Monday, July 30, 2012

Some Good Signs, but Not This Week in Omaha

I am definitely mired in a bit of a mid-season slump right now. For the last four weeks, my game has felt close to good but some elements have been a bit lacking each and every time out to the course. In the Monday Qualifier for this week's Web.com Tour event in Omaha, Nebraska, that continued to be true. I birdied two of my first three holes and had moments of brilliance throughout the round, but I scattered a lousy shot or two in each facet of my game and made four costly bogeys. I made five birdies and an eagle, but the mistakes left me with a score of 69, and I finished a full three shot off of the qualifying score.  I was definitely very uncomfortable in a lot of areas of my game, but had a few moments of triumph, so I will continue to take some positive even from another disappointing result.

Speaking of positives... Though I certainly feel it is accurate to say that my last four weeks are fitting into the category of "slump," it is worth noting that I have had just one over par round during that stretch and have made the cut and earned a check in each of the tournaments that I have played. Making cuts is certainly not my goal, but the fact that my scores are still decent and my final results have yet to dip much below the realm of mediocrity shows that my standard of performance is increasing. I know that I don't have my best stuff right now, but I am still able to post somewhat respectable results. When I get that lovin' feeling back, it will be special!

Though my practice hasn't felt especially smooth or easy lately, it has been thorough. I completed all of my practice goals last week during the Missouri Open (though a skipped run on a lazy Sunday morning cost me finishing all of my process goals), and feel like I made progress despite not getting the tournament results that I wanted. I will have the rest of this week off from competition, and will take advantage of some great practice facilities in Columbia, Missouri. I will complete all of my process goals this week, and hopefully will recapture my good form.

I will play again in a Monday Qualifier next Monday for the Web.com Tour event in Springfield, MO. I still know that my game is good enough to compete at that level, so I am hopeful that a good week of work will have me ready to go next Monday!

Thank you for following me, and keep it here for practice reports throughout the week.

By the way, for those of you who use e-mail to keep in touch with me, please note that my address has changed. My new e-mail is peterjmalnati@gmail.com. Thank you for your support!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Lousy Blog Post for a Very Mediocre Performance

Sorry, I do not have much time to write, but I want to quickly say that I wrapped up the 2012 Missouri Open in a fashion that matched my play from the rest of the week. Despite feeling pretty good on the course in the final round, I made a lot of sloppy mistakes and despite making five birdies, I could muster only a one-under-par final round of 71. The leaders went the wrong direction in the final round, so it is disappointing that I wasn't able to put together a good score. I ended the tournament at three under par, and the first place check went to the winner of a playoff at six under par. It is hard to believe I was three shots away from the winning score, but that is encouraging. I didn't have my good stuff this week, and I am definitely disappointed with my result, but there is still plenty about which to be excited.

I have had a great week of practice during the tournament. Though my results are a bit off right now, my game is feeling good and trending even better. I'm on my way to Omaha, Nebraska, on Sunday morning to prepare for the Monday Qualifier for next week's Web.com (Nationwide) Tour event there. I'm ready to get that loving feeling back on the course, and I truly believe I am ready to succeed at the next level. Keep it here for some exciting news moving forward! Thank you for keeping up with me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Frustration at Missouri Open

I don't have much to say except that I've got a lot of work to do in Saturday's final round at the Missouri Open. Another very cold putting day cost me a lot of strokes, and I could muster only an even-par round of 72 in the second round. My game is not that far off, but I haven't posted a good score in a while, so I feel like I am ready for a great one. I am comfortable at the Club at Old Hawthorne, and I am far enough back in the field that I can free wheel it a bit in the final round. I think I can post a really good score, and I am excited to play. I'm going to have more fun and not put so much pressure on myself on the greens. Come back for a final-round report and a tournament summary late Saturday night. Thank you for following me!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Missouri Open

After a good Tuesday morning run and a quick practice session in Dandridge, TN, I hit the road and made the 650 mile trip to Columbia, Missouri. The drive went smoothly, and I felt great when I got here. I had a solid morning of practice on Wednesday before playing in the Pro-Am in the afternoon. The Pro-Am marked the first time that I had played the Club at Old Hawthorne this year, but I'd say the 300+ rounds that I have played there dating back to my last couple years in college certainly made it easy for me to feel at home on the course. I definitely feel a bit of extra pressure to play well here because of how warmly everyone in Columbia and at Old Hawthorne has continued to treat me since my days at Mizzou. A good day of preparation on Wednesday had me feeling great heading into Thursday's first round, though, and I was confident and excited to get the Missouri Open started.

I executed very well in the opening round, but stayed icy cold with my putter for most of the day and had to settle for a two-under-par round of 70 when it felt like I played well enough to post something quite low. With the exception of a couple of mishit putts and two poorly struck three-woods on the front-nine par-5's, I am happy with every shot that I hit in the first round. My game is very close to firing on all cylinders, so I am excited about what the next two rounds might hold.

I tee it up at 8:10 central time in Friday's second round. I'm going to play well again and get some good vibes going. Come back in the evening for a more thorough report of the good news! Thank you for following me!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Great Sunday of Work Completes an Up-and-Down Week

I am back home in Tennessee for a couple of days, and that feels great! On Friday and Saturday in the final two rounds of the Egolf Tour's River Landing Open, I struggled pretty badly to a 73, 71 weekend performance. In both rounds a poor start (including an opening nine 40 on Friday) put me into a tough position before I got it together and played some good golf in order to post respectable scores. Unfortunately, my scores did nothing to move me in the correct direction on the leaderboard, and I ended the week in a tie for 32nd. That is two "mediocre-at-best" finishes in a row, and I definitely did feel like my golf game was a bit out of sorts this week, but there are plenty of positive things that I will remember from this week and a great day of work on Sunday has me feeling excited and ready to get back to tournament action.

First of all, I want to further emphasize some of the positives from this past week. I was completely awful on the bermuda putting surfaces in Wednesday's opening round of the event, but a lot of determined work on the putting green had me feeling much more comfortable (even if I wasn't getting great results) on the greens by tournament's end. I know that some of the late-season events on the Egolf Tour and, more importantly, some of the stages of Q-school will take place on bermuda greens, so it is important that I was able to keep a good attitude and make good progress on the putting surfaces. A much larger take-home point from this event was my ability to change my thoughts when some bad shots threatened to make me negative. An unlucky break followed by a bad chip shot led to a bogey on the par-4 11th hole in the second round. That bogey moved me to one-over-par for the event with just seven holes remaining before the cut, and for a split second, I let my mind wander to negative thoughts. I regained focus, however, and reminded myself to stick with my routine and stay in the present over each individual shot. When I birdied four of the next seven holes, it really proved to me the power of thinking correctly on the golf course. That's not to say that I will always be able to execute well, but I certainly give myself a good chance if I have the right attitude and a good thought-process over each shot. I employed the same power of positive thought to salvage two ugly rounds on Friday and Saturday. I was completely off early in the third round, but instead of imploding, I birdied four of the first seven holes on my second nine. I was trying to make a similar run in Saturday's final round, but I could never get anything going. At the end of the day, I am certainly disappointed with my scores and my finish from the tournament this week, but I will remember the positive lessons learned and draw on them to help me in the future.

I have already touched on the positive work that I did on the practice green during the tournament, but I am also pleased with the week of work that I have had as a whole. My practice was a little bit inconsistent this week and my fitness work was, too, but I was determined to get all of my process goals completed. Though I did not complete my goals as efficiently throughout the week as I would have liked, a very thorough and solid day of work on Sunday allowed me to get all of my fitness and practice goals done for the week. I had a good session on the driving range with Bobbo and also spent some very high-quality time on the putting green and working on my short game and wedge play out on the course. All aspects of my game seemed to be in working order during my practice on Sunday, so I'm confident that the semi-struggles of the last couple weeks were just a quick blip to keep me honest. I still feel great and am excited moving forward.

And moving forward I am. I am heading up to the midwest on Tuesday morning for some exciting opportunities. The Missouri Open is this Thursday-Saturday at The Club at Old Hawthorne--my home course from my college days. I am a two-time champion of that event but was disappointed with my finish last year, so I am motivated to have a great week. Two days after the Missouri Open, I will play in the Monday Qualifier for the Web.com (formerly Nationwide) Tour's Cox Classic in Omaha, Nebraska. The following week, the Web.com Tour will be in Springfield, Missouri. Monday qualifiers are certainly difficult, but I know that I have the game to compete at the Web.com Tour level, and I am ready to break through and earn my way out onto that tour. I am excited about the opportunities that the next few weeks hold.

Everything is good. Practice continues to be challenging but also fun and productive for me. I can definitely tell that I am still improving, and I know that my tournament results will be back where we want them in the very near future. Thank you so much for keeping up with me and for all of your support. Keep it here for more great news moving forward!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mentally Tough

Alright, I still don't have much time to write, but I'm going to catch you up a little bit on the events of the week. I arrived in Wallace, NC, (40 miles northwest of Wilmington) on Tuesday afternoon and played a practice round on the River Course at River Landing Country Club. The River Course is a nice layout with a good variety of holes. Some holes feature length and require longer approach shots while others are shorter and offer nice birdie opportunities. Some holes are quite open and others are very demanding with trees, hazards, and out-of-bounds waiting just off of the fairway. It is definitely a very nice layout, but the best feature is the greens. The putting surfaces are champions bermuda grass, and they are smooth, fast, and grainy. After a decent practice round and a quick practice session on Tuesday, I felt like I knew the course fairly well and was ready for tournament play to begin on Wednesday.

In reality, I did not do a good job of preparing myself on Tuesday for the challenge that the greens would present, and my lack of preparation showed in a first round during which I three-putted three times and added a fourth three-putt from the fringe on another hole. Luckily my ball-striking was good in the first round, or I could have posted an ugly score. I survived my terrible putting day with a score of even-par 72 in the opening round. I began my second round outside of the cut-line, but I was determined not to think about that. I had battled through an extremely frustrating afternoon of putting practice following my first round performance, and I had a very good short putting session in the morning before beginning my normal warm-up routine on Thursday. I went to the first tee determined to focus on each shot and not let my mind get obsessed with trying to make the cut. My early round ball-striking put me behind the eight-ball quickly. Though I felt good about my swing heading into the round, I quickly realized that something was a little bit off. I snap hooked a drive out of bounds on the wide open second hole and made a double-bogey and then pull hooked another tee shot into a group of trees to set up a bogey on the par-4 fourth. I was reeling, but I was determined to stick to my plan. I committed to each and every shot and began to claw my way back. A couple of birdies allowed me to turn at even par for the day, but a poor club selection and a very poor chip led to a bogey on the eleventh and threatened to derail me. Standing at one over par with seven holes to play, I could have given up. I consciously decided to take control of my thoughts and chose to continue to try to play one shot at a time. I began to execute a few shots well, and I managed to birdie holes 12, 13, and 16 to get to two under par. A near miss from long range on the seventeenth hole left me feeling frustrated, but I was determined to stay committed and hit good shots on the final hole. I hit my driver down the fairway and then hit a gap wedge right at the flag from 120 yards. The only problem was I had misjudged the wind and the ball came up short of the front hole location and sat in the grass on the face of a bunker. I was definitely discouraged by the result of that shot, but I had to go play it from where it stopped, so I held it together and walked to my ball and calmly chipped it off the face of the bunker and into the hole for a closing birdie and a second-round score of 69. It was a great feeling to finish my round strongly, and I am pumped to say that despite awful putting in round one and some extremely poor ball-striking early in round two, I am heading to the weekend with a chance to play well and jump up the leaderboard. My physical skills have been a bit off this week, but my mental game has never been stronger than it was in round two. I know that my putting and ball-striking are both in fine shape, and the confidence I gained from executing well under pressure today might just vault me to a great weekend performance.

I get started very early in the third round. I'm excited to go out and make a move. The course will likely be set up tough for day three, so a solid performance will go a long way. I'm going to be patient, focused, and relaxed. Come back in the evening to read a good report! Thank you for your support!

I'm Going to Roll in Round 2

I putted like a dog in the first round. That is all there is to it. I'm playing this week's Egolf event at a course called River Landing in Wallace, NC, and I didn't get off to a great start in Wednesday's first round. With the exception of a few squirrely swings in the middle of my round, my ball-striking was very good on the the opening day, but I was beyond bad on the greens. I struggled to a two-birdie effort of even-par 72.  River Landing is a very good course with absolutely great putting surfaces, so I am excited to get out there and have another shot at them in Round 2. I will report more about my first two rounds on Thursday evening, but for now, I'm heading to the course to get that loving feeling rolling for my second round. Come back for some good news in the evening! Thank you for keeping up with me!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rested and Ready

I'm out near the coast of North Carolina for this week's Egolf event at a course called River Landing. I'm coming off two days of very enjoyable relaxation and am feeling great. I got back to work with a full day of preparation on Tuesday during which I learned my way around the golf course and did some practice to sharpen my game. I start at 7:50 a.m. in the first round, so it is bedtime right now, but come back Wednesday evening for a report from the first round and for more information about the course.  Thank you for keeping up with me!

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Good Week Except for My Scores

I am equal parts encouraged and disappointed following the final round of this week's Egolf event--the Southern Open at The Club at Irish Creek. I am encouraged because I had a great week. From my preparation at home last weekend to my two practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday and right on through the first three rounds of the tournament, I was really pumped about everything. My mindset was great, my game felt really good, and I was really happy with the work that I was putting in off of the golf course as well. The disappointment comes from the fact that my scores just weren't very good this week. Playing in benign weather conditions on a golf course that has a number of birdie holes, I managed just 14 birdies all week and, despite carding only five bogeys during the 72-hole event, I was never in contention on the weekend and finished in the middle of the field. A three-birdie, two-bogey effort in the final round netted me a another round of 70 on Irish Creek's par-71 layout. My game is in great shape, but I couldn't seem to get anything going this week. I really am disappointed because I feel like I am playing well enough to have competed for a victory this week, but I think the feelings of encouragement are even stronger because I know that my game is in shape for great things moving forward.

I will play in another Egolf event next week at a course called River Landing in Wallace, NC. This is a first-time venue for the Egolf Tour, so it will be exciting to check out a new spot. I have had great practice during this week's event, but I need to do another hour of short game work on Sunday in order to complete all of my practice goals for the week. I'm not certain that I will have a facility on which to complete my work, but I'm going to try to make it happen. My game is close to being great, and I just need to keep sharpening all areas.

Keep it here for more news as I wrap up a good week of work and head farther east in North Carolina for next week's event. Exciting opportunities are coming up, and I am still improving. Thank you for following me and for all of your support. It means a lot to have so many people pulling for me!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Irish Creek Owes Me a Good One

I have played many tournament rounds in the past three years at the Club at Irish Creek. I haven't checked the archives to confirm this, but I cannot remember shooting a score better than 69. In Friday's third round of this week's Egolf event, I played well enough to shatter that mark and break the streak of mediocrity that I have at the course. I felt like I was executing well in all areas of my game. I drove the ball well, hit a lot of solid iron shots, and was quite pleased with the way I was rolling the ball on the greens. At the end of the day, though, I didn't hit the ball close enough to the hole, and I managed just two birdies on my way to a one-under-par round of 70 on a day in which scoring conditions were perfect. I am ready to post a great score, though, and lucky for me, I have one more day to do it this week! Everything is feeling good, so I know that the desired results are coming. Hopefully I'll post a really good number in Saturday's final round. Come back to hear all about it in the evening! Thank you for keeping up with me.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Good Score in Round 2

I felt great about my game heading into the second round of this week's Egolf event. Playing at the easy  (but very good) Country Club of Salisbury, I birdied two of the first three holes to validate the good feelings. I never really got into much of a rhythm, however, and even though I hit a lot of good shots, I had to work hard for some pars and didn't make another birdie until I hit a great four iron close at the par-3 ninth. Another birdie on the tenth could have really sparked a great back nine, but, once again, I couldn't string together enough good shots to get any momentum rolling. I misjudged a "flyer" lie from just off of the fairway at the par-4 twelfth hole and suffered my only bogey of the day. My next couple of tee shots were a bit wayward and added some stress to my day, but I stayed relatively calm and recovered very well from tricky spots left of the thirteenth and fifteenth fairways. My putter came alive in the final four holes as I rolled in putts of 15, 20, and 12 feet for birdies and made a five footer to save par in between the last two birdies. At the end of the day it was a six-under-par round of 65. That is a good score and I am very happy with, but my game actually felt better during my opening-round 70 at Irish Creek. I head back to Irish Creek for the final two rounds on Friday and Saturday, and I'm hopeful that I can combine the quality feelings I got from my first round with the positive scoring I was able to produce in round 2. If I am able to do that, it will be a great weekend. I'm in a decent position to make a move, and I am ready to play well. I am going to be focused and relaxed, and I am going to have a great time! Come back for more news after each of the final two rounds. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

(A little bit too) Slow and Steady in Round 1

There is not really a whole lot to report from my opening round of this week's Egolf event. Playing at Irish Creek, I hit the ball beautifully all day and gave myself a lot of opportunities to get something going, but I just never did. I parred my first 11 holes of the day despite having reasonable birdie putts on 10 of those 11 holes. I then swapped a birdie at the par-3 third (my 12th) with a bogey on the par-4 fourth. Standing at even par with five holes to play, I lost my relaxed attitude just a little bit and began pressing a bit to make something happen. Even so, I got myself into a good mindset for each shot, and with the exception of a poor chip shot near the green of the par-5 sixth hole, I executed fairly well over the closing holes of my first round. A birdie at the par-4 seventh moved me to one under par for the day, and that is where I finished with a score of 70. I am definitely not thrilled with that score, but my game felt very good all day. I am going to the Country Club of Salisbury for the second round on Thursday, and I am confident that I will give a good performance. Come back to hear about it in the evening. Thank you for following me!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Focused and Relaxed

I am eager to get back to action. I have been being congratulated for the past week for my win in the last Egolf event, but I know that I have to be in the present. I am excited to have won and have soaked up all of the good experience that winning provides, but for the past seven days, I have been on a mission to prepare myself for more good golf. For the last two days, I have been just north of Charlotte, NC, playing practice rounds to prepare for this week's Egolf event at The Club at Irish Creek and The Country Club of Salisbury. Both venues are fantastic, and I have prepared quite well for them. I am ready for a great week.

I have been determined lately to give my full attention to every golf shot. Though that may seem like a no-brainer, it is surprising how many practice shots I have hit in the past without the least bit of a plan or a thought process. I'm sure that such a mentality makes it easier for me to to have mental slips in tournaments. Therefore, I have really tried in the past week to have a few seconds of planning and mental preparation before each and every shot. I want a thorough thought process to be habitual for me before each shot. This week, I have played two of my best practice rounds ever employing the strategy. My physical skills feel as honed as they have ever been, so a quality mindset should allow me to play very well.

With that said, I know that I tend to put the most pressure on myself at times when I feel the best about my game. For this reason, I know that it is even more important than ever for me to stay relaxed and to enjoy myself on the course. I have always had trouble combining good focus with a relaxed attitude, but I am learning that as long as I get truly focused for a few seconds before each shot, I can be relaxed the other 96% of the time that I am at the golf course. I feel like I am really starting to get a grip on this concept.

I am very excited for this week's tournament. I am going to be focused AND relaxed. I tee it up at 8:27 on the tenth tee at Irish Creek in Wednesday's first round. Come back daily for reports from the rounds. Thank you so much for keeping up with me!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Great Week of Work

I call all of the effort and practice that I put into my golf game "work," but I enjoy almost every bit of it.  This week, I was lazy and mentally sloppy on Monday and Tuesday, and to make up for that, I was determined to have thorough days during a five-day stay at home Wednesday-Sunday. Though I played a two-day tournament on Monday/Tuesday, I decided that I was going to tackle my non-tournament week process goals, and I am very pleased to say that I completed all of them. I worked very hard on my fitness and woke up early each morning in an attempt to beat the sweltering heat. I did hard workouts all week, and I feel very energized. My practice goals took a lot of good work, too. My putting drills didn't go easily, but I was determined to get them all done. I get tournament-like nerves near the end of my putting drills, and though some of them took me a while this week, it is a great feeling to make some big putts towards the end of my drills and get them done. When I made my last three footer to complete my final putting drill on Sunday, I felt like I had won a tournament! In addition to that, I did great work with my wedges all week. My short game is definitely improving, and I feel like I made good progress with my wedges and around the greens this week. I had a couple of great matches on Friday and Saturday at Holston Hills as well. My work showed as I was fairly sharp both days. A couple of short game slips led to a pair of sloppy bogeys on the way to a two-under-par 70 on Friday before I cleaned up all areas of my game for a bogey-free 65 on Saturday. I am very excited with the week of work I had--even if most of it did seem like fun.

I am leaving Monday morning for Charlotte, NC, and the Egolf Tour's Southern Open at Irish Creek Golf Club and The Country Club of Salisbury. Obviously, I am still thrilled about the win that I had last week, but it is a clean slate now, and it is time to get myself in that position again. I feel well-prepared to have a great performance, and I am excited about this week's event. The tournament starts Wednesday. I will have a couple of good practice rounds the next two days, and I'll give you an updated before the event begins. Thank you for following me! Keep it here for all the news from what should be a great week!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Back to Work

Following the excitement of last week, I allowed myself to have a lazy few days on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Unfortunately, I played an event on the Carolinas Pro Tour on Monday and Tuesday, and my laziness showed. I actually didn't play poorly, but I never had a good competitive mindset, and I posted rounds of 70 and 71 for a three-under-par total at Carolina Lakes Golf Course just south of Charlotte, NC. Those rounds earned a four-way tie for ninth place, and ninth was the last position to earn money, so it definitely was not a financially productive tournament for me on the Carolinas Pro Tour.

I am not happy with that result and am a bit disappointed with the poor mental effort that I gave in the tournament, but I must say that after traveling home on Tuesday evening, I awoke Wednesday morning ready to get back to work. Since I did not treat the Monday-Tuesday event like a tournament this week, I am going to hold myself accountable for all of my non-tournament week process goals. I have had three very good days of work since then, and am excited to keep being productive this weekend. I have a lot of work to do to finish my goals, but I will get them done!

It was great to get that Egolf win last week, but that is just a stepping stone to achieving my goals and getting to where I want to be. That win felt good, but I am already hungry to get out and accomplish much more. I have a lot of good things on the schedule in the coming weeks. Next week I will play an Egolf event just north of Charlotte, NC, at a course called Irish Creek. It should be a great tournament with a big field, so I am highly motivated to have my game in top shape.

I am going to have a solid weekend of work, and I will be ready to go when I hit the road for Charlotte next week. Keep it here for a weekend practice report on Sunday evening. Again, thank you so much to everyone for all of the support and encouragement! It means so much to me to have so many people pulling for me.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Egolf Victory! ...at the End of Busy (and Crazy and Scary) Week

My week began with a 64 on Monday that wasn't good enough to qualify for the Nationwide Tour event in Indiana. Late that night, I made a last-second decision to sign up for the week's Egolf event in Virginia and started driving east. One night at a hotel and 600+ miles later, I arrived at the Wintergreen Resort's Stoney Creek golf course for a quick Tuesday afternoon practice round. I was a bit lazy during the practice round but managed to learn my way around the course fairly well. Tuesday night I made the short drive to my cousin's apartment in a beautiful farm setting just outside of Charlottesville and set up camp for the week. It had been a long couple days to get me to Tuesday night, but I enjoyed the hospitality of my cousin and his fiance and rested well before my 12:10 tee time in Wednesday's first round.

After making a lot of birdies and playing very well the first three rounds, my week got a lot more interesting (and scary and crazy) on Friday night. Sitting on a two shot lead, I headed out for a relaxing dinner with my cousin, his fiance, and some of their friends. We had a good meal and some good camaraderie, and I was feeling great when we got up to head home from dinner. The good feeling didn't last long. As we walked out the door of the restaurant, it was clear that a storm was coming over the mountain. We ran to the car and tried to make it home, but less than two minutes into our drive, the wind blew a tree across the road in front of us and took a power transformer down with it. We whipped a quick three point turn and sped off to get out of the wooded area. We spent the next one hour and forty-five minutes tucked against a bank building underneath the drive through cover and watched as the wind ravished the area. When the wind finally abated enough that we could leave our little safe spot, the real adventure began. With downed trees blocking nearly every road in the rural area, we could not find a route back to my cousin's place. Finally, after trying a multitude of options, we went back to a route that we knew had been blocked during the storm, but luckily crews had cleared a lane, and we were able to make it to my cousin's street. We could not make it all the way to his house, but we were able to park the car within walking distance and climb over a few downed trees to complete our journey to his apartment. Once there, we got no comfort. Trees were down all over his yard. One had clipped the corner of his house on the way down before crushing his neighbor's truck in the driveway. A different tree crushed the car of another neighbor. Somehow my car was spared. Though it was late, we spent some time surveying the damage. It was a crazy, scary night, and despite the damage, the heat, and the lack of electricity, I think we all were thankful to be alive and healthy.

My cousin's apartment Saturday morning
I slept soundly for a couple of hours, but fear that my phone battery would fail overnight and a distrust of my battery-powered alarm clock (with which I always travel but seldom use) kept me tossing and turning for the last hour of the night. By five thirty, I was up to start preparing because I knew that my route to the golf course might be complicated. Fortunately, I was able to stick to a couple of main roads and got to the course with no problems. When I got there, however, I learned that my scare from the night before was shared by nearly everyone in the tournament. Trees were down at the course as well, and the electricity was out. Cleaning up the course took a herculean effort from the greenskeeper's staff. Tee times were delayed by three and a half hours, but finally by 11:50, I was off in the final group.

Compared to the disastrous weather of the night before, golf seems a little bit less important, but I still badly wanted to play a solid final round and win the tournament. I began the round with three consecutive birdies, and though that looked great on paper, there were a lot of shaky shots in those three holes. Still, it was a great start and I felt fairly in control. I actually hit more solid shots in the next three holes, but couldn't convert any birdie opportunities during that stretch. I made an unforced error by being overly aggressive to a tight hole location and short-siding myself from just 135 yards on the par-4 seventh hole. That bogey rattled me just a little bit, and I played some fairly tense golf the rest of the way in. My relaxed attitude was gone, and every shot seemed hard. I made a few mistakes and gave   away some shots with a couple of poor pars on the par-5 ninth and thirteenth holes and made a mess of the tenth hole on the way to a bogey. I managed to get myself into a decent mindset over each shot and did a good job of committing to a plan, but in between shots I was a mess. Finally, after making some good pars, I arrived on the tee of the par-5 seventeenth hole. With a one-shot lead over my playing competitor Chesson Hadley, I reminded myself how much fun that situation was for me. I pounded a drive down the fairway and executed a great five iron into the green. Though I didn't hit a great putt for the eagle, the tap-in birdie allowed me to keep my one-shot advantage heading to the final hole. A safe drive into the right rough set up a beautifully played approach to the middle of the green, some thirty feet left of the tucked right hole location. When Chesson's wedge shot got caught up in the back fringe and he failed to make his long, swinging birdie effort, I rolled my putt within two feet of the hole and kicked it in for par and a one-shot victory.


Me with Wintergreen Director of Golf 
It wasn't the final-round performance that I wanted. It was erratic and stressful, but in the end, I got it done. Given all that went into the week leading up to Saturday's final round, I am going to excuse my mental shortcomings and celebrate the victory. I cannot wait to be in that situation again and approach it with a more well-rested and clear-thinking mind. My goal is to embrace final-round, tournament-on-the-line pressure with the same relaxed and care-free attitude that I approach most everything else in my life. I haven't had that experience yet, but I feel like I am learning more and more. It feels so good to finally put that first Egolf Tour win under my belt, but now I'm hungry to get back so I can do it again and handle it better. My game is good and my attitude is good, but both are still improving. That is what is so exciting.

The support that I received this week from all of you and from my family and from all the folks at Wintergreen has been incredible. Thank you very much for caring about me and my career. It means so much to me to have people rooting for me and sharing my success with me!

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...