Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Last Several Days in Pictures

Last week was spectacular. I was able to enjoy some of my favorite things with my favorite people in the world. The first picture is my parents, my sister, Laura, and Alicia and me standing under a rock formation called Alum Cave in the Smokey Mountains. The second picture is a cloudy view near the top of the Alum Cave trail on the way to Mt. LeConte. To be in that location with those people was pretty darn special.

I had a solid week of practice last week as well, which is nice because I'm in this week's Tour event. The tournament is just outside of Pittsburgh. The Steel City is a very cool place, and the final picture is looking over downtown from the top of the Duquesne Incline. I had a fun evening re-exploring the city with my Mom and some good friends on Wednesday. 

But now it's time to get down to business. My game hasn't felt great over the last couple of weeks, but if I stay committed to my goals and my process, I know that I can play well enough to compete at a high level. I tee off at 2:14 p.m. in Thursday's opening-round, and I am ready for it. I need to play very intelligently this week and rely on my strengths and trust myself. I can do all of those things. 

Please keep it here for nightly updates throughout the tournament. Thank you very much for following me and for your support.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

New Goals for the Remainder of This Breakthrough Year

I believe that my work ethic is second to none, and I know that my dedication to my practice routine is a big part of the reason for my consistent improvement. My goals are an important catalyst for my practice habits. As I have played my way into some new opportunities this summer, I feel like my goals need to adapt to my changing environment. Though the overall structure is the same, I have made some changes to both my outcome goals ("Result Goals", below) and my process goals ("Map Goals"). The new goals fit my current situation a little bit more specifically than my previous set did, and I feel incredibly motivated to get to work on my Map Goals so that I can realize the Result Goals on my list. I have struggled with my process goals all year this year, and, while I don't believe my revised process goals (now called my "Map Goals") are any less challenging, I do think that they are slightly more concrete and fit my current needs better than the previous version. I will get to my Result Goals because I'm going to follow my "Map"!

Here is the revised edition of my goals for the remainder of 2013:

A. Result Goals: (in priority order)

1. Earn full status on at least the Tour for the 2014 season
   Possible ways to achieve:
     -Reach the top 75 on the 2013 Tour money list by the end of the regular season in late August
     -Advance through all stages of Tour Qualifying School and play well at Final Stage

2. Win multiple events before the end of 2013
   Possibilities: Tour
     -NGA Tour
     -eGolf Professional Tour
     -State Opens
     -Q-school Stages

B. Statistical Goal:

Have a par-5 scoring average at or below 4.5 for the remainder of my competitive rounds in 2013

C. Map Goals: (how I'm going to get there)

1. Putting
      -Complete each of my putting drills twice per week--total of six drills per week
          i. Make 24 different 3-footers consecutively
          ii. Make at least 18 of 24 different 6 footers
          iii. 9-hole lag drill
     -Check alignment and putter path once per week

2. Short game and wedges
     -Using proximity drills and friendly competitions, complete 4 hours of short game practice per non-tournament week and 2 hours of short game practice per tournament week
          *tournament weeks consist of two or more rounds of tournament golf
          *in chipping competitions, I can count the entire duration of my practice towards my weekly time if I win. If I lose the competition, I must divide the duration of the competition by the total number of competitors to determine the amount of time I count towards my weekly practice.
     -On every non-tournament week, measure and record my full swing distance with each wedge
     -Chip in at least five balls per week and hole at least one bunker shot per week
           *if a tournament site has no practice bunker, I will forgive the last requirement.

3. Ball-striking
     -Complete one 54-shot challenge each week
     -Hit all of the 9 shot shapes with 5 different clubs each week

4. Fitness
     -Complete 3 cardiovascular workouts and 3 strength training workouts per non-tournament week and AT LEAST 2 cardiovascular workouts and 2 strength training workouts per tournament week.
          *again, a tournament week consists of two or more rounds of tournament golf
     -Complete at least 4 stretching/mobility sessions of 10-20 minutes per week.

     -Believe in myself and the process I'm going through to achieve my goals. Enjoy the good times and the challenging ones and always stay positive.

6. (this should be number 1) Be a good fiancé, brother, son, uncle, and friend.
     -This is measured by the happiness and meaning that I am able to share with those around me. If I can achieve this goal, the golf stuff should be easy.

So you can see where I want to be by the end of the year and the route I am going to take to get there!

Despite an entire day devoted to travel on Wednesday, I am off to a good start towards my Map Goals for this week. I am excited to keep improving. Keep it here for more updates from this week of practice.

By the way, I will be back in action on the Tour next week. I am in the field for the Mylan Classic at Southpointe Golf Club in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The field for that event is determined by the Tour's money list, and my standing is more than high enough to get me into the tournament. So that is exciting stuff, and even more motivation to have a great week of work.

Thank you for following me and believing in me. Great stuff is coming!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Encouraging But Disappointing Day in Boise

I did not play well over the first eight holes of the Monday Qualifier for this week's Tour event in Boise, Idaho. Playing one of the most benign and score-able golf courses I have seen in quite a while, I managed to find lots of trouble in the early part of my round. I made two putts of 20+ feet for par during that stretch and had another fantastic par saving up-and-down just to play the first eight holes in one over par. It was a very unpleasant surprise to play so poorly. I had a nice day of preparation at the qualifying course on Sunday and was really feeling good leading up to my tee time Monday morning. My execution was simply off in the early going, and I'm still not really sure why. On the ninth hole, I challenged myself to stay committed to my game plan and to continue playing hard and believing in myself for the rest of the day. Though I knew my back was very much against the wall in terms of qualifying for the event, I was determined to at least play well and get some positive vibes going during the second half of my round. That determination yielded a very positive result. Over the final ten holes, I hit every fairway and every green and had a make-able putt for birdie (or eagle, twice) on every hole. I could only manage to make four birdies during that stretch, and my final score of 69 (-3) did not leave me with any hope of qualifying, but I am pleased with the effort and very happy with how well I executed over the second half of my round. It is definitely disappointing not to qualify, but I feel like I have some positive momentum rolling now.

Positive momentum is a good thing because I am fairly certain that I will be in the field for next week's Tour event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That particular event's field is filled based solely on the tour's money list, and I should remain high enough to earn a spot.

I need to have a solid week of work, and I am off to a good start. Following my round in the Monday Qualifier, I stuck around the course and nailed a couple of my putting drills and also had a great short game session. I still love to practice, and I am excited to have a good week of that.

My plan and my tournament schedule have both changed for the better over the last six weeks, and I think my goals for the year need to evolve accordingly. That thought, and the fact that I have been in a rut with my practice goals all year, mean I will be spending the next couple days coming up with some new goals for the rest of the 2013 season. Come back a little later in the week to hear about that and to see a progress report about a great week of practice.

I'm still on pace and in position to have a breakthrough year. The past couple weeks have been tough, but I'm feeling very optimistic. Great stuff is coming! Thank you for following me and for supporting my career.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back in Action--Ready to Qualify in Boise, Idaho

First of all, I'm sorry that I took another full week off from blogging. After my early exit from the Tour's Utah Championship, I traveled to Kansas City with a great attitude and a good golf game, but I didn't play well in the Monday Qualifier for last week's event. My game is still good, however, and after failing to qualify last Monday, I was inspired to sign up for this week's Monday Qualifier for the Tour's Boise Open. So, after a quick three-day stay in my beautiful east Tennessee home, I flew to Boise on Saturday and had a full day of preparation at the qualifying course on Sunday. I tee it up at 9:50 Idaho time on Monday morning, and I will be ready to play well.

I have been struggling to make birdies my last couple times out in competition, but I am going to turn that around. Though I'm not intirely thrilled with the week of work that I had this past week, I had some great sessions with the putter, and I feel like I am ready to get back on track with that club. In addition to that, I feel like my attitude and mindset are very good. I'm hitting the ball well, too, so I know that great things are coming! Keep it here for more information and for a report from the Monday Qualifier in Boise. Thank you for following me and for your loyal support.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Rare Weekend Off For Me

I have a lot to say about my play in this week's event, but for now I'm just going to give a quick synopsis. The end result of my efforts this week is a two-day total of 140 (69, 71 = -2) and a missed cut. That stinks, and it marks the end of a couple of really cool streaks for me, but that result doesn't tell the story of how I'm feeling. My game is in great shape, and I feel very good moving forward. I had a cold putter this week and didn't drive the ball as accurately as I usually do. I was feeling very comfortable over most of my shots, however, and I am really quite pleased with most aspects of my performance this week. I simply didn't score as well as I usually do. I could explain more about why this week didn't end up the way I hoped it would, but instead I'm just going to stay positive, get back to work, and Monday Qualify my way into next week's Tour event in Kansas City. Stay with me and keep believing--great things are still coming! Thank you for your support.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Room to Improve But Feeling Good about Round 1

I shot 69 (-2) in the first round of the Tour's Utah Championship. Given benign scoring conditions, that score doesn't stack up very well against the field, but I am pleased with how I felt. I was very comfortable and executed well early in the round, but struggled to score and posted ten pars and a bogey in my first 11 holes. From there I had four birdies and a bogey over my final seven holes. I really feel like I'm playing well and am continuing to improve each day. I still feel like this will be a special week for me. I play in the morning on Friday, and I know that if I stay composed and trust myself on each shot, I will post a good score. Come back for some good news in the evening. Thank you for following me!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Working Hard, Getting Better, and Enjoying a Beautiful Spot

Though the beauty in these pictures is absolutely breathtaking, I have had a very focused week of work thus far in Utah. My golf game showed some slight signs of rust on Monday after a very light week of practice last week, but I have improved steadily each day. My practice sessions this week have all been very focused and goal-oriented, and it is amazing how much sharper my game has felt every day. I really feel like I am setting myself up for a very good tournament. 

This week's event is at a course called Willow Creek Country Club just south of Salt Lake city. The course features fairly small landing areas off the tee and greens that require quite a bit of precision. Firm fairways and very firm greens combined with an altitude of nearly a mile high will put a premium on distance control. I feel very comfortable after three days of practicing at this altitude and am confident that I am ready for the challenge.

I did give myself a few hours off from golf on Wednesday morning to enjoy some "Mountain Time"! The first picture above is from the eighth tee box at Willow Creek, and the second picture is from the trail that I hiked. Obviously, this is a pretty cool place.

I get started on Thursday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. I am confident, composed, and ready to have a great week. Keep it here for nightly updates after my rounds. Thank you very much for following me. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Uniquely Great Week

So, I didn't have the week that I had predicted I would, but the past seven days have been very productive in an unusual way. I had a very light week of work. Soggy East Tennessee weather bogged me down early in the week, and then, rather than being stressed and trying to play hyper-catch-up (which would have been difficult anyway because it truly rained every day), I decided to cash in one of my off-weeks from my work goals and enjoyed a really great life experience with my sweetheart, Alicia. We are pumped because Alicia recently accepted a job at the University of Tennessee, and she moved to East Tennessee on Wednesday. I can't tell you how excited we are to be in the same area code! We spent the last three days getting her settled and cruising around rainy East TN. To know that we are another step closer to starting our lives together is absolutely great!

From a golf standpoint, I'm feeling great, too. I certainly didn't have the week of practice that I like to have consistently, but I did enough to stay sharp. I feel like the relaxation has me recharged and ready to play well. I am on my to Salt Lake City for the Tour's Utah Championship, and will get there on Sunday evening. This will give me three full days of solid work before the tournament begins on Thursday. I am feeling very good and expect to continue improving.

Keep it here for updates from Utah. Thank you very much for following me and supporting my career!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Highest Finish... Even Better Coming

Sunday at the Tour's United Leasing Championship at Victoria National Golf Club was a long day! I teed off at 11:10 in absolutely beautiful weather. The temperatures were very mild for this time of year and the wind was as light as it had been all week. After solid play through the first three holes netted just three pars, I jumpstarted my round with some quality shots and one great putt to birdie holes 4, 5, and 6. I settled back down with pars on 7 and 8 and then a disappointing par on the reachable par-5 9th. Still, I was three under par and playing very nicely. Standing on the tenth tee, the weather took a dramatic turn for the worse. It started to pour down rain, and the officials suspended play. We thought it might be a quick passing shower, but soon realized that pop up thunderstorms were forming all around us. For a while it looked like the final round might actually be cancelled. After nearly four hours of sitting, waiting, and watching, we were told to go warm up because play would resume at five minutes after five o'clock. We warmed up in the rain, but as we headed back to our position on the golf course, the rain relented and we actually had very pleasant skies the remainder of the day. The golf course was soggy but held up surprisingly well. I returned to the tenth tee a little bit nervy and uncomfortable, but I was determined to stay in my routine and trust myself. I swung the club beautifully the entire rest of the day. Though I birdied hole 12 and then hit two quality shots on 13 to give myself another great look at birdie, I couldn't get a run going on my back nine. Two small blunders with the putter led to two dropped shots over my final five holes, but I actually played quite solidly during that stretch. The end result was a final-round 70 (-2), and a tie for 9th place finish.

That is my best finish thus far on the Tour, and I know that I can do better. I made some very uncharacteristic big mistakes this week--see the triple bogey and two double bogeys--and I feel like I am continuing to improve. I drove the ball beautifully on a tough driving course, and my putter did finally heat up a little bit this week, but I know that I can be better from short range on the greens. All-in-all, though, I feel absolutely great about my game and know that I am continuing to improve. I'll continue to say my signature line: great things are coming!

The Tour has this week off and then heads to Utah. I'll be there, and I'm pumped about it! I'm going to have a relaxing but thorough week of work, and I'll be ready to play well in Utah next week. Keep it here for updates along the way! Thank you for following me and supporting my career.

New Blog Site

Hi everyone! Thank you for continuing to try to keep up with me. As you might have noticed, I've not been updating this blog at all late...