Monday, December 29, 2014

Best Golf of My Life by January 1, 2015

The title of this post has been a common refrain of my posts over the last couple months. I set out eight weeks ago with a mission to be playing the best golf of my life when the calendar turned to 2015. I established an 8-week off-season plan, and I am very proud to say that by completing a Light Fitness Routine over Christmas week, I followed my entire off-season plan perfectly. And the plan is working. I feel like my game and my body are both in great form right now, and I really do feel like I am better at golf than I have ever been.

This off-season has been a great mixture of some new stuff and a dedicated commitment to the same old stuff. The "old stuff" is a solid, goal-oriented practice routine. The new stuff is the work on my swing mechanics that I have done with Mitchell Spearman. He and I have spent four days together over the past two months, and though we have not made any drastic changes, the subtle adjustments we are making is having a drastic impact on the consistency of my golf swing. While working very hard on my mechanics, I have been intentional about not letting my new swing thoughts dominate my practice. I have spent the majority of my time on the old stuff: putting, short game, wedge play, shot-making, and playing golf. This balance has allowed me to feel complete about my preparation, and I am ready to hit the ground running. It has truly been a great off-season.

This week is going to be a bit of strange one, but I am really looking forward to it. I have no practice or fitness requirements this week, so it is kind of a free week. Starting January 5, I will be accountable to a whole new set of weekly practice and fitness goals, but this week is my "transistion" between the off-season and the new season. I may not go at it quite full-speed this week, but you can bet that I won't be sitting around, either!

I am extremely proud of my last two months of work. I had a mission and a set of goals I was going to follow to achieve that mission, and I followed the plan perfectly. This is just the beginning, however. As I move into the 2015 season, these past eight weeks are just a building block. It is time to keep moving forward. I am excited to do just that!

Thank you for following and caring enough to keep up with me. I hope that all of you have have had a wonderful Christmas and that you are ready for a great New Year! Keep it here for another update within the next couple days as I roll into 2015!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

It's Off-Season but I'm On-Track!

December 8-14 was one of the best and most thorough weeks of practice I have ever had. That week, I set out to complete my Full Practice Schedule and Full Workout Routine. I was in Florida with fairly warm weather, which helped, but I completed all of my practice by Friday and easily finished all of my workouts, too. The past seven days have been a different story. Despite having reasonably nice weather in Tennessee, my practice drills really made me work this past week. I needed to complete only a Light Practice Schedule to finish the practice requirements set out in my "off-season plan" that I published seven weeks ago, and it took me until the very last glimmer of sunlight on Sunday afternoon to do that. I'm not sure why some weeks are harder than others, but I'm thankful for the challenge. This week it took some perseverance and a great attitude, but I completed my Light Practice Schedule and my Full Fitness Routine. It is so valuable for me to have a goal and achieve it, and I am feeling great right now.

Seven weeks ago I published my off-season goals and committed to following a plan that would have me playing the best golf of my life by January 1, 2015. So far, I have followed that plan perfectly. In fact, I have no remaining practice requirements in that plan and have only a Light Fitness Routine to complete over the next ten days in order to check off everything from my off-season goals. I'm proud of the work that I have put in over the past seven weeks, and I truly feel that with some light "stay sharp" sessions over the next week and a half, I will hit 2015 playing the best golf of my life.

I feel great. I have a big post coming sometime in the next several days that outlines my 2015 Goals, and I am excited to share those. More importantly, I'm excited to get to work pursuing them! Keep it here for that update and enjoy this Christmas and Holiday Season! Thank you very much for caring about me!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quick (but Great) Update

I had an absolutely fantastic week in Florida last week. I completed my Full Practice Schedule and Full Fitness Routine, and I also played 27 great holes on the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass and had a great session with Mitchell in Orlando. Mitchell is as impressed with the progress in my swing as I am with the results that I see in practice and on the course. We are continuing to make subtle and gradual changes that are having a profound impact on the efficiency and consistency of my golf swing. In addition to that, I continue to be very pleased with the quality of my short game and putting practice. I said that I would be playing the best golf of my life by January 1, 2015, and I truly believe that all the elements are coming together to make that a reality. I need to have another good week of work and workouts this week, but I will be able to relax a little bit over the Christmas week and still achieve my off-season goals!

Everything is great, and I am excited. Keep it here for updates from a great week of work and for some exciting news about the start of next year. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Great Work in Florida

I am continuing to make progress. My practice has been feeling very good, and my tournament play last week confirmed that I am moving in the right direction. I still have a lot of room to improve, though. This week, I have been utilizing the great practice facilities and reasonable weather at the TPC Sawgrass to continue working on my game. I have a few items left to check off my list, but I am well on my way to completing my Full Fitness Routine and my Full Practice Schedule. My workouts and my practice have been on point, and I am feeling great. I had a little match today on the Stadium Course, and my results continued to match what I am feeling. Playing in chilly and at times breezy conditions, I hit 14 greens in regulation and shot two under par despite making a triple bogey on one of the most benign holes on the course (12). I was victorious in the match. This week has been great, so far. I am going to have another solid day of work in Ponte Vedra on Friday and then will spend Saturday with Mitchell in Orlando. I am excited to keep getting better. Five and a half weeks ago, I set out on a mission to be playing the best golf of my life by January 1, 2015, and I am confident that I will be.

Thank you for following me, caring about me, and believing in me! Keep it here for more good news as I continue to progress. Enjoy some pictures from Sawgrass:




Sunday, December 7, 2014

Great Week!

I decided to play the eGolf Tour Championship so that I could assess the state of my game on a difficult golf course under tournament conditions. I am very pleased with the work that I have been putting in on my game, but I knew that playing a golf tournament would be very educational for me. Working on some new swing thoughts and having gone nearly three months without playing a competitive round, I was very curious to see how comfortable I would feel. The results actually surprised me a little bit. By no means was I as comfortable as I would ultimately like to be or as consistent with my ball-striking as I think I can be, but given the situation, I was very solid from beginning to end. The results speak for themselves as I posted rounds of 68, 68, 68, 71 for a 13-under-par total and a solo third place finish in a strong field of 168 players. More important than the results, however, was the experience of hitting solid golf shots under pressure and honestly believing that I was going to. This week was a strong validation of the work that I have been doing, it has me excited to keep following my plan. 

I will give you some cool bullet points from the final two rounds of the tournament. 

•The Cupp Course at Palmetto Hall has some very intimidating holes with long forced carries off the tee and greens fronted by trouble. Two holes that have always been something of a nemesis to me are holes three and seven. In the third round, I hit two perfect tee shots on these holes, and then stuck two four-iron approach shots en route to birdieing both! 

•I posted a third-round 68 (-4) despite making a double-bogey from 83 yards out in the middle of the fairway on the short par-four 11th. My tee shot found a divot in the fairway, but it really should not have been all that difficult of a shot. I chunked it badly and left myself with a 30-yard bunker shot. From there, I hit my shot over the green into a hazard and converted a great up-and-down for double after a penalty drop. That hole was my only major blunder of the tournament, and I am proud of the way that I responded to it.

•In the final round, I smoked my drive on the par-five 10th hole. I had just 216 yards to the flag for my second shot, but the 10th is a very demanding approach. A severely sloped green is fronted by a ten foot plank wall that drops down into a pond. The severity of the green is such that any approach that goes long of the green is really no better than hitting it short in the pond anyway. I typically lay up short of the water because of the demanding nature of the green, but trailing by seven shots and having a perfect yardage for my three hybrid, I decided to give it a go. I laced my approach to eight feet directly behind the front hole location and rolled in the putt for an eagle three. It was a great feeling!

• I finished the tournament sloppily. I failed to birdie the easily-reachable par-five 15th hole and then hit a poor iron shot into the 17th hole and made a bogey. I faced a long birdie putt on the final hole, and before hitting it, I noticed that I had fallen into third place by one shot. I also noticed that I had a couple shots of clearance over fourth place. I was overly aggressive with the birdie putt and wound up three putting for the only time all week on the final green. That sloppy finish is my only source of disappointment all week.

•On two fairly demanding golf courses, my ball-striking stats were very impressive. In order, beginning with round one, I hit 12, 13, 14, and 14 greens in regulation. As good as my short game and putting are going to be, I will be very VERY successful if I can continue to improve on these numbers. 

•My best-man from my wedding and closest friend, Ryan Nelson, dominated the golf tournament, and I got to play alongside him in the final round. That was really special. 

Needless to say, it was a fantastic week, and I am quite happy that I decided to play. I never lost sight of my off-season mission to be playing the best golf of my life by January 1, 2015, either. I completed my Light Practice Schedule and Light Fitness Routine, and I am doing a great job of following my off-season plan. I am more confident than ever that I will be playing the best golf of my life when the calendar turns to next year! 

Thank you for following and believing in me. Great stuff is happening, and even better stuff lies ahead. It's a fun journey, and I'm loving the ride! Keep it here for more updates. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's Feeling Good

I entered this week's eGolf Tour event so that I could assess my off-season work under some tournament conditions. I can tell that the new feelings on which I am working in my swing are far from ingrained, but things are feeling very good! I'm glad that I have a little more time to really work on my full-swing before the New Year gets here, but I'm definitely on pace to be playing the best golf of my life by then.

In the second round on Thursday, I overcame some shaky ball-striking early with some good recovery shots and a hot putter. Then, as I settled down and began to strike the ball nicely, my putter cooled. Still, I posted my second consecutive five-birdie, one-bogey round of 68 to reach eight under par for the tournament heading into the weekend. I am thrilled to be in a position to pursue the leaders, but more than that, I am excited to keep improving.

Though I was a little bit disappointed with some of the putts that I hit in Thursday's round, I am still very pleased with the state of my short game and putting. I have worked hard on these two areas of my game thus far this off-season, and that work is showing. I will continue to focus on sharpening these as I move forward.

For now, I am focused on completing a good week of work and continuing to play well in this tournament. I tee off at 10:10 Friday morning in the third round. I am currently five shots behind the leader and in a tie for third place. I am really looking forward to the competition the next two days. Thank you for following, and please keep it here for reports from the last two rounds.

 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tournament Week--Good Start

I haven't experienced a tournament week in quite a while. I am on Hilton Head Island playing the eGolf Professional Tour's season-ending event at a great venue called Palmetto Hall Plantation. I opened the tournament on Wednesday with a round of 68 (-4) on the Hills Course at Palmetto Hall. I played great and was in control all day as I posted a five-birdie, one-bogey performance in my first competitive round in more than 2 months. I definitely do not feel perfectly comfortable yet with the work that I am doing on my golf swing, and I certainly know that I have a long way to go to get to where I want to be, but I was very pleased with the state of my game. I am happy to have shot a good score, but more than that, I am very excited to see the fruits of my practice. All areas of my game were bright at times in round one, and my short game and putting were consistently good throughout the round. It was a great way to break back in to competition. 

Now, with that said, I want to keep it up. I'm having a good week of work, and I plan to continue with my off-season quest towards playing the best golf of my life by January 1, 2015. Along the way, I might as well get myself into contention to win this golf tournament, too, I'd say!
I'll play round two tomorrow on the Cupp Course at Palmetto Hall, and I'm excited to get back out there for more tournament action. 

Thank you for following, and please keep it here for more updates from the tournament.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thankful ...Even for the Rough Patches

I have so much for which to be Thankful. I really do consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world. I have an amazing wife, an unbelievably fun and supportive family, and great friends. The best thing about all these people is they love me regardless of what happens on the golf course. I am so thankful for all of them. 

From a golf standpoint, I similarly have so much for which to be thankful. I have incredible people around me that want to help me get better. I have golf courses that give me access to their facilities with no questions asked. For my beautiful, original home course where I learned to play (Dandridge Golf Course) and my home course in Knoxville (Holston Hills) and all the other places that allow me to call them "home", I am so thankful to have such great office spaces. 

In general, I am thankful to have a job that I genuinely love. I enjoy every aspect of my career, and I am grateful that I get to work at a game for my livelihood. 

And I feel that way even when it's not easy! I had a tough week of practice this week. Because of the Thanksgiving Holiday, my goal for this week was to complete my Light Practice Schedule. After three weeks of knocking out my Full Practice Schedule, I thought this week would be relatively easy. I had to work! My putting drills did not come easily. I ended up finishing the last of my putting drills in tough blustery conditions on Sunday afternoon. This week I completed my Full Fitness Routine and my Light Practice Schedule. It is so rewarding to stick with a goal through some rough patches and get it done! 

That statement applies to my long term goals as well. My ultimate goal in golf is to compete at the highest level, win, and be consistently one of the best players in the world. This year could certainly be viewed as a rough stretch towards that goal, but I view it as necessary step in my growth. I am going to stick with my plan, and when I reach my ultimate goal in golf, a tough year like this one will make it all the more rewarding! 

Right now, I'm super excited. I am going to be back in competition this week. I will tee it up in the eGolf Professional Tour's Tour Championship December 3-6 on Hilton Head Island. The work that I have been doing on my golf game is feeling very good, and I think that testing it under some tournament conditions will be good for me. I expect to be fairly sharp for the tournament and plan to compete for the win, but my primary goal will be to continue working on my game under tournament conditions. I will treat the event with tournament-week focus, but this is still a part of my off-season planI absolutely believe that I will be playing the best golf of my life when the calendar turns to 2015. 

Here is where I am right now. My work on my golf swing does not feel natural yet, but I am comfortable with it and know that I am moving in the right direction. Despite a challenging week of putting practice, my short game and putting are in solid form. I am excited to give it all a test in the tournament this week.

I will end this post by saying one more thing for which I am thankful: all of you for following me and offering your support! Keep it here for tournament and practice updates from Hilton head Island this week.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Big "Next" Step

I want to start by saying that I have just completed another great week of work. I finished my Full Fitness Routine and my Full Practice Schedule. I am feeling great physically and am very excited about the state of my game. Over the past three weeks, I have had the best practice that I can ever remember. My optimism and my motivation to keep improving continue to grow. I say it in every post, but I'm going to reiterate it here: I will be playing the best golf of my life when the New Year gets here. 

I have been talking about a lot of the things that I am doing this off-season to improve. The basis of my plan is, and will always be, a well-rounded and thorough practice routine. However, there is one major new thing that I am doing this off-season that I have not yet discussed. I am consulting with a new instructor in Orlando, Florida. 

Before I go farther, I need to take a minute to clarify some things. My long-time coach is Bobby "Bobbo" Bray, and he won't cease to be that. Bobbo and I go way back, and there is no way that I'd be where I am without him. He is a coach, mentor, and great friend to me. He is still the most genuine and generous human being I've ever met. He's also one heck of a golfer and a great coach. He and I will continue to work on my game together, and he'll be there when I win my first major!

I'm also lucky to have a brilliant golf-swing mind that lives 12 minutes from me in Knoxville, TN. Jake Reeves has helped me with my game and become a great friend. I'm thankful to have him in my court and will continue to learn from him. He and I are both going to play in the same PGA Championship here one year very soon! And if it comes down to the two of us for the title, he'll ball-strike the heck out of it, so you'd better believe I'm going have to make a big putt to beat him!

This offseason, though, I decided that I wanted to get some input from a new set of eyes. I spoke with several instructors around the country and found that I communicated the most comfortably with Mitchell Spearman. I have had three sessions with Mitchell, and we are working to eliminate some excess movement, solidify my leg action, and create an increased sense of connection between my arms and my body during my swing. Though changes can be hard, nothing that we have done has seemed like a daunting task. I am still in a stage of development where I am having to consciously think about my swing while hitting balls, but the results are already starting to show. As the changes to my motion become natural, I am confident that my swing will be more efficient and my ball-striking will be much more consistent. 

This is a big step for me. I will always rely on my attitude and my putting to be my greatest assets on the course, but in order to achieve my goal of being one of the best golfers in the world, I need to improve my ball-striking. My work with Mitchell Spearman is going to jump-start  that. 

Through this process, I am continuing to have balanced, complete-game practice. Though I have done something new to focus on my ball-striking, I am not neglecting the rest of my game. I believe that I will be hitting the ball better than I ever have here soon, but I'm determined to have all areas of my game reach new heights. 

This is exciting stuff. I am getting better, and I can feel it! 

As a side-note, Mitchell teaches at Isleworth Country Club in Orlando. I played the course last time I was down there. It's no wonder so many of the best players in the world live there. It's beautiful, in fantastic condition, and it tests absolutely every element of the game. 
Thank you for following and believing in me! Great stuff is coming. Keep it here for more reports from my off-season work. 
 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Great Practice in FLA

The cold chased me from my beloved Home--a place that I like to be as much as possible in the offseason. I'm not afraid to bundle up and work through some cold hands, but single digit lows and windy highs in the twenties will drive me south. I traveled to Florida on Monday and will return to Tennessee after a good day of work on Friday. 

My practice has been fantastic. I am definitely working on a few things with my full-swring mechanics, but I feel like I am progressing in that area of my game. My short game, wedges, and putting, however, are feeling like they are in mid-season form. And I'm talking about the middle of a very good season when I say that! I feel like I am getting better and better with each session, too, so I'm confident that I will indeed be playing the best golf of my life when the calendar turns to 2015. 

The Fitness and Practice Schedules that I laid out for myself a few weeks ago are really working well. They demand that I be focused and intentional with my time and also create a bit of a competitive-type of feeling in my work. I feel like everything I do is a small mission that is part of my larger mission. I need to stay focused and not get cocky, but I'm well on my way to completing a Full week in both my Fitness Routine and Practice Schedule again this week. 

I will be playing the best golf of my life by January 1, 2015, and then it will keep getting better from there. I have Unfinished Business to resolve on the PGA Tour, so my first large mission is to get back there. I am going to do it. 

Keep it here for more news. I will report again from Home at the end of the weekend. Thank you for following and caring about me!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Competence Growing

I have had an absolutely fantastic week of work.

I am lucky to have spent time and become friends with a great sports psychologist at the University of Missouri. His name is Coach McGuire. He repeatedly told me during my college years, "Confidence is a choice." It took me years to understand that concept, but I have grown to truly believe it. The problem is that it can be a hard choice to make. Another statement that Coach McGuire says almost as frequently is, "Competence breeds confidence." At the end of the day, confidence is a choice, but advancing one's skill set makes choosing to feel confident easier. 

This off-season is all about increasing my competence as a golfer. I feel like I am doing that in a big way. I am proud of the week of work that I just finished. Despite a blast of very chilly weather, I executed a great plan this week and completed a Full Practice Schedue and Full Fitness Routine. I definitely had to be very focused and efficient during some practice sessions and had to endure really cold hands, too, but I stayed on task all week and did great work. Getting all of my drills and work done this week was a big accomplishment, and I can feel my competence growing. 

I have two cool stories from the past several days that I would like to share. On Wednesday evening, I was finishing up a great day of practice in some very chilly conditions, and I was ready to call it quits for the day. I realized that I hadn't hit any bunker shots, and decided that despite my nearly numbed-frozen hands, I should hit a few bunker shots before I left. I took five balls into a bunker and picked a short bunker shot. I told myself when I got three in a row inside a combined 12 feet (it was an easy bunker shot), I would be done for the day. I hit the first two shots to about a combined five feet and then holed the third ball. So, with that goal achieved, I turned to a more distant flag and thought I'd hit the other two balls to it. I holed the first one. I don't know that I have ever holed consecutive bunker shots before. Sure made me glad I stayed! Then on Sunday, I needed to complete just one putting drill and a couple minutes of wedge practice to complete a Full Practice Schedule for the week. The weather was rainy and quite cold, so after finishing my remaining practice requirements, I decided to leave the practice facilities and go play nine holes. I had played two full rounds earlier in the week, but something about this nine holes felt special to me. I played the back nine at Holston Hills, which is not a difficult golf course in good weather conditions, and I challenged myself to shoot under par. Given the wet and cold conditions, the course actually played fairly long, and I was extremely happy with pretty much all elements of my game. I made two birdies and one bogey.  35 on the back nine at Holston is nothing to write home about, but in those conditions, it was a good score. More importantly, it was a great baseline for my off-season improvement. 

The process is working. My competence is growing. It is already becoming an easier choice to feel confident. I will be playing the best golf of my life by January 1, 2015. 

The Web.com Tour published the dates for its first two events of the 2015 season. I officially get to work on resolving my Unfinished Business the last week in January when the Web.com Tour kicks off the season in Panama City, Panama. I'll be ready. 

I'm having fun! I love the process of getting better. Thank you for caring and sharing the journey with me. I have more news and ways that I'm getting better to discuss. Keep it here!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Good Practice

I will be playing the best golf of my life when the New Year rolls around. This week has been great so far. After a quick morning practice, I took a beautiful Monday afternoon off to enjoy my East Tennessee home:
Any golf time that I may have missed, I have more than made up for the last two days. I enjoyed a morning round of golf at Holston Hills on Tuesday
and have had two full afternoons of practice the last two days. Despite a cold weather pattern arriving today, I am in great shape to finish a Full Practice Schedule this week. My game, my body, and my spirits are all feeling great! 

One of my strategies for having a great offseason is to spend time working on all areas of my game rather than focusing on my weaknesses only, which I have done in past winters. I am going to dedicate time to all disciplines of golf in practice and make sure I am playing some rounds as well. I think this well-rounded approach will have me ready to compete when January arrives.

I am definitely excited about the trajectory of my game right now. As I have said and will continue to say, my short stay on the PGA Tour has left me with Unfinished Business, and I am hungry to resolve it!

Keep it here for more updates. Thank you for following me! 


Sunday, November 9, 2014

On Track

My current mission is to execute an off-season plan and be playing the best golf of my life when the calendar turns to 2015. The last seven days have been a good start. Prior to the start of this past week, I laid out my practice and workout schedule for November and December. I published that plan last Sunday and then got after it! I completed both my Full Practice Schedule and Full Fitness Routine in the first week (see previous post to learn what that means). My practice schedule requires me to have focused and efficient practice, and some of my drills even replicate tournament-like pressure, so it's a great feeling to get it all done. In addition to that, my physical training is definitely a notch or two more intense than it was during my season, and I am feeling great about that, too. One great week of work has me motivated for more, and I am excited to fulfill that mission and be playing the best golf of my life by January 1, 2015. I'm going to do it.

January 1 is a seemingly arbitrary date in this case because my tournaments on the Web.com Tour won't actually start until February of next year, but I am going to be ready to compete again in January. I'm not yet sure what that is going to look like, but I'll keep you posted as that nears. For now, I'm going to keep following my plan and get my game sharp. My short stay on the PGA Tour has left me with Unfinished Business, and I intend to get back there and resolve it.  

Thank you for keeping up with me. I'll share more about specific things that I am doing to get better this off-season in posts this week. I've got good stuff. Keep it here for more updates!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Off-Season Go-Time

After spending the last five weeks following my beloved Kansas City Royals (see previous post!), I am ready to turn my focus back to golf. I intend to be playing the best golf of my life as the calendar turns to 2015, and I have a plan to make sure I will be. As usual, the plan begins with a solid practice routine. Starting this week, I will be holding myself accountable for completing weekly goals, and I am excited to have some focused work. Here is a look (I'm sorry if it's hard to read) at my preparation schedule for the next eight weeks:
This schedule is a great baseline for my off-season work. In addition to the drills listed here, I am also going to be doing some work on my swing mechanics, and I will keep you posted about everything going on in that realm, too. My ultimate goal for the next two months is to enter 2015 playing the best golf of my life, and I believe that I will do it. 

Thank you for following and caring about me. I really appreciate all of the support I receive. Keep it here for updates as I get better!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Unfinished Business

The last six weeks have been incredible. My rookie year on the PGA Tour officially ended unceremoniously, and I immediately began making plans for how I will get back there. I have great ideas and am even more motivated than ever, but I can proudly admit that that I have had a happy and healthy diversion from golf since late September. My favorite team in all of sports, the Kansas City Royals, has swept me off my feet this Fall, and I have so enjoyed their magical season. As a loyal fan of the long-struggling Royals, this run has been an absolute joy to watch, but it has also been inspirational from a professional standpoint. The way the Boys in Blue play baseball has me inspired to work harder than ever at my job so that I can write my own Cinderella story. 

I want to discuss my off-season plans and lay out some clear goals, but first, let me just share with you some of the joy that Alicia and I have experienced cheering for our Royals over the last several weeks. The Boys in Blue have given us four champagne celebrations. The first such celebration was on the third-to-last day of the regular season when they clinched a Wild Card birth and ended a playoff drought that began in 1986. Next came an unbelievable, win-or-go-home Wild Card game during which the Royals rallied from a deficit three different times on the way to winning in the 12th inning. From there, our boys travelled to Los Angeles to face the American League's top-seeded Angels. There, Kansas City gutted out two more extra innings victories. 

At that point, Alicia and I decided we needed to get to Kansas City in time for Game Three, and we were there when our Royals swept the star-laden Angels. 

From there, the Royals moved on to the American League Championship Series (ALCS) where they faced the Baltimore Orioles. Alicia and I returned home, but when our team opened the ALCS with a pair of wins in Baltimore, we got a call that my sponsor, MLB.com, would like us to be in KC for a golf outing during Games Three, Four, and Five of the series. Gladly we went, and we were there to see the Royals sweep the power-hitting Orioles and earn a birth in the World Series. We had some real fun with that, and got to meet a little Kansas City royalty, too. 
That is me with actor/comedian Paul Rudd and then Alicia and I with Royals owner David Glass.

With the Royals hosting Games One and Two of the World Series, there was no way we were going home this time. We were there as the Royals and the Giants split the first two contests at home. A convincing performance from our boys in Game Two made us joke that we should go out to San Francisco for Games Three, Four, and Five. In a matter of hours, our joke became reality as we decided a trip to the Bay Area to watch our team in the World Series would be a great anniversary gift to ourselves. So off we flew, and we were on hand for a Royals' victory in Game Three, two losses in Games Four and Five, and three great days of adventures in San Francisco.
As the Boys in Blue returned home facing elimination, both the team and the fans spoke confidently heading into Game Six. The Royals' starting pitcher for the contest was 23-year-old rookie fire-baller, Yordano Ventura. All he did was throw seven shut out innings! The offense exploded for ten runs, and the Royals dominated their first elimination game since the Wild Card. 

Then Game Seven happened. It was the best sporting event I have ever witnessed. The stadium was electric. The Royals played great. The Giants played better. Our team fell 3-2. Just minutes after the final out, heartbroken Kansas City fans serenaded the Royals with chants of "Let's Go Royals" that soon changed to "Thank You, Royals".
It was an amazing experience, and I am so thankful that Alicia and I were there for all of that. 

Alicia and I are both so thankful to be a part of the MLB.com family. It is a great relationship with great people, and they gave us the opportunity to witness the Royals' great run in person. 

So, how has that experience inspired me? In several ways, actually: first of all, the Royals are a team devoid of an individual "big-name" player. They simply work really hard and combine their individual strengths in a way that results in excellent team baseball. Similarly, no singular part of my golf game stands out as a superstar-level talent, but the combination of my skills and a steady work ethic can have me at the top of my sport just like the Royals. Secondly, the Boys in Blue just have fun playing baseball. Even as the regular season dwindled and they were fighting for that first postseason bid in three decades, the Royals seemed loose and confident. That relaxed attitude carried into and through the playoffs. The team continued to work hard, play hard, and especially have fun regardless of the situation. I definitely let the big stage of the PGA Tour get me a little bit out of my normal routine and attitude this year. I wasn't as disciplined with my preparation, and I was definitely trying too hard on the big stage. The combination of focus and lightheartedness shown by the Royals throughout the second half of the year and the postseason was a great example to me. The Royals showed that with a great attitude and a great work ethic, the underdog can win. 

Another thing that the Royals and I have in common is Unfinished Business. The Boys in Blue made it to the World Series but didn't win, and, similarly, I made it to the PGA Tour but didn't earn my right to stay there. I am confident that the Royals will get back to the World Series soon and give themselves another chance to win it all. I am also confident that I will get myself back on the PGA Tour and earn my right to stay there for many years. We are both going to take care of our Unfinished Business. 

As for my plan to do that, the general formula won't change. A solid plan plus a disciplined work ethic plus a great attitude will equal success. Right now I am working on the details of that plan, but by the end of this weekend, I'll have laid out a practice schedule and off-season goals. 

My Royals deserve a rest, but they have already given me mine. It's time to for me to get back to work! 

Thank you for caring about me and supporting my career. After a long hiatus from blogging, I plan to regularly document my off-season work on here. Keep it here to follow my progress as I seek to resolve my Unfinished Business!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

At Sawgrass

Here I am at the home of the PGA Tour--The Tournament Players Club (TPC) Sawgrass. This picture is of the 18th hole on the Stadium Course, the famous host of The Player's Championship, but this week's event is on the Valley Course. The Valley Course is much less notorious than it's brother with the island green, but it is an excellent course and will be a great test for the Web.com Tour Championship this week. 

Here is the fact. I enter this week's event needing a top five finish to retain my playing privileges on the PGA Tour for the 2014-2015 season. Anything less than that and I will be a Web.com Tour player for the 2015 season. So, I'm going to shoot four rounds under par and get the job done this week. Now that I've said that, I'm going to do the things I need to do to make it happen: work hard and play one shot at a time! 

There is no question that it has been a tough and frustrating year for me, but I'm proud of the work that I've done, and I am feeling progress. I'm ready to play great, and this is my week!

Life is great! If you missed my last post, check it out because it's really cool. Thank you for keeping up with me and believing in me. Come back for good reports from this week's tournament rounds. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Missed Cut, Royals Slumping, Life is GREAT

I'm going to get some sleep and get ready for a great week at the Web.com Tour Championship, so this will be very brief, but I want to share some info from the past week. I felt great about my game and hit the ball solidly, but I wasn't sharp in Columbus, Ohio, and the Ohio State University Scarlet Course pitched a birdie shutout for 36 holes against me. I posted 32 pars and four bogeys to miss the cut by two shots in the third Web.com Tour Finals event. Speaking of shutouts, my beloved Kansas City Royals have been really struggling of late, too! With the season coming down to crunch time, the Royals have fallen out of first place and need to right the ship if they are to break their long playoff drought. So in my world as a professional and as a sports fan, things are a little rough right now. 

My week in Ohio was a great reminder of just how great life is, though. The world is full of great stories and amazing people. I'm going to work my tail off and find top form on the golf course again, but that will never define me. Relationships with amazing people and having a positive impact in the world will define my life. Life is great! 

Watch the video by clicking this link: http://youtu.be/jTmOvT12vDsand then laugh and smile at these two pictures:

I am going to have a great week of work and play well this week, but last week made me feel like a winner, too! Thank you to the Richardson family and thank you to my wife, Alicia, who reminds me that I am a winner every week!

Thank you for following and caring about me. Keep it here for a full golf-report in the next two days!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cut(s)

I'm going to talk about the elephant in my golfing mind. I am really tired of talking about, writing about, thinking about, and worrying about the cut line at golf tournaments. Mostly though, I'm sick of missing the cut. When I first turned professional, having to survive a 36-hole cut at tournaments was the biggest difference from my college golf experience. It took me a while to get used to it, and I missed a lot of cuts my first year. During that year though, I learned to replace the "make-the-cut" thoughts in my head with simple "play-good-golf" thoughts, and for a three-year stretch from 2011 through 2013, I did just that quite a lot and missed very few cuts. This year, for a number of reasons, I missed a few cuts early in the year and my thoughts have spiraled all the way back to where they were when I was a newly-turned professional golfer worrying about making cuts. My game hasn't been sharp all year, and therefore, I have found myself lingering around the cut-line a lot on Thursdays and Fridays. In these situations, I have found myself thinking about the cut, which puts even more stress on my already not-as-sharp-as-I-want-it golf game. It all adds up to a recipe for struggles, and I have cooked up plenty of those this year. 

This past week fit that mold perfectly. The second event of the Web.com Tour Finals was at River Run Country Club, a course that I know and really like, and I was ready to play well. On Thursday, I did play well, but a few errant drives and a luke-warm putter led to an opening-round 71 (-1), and I sat in a tie for 45th place heading into Friday. I opened Friday's round with seven consecutive pars and definitely was thinking about staying ahead of the cut-line. A tense swing on the par-three 17th hole (my eighth of the day) resulted in a terrible tee shot that kicked out of bounds. I made a triple-bogey, and though I played hard the rest of the way, the damage was done. I ended up posting a second-round 75 and fell three shots outside the cut. It was a really disappointing feeling to head home early from a course where I have such fond memories. 

Here comes the good news! These first two paragraphs are about the past. This is the first time all year I've actually talked about all of my missed cuts. It stinks to miss cuts, and I hate having weekends off in my line of work, but I can do something about it. Poor play and missed cuts are going to happen from time to time, but, as I've already shown in 2011-2013, with the right mindset, they don't have to happen to much. The right mindset is one in which the focus is on playing good golf and trying to win tournaments. I can and will get back to thinking that way! 

The other good news is that my not-as-sharp-as-I-want-it golf game is coming around. All year I have shown deficiencies in every area of my game, but over the last several weeks, my practice has greatly improved. I still haven't put all the elements together in the same round, but I have seen bright spots from all areas of my game in my last three golf tournaments. I am definitely getting some of my confidence back, and I thoroughly believe that I am good enough to compete at the highest level of professional golf. 

So yes, there is definite frustration in this post, but in letting out that frustration, I find much more optimism. I am really good at this golf stuff. I know how to practice and the right way to think, and, though I haven't necessarily been doing both this year, I'm going to get back on track. 

I'm back in action this week at the third event of the Web.com Tour Finals in Columbus, Ohio. I'm going to prepare well and get myself in position to win a golf tournament. Thank you for continuing to believe in me! Keep it here for updates from Ohio! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

River Run Ready

The second event of the Web.com Tour Finals--The Chiquita Classic--is about to begin for me. The Chiquita Classic is at River Run Country Club in Davidson, North Carolina. In addition to playing well here last year, I have great memories from numerous eGolf Professional Tour events on this course. My practice continues to feel better and better each day, and I feel like I am ready to play really well. I am going to believe in myself, trust every shot, and play Peter Malnati golf the next four days here in North Carolina. Thank you for following, and keep it here for updates along the way!



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sneaky Good in Indiana

Well, the on-paper results from Fort Wayne, Indiana, paint an all-too-familiar 2014 picture. I posted rounds of 72, 76 (+4) to finish near the back of the field and miss the cut by five shots. It might sound like I'm trying to be overly positive,  but I actually feel extremely optimistic about this week despite the poor finish. Some things definitely went wrong, but I was also much more like myself in some areas than I have been all year. I certainly didn't want to start the Web.com Tour Finals with a missed cut, but I am leaving Indiana feeling encouraged and ready to get rolling!

So, what went wrong this week? Short answer: the seventh hole. Number seven at Sycamore Hills is a 185-yard par three with a smallish green that is protected by a stone-walled pond short and right. In two rounds, I hit three balls in that pond and played the hole six over par. Both of my shots from the tee were simply poor execution. I had a good, smart plan both days, but I made poor swings and missed well to the right of my target. On Friday, I compounded my error with another very poor shot from the drop area. There is never any sense in playing the "what-if" game, but it is alarming to think that if I could have played the 185-yard seventh hole with a bogey and a par, I would have a Saturday tee time. With the exception of my shot from the drop area on Friday, I can honestly say that I don't regret anything about my thought process on that hole; I simply needed to execute better. 

So, number seven was the most obvious revelation of my weakness this week, but that weakness reared its head at other times as well. I am really struggling with my mid and long iron play right now. The par threes at Sycamore Hills ranged from 185 yards to 215 yards, and I played them nine over par for the week. I hit a lot of squirrely shots on approaches outside of 170 yards. That is an area of my game that I need to address. I really feel like the rest of my game was firing well enough to be in contention this week if I could have been just average with mid and long irons. I will put in some focused work with these clubs and will be ready moving forward. 

So that is what needs to get better, but I am very happy with many aspects of my game. I drove the ball the best that I have all year. My driving stats will show that I hit 23 of 28 fairways, but I know that two of those five misses were perfect tee shots that crept into the first cut of rough. In fact, I made two birdies from those two "missed" fairways. In addition to driving the ball well, my short-iron play was very reminiscent of times when I have been playing great golf. I hit a lot of shots right at my target and felt very in control with my shorter clubs. On and around the greens, I felt very much like myself. I had good touch around the greens and got some challenging shots up and down. My putter never got hot during my two rounds in Indiana, but my hard work on the greens lately definitely showed. I had a lot of birdie putts in the 15-25 foot range that were all over the hole, but got only one to actually fall. I was extremely solid inside of ten feet, though, and felt very confident on the greens. In short, my strengths were strong this week in Indiana.  

That's what I need to be successful. I need to hit more fairways, be better with my short clubs, and putt better than my competition to beat them. And I can do all three of those things! I am going to get good enough with my long distance approach shots to allow my strengths to win golf tournaments. I can do that, and I will. 

This week in Indiana was great. I hate leaving a tournament after two days, but seeing positive signs from the most important elements of my golf game has me feeling pumped. I will find some key to help me be better with my long approach shots and will also continue to sharpen my strengths. That means some great Peter Malnati golf is coming soon! 

I don't have to wait long to put it in action. The Web.com Tour Finals continue this week with the Chiquita Classic in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I will be ready for it!

Thank you very much for following and believing in me. Keep it here for a practice report and an update from North Carolina early next week! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Going to Trust My Strengths

I have had three great days of preparation in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I would be lying to say I feel like my ball-striking is firing on all cylinders, but I am prepared to use my strengths and my smarts to play some excellent golf. I am going to be positive, intelligent, and focused singularly on every shot this week, and I am going to have a great tournament. I get started at 8:25 Thursday morning and am very excited! Thank you for following, and keep it here for updates from the tournament!

Also, here is a truly blissful photo (taken by Alicia) from my Tuesday evening practice session: 

Monday, August 25, 2014

PREPARED

I'm sorry for my recent hiatus from my blog. Nothing has been wrong--quite the opposite really. I've been having some of my best practice and feeling absolutely great about life and my golf game. I simply have taken a little break from publishing my results and feelings. My blog is a really valuable tool for me to articulate and solidify my thoughts and plans, and I am ready to do just that. I hope that it is also a good way for you to keep up with me, and I really appreciate you caring enough to follow my career. 

So, since my last post, quite a bit has happened. I played the weekend in my final event of the 2013-2014 PGA TOUR season. I had a strange day on Saturday at that event--The Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, NC--during which I felt great the whole time, but never got anything good going and posted a 74 (+4). I followed that with a very solid effort on Sunday and carded a final-round 67. That score didn't move me up much in the field, and I finished tied for 64th, but it was a great feeling to finish my PGA Tour season with a solid final round. 

This past week, I was home in Tennessee and had a great week of work. From my workouts to my practice sessions to my play in a few friendly matches, I was focused and on point. I completed all of my Map Goals, played well in some semi-competitive rounds, and enjoyed quality relaxing time with my wife and family. It was a perfect week, and I'm feeling great as I head out on my next adventure.

I need to point out something here. I deviated from what makes me ME for the first two-thirds of this year. I found the PGA Tour to be filled with distractions, and though I was still putting in hours on the practice facilities, I was not having focused practice or completing my usual work goals. Though I tried to remain upbeat and positive, I truly did not feel great about my golf for much of this year. Over the past seven weeks since refocusing on my process and recommitting to my Map Goals, I have had a resurgence of sorts. I have completed my Map Goals six of the past seven weeks (and the week I missed was by just one putting drill and a holed bunker shot). Though my game hasn't necessarily turned the corner yet on the course, I feel great about myself and my golf game again. I am proud of my work ethic, but though I have worked hard all year, I had forgotten to work smart. I am back on track now, and it has me very excited moving forward! 

I am currently in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where this week I will compete in the first of four Web.com Tour Finals events. I played in this series of events last year, and this time around, it is my ticket back to the PGA Tour for the 2014-2015 season. At the end of these four events, the top 25 money winners in addition to the top 25 from the Web.com Tour's regular season Money List will earn PGA Tour Cards for next season. My "Outcome Goal" for the next four weeks is to be the top money earner at these four events. I believe that I can achieve that goal. 

Now that I've stated that outcome goal, I'm going to get back to doing the thing that will help me accomplish it: following my process. I am prepared for this because I have been committed to a disciplined, focused routine for nearly the last two months. I am going to continue to trust that and believe in myself. 

I am a huge fan of this week's golf course in Indiana. It's called Sycamore Hills, and I am going to have a great week here. Here are a couple of pictures from this beautiful track. 

Thank you for following me, and please keep it here for frequent updates! (I promise this time! :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Following the Plan and Making Progress

Friday, August 15, was a good day! It's been the weeks leading up to it, however, that have made the difference. On Friday I played a solid round to move from slightly outside the cut-line to safely playing the weekend at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, NC. Now, I understand that I shouldn't be trying just to make the cut, and that is certainly not my aim, but I'd be lying if I said the cut-line wasn't on my mind after quite a few frustrating weeks on the wrong side of it. For the past six weeks, I have been diligently following my work routine with a strong belief that I will regain the consistency that has characterized my solid play over the past few years. Friday's round just might serve as a turning point for me. My hard work has definitely been showing in my practice, and it was great to feel it yield results in a tense situation in Greensboro. I'm going to keep doing my work and keep getting better, and I'm confident that consistently good results are in my near future! 

Rounds of 70, 67 (-3 total) have me seven shots behind the leaders heading to the weekend here at the Wyndham Championship. This is the last event of the PGA Tour's regular season, and I need a special weekend to advance to the Fed-Ex Cup Playoffs. I'm just going to believe in myself and focus fully on each and every shot. I'm always saying great things are coming, so watch out for me this weekend! 

Thank you very much for following and believing in me! Keep it here for an update after the tournament.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Finding Form

I am feeling great about things. After the disappointment of my early exit from last week's event in Reno, I traveled home and finished up a solid week of practice with a thorough day on Sunday. This week I have taken full advantage of my week off with some really productive work. I have balanced quality time on the practice facilities with three good matches on the course, and my game is definitely moving in the right direction. I am back in the habit of a Peter Malnati-like practice routine, and if my "friendly" matches here at home are any indication, good results are soon to follow. 

On Tuesday, I played at Fox Den Country Club before playing Wednesday and Friday at Holston Hills. I had a rocky start with three bogies in the first six holes at Fox Den on Tuesday, but since then I have played 48 holes of bogey-free golf with 17 birdies. Obviously, that is here in the comfort of my East Tennessee home, but still, I have hit a lot of quality shots, holed a few key putts, and in general played very steady golf in the face of some serious ("friendly") competition. It is encouraging to see good shots and shoot some good scores.

The most encouraging thing is that I can see my practice working. I am back in the routine of having focused, goal-oriented practice, and this week I have seen some of my successes from the practice facilities show up on the golf course. I have a few more putting drills and a little bit of wedge work to do this weekend, and I am very excited to keep following my process and improving.

Sunday afternoon, Alicia and I will hit the road and drive to Greensboro, North Carolina, where the final PGA Tour event of the regular season is next week. I am going to try my hardest not to worry about the results at that tournament, but I can honestly say that I will be going into it the most prepared to play well that I have been all year. 

But for now, I'm going to stay in the present. Keep it here for a report late this weekend as I am going to keep getting better! Thank you for following and believing in me. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Not Yet

It's Saturday, and I'm traveling home. Erratic play in Reno earned me an early exit from the Barracuda Championship and a couple of extra days off before my final regular season event of the 2013-2014 PGA Tour season. It is never fun to miss a cut, and this one certainly adds to my growing frustration, but I am committed to my plan and believe that I am heading in the right direction. 

The final results from Reno look pretty ugly. Needing to birdie the final two holes to make the cut on Friday, I finished with consecutive double-bogeys instead. That dropped me into the bottom of the field. My play was certainly inconsistent and at times very sloppy, but I actually showed a lot of positive signs during my two tournament rounds. I hit great drives, and some quality iron shots, and I actually felt really good over the putter for the first time in a while. Unfortunately I could never string together enough good shots consecutively to get anything going. I just haven't been able to capture the sharpness or consistency yet this year that has characterized my past success. 

I am definitely back on the right track, however. I have been thoroughly committed to my work routine for the past four weeks, and I show great signs in my practice. I have always been a better player on the course than I am on the practice facilities, but I am clearly fighting some sort of confidence issues during my tournaments right now. I have the next week off and will use it to continue sharpening my physical skills, but I will also think about some strategies for recapturing my mental edge during tournament play. 

I am very excited about the progress I feel in my game. My process works, and I can see improvement as I practice. As for my mental game, I have always used my mind as my greatest strength on the golf course, and I have a great resource to help me get the positive thoughts flowing again. Confidence is a choice, and I will make some good choices to ensure that I am feeling great the next time I tee it up. 

As I said in multiple posts a couple weeks ago, I need to have a long-term vision of success. This year's golf results have been really lousy so far, but I have learned a tremendous amount and truly believe that my plan has me on a trajectory to be one of the best players in the world. I am going to continue to improve, and I am very excited for the future. 

I will be working from home this next week and preparing for the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina. That is the final PGA Tour event of the regular season, and I will go into it in my best form of the year! 

Thank you for caring about me and keeping up with me. Stay tuned for updates as I continue moving forward! 

*Random side note and cool picture: I think it is important for me to get my mind off of golf every now and then, too. Here is a view from a quick adventure that Alicia and I took before leaving the Reno-Tahoe area on Saturday.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Barracuda?!

I am at the Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nevada. Barracuda, an information technology company, is the new title sponsor of the Reno-Tahoe Open, and I think a tournament with such a cool name will be a fitting place for me to have a great breakthrough. 

I had a great weekend of practice in Montreal, Canada, and for the third consecutive week, I finished all of my map goals last week. I have continued my solid work with some good practice the last few days, but I have really emphasized time on the golf course in my practice here in Reno. I played 27 holes on the tournament course on Tuesday, and went offsite for a great match with some other players on Wednesday. I am probably a little bit behind on my practice goals for this week, but the time on the golf course has been high quality preparation for me. 

I really feel like I'm back on a Peter Malnati-like schedule. My game is still not as sharp as I would like for it to be, but for the first time in a while I am genuinely believing in my process and my method. I know that I am getting better and am confident that I will be very successful moving forward. 

Now it is time to go to bed! Remember as you check results from the Barracuda Championship that the scoring this week works in a modified Stableford format. That means rather than counting strokes in relation to par, a player's score is determined by a point system. Birdies and eagles earn points while bogeys and doubles cost points. This is the only week all year that you should be rooting for me to have high scores!

Thank you very much for keeping up with me, and please check here for great updates throughout the week.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Heartbreak but So Much Positive in Canada

I'll start with the bad news, and this one really stings. I made a double bogey on my 36th hole of the Canadian Open to move from safely inside the cutline to missing the weekend by one shot. I cannot relay with words how absolutely awful that feels, but I promise the news is not all bad from Canada. 

So, here's the story. I was erratic in Thursday's opening round. Despite feeling prepared heading into the tournament, my iron play was quite poor in round one, and I didn't scramble as well as I needed to in order to post a good score. I did start to find that loving feeling on the greens and rolled in a few big putts, including a 40+ footer on my final hole for a closing birdie to post an opening-round, three-over-par 73. That closing putt was big, and I entered round two feeling like I was ready to play well. I came out Friday morning and despite a shaky iron shot into the first, had a solid start with five consecutive pars. I really found some nice form over the next 12 holes. On holes six through 17, I missed just one green in regulation and had a lot of great looks at birdies. I converted four of those birdies, and stood at four under par for my round heading to the 18th tee. In that twelve-hole stretch, I played well enough to win a PGA Tour event, and that is really cool! 

Of course, the final hole of my second round turned a bit nightmare-ish, and that is a story unto itself, so here goes. I was committed to my plan off the tee, but facing water up the left side of the hole, I missed right of the fairway and ended up in a fairway bunker. I was so certain that I could play a fade with a four iron and loft the ball easily out of the bunker, but my ball smacked the face of the bunker on the way out and settled in the fairway just forty yards in front of me. I definitely felt a little nervous at that point, and on the ensuing shot, my nerves showed. I tugged an eight iron well left of my target and missed the green long and left to a back left hole location. I faced a daunting up-and-down, but I attacked it fearlessly. I slid under the ball just a bit too much with my flop shot, however, and it didn't make it to the green. So I faced another quick pitch shot for my bogey, and I nearly holed it. That fifth shot went in the left center of the hole and rimmed out on the right side. From there I tapped in for a six and posted a second-round, two-under-par 68. 

That debacle on my 36th hole definitely has me feeling bummed out, but it's very important that I learn from it and remember the hugely positive day that preceded it. The first lesson I will take from that experience is to trust my strengths more. I have a great short game, so I didn't need to try to get my second shot from the fairway bunker all the way to the green. I could have chosen a more lofted club and played the ball some twenty yards short of the green and trusted my short game to help me save par. Secondly, I will use this experience as more "toughness training" so that I will be better in big situations moving forward. My iron play had been beautiful since the first hole on Friday, and I definitely let the situation on the 18th hole adversely affect my process over my third shot. My routine is great and my thought process is great; I just need to trust them in all situations. Most importantly, I want to make sure that my mistakes on the 18th hole don't overshadow the great golf that I played on Friday. I played bogey-free, four-under-par golf on a tough course in windy conditions for 17 holes, and, as I said earlier, for a 12-hole stretch, I truly played well enough to win a PGA Tour event. I will learn from the nightmare on my 36th hole, and Friday at the Canadian Open will be remembered as a great day.

So, despite my tournament being cut a couple days short, I am having a great week up here in Montreal. I have been very efficient with my practice, and I felt well-prepared heading into the event. I am really pumped with how much better my game is feeling right now than it did just a few short weeks ago. Returning to my roots of a very disciplined work routine has me feeling like I get better every single day, and it was really great to see some signs of great improvement on the course this week. I have just a few more practice goals to meet over the weekend, and I am motivated and excited to get them done. There is definitely some lingering heartbreak over having this weekend off, but I am following my plan very well, and I feel like I am on the right path to be very successful! 

Thank you for caring about me enough to read this entire post and for continuing to believe in me. There is great stuff coming! Keep it here for a report from a good weekend of practice and a preview of next week in Reno-Tahoe, Nevada.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

That Lovin' Feeling

My long-time coach as I've grown up in golf, the great Bobby Bray, always calls it "that lovin' feeling" when I get my swing grooving and am hitting the ball really well. I don't know that I've quite found that just yet, but I can honestly say that I've got that lovin' feeling back with my practice routine and my approach to my golf game. For the second consecutive week, I completed all of my Map Goals, and I'm flying to Canada already knowing I'm going to do it again this week. Focused and disciplined preparation is my formula for success. As I have done my work over the past couple of weeks, I can feel my belief returning. My game is definitely improving a lot right now, but that belief is even more important. I truly believe that my preparation routine will help me be one of the best players in the world. I've got that lovin' feeling back with my work, and I think I'm pretty close to getting it back with my game as well! 

As I said earlier, I am on my way to Montreal, Canada, for the RBC Canadian Open. I am excited to see a brand new place (to me!) in the world and to continue following my process. I know I'm going to have a great week in Canada. Keep it here for updates and a picture or two. Thank you for supporting me!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ready To Be the Best


have spent the last two days at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game (ASG), and though I only touched my clubs for a quick 18 holes Tuesday morning, I feel like this excursion has been great for my golf game. Through my relationship with MLB.com, Alicia and I were given the royal (Royals!?) treatment during the ASG festivities, and it's strange how much my experience impacted me and has me motivated moving forward. In addition to feeling very refreshed after having an absolute blast for 48 hours in Minneapolis, I am inspired to go be an "All-Star" in my arena. 

The team from MLB.com made me feel like a stud during my time with them at the ASG. I did play well in our golf outing on Tuesday morning, but even before that, the vibe I got from them was: "you made it to the PGA Tour, and we think you're awesome!" Obviously a lot of you have offered that same message to me all year, but after some fairly humbling results thus far in my rookie campaign, it was very cool to feel it from a sponsor. 

Their belief in me got me thinking about the way I believe in myself. I am always striving and working to be MY best, but the thought never really occurs to me to be THE best. That is crazy because I have skill sets to be one of the best players in the world. I will never hit long, towering iron shots or dominate courses with power, but I can certainly be the most accurate player and the one with the best wedge play, putting, and mental game in the sport. I have a long way to go because I am not near it right now, but when I get close to achieving MY best, I believe that I will be one of THE best. 

The good news is I already have a plan in place to reach my best golf. Last week I recommitted to my process of focusing on steady improvement each week. This process includes a disciplined approach to my preparation (weekly "Map Goals") and a long-term vision of success. My becoming one of the best players in the world is not predicated on my tournament results next week but rather is dependent on my continual progress over the coming months and years. If I do my work habitually and improve consistently, I will be one of the best players in the world in my career. 

I love my job. I can't wait to go to work. I am going to be THE best. I am going to be an "All-Star"!

Thank you very much for believing in me and keeping up with me. Progress is coming. Great things are coming. Keep it here to enjoy the ride with me!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Trending in a Good Direction

My tournament results this week at the John Deere Classic were definitely not those for which I am looking, but I had a great week. After my opening-round 78, I was definitely behind the eight-ball heading into Friday's round. I essentially sealed my fate with an enraging bogey, double-bogey start to my second round, but I remembered my commitment to my process and focused on improving the rest of the day on Friday. After my horrific start, I played the next 12 holes in six under par. I did lose focus on the final green and committed a lousy three-putt bogey, but I posted a second-round 69, and proved to myself that I am ready to play well. It was nice to make some birdies during a tournament round, and I know I can build on that. 

More importantly, this was a big week for me because I got back to preparing for and thinking about tournament golf MY way. I had the most thorough week of practice that I have had in a long time. Despite a clumsy mid-week fall that scratched up my right hand pretty badly (I played with it bandaged) and cost me a half a day of work on Wednesday, I completed absolutely all of my Map Goals. They are so valuable to me. I really feel like I'm back on a positive track that will allow me to regain my pattern of steady improvement. I am going to continue to be focused, disciplined, and efficient with my work routine, and I am confident that I will be prepared for the opportunities that are ahead of me.

By the way, my hand is completely fine. I fell while out for a jog Wednesday morning because I clumsily kicked a raised piece of the sidewalk I was on and tumbled forward. I'm more athletic than this makes me sound, I promise! I am perfectly fine, though, and actually finished up my practice for the week with no bandages on Sunday and felt good. 

All is good, and I am very excited to keep doing my thing. I have a week off to prepare for my next tournament--the RBC Canadian Open--and I can't wait to get to work! I do get to have a little fun first, though. MLB.com as having Alicia and I up to Minneapolis for the Major Leage Baseball All-Star game festivities Monday and Tuesday. We are so excited to go enjoy this great opportunity and cheer on the Royals who made the team!

Keep it here for a cool picture or three from the All-Star Game and some great practice reports next week. Thank you for following and believing in me!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Terrible First Round But Still Moving in the Right Direction

The title of this post says all you need to know about my round on Thursday. After a very solid start over the first five holes, things turned ugly quickly, and I couldn't right the ship. I wasn't completely discouraged by the way I hit the ball, but I hit a handful of terrible shots, had a cold putter, and struggled mightily with my short game. I ended up posting a seven-over-par round of 78 in near-perfect scoring conditions at the TPC Deere Run. 

I am very disappointed with that result, but true to my new commitment, I still feel very good about the week of work that I am having. I am continuing to have the best practice that I have had in quite some time, and I know that is the path out of my current slump. Even after my disappointing round today, I had a great practice session this afternoon, and I truly believe that I will be back on my game very soon.

Tomorrow is a new day, and I am definitely ready to start a new trend in my tournament play! I am going to trust my hard work, have fun, and play well in round two. Come back for a good report in the evening. Thank you for keeping up with me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Following My Plan at The John Deere Classic

I'm feeling great heading into the first day of this week's PGA Tour event--The John Deere Classic in Silvis, IL. I've had some of my best practice in a long time over the past few days, and I have managed to sneak in a couple of very fun events as well. On Monday, I participated in media day for the Knoxville News Sentinel Open before traveling to Illinois. Though I won't be playing in this year's Knoxville Open, it was great to reminisce about that special week. Then on Tuesday evening after a great day of work, I got to play around in some of John Deere's big equipment. In an event called "The Big Dig", players and family were invited to John Deere's test site to operate any and all of the company's machinery. It was really cool! To see pictures from either of these events, check out Alicia's blog at AliciaMalnati.wordpress.com. 

As for my golf, I am very excited. I feel more like myself than I have in quite some time. I have been focused, disciplined, and efficient with my work this week, and I feel like I am getting better. I am going to commit to my process on the course and let the results take care of themselves. I get started at 9 AM on the first tee on Thursday morning, and I am ready to go!

Thank you for following, and keep it here for post-round reports throughout the week.

Monday, July 7, 2014

My New Deal

had a refreshing idea after my disappointing performance at The Greenbrier Classic. Maybe, just maybe, I thought, I will be okay even if I don't achieve my season-long goal of finishing in the top 125 on the Fed-Ex Cup Points List. You see, for my entire golf career, every tournament I have played and every practice session I have had has always been about improving and preparing for bigger things. Winning and "moving up" have always been important, but the thought each week was to get better and prepare myself for the big opportunities that I knew were ahead of me. This year, however, I have seemingly approached every week as a do-or-die opportunity to earn coveted Fed-Ex Cup Points. I have had no patience with myself through poor play and have had no sense that simply improving is an accomplishment. I am trying so hard to achieve my outcome goals that I have lost touch with the process that has always allowed me to be successful. My refreshing thought this past weekend at The Greenbrier has turned into a new plan for the rest of the year, and I can't wait to get after it!

I am going to treat the rest of the PGA Tour season as preparation for whatever lies ahead. My current standing on the Fed-Ex Points List assures me a spot in the Web.com Tour Finals--the four-event playoff series at the conclusion of the Web.com Tour's season which awards PGA Tour Cards for the 2014-2015 season--so as a great worst-case scenario, I will have a chance to regain my PGA Tour card in that manner. With the remaining weeks of my rookie season on the PGA Tour, I am going to have the thought to get better each week and prepare for whatever great opportunities lie ahead. 

So what specifically am I going to do differently? I am going to prioritize my Map Goals and commit to following them. I have a confession to make. I have become so consumed by results that I can't remember the last time I thoroughly completed my Map Goals. My Map Goals are the engine that has driven my steady improvement throughout my professional career. When following them, I have focused, efficient, tournament-like practice as well as quality workouts to keep my physical fitness in competitive shape. My Map Goals allow me to have successful weeks even when my on-course results aren't what I want. In short, following my Map Goals leads to steady improvement, which in turn helps me feel prepared for anything that lies ahead. 

I am going to really commit to staying disciplined and focused on my Map Goals each week. My wife and my sister are my Map Goal accountability partners and are going to check on me at the end of each week. I don't want to let those two down! (By the way, if you are new to my blog, my Map Goals can be found under the "Goals" tab at the top of the page, and you can read a full description of why I call them "Map Goals" in a post published in May.)

I am a process guy. I believe that the results are a product of having a good plan and executing it. For some reason, I have let the bright lights (figuratively) of the PGA Tour get me away from my plan. I am going to get back to my process, make steady improvement my target, and let the results take care of themselves. 

I still believe that my outcome goals are important and attainable, but outcomes cannot be my focus. I'm heading to the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois, and I'm going to take care of my process and get better this week.

Thank you for hanging with me through that long post, and thank you for believing in me. Keep it here for good reports throughout the week. As always, great things are coming!

Close Calls and More Progress

I'm playing good golf, and it's really fun! I haven't been able to put enough consistently good play together yet to have a good...