Friday, March 29, 2013

Final Round, Final Group at St. James

I was not very sharp during the third round of the eGolf Tour's Championship at St. James Plantation, but I got hot on the front nine and then stayed tough through some adversity in the middle of my round. I turned at three under par for my round on day 3, but began the back nine with a double bogey and a bogey. I battled hard over the rest of the closing nine, and though I hit a few wayward shots, I played the final seven holes even par to post a third-round score of 72 (E). I was disappointed with my mid-round falter, but I'm proud of the way I played. I definitely didn't have my "A" stuff, but I posted a decent score on a very trying day.
That score gives me a three-day total of -1 and has me in a tie for 2nd place entering the tournament's final round on Saturday. Though I am four shots behind the leader, I am playing in the final group and definitely feel like a solid round will give me a great chance to win. I am going to be calm, committed, fearless, and intelligent during the final round. More than that, I am going to have a lot of fun. Come back for a great final-round report Saturday evening. Thank you for your support!

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

In Good Shape through 36 Holes

Despite a very sloppy finish, I posted a solid second-round score of 71 (-1). Strong gusty winds made for a very difficult start to the round, and I opened with a bogey. I made three solid pars before driving it into trouble on the par-4 fifth. I was forced to pitch my ball out of a difficult area in a waste bunker and was left with 120 yards for my third shot. I stuffed a wedge within three feet of the hole and converted the putt for a big par save, and that got me rolling. I made five birdies against a lone bogey over my next ten holes to reach three under for my round. A sloppy three-putt caused a bogey on the 16th hole before my worst iron shot of the week led to another bogey on the finishing hole. It was definitely disappointing to have such a weak finish, but it was still a good round of golf and has me in good position heading into the weekend. I'm going to keep playing well. Keep it here for reports from the action. Thank you for following me!

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Steady Start at One of My Favorite Venues

The eGolf Professional Tour is at one of my very favorite courses this week--the Reserve Club at St. James Plantation. In addition to being a beautiful layout that is in immaculate condition, the Reserve Club is one of the most demanding courses I will play all year. Combine the challenging track with frigid morning temperatures and winds that rarely are calm here on the coast of North Carolina, and you have the recipe for a great test of golf.

I began the tournament at 8:20 on Wednesday morning off of the tenth tee. I could not believe that the superintendent and the tournament committee were letting us start because there was visible frost all over the golf course and practice facilities. After slipping and sliding on an ice covered driving range, I hit the tenth tee to start my tournament. I really wasn't feeling great about the way I was hitting the ball, but I knew that with a good attitude, I had the ability to take on the demanding course. I missed a short par-saving putt on my opening hole, but recovered by making a big six-footer to save par on the next. That par putt on the 11th (my 2nd) hole settled me down nicely. I made a great birdie on the long par-5 12th hole, and proceeded to play very solid golf over the next twelve holes. I rarely missed greens, and, though I stayed fairly cold with the putter, I arrived at the tee of the par-5 7th (my 16th) hole one under par for my round. I hit a great drive and was licking my chops in the fairway of the very challenging hole. I had a great plan for my second shot, and I was committed to it, but I hit my worst shot of the day and blocked a four iron well right of my target into a bunker some 50 yards from the water-guarded green. I wound up with a bogey on that hole, and suffered another bogey on the following hole. I was angry after my back-to-back bogeys, but I committed to an aggressive plan on the par-4 9th hole and executed a perfect tee shot. That tee shot set up an easy wedge onto the green where I rolled in a fifteen foot putt to end my round with a birdie. I posted a first-round score of 72 (Even par) and am in great position moving forward.

I play my second round later in the day on Thursday, and I'm confident that I will stay positive and patient and post a great round. Come back for a round-2 update Thursday evening. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Crazy Tournament Week

As I have already chronicled in a previous post, I left this week's tournament after playing my second round thinking that my 36-hole total of 150 (+6) would not be good enough to make the cut. It turned out that my gutsy second-round comeback was enough to survive the cut and play the weekend. Only problem is no one played the weekend this tournament. The second round was officially completed on Saturday afternoon, but rain, storms, and an over-saturated golf course never let us play any of the weekend rounds. I did make the cut and earn a paycheck, but unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to move up the leaderboard over the final rounds. Though I am disappointed to see my name at the bottom of the list and to have earned a small pay day, I will remember this event for my stick-to-it-tiveness that allowed me to overcome some serious struggles--I was +10 through 25 holes--and post a great second-round score to come back from a first-round 80 and make the cut.

It sure seems worrisome that I have now posted two rounds of 80 in the past two weeks when I had gone more than three years as a professional without ever shooting a score that high. To me, however, it really isn't a cause for concern. I can tell that I am playing well, and though I have definitely been in a little bit of a scoring funk for the past few weeks, my game is continuing to feel solid. I'm confident that my good score from Friday will help me climb out of my recent hard time.

Though I am quite pleased with my efforts on the course over the last week, I did not have a very good week of practice. Bad weather, lots of driving, and a lack of practice facilities at the tournament site all contributed to a poor week, but I did not even come close to finishing my practice goals. I was four putting drills, two hours of short game work, and one ball-striking session short of completing my work goals. One bright spot is that I continued to stay on top of my fitness work. I have completed my fitness goals each week this year, and I feel great. I need to do a better job of staying focused and on-task with my practice sessions moving forward. I can and should get my work goals finished nearly every week, and I will do a better job of that moving forward.

I'm heading back to the eGolf Tour for the next two weeks at a pair of golf courses that I really like. This week is The Reserve Club at St. James Plantation. I will travel there on Monday, practice Tuesday, and then be ready to go for the 72-hole event Wednesday-Saturday. I'm looking forward to posting some good scores and getting back in contention. I'm going to do that by having a solid week of work, playing intelligently, and having fun.

Keep it here for updates throughout the week. Thank you very much for your support!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Wash-out on Saturday

All my driving was in vain. I made it back to Gainesville, GA, a coupe of hours before the scheduled start of Saturday's third round, but that start never happened. Rains saturated the golf course, and round three was pushed back to Sunday. If the forecast holds true, we might not play Sunday, either, but I sure hope we do. Come back for a report and a summary of the week on Sunday evening. Thank you for following me!

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Great Finish to Round 2; Some Extra Driving

After an extremely frustrating Thursday ended with a first-round score of 80 (+8) on Friday morning, I was determined just to continue playing well and having a great attitude as I teed it up in round 2. I knew that making the cut was still very possible, but I simply wanted to have a good day and post a positive score. I began my second round in eerily similar fashion to the first round. I felt like I was executing well, but through seven holes, I had two bogeys and no birdies to show for my efforts. I stayed committed to each shot and began to get things going in the right direction. I played the final 11 holes of my second round in 4 under par with no bogeys to post a second-round score of 70 (-2). I was very pleased because I had played well and did have a good score to show for it, but I was certain that I would still miss the cut. I had failed to birdie either of the par-fives on my second nine, and I felt like my score would definitely not be enough to play the weekend. I decided to head home for some practice over the weekend, and I am currently writing this from my comfy bed in Dandridge, TN. I am thrilled to say, though, that I have an early wake-up call coming in the morning so that I can drive just more than three hours back to Chattahoochee Golf Course in Gainesville, GA, for the third round tomorrow. I'm going to make the cut, which is a great and pleasant surprise. I know the importance of staying positive and never giving up, but this experience further drove home that point.

I had better get to sleep for now so that I can go down to Georgia tomorrow and start climbing that leaderboard. Keep it here for updates over the weekend. Thank you for following me!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Frustration on Day 1

I am in a bit of a funk right now. I really do feel like I am playing well. I'm driving the ball well, hitting some quality iron and wedge shots, and stroking the putter okay, but I was just not precise enough on day one to handle the tough conditions on a tough golf course. After making three bogeys in the first seven holes, I birdied number nine and felt great heading to the back nine. Unfortunately, I couldn't get things to go my way on the back nine. I hit a lot of quality shots, but incredibly have bogied six of the first eight holes on the back nine to stand at eight over par with one hole remaining in my opening round. That is obviously not good, but my game feels like it is close to being as good as ever. Great results are coming soon. Hopefully I can get it started on Friday as I finish round 1 and play round 2. Come back for a great report from Friday's action. Thank you for keeping up with me. Keep believing in me; great stuff coming!!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Great Course for This Week's NGA Event

I am writing this from my sister's house in Cartersville, Georgia, but this week's event on the NGA Tour is actually an hour and a half from here at Chattahoochee Golf Course in Gainesville, GA. I am in the afternoon wave for Thursday's opening round, so I'm soaking up a chance to stay with my sister and be Uncle Pete, but I will definitely be in "game mode" by mid-morning on Thursday. I am very excited about Chattahoochee Golf Course. It is a good layout with a nice variety of short and long holes, wonderfully shaped fairways lined by tall pines and sometime thick woods, and beautiful bunkering. The real highlight of the course, though, is the greens. They are fairly large putting surfaces, but dramatic undulation separates most of the greens into sections, and all are extremely firm and very fast. The greens will require intelligent planning and precise execution on approach shots. I have really been working on my iron play this week, and I am feeling good. All areas of my game are feeling good, in fact, and I am ready to put together a strong performance from beginning to end this week. The weather--cold, breezy, and potentially rainy at times--promises to add another element of challenge, but I am ready for whatever it can throw at me. I'm going to play intelligently, stay relaxed, have fun, and execute well this week. Keep it here for nightly updates after each round. Thank you for following me!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Frustrating Results but an Encouraging Week

The final round of the NGA Tour's Kandy Waters Memorial Classic at Mount Vintage Plantation in North Augusta, South Carolina, took place on one of the most perfect weather days of the year. Sunday was warm, sunny, and just moderately breezy. Mount Vintage Plantation was still brutal! The greens, which had been so firm and fast all week, actually seemed a bit more docile in the final round, but scores (mine included) were still very high. I hit a lot of very good golf shots, but just lacked consistency and also missed a few short putts in my closing nine holes. I finished the tournament with a round of 74 (+2), and wound up in a tie for 37th place. In addition to obviously being a poor finish, this result was a bit more frustrating than usual for me because I thrive in the type of conditions we faced this week, and I just wasn't able to execute well enough, consistently enough in all facets of the game to keep myself in contention. I certainly did a lot of things right and really feel like I'm swinging the club well overall, but I sprinkled in too many lousy shots and made a few mental errors as well. It is un-ignorably frustrating to have posted such a poor finish, but with a little mental effort, I will be able to remember this as a very positive week.

For the most part, I drove the ball beautifully from start to finish. I mishit a few drives here and there and of course missed my line a time or three throughout the tournament, but overall I hit the ball very well off the tee. On the whole, my iron play was definitely weak during this tournament. I mishit quite a few shots and was losing a lot of iron shots to the right. With that said, I hit some perfect iron shots over my last ten holes of the tournament, so I think I have something upon which to build. I will really try to focus on my iron play in the coming days of practice. My chipping was good for the most part, but I hit a couple of horrific bunker shots during the week. After the final round, I had a great short game session during which I solidified some good feelings about my chipping and re-discovered that loving feeling out of the sand. My putting was sloppy the last two rounds, but I feel great about the way I am rolling the rock. I definitely threw away some shots on the greens over the final two days, and that is never okay, but my putting has been feeling great in practice and I'm very confident with the putter in my hands. So, despite the bum results this week, I really do feel like I am close to putting it all together and playing some great golf.

I completed all of my work goals this week. That is important for me. My goals keep me focused during my practice time and keep me on task for keeping my body ready to compete. Weather delays and somewhat limited short game facilities got me behind with my practice drills this week, but I stayed committed to the goal of finishing them and made that happen. That feels good.

I'm heading down the road on Monday to Gainesville, Georgia, for the week's NGA Tour event at Chattahoochee Golf Club. I am excited to have another great week of work and to improve my mental and physical performance during the tournament. The tournament is Thursday-Sunday, and I'll be ready for it.

Thank you very much for keeping up with me. My results have been frustrating the last couple weeks because I feel like I'm ready to play well right now, but I know that I need to be patient and enjoy the process without obsessing about the results. I am playing way better than my last two tournament results would indicate, but when I stop worrying about the results and remember to simply enjoy working and competing, I have a feeling great things are going to happen. Keep it here for practice reports and action reports from this week's event.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Good, Bad, and Ugly on Day 3

On Saturday morning I warmed up in the dark before the 8 a.m. restart of the second round. I was a little jittery knowing I faced eight tough holes in cool and breezy conditions. I felt good, though, and I had a feeling it would be a great day. I swapped a birdie and a bogey over the final eight holes of my second round to post a 71 (-1). With the exception of a terrible bunker shot on the par-3 7th hole, I played very solidly during the conclusion of my second round. As all of the scores came in, it became clear that my round was indeed pretty good. Though the leaderboard was very tightly bunched, my 1-over-par total through 36 holes had me just four shots behind the leaders.

I teed off at 12:30 to begin my third round, and despite 20+ mile per hour winds whipping across an already brutally hard golf course, I felt great and poised to make a move. I began my round impressively, recording eight consecutive pars on a tricky stretch of opening holes. A big blunder on the easy par-5 9th cost me a bogey as I made the turn, but I still felt good. Another poor swing led to a bogey on the par-3 11th, but I answered with two of my best swings of the day on the uphill par-5 12th. Unfortunately, my second shot must have carried just a bit farther than I intended, and though I thought it had a chance to go in the hole, we actually found it in some gnarly pine roots 20 yards over the green. I scraped out a difficult par, but that rattled me. Though I still felt good about the way I was swinging, my execution was sloppy the last six holes, and I compounded a few ball-striking mistakes with my worst putting stretch of the week. I ended up shooting 80; it is the only time in my professional career I have posted a score in the 80s. Of course I'm disappointed to have shot such a poor score and to see the plummet that ensued down the learderboard, but my game still feels good. I had a very focused practice session after signing my scorecard, and everything is in good shape.

I'm going to play great on Sunday. All the pieces are there; I just need to put them together. I feel fantastic, and I know that the good results are coming. Keep it here for a final-round report and a summary of the week. Thank you for following me!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Very Productive 10-hole Day on Friday

Consecutive mornings of 2+ hour frost delays have the NGA Tour event at Mount Vintage quite a bit behind schedule. With my second round tee time pushed back to 4:00 pm on Friday, I took advantage of a beautiful day to do some quality work. I had a great sprint workout in the morning and then put in a solid two hours of practice before having a rest and a second lunch prior to my tee time. I nailed a couple of my putting drills and had a great session on the driving range. When it was finally my turn to tee off, the clock said nearly 4:30, but I was feeling great. I played only ten holes of my second round before play was suspended for darkness, but I'm feeling good. The golf course is brutally tough, but I'm playing intelligently and decently well. I have made two birdies and one bogey.

Saturday will be a golf-filled day, and I am looking forward to it. As difficultly as the course is playing, I feel like I can easily get myself back into contention, and I have a 26-hole day on Saturday with which to do just that. I am going to stay relaxed, have fun, and play smartly. It will be a fun weekend! Keep it here for reports from the action. Thank you for your support!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Round-1 Report

It was a long day on Thursday at Mount Vintage Plantation. I arrived on time to warm up properly for my 8:36 opening-round tee time, but temperatures in the 20s promised a frost delay, and sure enough, I didn't tee off until nearly 11 o'clock. It was still quite brisk when I started, but the weather was not an issue. I had great days of practice leading into this week's event and was really feeling confident when we got started, but I struggled with my ball-striking early and often. The greens are very demanding on this golf course, and they require approach shots that are well-thought and precise. My thinking was good for most of the day, but my execution was very lacking. I made some great par-saving putts early and stood at even par seven holes, but bogeyed holes 8, 10, and 11 to fall to three over. I was definitely a bit rattled and frustrated, but I did a good job of staying patient, and though I could not get anything going, I played the final seven holes in one under par to post an opening-round 74 (+2). My game definitely felt a little off on Thursday, but I know that I am playing well. I'm going to find that lovin' feeling on Friday afternoon and play great the rest of the way. Come back for another report after round 2. Thank you for following me!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ready to Go at Mount Vintage Plantation

I'm playing this week on the NGA Tour at a venue called Mount Vintage Plantation in North Augusta, South Carolina. The course is phenomenal. It features dramatic elevation changes, lots of mounding in and around the fairways, and severely undulating greens. The putting surfaces are smooth, hard, and very fast, too, so the course definitely presents a great challenge. In two days of preparation on site, my game has felt ready for the challenge. I'm hitting the ball beautifully, and I feel that the toughness of this course fits the strength of my game. The course demands precise approach shots and great imagination and feel on and around the greens. I am ready to have a great tournament. I'm going to be relaxed and play intelligently for the entirety of this event. I'm going to have fun and not make any major mental mistakes all week. I get started at 8:36 on Thursday morning. Come back for nightly updates after the rounds. Thank you for following me!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Delayed Summary of Last Week + Great Things Coming!

I'm sorry that I haven't updated you since the first 33 holes of last week's event. If you have seen the final results, you know that I do not have a lot to brag about in terms of my finish, but I am actually very pleased about some things that happened in the middle of the tournament. I'll cover the good and the bad from last week's event and will also talk a little bit about my plans for the coming weeks. Last week's finish didn't look good on paper, and the final round didn't feel good in action either, but I am still feeling great overall and am pumped to build on my strong start to the year.

The last time I wrote on here, I had completed 15 holes of my second round at the eGolf Tour's cold and windswept Irish Creek Classic. I returned to the course on Friday morning to prepare for the planned 8:30 a.m. re-start of round 2. Frost pushed that re-start back until 10:00 o'clock, but even with the extended delay, wind chill factors were in the 20s when we teed it up. I stood at three over par for the tournament and had a to play three of the toughest holes on the golf course to finish my second round. Though my mindset was pretty good, I'd be lying to say the thought of "just surviving the cut" hadn't crept into my mind while thinking about the closing three holes at Irish Creek. When it came time to tee it up, however, I was right where I needed to be mentally. I formed a good game plan before each shot and executed really well. I finished my second round with par, birdie, par over the final three holes for a second-round 70 (-1). That was a really good feeling to go out in tough conditions on tough golf holes and execute well.

After posting my second-round score Friday morning, it was a waiting game for the second-round to be completed and round-3 tee times to be released. I pegged it at 1:50 p.m. to begin my third round and proceeded to play 17 solid holes Friday afternoon. I hit very few poor shots on Friday, but I just couldn't seem to catch fire and start rattling off birdies. Every aspect of my game felt pretty good, but I couldn't get any mid-length putts to drop and stood at just two under par through 17 holes when play was suspended for the day. I really played well for the 20 holes I played on Friday, and I had myself in a great position in the tournament with 19 holes left to play on Saturday.

Unfortunately, to quote my friend Michael Sims, "golf happened" on Saturday. My game felt great on Friday, and I was agonizingly close to really tearing it up, but I just didn't have it on Saturday. I continued to drive the ball well, but everything else was a real struggle. My iron play, short game, and putting all cost me shots in Saturday's final round, and after making par on the final hole of my third round for a 69 (-2), I ballooned to a 75 (+4) in the final round, which took place in the week's best scoring conditions. That round sent me tumbling down the leaderboard, and I finished in a tie for 37th. I still can't really explain why I played so poorly the last day, but I'm motivated to keep improving so days like that will occur even less frequently.

Everything is good with my golf game, though. I may have been trying a little bit too hard in the final round, but other than that, I'm just going to chalk it up as "one of those days." I have had two days of practice since Saturday's debacle, and everything is feeling as good as ever. It is time to turn my attention to this week's event.

Although, with that said, I do need to confess my shortcomings in practice from last week. The crazy weather and daily delays did make practicing difficult during last week's event, but I'm disappointed to say that I once again came up a little short of finishing all of my work goals. I did all of my short game work, ball-striking drills, and fitness work, but I came up two putting drills shy of completing all of my work. In addition to that, I once again failed to hole enough chip shots and bunker shots to fulfill my tri-weekly requirements.

Now, it really is time to turn my attention to this week's event. I will hit the road Tuesday morning for North Augusta, South Carolina, and this week's NGA Tour event at Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club. I had a productive day of work on Monday, and I am ready to have a great tournament week. I am going to be relaxed and really enjoy myself from beginning to end this week, but at the same time, I am going to commit to having efficient and effective practice sessions and completing all of my work goals. This is going to be a great week!

My first four tournament weeks of the year have done nothing to lower my very high expectations for this year. I think that all of my outcome goals are very achievable, and I think I'm off to a good start in pursuit of them. I need to really emphasize my work goals in the coming weeks to ensure that my game is continuing to improve, but of equal importance, I need to make sure I am enjoying myself in all that I do. I absolutely love what I do, and as long as I remember to have fun with it, I know that I will continue to progress towards my goals.

If you have read this entire post, thank you very much for your loyal support. Even if you skipped some parts in the middle, thank you for keeping up with me. :) I will do a better job of keeping you updated during my tournaments in the future. Keep it here for reports from the NGA event this week. Great things are coming!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

15 Holes on Day 2

I just want to give a two-liner to tell you about the events of day 2 from the eGolf Tour's Irish Creek Classic. My afternoon tee time was delayed two hours by morning frost, so I played just 15 holes after teeing off at 2:30 p.m. My game didn't feel good at all once I hit the course, but throughout the round I did enough things right here and there to hold it together. I've made two birdies and two bogies so far in my second round. I'm going to feel better tomorrow and let my game shine for 21 holes. I think I can be back in contention by the time we hit Saturday's final round. Come back for a more detailed report of rounds 2 and 3 on Friday evening. Thank you for following me!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

COLD and WINDY at Irish Creek

The first round at Irish Creek in this week's eGolf event was brutal. Wind chills were in the low 20's to start the day and as temperatures rose slightly, the winds only increased. I was very pleased with my ball-striking, but I struggled on the greens all day in round 1. I made my only birdie of the day on the my fifteenth hole (the 6th at Irish Creek) to get back to even par, but finished with three consecutive bogies to post an opening-round score of 74 (+3). I'm disappointed with that score, but my game is in a great shape, and a very solid practice session after my round has me feeling as good as ever. Conditions should be a bit more stable for my afternoon tee time in Thursday's second round, and I am pumped to play well and get myself back in contention. Come back for a good round-2 report. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Monday, March 4, 2013

More Motivated Than Ever

Looking back on last week's event, the NGA Tour's Spring Hill Classic, I am 50% encouraged, 40% motivated to improve, and 10% frustrated with myself. After struggling mightily with my focus and execution in the first three holes on Sunday, I gave myself a pep-talk and played the final 15 holes with two-birdies and no bogies to post a final-round score of 71 (level par). Though I was in a good mindset over the final 15 holes, I still didn't feel like I was getting much out of my game. I drove the ball okay and putted okay, but was incredibly mediocre (at best) with my irons and wedges. I ended up in a three-way tie for 6th but was just three shots behind the winner. It is incredibly encouraging to have such a high finish when I feel like I could have gotten so much more from my game. That is why I am more motivated than ever to keep improving. I feel like my game is better than it has ever been, and I just need to further sharpen it so that I can let it all out in tournament play. The 10% frustration comes from the fact that this golf tournament was so winnable for me, and I gave it away with some extremely poor and uncharacteristic blunders. That is okay, though. I will improve, and I will take advantage of plenty of opportunities to win this year.

All-in-all, I cannot be disappointed. This was my first event on the NGA Tour. I posted rounds of 68, 68, 72, 71 and never trailed by more than four shots at the end of any round. I overcame tough starts on both Saturday and Sunday to keep myself in contention in the tournament and ended up with a tie for 6th place finish. That means I have finished 4th and 6th the past two weeks on the two largest mini-tours in the United States. As much as I think I could and should have won this past one, those finishes are not too bad for this early in the year.

My week of practice this past week looks terrible on paper. The golf course had no short game facilities at all and the weather was not conducive to good practice sessions, but I didn't put up much of a fight. I had no short game sessions at all (and boy did it show--my chipping and wedge play were awful at times), and I wound up three drills short of finishing all of my putting practice, too. I did put in a lot of quality work on the putting green, but could never quite complete my 6-footer drill on the grainy practice green. I also left out one of my ball-striking drills. Like I said, it was not a good week of work on paper. On a positive note, I did a great job of keeping up with my fitness work. It is definitely a challenge to fit workouts and runs into my tournament weeks, but I feel so good when I stay on top of my fitness.

I'm heading back to familiar grounds this week as the eGolf Tour plays at The Club at Irish Creek in Kannapolis, NC, Wednesday-Saturday. Though the weather appears that it will present quite a challenge to practice on Tuesday and for the first round of competition on Wednesday, I'm determined to have a better week of work. If I can clean up my short game and wedge play and stay focused from beginning to end, I know that my game is good enough to win golf tournaments. I'm going to work hard to do just that.

One other note about my practice: I'm determined to reach my goals about holing chip shots and bunker shots. I have been awful at that so far this year, but it adds such a great element to my practice, and I know that it will pay huge dividends when I need to hit great short game shots in big tournament situations this year. I'm really going to commit myself to those goals this week in my short game practice and see if I can make progress.

I'm excited about my start to the year, but I know that bigger and better things are coming! Keep it here for good reports from the eGolf event this week and other good updates. Thank you for following me!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cold in Round 3

The temperatures were downright chilly for Saturday's third round at the NGA Tour's Spring Hill Classic. Add a consistent breeze blowing at 10-15 mph, and you get a day that is cold and difficult. Those kind of conditions should give me a huge advantage, but unfortunately, my game was a bit sour at times today. I felt good heading into the round, but a bogey-bogey start put me a bit behind the eight-ball early. I stayed calm and really hit some great shots in the next few holes, but could only take advantage of them with a birdie on the reachable par-5 third where I hit two great shots onto the green and two-putted for a birdie. Another bogey at the long par-4 seventh sent me to the back nine at two over par for my round. I made a great birdie at the par-3 eleventh but followed it up with an incredibly dumb choice after missing the fairway on the reachable par-5 twelfth hole. I tried to hit a huge slice out of some trees right of the fairway, and ended up rattling around in trees left of the green before my ball fell into a hazard. I ended up with a disappointing bogey on the hole. I stayed committed to my plan the rest of the day, and recovered from a disappointing par at the par-5 fifteenth to finish par-birdie-par and post a round of 72 (+1). I am certainly disappointed that I didn't play better, but I still feel great about a lot of what I did in round 3. I fell down the leaderboard into big tie for eighth heading into the final round, but I'm just four shots behind the leader. The weather promises to be challenging again for Sunday's final round, and I am excited to see what happens when I put a solid round together!

Here's a cool story from my day. You know how I made it part of my process goals this year that I must chip-in at least ten times and must hole at least three bunker shots every three weeks. I have learned that it is really hard to make bunker shots, but in the effort to do so, I have noticed that my shots from the sand have been dancing all around the hole. I was coming off of a bogey-bogey-birdie start when I drove it in the trees on the fourth hole today. I didn't have a chance to hit in on the green from where I was, but I could squeeze it into a front bunker, and I was confident in my bunker play. I hit a perfect bunker shot that was rolling right into the middle of the hole with good speed when it somehow rattled off the flagstick and sat on the back lip. It was unbelievable that the ball didn't go in. It was hardly moving when it hit the flagstick. Oh well--I am going to hole some important bunker shots this year; I can feel it!

I'm pumped to get out there and get after it in the final round of this week's event! My game feels good, and I know great things are coming. Come back for a final-round report on Sunday evening. Thank you for keeping up with me!

In Great Position

I'm sorry that I'm a day or two behind with updates from my event this week. I have good news to share. I have posted matching rounds of 68 (-3) to stand at six under at the midway point of the NGA Tour's Spring Hill Classic in Tifton, GA. With wet, cold, and breezy conditions making the course fairly challenging, those scores have me in great position heading into the weekend rounds.

I am able to relax this morning because I played the last three holes in darkness yesterday (Friday) to finish my second round. There is simply not enough daylight this time of year to get a full field of 162 players (many of whom play much too slowly) around one golf course, so play was suspended each of the first two days with players still on the course. My group was told when we reached the 7th tee (our 16th hole) in Friday's second round that we could suspend our play for the day whenever we chose to do so. Given forecasted temperatures in the mid-30's at the time of the morning restart, we decided to battle the waning light and played all three of our remaining holes. It was too dark to read a putt on the 8th green and absolutely ridiculous on the 9th (our 18th), but fortunately, I hit a great approach to just more than two feet on our final hole and was able to make it from there in the dark. I'm still not sure whether finishing with such limited sight was a smart thing to do, but I really do believe it would have been difficult to get warmed up and ready to play just one or two holes had I chosen to return for a Saturday-morning finish to my second round. As it is, I finished par-par-birdie and am excited to be indoors preparing for my third-round tee time, which will likely be sometime between 12:30 and 1:00.

My game has been pretty solid this week. I have definitely hit a few squirrely drives and some iron shots that have made me scratch my head, but with the exception of one dumb choice from behind a tree on Friday, I have followed an intelligently aggressive plan and been committed to every shot that I have hit. My mindset has been good and I have felt fairly calm on the course. I went through a lull in my second round where I felt like I was executing well but couldn't quite make any birdies, and I was getting a little bit antsy, but I stayed patient enough to continue making good choices. I felt like I could have posted a better score in round 2, but I know that my game is ready to play great this weekend.

This is exciting stuff! For the second consecutive week, I have myself in contention in a golf tournament. A rain-out thwarted the final-round move I was going to make last week, but a sunshiny weekend forecast (cold, but sunshiny) promises I will have two more rounds to find the top of the leaderboard this week. I'm pumped but will stay relaxed and continue to play intelligently. Come back for reports from both of the weekend rounds, and follow the action at www.ngatour.com. Thank you for keeping up with me!

 

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,...