Saturday, September 28, 2013

Thoughts from the Tour Championship

I missed the cut at the Tour Championship. That's bad news. It's not fun. This could very well have been the last Tour event that I will ever play. That's good news. It's very exciting. I will make my debut on the PGA Tour in less than two weeks at the Fry' Open in California.

I have a lot to say about the future and my thoughts for the next couple months, but I will save that for another post in the coming days. For now, I'll give a brief story of the this week's tournament from the TPC Sawgrass's Valley Course. I actually played quite well, I thought. I hit the ball fairly solidly and felt very good about my short game. Though I still feel comfortable and confident with my putter, I did have a few uncharacteristic misses from inside of five feet. I battled brutally tough conditions fairly well Friday afternoon during my second round, and I came to my closing two holes at even par for the tournament. I was finishing on the front nine on Friday, which means that I faced a 500-yard par 4 and a watery 430-yard par 4 both playing into a fairly strong wind. I hit two great shots on the long par-4 eighth, but my 3-wood approach actually flew long of the green and left me with a tough up-and-down to a back hole location. I hit a great flop shot and hit my six-foot par putt very well, but the putt broke more than I had seen and missed just low of the hole. Knowing I needed a birdie on the last hole to make the cut, I drove the ball in the fairway and hit one of the best shots I can ever remember hitting into the green. With the hole cut on the right side of the green against a lake, I faded my hybrid from 190 yards into a stiff wind and had it curving towards the hole location. A subtle wind shift held my ball out left of the hole, and I wound up with a thirty foot putt down a ridge for my birdie. The putt was a quick double-breaker and I hit it excellently. After curling left down the ridge, my ball was taking the break back to the right and looked as though it was going to die into the left center of the hole. I was so excited, but at the very last minute, my ball wobbled back to the left and sat just on the back left edge of the hole. It was unbelievably disappointing, but in truth, I executed beautifully over some very tense shots coming down the stretch. I hate to miss a cut, and I certainly know that means that I didn't play as well as I can, but I am still very happy with the state of my game. All is good.

On Sunday I will get my PGA Tour Card. The real one. Wow! It's a dream that I have worked for, and I caught it. Thank you so much to all the people who have helped, supported, and encouraged me. I am a lucky guy.

Now it's time to keep doing the exact same things that helped me get this far. I will be disciplined and committed to my goals. I can't wait to wake up and go back to work.

Thank you for following me. Please come back for more information soon.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Round One of the Tour Championship

I definitely did not have my best stuff on Thursday, and I was really having trouble finding my comfort zone on the course, but I held it together nicely and posted a three-birdie, two-bogey round of 69. I am not sure why I could not get comfortable, but I am pleased with the way I continued to play hard and trust the work that I have been doing. I have been having some of my very best practice lately, and though that certainly did not translate into my best golf in round one, I did manage to post a respectable score despite not having my "A" game. 

This week has been no exception to my recent trend of a great practice. Through Thursday, I am nearly done with all of my weekly goals and have been very efficient with my practice sessions. My putting drills paid dividends in round one as I saved par with a lot of great putts in the four to eight foot range. I know that my map goals will get me to the outcomes that I want, so I am pumped to be following them so closely. 

I tee off Friday afternoon in the second round, I will be ready to go play great. Keep it here for more news, and thank you very much for following me.

By the way, for a good laugh, check out my interview on The Golf Channel's "On the Range":

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm Where I Belong

really do believe the title which I have given to this post, but sometimes I do have to pinch myself a little bit. I am trying to find a good balance between soaking up these great experiences, and staying focused on the work that is at hand. This week I am at the home of the PGA Tour, and it is remarkable how well they treat us here. Check out these images from the fun round of golf I played this morning: 

That's right; while I was waiting for my afternoon pro-am tee time, I just took a cart and played the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass. What a cool deal that was!

I am doing a good job staying focused on my work, however. Despite rainy conditions on Monday and Tuesday, I have had two good days of practice, and am feeling very good about things. I am going to play another practice round on the tournament course (the Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass) tomorrow morning, and I will definitely be ready to go for Thursday's opening round of the Tour Championship.

Keep it here for more reports during the tournament. Thank you so much for following me and for your support.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Great Week "Off"

I feel fantastic. I never really get tired of playing tournament golf, but it was so nice to have a week at home this past week. I did great work on my game, spent some intensely productive time with Alicia getting things ready for her to move into our new home, and got myself regrouped for the last of the Tour Finals events. It was a great week.

My practice this past week was a perfect example of why I have my "Map Goals." I definitely had a very busy week, but I began each day with a plan of the things I needed to accomplish, and that plan came largely from my Map Goals. Despite feeling crunched for time and having a wash-out rain day on Saturday, I completed all of my goals last week, and that gives me a huge sense of accomplishment. In fact, I was up and at 'em early Sunday morning to have some practice before driving to Jacksonville, Florida, in the afternoon, and while I was working on my last couple putting drills of the week, I definitely was feeling tournament-like pressure to get them done. I had to rely on the strength of my routine to stay calm and finish them. What valuable practice! In addition to that, I had a great week of short game work, a very good week with my fitness routine, and had time to play three fairly competitive matches with friends. It was a very thorough and productive week of work.

The house is looking good, too. We still are waiting on some finishing touches to be corrected by our builder, but things are looking great, and Alicia is now living in the house. What an exciting time!

I am now in Jacksonville, Florida, and am ready to begin preparations for this week's Tour Championship at the TPC Sawgrass Valley Course. I know I'm going to have a great week, but I'll be back soon with an update about the course and how things are feeling.

By the way, with everything that is happening, it's easy to lose perspective, but here is something REALLY important. My friend Madeline from Columbus, Ohio, (see youtube link from a couple posts ago) got some scary news last week. Let's all send positive vibes her way as Doctors do a biopsy this week and try to figure out what caused the irregularity in her most recent scan. Thank you.

Thank you very much for your support and encouragement. Please keep it here for more updates along the way.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Very Good and Very Busy Week at Home

I could go on for pages about all the great stuff that is happening in my life, but for now I will be very brief in telling how excited I am. First of all, I am having a very productive week of work on my golf game. I am on a great pace to achieve all of my Map Goals for the week, and I am feeling very good about my practice. I have also had three friendly but competitive matches this week, and my game has felt pretty good on the course. Off the course, I have been soaking up some time with my beautiful, wonderful fiancé, Alicia. Our time has been a little crammed and a bit stressful because (and this is the big news) we officially became home owners on Thursday. I'll tell more about everything in another post soon, but just wanted to give a quick update. I am glad that you follow my blog; thank you very much for your support and encouragement. Keep it here for more great news on and off of the golf course.

Alicia and I outside our new house

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Great Practice, Great Perspective, Great Potential

For those of you who have already seen the results from this week's Tour Finals event in Columbus, Ohio, I don't have to tell you that I didn't have my best stuff on the course. I had a good attitude and tried hard all day on Friday, but I simply couldn't find it. I did very little right and posted a second-round, nine-over-par score of 80. That, of course, afforded me the weekend off from tournament golf. It's not fun to miss cuts, but I have played at a very high level for a long stretch lately, and I'm not concerned about the state of my game. Despite the horrific results on the course, I actually had an amazing week, and I feel great!

I feel very satisfied to report that I  completed all of my Map Goals this week. I had quite a bit of work still to do when I traveled home from Columbus on Saturday afternoon but had one of my most thorough and efficient days of practice on Sunday. I completed all of my goals and really feel great about all aspects of my game. 

This week was also awesome because of the time I was able to spend with Madeline Richardson and her family. Madeline is only nine years old, but has already battled an extremely deadly and aggressive form of cancer. She has been in remission for more than a year, and her smile and love of life are incredibly refreshing. I was so lucky to get to spend time with her and her family this week. Here's a story about the joy I experienced this week and the great sense of perspective of which it reminded me:

I am home all week this week and am looking forward to a great week of work and also to some big things in my life. I'll give more information on that in a few days, but as always, great stuff is happening! Thank you for caring about me and following my career. Please come back for practice reports and updates from a big week at home.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Joys and Regrets on Day 1 in Columbus

The opening round of the Nationwide Children's Championship started with a huge bang on Thursday at the Ohio State University Golf Club's Scarlet Course. On Tuesday, I had the great privilege of meeting some children from the Children's Hospital cancer center and doing a junior clinic with them. One of the girls from that clinic, 9-year-old Madeline Richardson, hit the tournament's opening shot on Thursday morning and I was there to watch and cheer her. It was a very refreshing and joy-filled scene.

Minutes later, I began my round in the tournament's first grouping off of the tenth hole. Two great shots and a perfectly hit eight-foot putt got me off and running with a birdie. I hit two more good shots and made a par on the difficult par-four 11th hole. I then laid up perfectly on the par-five 12th hole and nailed the flagstick with my wedge shot. The ball caromed backwards, but actually stopped just fifteen feet from the hole. Before I hit my putt, play was suspended due to a rapidly approaching thunderstorm. Play was halted for a full three hours, and when we returned to the hole, I proceeded as I normally would. I picked up the tee that I had placed in the ground to ensure the location of my coin would not be compromised by the rain. As I removed the tee from the ground, I noticed the hole it left in the green and casually tapped it with my putter behind my coin. I went on to two putt for my par and made a good par on the tough par-three 13th. Then, walking off of the 14th tee, a tournament official approached me and inquired as to what I was doing when I had tapped down the spot behind my coin on the 12th green. He informed me that I had likely violated a rule and would be penalized two strokes. I wasn't really mad, but I was shocked and very rattled by the news. I thought about little Madeline, and that definitely helped to give me a great sense of perspective, but I struggled to let go of the rattled thoughts that were in my head. From a mental standpoint, I played some of the worst golf that I have played all year in the ten holes that followed my learning of the penalty. I don't know why I couldn't let go of that news and simply stay in my routine. I still feel that I am playing great golf, but the jumbled thoughts in my head wouldn't let that show for the vast majority of my round on Thursday. I ended up posting a two-over-par round of 73.

The reason I titled this post "Regrets on Day 1" is I am very disappointed in myself for not doing a better job of controlling my thoughts. Had I stayed in my mental routine and kept a great thought process through the bummer news of the penalty, I know that I could have recovered much more quickly and had a better round-one result. But I am leaving my regrets in this blog post because it is over now, and I still have time to recover and have a great tournament.  

Madeline truly was an inspiration Thursday morning. She has a million-dollar smile (and a great golf swing, too!) despite going through an incredibly hard battle with cancer at such a young age. I use the word "stud" to describe my favorite people when they do wonderful things, and Madeline Richardson and her family are all studs. Thank you for sharing your story and your smile with me.

I'm so lucky that I get to play a game that I love and call it my profession. I truly love what I do. I'm going to enjoy the heck out of it all day on Friday as I put in a good morning of work leading up to an afternoon tee time for my second round of the tournament. Come back for another report Friday evening. Thank you for keeping up with me, and do me a favor: smile for Madeline Richardson!

That is Madeline on the right side of the picture in the orange shirt. Anastasia, Evan, Griffin, and Elaina are all studs, too!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ready for the Challenge in Columbus, Ohio

The Scarlet Course at the Ohio State University Golf Club is an absolute gem. It has a lot of elements that combine to create a great golf course, but most notably, it has a great deal of length and absolutely brutal green complexes. The putting surfaces are incredibly sloped and are quite firm this week. Precision and course management will be at a premium, and all birdies will be well earned this week. Though I am a shorter hitter, I feel the length of this course and the challenge of the greens actually can work to my advantage. On a tough course like this, all players will miss some greens, and I feel like my short game and my grinding nature will give me an edge over many of my competitors. I am playing very well, so I am excited to be playing a demanding course.

I tee it up in the first group of the day off of number 10 on Thursday morning. I'm looking forward to another great tournament. Keep it here for daily updates. Thank you for following me!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tough Sunday, But Great Tournament in Charlotte; Back to Work in Columbus, Ohio

I had one of those days when golf was hard on Sunday at the Chiquita Classic. I wasn't far off, but I was just loose enough that every hole seemed challenging. I missed quite a few fairways, was a bit shaky with some of my iron shots, and really didn't have good pace on the greens. I managed just one birdie during the final round and made two bogies to post a one-over-par score of 73. That round left me with an eight-under-par total for the week and a tie for 8th place finish. It was definitely a bit disappointing to have myself in such great position through three rounds and not deliver on Sunday, but that doesn't negate the fact that I had a great week. In addition to a solid finish in the tournament, I had a wonderful week of practice, so I am highly encouraged.

I am now in Columbus, Ohio, and it is time to have another thorough week of work. I will get my first look at the tournament course Tuesday morning, and I am excited for another great week. Keep it here for updates along the way. Thank you very much for your support!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Great Week of Work; Time to Have Fun on Sunday

For the second consecutive week, I have completed all of my practice goals (Map Goals). I am very happy with that. I know that I have set some lofty goals for myself, and I also know that following my map is the best way to achieve them. It is very rewarding to and edifying to check off all of the work on my list, so the past two weeks have me feeling great.

Speaking of the lofty goals that I have set for myself, I am in great position to achieve a couple of them this week. I played beautifully on Saturday in the third round of the Tour Finals event at River Run Country Club, and I find myself just one shot behind the leaders heading into the final round. My third round featured a very hot start during which I birdied four of the first six holes. I actually played fairly solidly the rest of the way as well, but only managed one more birdie and dropped a couple shots to finish with a three-under-par round of 69. I am playing well and feeling great about things, though. Sunday will be a very fun day. Like I said before the third round, I am going to stay in the present, focus on each shot, and have a blast out there on the course.

Come back in the evening for a brief report from the action. It's going to be good news. Thank you for following me and for all your support and encouragement!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Feeling Great at River Run

I had a wonderful afternoon of practice following my opening round on Thursday, and it really showed Friday afternoon in round two. Though I was not perfectly comfortable in the early stages of my round, I executed beautifully on Friday and never really threatened to make a bogey through my first 15 holes. I got a little bit erratic with my driver over my last few holes, and a mental mistake on my 16th hole (the seventh) cost me when I tried to be too aggressive from the rough. I ended up making a double bogey on that hole, but my play on the whole was still very solid for the day. Prior to my blunder, I had made six birdies and no bogeys. After my double, I did hit a couple of squirrelly shots on the last two holes, but a pair of sand saves got me into the house with two pars and a four-under-par round of 68. On this demanding course, my six-under-par total through two rounds has me in great shape heading to the weekend. I am looking forward to a fun opportunity over the final two rounds this week. I am going to stay in the present, focus on each shot, and genuinely enjoy myself over the next two days. I have put in the work and am ready to play great. Keep it here for updates from the weekend. Thank you so much for following me!

Exciting Round; Great Day on Thursday

My round was actually a bit sloppy on the opening day of the Tour's Chiquita Classic. I posted a two-under-par 70 on the demanding course at River Run Country Club, but given some of the fireworks I produced, it probably should have been better. After feeling a bit uncomfortable in the early going, I really turned it on in the middle of my round. I hit my tee shot on the long par-3 eighth hole within inches for a tap-in birdie. Four holes later on the par-5 twelfth, I left myself a downhill shot of a 140 yards into the green for my third shot and knocked a nine iron in the hole for an unlikely eagle. I followed that by making a roller coaster putt up a ridge on the very next hole. I had one more great shot in me and stuffed my tee shot within five feet of a difficult hole location on the par-3 14th, but I misread the putt and settled for par. Just like that, my round-one magic disappeared and I struggled down the stretch. I missed the green on each of the last three holes and dropped shots with bogies on 17 and 18. The latter bogey came after a perfect drive on the reachable but watery par-5 18th. I tried to go for the green off a down-slope in the fairway and didn't hit the shot solidly enough to cover the beautiful lake which separates the fairway and green. It was definitely a disappointing finish to my opening round, but I still posted a very nice score and am thrilled with the way I overcame a very uncomfortable feeling early in the round to produce some great stuff. Overall, I am very encouraged by my round.

What is even more exciting is the afternoon of work I had after my morning round. I had a very efficient and productive practice session. I spent a little time on all facets of my game, and in addition to really getting some good vibes going, I got ahead of schedule on my Map Goals for the week. I feel very good about things.

I tee it up Friday afternoon for round two of this week's event, and I will be ready to play a solid round. Keep it here for updates. Thank you for following me!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ready at River Run

River Run Country Club, the host of this week's Tour Finals event, is a great golf course. It is a fair but demanding test that will require precision in all aspects of the game. I think the course sets up well for me, and I am excited for a great week. I get started at 7:52 Thursday morning and am ready to deliver a solid performance. Keep it here for updates; thank you for following me!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Great Week in Fort Wayne, Indiana

I have a lot of positive things to talk about, but I'm too excited to get on the road and head home for a night right now! I'll just give a brief overview of the good stuff from this week.

After playing a round that seemed ugly on paper in Thursday's opening round, I rebounded with a very solid performance on Friday and birdied the 36th hole to make the cut. Then, my solid play continued over the weekend. In total over the final 54 holes, I made 15 birdies and two bogies. That is good stuff. What is even more encouraging is the fact that I accomplished that without ever getting into a groove with my putter this week. Had I gotten hot with the putter, it could have been very special. Though I am not usually thrilled with a middle-of-the-pack finish, I am very pleased this week with the way that I stayed positive and played well the last three rounds. I feel great moving forward.

In addition to a solid effort on the course, I had one of my best and most thorough weeks of work in a long time. I challenged myself to complete all of my Map Goals, and I did so this week. I am pumped to continue doing that because I can tell that my practice routine will get me to the Outcome Goals I have set for myself.

My game feels great, and I do, too! Time to head home for the night and spend Labor Day with my favorite people before I'm off to the greater Charlotte, North Carolina, the second of four Tour Finals events next week. Keep it here for all the news. Thank you so much for following me and for your support!

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...