Friday, October 18, 2013

Hard Week; Ready to Get Back to Work

I find myself in a bit of an odd situation. I have worked so hard and followed my plan so wonderfully on the path to earning my PGA Tour Card. Now I have it, and I am as frustrated as ever. I will admit that I found a very unusually low place for me this week in Las Vegas. It is hard to feel like I have accomplished one of my overarching, long-term goals of making it to the PGA Tour, yet I have to sit and watch the PGA Tour events from the outside. I definitely struggled to find positives as I practiced onsite at the TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas on Tuesday with the knowledge that I had very little chance of getting in the field by tournament time on Thursday. I just felt bummed out, which, I'm happy to say, is a rare emotion for me.

Perspective time: I'm incredibly healthy; I'm surrounded by an incredible team of people who love and support me unconditionally; I have a wonderful extended family of friends and fans who believe in me; and I do have a PGA Tour Card. Life is good, and I'm in a great position.

I traveled home on Wednesday evening, and I decided that I was going to give myself the week off from my usual practice grind. I am going to spend some time getting my new house slightly more organized (though my fiancĂ©, Alicia, has already done a really nice job, I have not really moved in any of my stuff yet), soaking up time with parents, and getting ready for my WEDDING. :)

That's not to say that I won't be practicing at all. I am incredibly excited right now. I got a little bit of advice on the driving range on Tuesday regarding a flaw that I think might be causing some of the inconsistency I've been experiencing lately. It seems that I've been a little over-active with my lower body in my backswing, and I'm losing a little bit of the stability that I need in my lower half. The last several days I have been swinging with a golf ball under the outside of my right shoe to ensure that my weight is loading up on the inside of back foot. Since that change feels a bit awkward, I decided to go ahead and try to knock out two other slight changes that Bobbo has been suggesting for a little while: narrowing my stance and moving my ball position forward. All of these changes are fairly minor and none require any real mechanical thoughts, but they feel dramatically different, and I am confident that they are changes for the good. I plan to have a light weekend of practice that focuses largely on ball-striking before getting back into my Map Goal-oriented, complete-game practice next week.

I absolutely love what I do. This week when it got me down, that was truly a rare experience. I'm already very excited again and can't wait to go get better! It's looking like my next competition round will be another Monday Qualifier--November 4 for the McGladery Classic at Sea Island Golf Club. I'd obviously rather just be in the field, but I know how to Monday Qualify! Between now and then I have plenty of time to find that lovin feeling AND to get married!

I have so much about which to be excited, and I am! Thank you for following me and for caring. Keep it here for practice reports and all the fun news.

Monday, October 14, 2013

No Good, But Positive After Monday

I hit the ball beautifully in the Monday Qualifier for this week's PGA Tour event. I controlled my driver perfectly and was hitting it very solidly. My iron play wasn't super precise, but I struck it pretty well and was more than adequate with my accuracy. I just couldn't seem to hit any shots very close to the hole and I never got things heated up with my putter. I made two birdies and a lone bogey to post a 71. 67 was in a playoff for the final two qualifying positions. 

I'm just in a little bit of a scoring rut right now. The good news is I'm feeling great about my game again. Whenever I get into a tournament, I'll be ready to go. 

I'm currently the ninth alternate for this week's event based on my status. It's very unlikely that nine people will withdraw from the tournament, but I'm going to stick around just in case. I'll get in some good practice and continue to improve. 

I really do feel like a PGA Tour player--one who can compete at the top. I'm hungry to get back into competition. Keep it here for a practice report from Las Vegas and continue to believe with me that great things are coming! Thank you for your support.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

One Start Down; Moving Forward

My PGA Tour career did not begin on the highest of notes as I posted rounds of 73, 73 = 146 (+4) and missed the cut. Those numbers reveal the very disappointing end result of the week, but they do not tell the whole story. I arrived in California on Monday and struggled early. I hit the ball poorly in practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday and just felt a little out of sync. Then in Thursday's opening round, I really didn't hit a good full-swing shot until my seventh hole of the day. Midway through my first PGA Tour round, however, I settled in nicely and really started to hit the ball well. I found that elusive "lovin' feeling", and though I didn't put it all together to post a good score in round one, I felt much better at the end of my round. I then played beautifully on Friday afternoon in the second round. Through the first ten holes, I never mishit a single shot. I was four under par through ten holes despite not having a stellar putting performance. It was great to hit the ball so well, and I really confirmed to myself that I can be a PGA Tour contender. Unfortunately, things got away from me a little bit on the back nine. I terribly misjudged the wind and my wedge shot into the par-5 12th hole found a spot from which I had very few options. I compounded my error with an overly aggressive chip shot and ended up with a double-bogey. I felt like I recovered well mentally from the blunder, but I could not get the positive vibes flowing again as the round continued. I began to press a few holes later and things got ugly. After opening with a 31 on the front nine on Friday, I shot 42 on the back. That is certainly not good, and I was very disappointed, but looking back on it, the experience of playing as well as I did will definitely serve me well moving forward. I feel like my game is back in great shape, and I know that I can do it!

Unfortunately I do not yet have a spot in the field for this week's event in Las Vegas. I am entered in the Monday Qualifier, and, though it's disappointing to have to play in another Monday Qualifier, I know that I can be successful. That is how my run to the PGA Tour started, in fact! I had a practice round at the qualifying course on Sunday, and I am ready for it.

My first week on the PGA Tour was frustrating at times and downright bitterly disappointing for a while on Friday evening, but I certainly found more than enough positives to move forward feeling good. In addition to overcoming some early-week ball-striking woes to find some very positive things on the course, I also got through some very frustrating mid-week practice doldrums to have a productive week of work. I must admit that despite a gigantic effort, I never completed my second six-foot putting drill for last week. It was my only shortcoming, and my first of any kind in the last seven weeks, and I put in some great hours of practice pursuing it, so I feel okay even though I am disappointed not to have put that final check mark on Map Goals for last week. All is good, though, and I will be more motivated to get back after them this week.

I really do feel good. I overcame some significant challenges to find quite a bit of light during my first week on the PGA Tour. I'm excited to get back to my roots and earn my second start the hard way this week. Regardless what happens on Monday, I'm feeling great and still believe that big things are in store.

Thank you for following me and for your support. Keep it here for a report from the Monday Qualifier and hopefully a tournament preview from the PGA Tour event in Las Vegas.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

First PGA Tour Round

Well, my PGA Tour career did not get off to a superb start, but I feel good about a lot of what happened during round one at the Frys.com Open. I have not been hitting the ball very well this week, and I was very erratic through the first six holes of my round on Thursday. After making a birdie on the 17th hole (my 8th), I settled down and really hit a lot of good shots over my final ten holes. Unfortunately, I could never get anything good out of it, and I posted an opening-round score of 73 (+2). I really did start to feel some good stuff over the second half of my round, however, and I am excited to get out there for round two on Friday. Keep it here for an update from Friday's round. Thank you for following me!

Monday, October 7, 2013

On My Way

am officially in the field at this week's PGA Tour event--the Fry's.com Open in San Martin, California. What a crazy ride the last few months have been! From a mini-tour player in mid-June to a PGA Tour rookie in October, I have obviously had the breakthrough that I had been promising for some time. I couldn't be more excited about the new opportunities in my professional golf career.

I have felt for quite some time that my goal-driven, highly motivated work ethic had me on a path to success, but in the meritocracy that is professional golf, nothing is guaranteed. That makes my ascension to the PGA Tour particularly gratifying, but, making it to THE Tour is an outcome. What I am most proud of is the belief that I had in my plan and my dedication to it. Earlier this year I changed the name of my "Process Goals" and began calling them my "Map Goals." The implication of this change is that my process goals are a set of step-by-step directions that if followed properly, will greatly increase my chances of reaching the "destination" I desire. My Map Goals give direction to all aspects of my preparation, with the largest chunk being dedicated to creating focused, tournament-like conditions for my practice sessions. Another benefit of my Map Goals is they give me tangible reasons to stay positive when I face challenges. As an example of this, I just completed 100% of my Map Goals for the sixth consecutive week. I also have missed my last two cuts, but because of the progress I have continued to show in my practice, I still whole-heartedly believe that I am moving in the right direction. So, while the success I have achieved and my positive attitude are great, they are both the result of a very powerful and intentional process with which I approach my work (and my life!). 

So why this elaborate explanation now? Because as I journey into exciting new and potentially intimidating waters, I don't have to change my process at all. Of course my goal-setting needs to adapt (and I will produce a new list of goals after the PGA Tour Fall Series), but the system that got me this far will continue to propel me if I keep believing in it and stay committed. 

Remember what I said earlier about professional golf being a meritocracy? That is just as true at the top level as it was along the way. I have achieved my Goal of reaching the PGA Tour, but I will have to continue my steady improvement in order to stay here and have success. The good news? I've done nothing but steadily improve since my junior year in college, and I believe in my system. 

I'm ready for this! I have no idea what to expect, but I do know the things that are under my control, and I plan to take care of them. My routine and my commitment to my goals won't change. But don't worry; I will remember to soak up some of the luxuries of the PGA Tour, too. And when I find out what they are, I'll tell you all about them! 

Thank you for your support and encouragement all along. Keep it here for all the exciting news as we open a new chapter.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Great (Busy) Week

So much has happened since I last reported. I am going to give it to you in expounded bullet point format.

1.) I was officially welcomed to the PGA Tour with a celebration at the TPC Sawgrass last Sunday. Alicia, my mom, dad, and sister were all there, and I also had two great friends from Dandridge (Buddy and Kuk-ster) as well as my original host family from Callaway Gardens there to celebrate the occasion with me. It was cool.

2.) I went through PGA Tour "Rookie Orientation" on Monday in Ponte Vedra Beach. It wasn't the most fun day ever, but how cool is it to say that I am a PGA Tour player!

3.) I started a solid week of practice with a short session Monday evening and a solid session Tuesday morning at the TPC Sawgrass. It is a nice perk to be able to practice there and at all of the TPC properties around the country.

4.) I traveled home on Tuesday afternoon/evening.

5.) I have been working my butt off on my golf game. I still love to practice, and it really doesn't feel like work to me, but I have been putting in some very focused time working on my game. I have already completed all of my practice goals this week, and I can tell that my game is continuing to improve. Despite bum results at the last two events of my Web.com Tour career, my game is still very good and trending upward.

6.) I have been helping Alicia get settled into our new house. It looks amazing! I won't be able to actually get settled in and get things how we want them until after Thanksgiving, but we are off to a great start!

7.) I am getting married! Though I leave most all of the planning to Alicia and her mother and father, I have been doing some tasks, and things are coming together beautifully for our November 1 date. That's less than one month!

8.) I'm going to soak up one more day at home and get a little more work done on Sunday, and then I'll take off for California and the Frys.com Open on Monday. I am currently the first alternate into the field, but based on what most people are telling me, I will get in and make my PGA Tour debut next week. I will be ready to go!

Okay, that's all. Life is great. Thank you for being a part of mine. Keep it here for more updates. I'll be more frequent with them as my PGA Tour career begins.

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...