Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Most Thrilling Non-Victory Finish Ever

I have so much to say about the final three rounds of this past week's Web.com Tour event in Springfield, Missouri.

As a hangover from Thursday morning's delays, I played just five holes of my second round on Friday evening. I arrived early Saturday morning to finish round two and played quite nicely. I ended up posting a second-round 68 (-4) to stand at nine under par at the tournament's midway point. I was in a tie for 6th place. After some lunch, I had a 1:30 tee time for round three. I had a beautiful warm-up session prior to the start of my afternoon round, and I felt invincible as I took to the course. Great swings on the opening four holes confirmed my good feelings, and I knew I was off and running. Then something strange happened. I started hitting terrible shots. I don't know why, but I went through an eight-hole stretch during which I did very few good things. The next thing I knew I was standing on the twelfth hole needing to get up and down from 115 yards to save bogey. I was determined to stop my skid, and though I still struggled coming down the stretch of my long day on Saturday, I did manage to play the final six holes one under par to post a third-round 73 (+1). That round sent me tumbling down the leaderboard into a tie for 44th.

I awoke on Sunday morning ready to have a great day. I must admit, though, that I was quite concerned about what had happened on Saturday afternoon. I still felt okay about the quality of my golf game, but my poor round had certainly put me in a bit of a precarious spot heading into the final round. I needed a top-25 finish in order to qualify for my hometown Web.com Tour event this week in Knoxville, Tennessee. That thought was on my mind a bit too heavily throughout my final round. I felt nervous and jittery in a way that I haven't in quite some time. I birdied three of the first five holes, but I also sprinkled in a three-putt bogey and an incredibly poor double bogey on my front nine. I stood on the ninth tee even par for the final round, and not in very good shape. I never really calmed down or trusted myself the way that I want to in pressure situations, but my game actually held up well. I birdied holes nine and eleven to reach ten under par for the tournament, but I knew (and was thinking about way too much) that I had to get to at least twelve and likely thirteen under to climb into the top 25. I made agonizing pars on holes 12-15 and did not hit my five iron approach to number 16 very close to the hole. I rolled in a 30 foot putt for birdie on 16, converted a great up and down for par after a very poor iron shot into 17, and arrived at the par-5 18th knowing that I needed to do something good. I piped a drive down the left center of the fairway and faced a shot of 235 yards slightly downhill to a peninsula green. I had laid up from a similar position each of first three rounds, but I knew that I could hit a three wood onto the green. I was nervous and uncomfortable over the shot, but I tried my hardest to trust it, and I nailed it. I hit a fading three wood into the middle of the green just 25 feet from the hole. I rolled that putt right in the middle of the hole, and for the first time in my life, I managed a sort of half first pump as I walked to get my ball from the hole. It was a great feeling!

The end result of my round was a five-under-par 67 and a tie for 14th place finish.

I have a lot to learn from this experience. First of all, I was way too result-oriented with my thinking during the final round of the golf tournament. I want to be more committed to my process over each shot and not let the overall result consume my thoughts. I was way too nervous and uncomfortable at times, and that is caused by a results-oriented mentality. I need to commit to my pre-shot mental routine and allow myself to be comfortable over each shot. With that said, all of my practice and the mental training that I have done allowed me to have a very successful outcome even though I am not thrilled with my process over every shot. I will continue to improve, and I'm certain that bigger and better things are coming!

Thank you for following me and for supporting my career. Keep it here for updates as I head home to East Tennessee for the Web.com Tour's Knoxville Open.

2 comments:

  1. Congrats Pete! I enjoyed following you at the Mylan classic, so I thought I'd check in to see how this week went. I was volunteering for the Golf Channel at the Mylan so I had the pleasure of talking to your caddie (mom) and your sister too.

    I'm looking forward to seeing you on the PGA tour soon!

    Gary Giffin

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