Monday, January 27, 2014

A Little Dip

Golf definitely has its ups and downs. I'm a firm believer that good preparation and a great mental game can minimize the down times, but they will still exist. I am in one of those little dips right now. I'm happy with my practice, and my game is feeling good, but it's not quite all coming together the way that I would like for it to. I played in the Monday Qualifier for this week's event, the Phoenix Open, and though birdies on two of the first three holes seemed promising, I battled major inconsistencies and struggled to a one-ove-par round of 73. Obviously, that did not get the job done. I'm struggling on the course right now, but I'm not far off, and I'll get it very soon.

I'm coming off a week at Torrey Pines during which I had a lot of good practice, but for the first time this year, I did not get all of Map Goals done. I didn't hit my flagsticks with my wedges, hole my bunker shot, finish my putting drills, or complete all of my workouts. Sounds like a rough week, but I did get in a lot of good work. I should complete all of my Map Goals, though, and with this week off, I plan to ensure that I get back on track in that regard. 

I'll get my work done this week, and I'm going to stay positive about my golf game. I'm hitting enough good shots and doing enough good things to know that I am on track to achieve my goals; I just need to develop more consistency. That will come with a great attitude and some good practice, and I will take care of both of those!

Thank you for following me and keep it here for updates from this week of work.


Friday, January 24, 2014

"Control-Alt-Delete" in My Head

I am swinging the club really well and feel like I'm getting better and better at golf each day as this year moves forward. Unfortunately, as my physical skills improve, I have not been utilizing my greatest asset as a golfer. My mind has always given me an advantage over my competition at every level, but I am not using it very well right now. 

In Friday's second round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, I played quite well on the very difficult South Course. I rebounded from a potentially disturbing bogey-bogey start with three really nice birdies to make the turn at one under par for the day. I was feeling great and very confident. Then on my 11th hole (number 2), I just hit a very lousy putt. I had a routine 35 foot putt up a tier, and I left it some eight feet short. I actually hit a great putt on my next one, but a slight misread caused the par putt to miss and I walked off with a bogey. "Oh well," would have been my normal reaction, but for some reason right now in the early part of this season, I am putting so much pressure on myself to perform well that I kind of freaked out a little bit after that three-putt. I instantly went from being comfortable and confident to being cautious and uptight. The result was quite costly on the challenging golf course. I went on to record four consecutive bogeys and ended up posting a three-over-par round of 75 on Friday. My two-over-par total for the week fell two shots behind the cut-line. 

As I have said before, I hate to miss a cut. It just stinks, but this one is particularly disappointing to me for a couple of reasons. First of all, I relish the challenge of taking on a tough golf course. My normal positive attitude and great short game are just what an ultra-difficult test like Torrey Pines South requires. I was ready to play great there. More than that, it just really stinks to know that I missed this week's cut because I was thinking poorly on the golf course. I pride myself on maintaining a great attitude and using my brain as a great resource on the golf course. It is painful to know that I'll be sitting out this weekend because I couldn't get control of my thoughts. 

With that said, there is only one thing to do from here, and that is improve! I need to take the poor thoughts I've been thinking and replace them with good thoughts. I am good enough to do that. The first thing I need to do is reign my thoughts back into the present. I know that I am thinking a lot about things that are down-the-road, such as: if I play well this week, it will help me get into these events in the future. This is a very true and very realistic thought, but the only way to play well now is to approach each shot with a present-minded focus. I am good enough to hit all the shots that I need to be successful on the PGA Tour; I simply need to go through my routine and trust myself over each shot. The second thing I need to do is even more important, and that is remembering to smile and enjoy myself on the course. I am still doing my favorite thing everyday as my job, and I absolutely love it. I will always be a little bit nervous during golf tournaments, but I should be having way too much fun to ever be uptight on the course. So it's time to reboot my head and get back to playing my kind of golf. Control-Alt-Delete... Done!

So now that my head is back on correctly, let me briefly go over some very positive things from this week. I am swinging the club great. My stats from this week won't reflect that at all, but I am hitting the ball extremely solidly, and though I was far enough off to miss a lot of fairways and greens, I was never in any trouble. I am close to hitting the ball very well. I had a stretch of golf on the South course on Friday where I played a U.S. Open-style golf course and felt 100% in control. I know I can do it. It feels great!

This post is getting long, but this good for me. I feel great right now, and this is coming at the end of a day that really got me down. I can't wait to get back out and play again. I will have some great practice this weekend and then will come back with a "what's next" report on Sunday. Thank you so much for believing in me and following my career. We are going places!

I know it's cold and nasty where a lot of you are. Enjoy a sunny collage from Southern California:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Close to Good; Ready for Great

My score on day one of the Farmers Insurance Open was not great. Playing that much easier North Course at Torrey Pines, I posted a one-under-par round of 71. At times I looked quite good, but I was a little erratic with my driver, and did not finish the round in great form with the putter. My game feels good, though, and I think I am close to playing great golf. 

On Friday I move to the South Course at Torrey Pines. I have heard many veteran players comment that the South Course is playing more difficult this week than it did when it hosted the 2008 U.S. Open. I relish that challenge. I enjoy playing hard golf courses, because I know that my intelligence, my attitude, and my short game will give me an advantage. I will have to execute well to be successful on the South Course, but I know that I am ready to do that. I am going to have a good game plan and a great mindset when I hit the course on Friday, and I'm confident that my skills will be sharp as well.

Come back for a round-two report late Friday evening. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ready at Torrey Pines

I tee off at 10:50 a.m. California Time in the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. My game is still not as sharp as I would like it, but I am mentally prepared to play my best golf ever. I start on the North Course at Torrey Pines, which is the easier of the two courses. The South Course is set up with U.S. Open-like conditions, and though the North course is shorter and has softer greens, it will still require a lot of patience and some really good execution to be successful. I am ready to play smart and play well, and I can't wait to get going! Thank you for your support and please come back for updates after each round.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Coming Off a Great Week of Work and Feeling Great at Torrey Pines

I really hate to miss a cut. In that sense, last week's Humana Challenge was a failure for me. In pretty much every other sense, I had a great week in the desert. I had a very solid ball-striking day during the tournament's first round, and only a balky putter kept me from shooting a great score. An inexplicably poor ball-striking day on Friday caused me to put up my worst score of the year and left me in a tough position heading to Saturday's third round. On Saturday, however, I combined solid ball-striking with a fairly good putting day and some great wedge play, and the results were very fun. I had it eight under par through 15 holes on Saturday, and though a disappointing finish to the round left me on the wrong side of the cutline, it was a great feeling to play so well. I definitely left the tournament feeling good about my game and very optimistic for great things to come.  

In addition to getting some positive vibes from my on-course performance, I was able to complete all of my map goals for the week. My practice continues to feel better and better, and I am very happy with this year's list of goals. I need to do a more efficient job of getting my workouts completed, but I have managed to do them all. Completing my map goals is very important to me, and I am excited to be two for two so far this year.

I am now in San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open and am ready to tackle Torrey Pines. Many people have told me that I will struggle here because it is a very long golf course, but after playing a practice round on Monday, I am ready to tackle this challenge. The scenery is beautiful, and I am ready for a great week!
Keep it here for news and updates throughout the week. Thank you very much for following me!



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Great Play and Much Excitement in Round 3

After playing by far my worst golf of the year on Friday, I followed it up with my best golf of the year on Saturday. I was very relaxed starting the third round on the Nicklaus Course at PGA West, and I had a feeling it was going to be a great day. I needed a special round if I was going to make the cut, and though an opening-hole birdie hinted at good things, I followed it with a very pedestrian six consecutive pars. Walking off of the seventh green, I told Mikel that I was going to birdie eight of the last 11 holes. I got off to a good start towards that goal by chipping in for eagle on the par-5 eighth and followed that with consecutive birdies on nine and 10. Pars at 11 and 12 gave way to another birdie-birdie-birdie stretch on holes 13 to 15. I made my only nervous putting stroke of the day on hole 16 and missed a 5-foot putt for another birdie. I hit a great shot into the par-3 17th and nearly converted the birdie putt, but walked off with par and went to the last knowing I needed a birdie to have any chance to make the cut. Unfortunately, I hit my only horrific shot of the day off the 18th tee. I found a water hazard that runs the right side of the hole and made a lousy double bogey from there. It was a really sad way to end a great round, but it does not change the positive feelings that I got from the day. I posted a third-round 66 (-6), and though I will miss the cut by three shots, I feel great about my golf game, and it was very nice to play so well. Come back Sunday evening (or Monday morning) for a full report from the week, but for now just know that I am feeling good as I head to Torrey Pines for next week's event. Thank you for keeping up with me and for your support.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Good, Bad, and Ugly in Round 2

Overall, I was awful in the second round of the Humana Challenge. Playing La Quinta Country Club--a course that suits me very well--in perfect weather conditions, I struggled early and often on my way to a terrible score of 75 (+3). After hitting the ball very well during the first round, I was a little bit off during my warm-up session on Friday morning, and I never found it on the course. I hit the ball solidly and hit a couple of really great shots, but I was missing shots in both directions and made some really big mistakes. I drove the ball in two water hazards and hooked a three wood out of bounds into a par five. Those kinds of mistakes are uncharacteristic for me, and they certainly were costly. After the round, however, I had a beautiful practice session and really feel like I am still on the right track. Because this tournament is contested on three golf courses, I get another round to try to vault back up the leaderboard. I am certainly not in good shape to make the 54-hole cut right now, but I am going to put up a great performance on the Nicklaus Course at PGA West on Saturday. Friday's round was a set-back, but I'm still moving in the correct direction. Come back for a good report from round 3. Thank you for following me!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hitting it Better

I hit the ball well in round one of the Humana Challenge. Playing the Palmer Course at PGA West, I had a lot of opportunities to get hot, but a poor putting performance left me with an opening round of just three under par (69). The good news is that I know I am a great putter, and I had a nice practice session after my round to remind myself of that fact. I move to La Quinta Country Club on Friday, and I think I'm ready to play a great round. Keep it here for updates from California. Thank you for following me!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Getting Better and Ready for Week 2

This is a fun time of year for a lot of reasons. Right now I am particularly excited because it feels like I am getting significantly better every day. I started last week very rusty, and I still am not sharp in any aspect of my game, but I do feel like I make noticeable progress with each practice session. Though it is frustrating to feel somewhat incompetent at times with the rust, the opportunity for rapid improvement gets me excited.

I am in La Quinta, Califormia, for the Humana Challenge. This event features a Pro-Am format and is contested on three golf courses--La Quinta Country Club, the Nicklaus Course at PGA West, and the Palmer Course at PGA West. Like I said before, my game still doesn't feel sharp in any aspect, but all three of these courses suit me well, and I'm optimistic about the week.

This tournament is always a birdie-feast, but I think for me the keys this week will be patience and staying within myself. I will continue to improve as the week goes on, and I'm confident that if I play intelligently and to my strengths, I can have a great tournament. 

I get started at 10:30 Thursday morning on the Palmer Course. I'm going to commit to my strengths and play well. Thank you for following and supporting me, and please keep it here for updates throughout the week!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Opening Week

The first week of my 2014 schedule on the PGA Tour will definitely go down as a big success. I certainly had a lot of ups and downs on the course, but I would say that the ups outweighed the downs and that it was a great week overall. I think I proved once again that my formula for success works. That formula is: dedication to a solid preparation routine, maintaining a great attitude at all times, and never giving up. I faced quite a bit of adversity on the course this week, but I battled through it all and ended up with a solid result to start the year.

I know I haven't updated you since the first round, and a lot has taken place since then. I had to survive the cut-line twice this week. In Friday's second round, I was cruising along nicely before a bit of a snafu cost me a lot of shots. I was four under par for the day through 12 holes, but on my 13th hole I missed two very short putts and ended up making a triple bogey. That hole pushed me from being in great position in the field to sitting right around the cut line with five holes remaining. Another bogey on the next hole really added some stress to the situation, but I gathered myself and finished with three pars and a closing birdie to shoot 69 (-1) and make the cut with a shot to spare. In Saturday's third round, a rough start found me again my back against the wall. On the PGA Tour, if more than 78 players make the cut, a second "cut" is made after the third round to reduce the final-round field size. For a long time during the third round, it looked like I would not be around for Sunday, but I birdied the last two holes to squeak out an even-par round of 70 and earned the right to play in the final round. Though I would much prefer to be contending up at the top of the leaderboard, I do think it was valuable to me to have two gut-checks this early in the year. I handled them both well.

It is a good thing I did because I played an exciting round on Sunday. I still wasn't super sharp, and I had a lot of erratic shots, but I definitely had some for the highlight reel as well. (In fact, one of my shots actually made SportCenter's top plays of the weekend.) My final-round featured four birdies and a fairly dramatic chip-in eagle. Unfortunately, I also made two sloppy bogeys. Still, I posted a final round of 66 (-4) and moved up a decent amount in the field to a T38 place finish. It was a bummer to give away a few shots during the round on Sunday, but I definitely got a couple extras out of the day as well. All-in-all, it was a nice finish to a pleasant week on the golf course.


I am particularly excited about the week of practice that I had. It was not always easy, but I was able to accomplish all of my map goals for the week, and I think that they are going to be great for me this year. I certainly have a lot of improving to do, but I feel like this week was a great starting point.

In other news, I feel like my caddie and I had a very productive first week together, and I am pumped about that!

It's going to be a great year for me, and I am happy with how it has started. Thank you for believing in me and for your support. Keep it here for news and updates as I head to Palm Springs, California, and the Humana Challenge. Aloha, Hawaii!


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Great Preparation and Good Start in Hawaii

I had a great morning of work leading into my 1:00 o'clock starting time at the first round of the SONY Open. I went from feeling very loose in many areas of my game to feeling fairly competent after a great morning practice session. I certainly wasn't flawless on the course during the opening round, but I was very solid and now feel great about things. I posted an opening-round 69 (-1) and am in good shape to climb the leaderboard with a good effort in round two. Come back for more news and thank you for following me!

Ready for a Challenge in Hawaii

I say every winter that I'm not going to be rusty when the season begins. Well, as usual, I am a little bit off heading into my first event of the year. I'm in Honolulu, Hawaii, for the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club. It is a beautiful spot, but so far, my game hasn't been as pretty as the views of Waikiki Beach. I have just been a little out of sorts in all facets of the game. With that said, I'm confident that with an efficient practice session on Thursday morning, I will be able to get over the hump and find that loving feeling in time to start 2014 on a high note. I have shown some good signs on the practice facilities and I know that I am starting to follow a good plan again. I may not be sharp just yet, but I'm getting better, and I will use my strengths--namely my attitude and putting--to have a successful week here at the Sony Open.

I was able to take a cool, non-golf excursion on Wednesday that I want to share with you. My good friend Billy Hurley III was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy and has now earned his second trip to the PGA Tour. He served for three plus years at sea in the Navy and was on a Naval Destroyer called the USS Chung-Hoon. It just so happens that the Chung-Hoon is based in Pearl Harbor and is at port right now. Billy went back to see his ship, and I am lucky enough to have gotten to go with him. To tour an active Naval Vessel and to see first hand the site of the attack on Pearl Harbor is a pretty humbling experience. Thank you to Billy and the crew of the USS Chung-Hoon for a very memorable Wednesday morning.

I'm trying to add pictures from the ship but currently struggling to do so. For now I'm going to sleep, but come back tomorrow for the possibility of some cool Navy Ship pictures and the guarantee of a report from day one of the Sony Open! Thank you for following me!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2014 Goals Published; Let the New Year Begin

My goals for this year are published. I think all of my outcome goals are accomplish-able, and this year's version of map goals is updated to help me keep getting better. I will begin holding myself accountable for all of my goals this Monday, and I'm excited to get to work! 

I've had to battle a nagging illness these past three days, but perfect weather conditions have made it easy to get in some good work in California. 


My game is still a bit rusty, but I made progress the last three days in La Quinta, California, and I'm ready to kick it into overdrive in Hawaii. Keep it here for news from the islands! Thank you for following me!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014

It's time to go! I was so happy to soak up quality time with my wife and both of our families over the holidays, and though I didn't have a lot of quality practice, I am very optimistic that I can be firing on enough cylinders to be effective when I tee it up at the Sony Open in Hawaii next week. I am currently traveling out to La Quinta, California, to do some practicing and play practice rounds at the courses for the Humana Challenge--my second event of 2014. I will have great practice in California, and I'm confident that I can go from a bit rusty to very sharp in a short amount of time. I am feeling extremely fulfilled and supported after great time with my favorite people in the world, and now I'm excited to get back to work. 

In order to get back to work effectively, I need to have my plan in place for 2014. I am going to publish my Outcome Goals and my Map Goals for the year by this Sunday. I have them written already in my head, but I'm excited to give some of the Map Goals a dry run the rest of this week before putting them fully into effect starting next Monday. I attribute a lot of my success and my steady improvement to following a well-thought and structured  practice routine, so the making of my Map Goals is very important. I'm excited about it. 

In other exciting news from the offseason, I am going to have a long time friend of mine caddying for me this year. Mikel Martinson played the eGolf Tour with me the past three years and we have become best buddies. He is a hard worker and has a lot of golf knowledge. In addition to that, he is a heck of a lot of fun to be around so we are looking forward to taking on the PGA Tour together. One day Mikel is going to play the PGA Tour with me, but for at least this year, he's going to help me cement my place out there. 
I'm going to be good about keeping my blog updated moving forward, so please come back to read about my goals and then keep up with me as I get the 2014 portion of the PGA Tour schedule started.  Thank you very much for keeping up with me and caring about me!

Visible Progress

I’ve been making a lot of invisible progress lately. By that, I mean that my scores have been consistently rather stinky, but beneath that,...