putt that I had hit all day and rolled it right in the middle. It was a hard-fought round of three-under-par 68. I had to wait until the last groups of the day got done to see that my closing effort was enough to qualify, but man did it feel great when the news became official! I didn't have my "A" stuff, but I was able to bear down and get it done.

Though my game wasn't good yesterday, I'm confident that a couple of good days of practice will have me ready to go this week in Chattanooga. The event is at a course called Black Creek, which I played about 5 years ago in the Tennessee Amateur. I played well and remember really liking the course. I'm very excited for the opportunity to compete on the Nationwide Tour this week, and even though the odds are definitely stacked against me this late in the year, my number one "Outcome Goal" is still attainable.

With that said, I need to have a great week working towards my process goals to keep my game sharp and to continue improving. I am ready to have a great week, and I am going to enjoy myself. Keep it here for reports along the way from my first Nationwide Tour event of the year!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Time to Monday Qualify

I am in Chattanooga (well, just north of there actually), and I am ready to Monday Qualify for this week's Nationwide Tour event--the Chattanooga Classic at Black Creek Golf Club. My Qualifier is at Cleveland Country Club, and I have played that course the past couple years. A lazy and relaxing weekend in which I had a short practice session on Saturday afternoon and a leisurely practice round at Cleveland CC on Sunday has me feeling great heading into this Monday Qualifier. My game felt a little bit off in today's practice round, but I am extremely confident right now. Cleveland Country Club suits my game, and I know that if I can commit to a good plan on every shot and execute decently well, I will be in great shape. Come back for a good report after the qualifier!

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...