Sunday, June 22, 2014

Shucky Darns...

My results in Hartford looked awfully similar to the poor stretch of golf I played over the first four months of this year. I posted identical rounds of 72 (+2) on Thursday and Friday to miss the cut by five shots. I managed a very alarmingly low total of just 2 birdies over that 36 holes. It was a very frustrating performance on a golf course that suits me beautifully. 

There is good news in this tale of woe, however. I actually hit the ball quite well for much of my short stay in the tournament. I had a plethora of birdie opportunities and was swinging confidently all week. My putting, on the other hand, was absolutely atrocious during my two rounds. But I hit the ball well enough to be in contention heading to the weekend, and that is very encouraging. 

So, about that putting... I certainly putted the ball poorly enough to warrant some major concern, but I've been too great of a putter for too long to hit the panic button just yet. My practice felt okay in the days leading up to the tournament, but after hitting good putts that didn't go in on two of the first three holes of the tournament, I think I began to press just a little bit. I was struggling to get putts started on line, and very rarely did I hit a make-able putt with proper pace. I know the problem stems from putting too much pressure on myself on the greens, but I'm also certain that some quality practice can free up my stroke and have me putting like my old self in no time. 

The great news from this past week in Connecticut is that I am truly confident in my game. My scores were bad, but I feel good. I'm hitting the ball well, and I know that I am a great putter. I may sound like a broken record, but great things are coming this summer! 

I'm heading home now and will have this week off to prepare for a fun stretch of upcoming tournaments. I am going to conquer all of my Map Goals, and when I hit the road for my next event (The Greenbrier), I will be ready to go! 

Thank you for following and believing in me. Keep it here for a great practice report or two during the week.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ready for a Great Round

I hit the ball well and felt great during Thursday's first round of the Traveler's Championship, but I putted very poorly and posted a two-over-par round of 72 in great scoring conditions. I felt like I played really well from tee to green, so I did a little post-round analysis, and I figured that with just an average putting performance, I would have posted a bogey-free round of four under. I know that is completely useless information, but I'm a great putter, so I'm confident that I can get it going and climb back into this tournament. I tee off at 8:50 on Friday morning, and I'm ready to play well! Come back for a report in the evening. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Feeling Great in Hartford, Connecticut

Well, I'm not doing a great job of keeping my blog updated, but things are really starting to come together for me with my golf game. Both mentally and physically, I feel like I am back in business. I've got my accuracy back, and I feel really good about the way I'm hitting it. My putter hasn't exactly heated up yet, but my practice is feeling good on the greens this week, and I know that I'm ready to putt extremely well. I just have a very positive outlook on my golf game and my life in general right now, and for the first time in a while, I can say that I am genuinely confident.

I'm at the Traveler's Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut, and the TPC River Highlands is a fantastic golf course. I'm excited for this week's tournament, but I'm also remembering to approach each shot one at a time and not get ahead of myself. I'm going to trust my routine, trust myself, and give my best effort to each and every shot. That is a winning formula!

A couple of tidbits from the last several days: First of all, I've been without my cell-phone since early Sunday morning. I pride myself on organization and being prepared, but I left my phone sitting on a table in the United Club in Dulles Airport. It just arrived in Connecticut via Fed-Ex Wednesday evening. It stinks being disconnected when people want to get ahold of you, but if only everyone knew I was going to be phone-less, I would rather enjoy not having that sucker around all the time. I did miss it though. In other news, have you seen my Royals lately!? It's only June, and in baseball as in golf, it is very important to focus on the process rather than the results, but man has it been fun to watch them rattle off ten wins in a row and climb atop the American League Central standings!

So, great news all around from here. It's going to be a great week in Connecticut. I will keep you updated nightly after the rounds. Thank you for following and caring about me!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Feeling "Up" and Catching Up

The last few days I've been tired, but man, have I been excited! I know I never blogged even once during last week's event, the Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic in Memphis, but it was for different reasons than earlier in the year. Hours of weather delays made for an extremely long week, but I was focused and confident, and I enjoyed everything about last week. Okay, maybe I didn't enjoy everything about my frustrating final round, but I handled the disappointment from U.S. Open Qualifying and weather delays in stride on my way to my most productive week of the year on the PGA Tour.

I got my first taste of really being in contention on the PGA Tour last week. I opened the tournament with a nearly flawless round of 65 (-5) on Thursday. After playing the first 15 holes, I sat inside for three and a half hours before finishing the round late in the day. Then more weather on Friday meant that I would never even tee it up for my second round until Saturday morning. When I did, I was ready! I birdied the first three holes of my second round and for a long time on Saturday morning, I was alone in second place. I stumbled a bit on the back nine of my second round and posted a 68 to stand in fourth place at seven under par at the tournament's mid-way point. I did a nice job of not obsessing about my position in the field, and tried to continue playing solid golf. I played the first seven and a half holes of my third round before another weather system ended play for Saturday. As I left the course on Saturday, I had hit every fairway and all but one green in regulation, and sat at one under par for my third round. I still felt great when we resumed play on Sunday morning, but I was never quite as sharp on the final day as I had been up to that point. A pair of back-nine bogies on Sunday morning dropped me to a round-three score of 70, and, despite feeling comfortable and getting off to a solid start, I shot a final-round 73 and fell into a tie for 19th place.

That last sentence is a bit of a negative end to a great paragraph, but I feel incredibly encouraged by the whole experience in Memphis. I started to make some birdies again. I was in control of both my thoughts and my golf ball. I made a PGA Tour cut on the continental United States for the first time. :) And on top of all of that, I was in the second to last group and in second place during the final round. It was very cool, and I handled it well. And I'll be there again. And I'll be even more prepared. And it won't take me long!

I have this week off, and, as much as I know I would be ready if I were in Pinehurst for the U.S. Open, I can use this week to recharge and get ready to go again. Because of the long day of U.S. Open Qualifying last Monday and then the very long nature of last week's tournament with the weather delays, I did very little of my normal practice routine. I'm getting back into my normal habits here at home this week, but was definitely moving a little more slowly than usual that last couple mornings. I'm back on my workout and practice schedule, though, and I'm going to be prepared for a great run this Summer and Fall!

Thank you for all of the support and encouragement. This ride is about to get even more fun! Keep it here for a practice update from home and a "what's-next?" report over the weekend!


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ups and Downs (and Ready for More Ups!!)

It is possible to be extremely disappointed and incredibly encouraged at the same time. I have felt these two emotions simultaneously before, but I have never felt each of them so strongly at the same time as I did earlier this week. After going nearly three months without a tournament round under par, I posted an eight-under-par round of 63 in the opening 18 holes of US Open qualifying on Monday. A chip-in birdie on the second hole of my afternoon round got me to nine under par for the qualifier. Through those first 20 holes, I missed only four greens, and none of those were missed in challenging spots. My play was effortless and bogey free, and though I did hole two shots from off of the green, my putter was still only lukewarm during those 20 holes. My performance was reminiscent of the great golf I played last year, and I feel like I am ready to capture that "lovin' feeling"!

So, obviously that is the extremely encouraging part of the story. I made my first bogey of the qualifier on the 21st hole, and, despite feeling great both mentally and physically, I did struggle over the next twelve holes. I really made only two swings all day that I wish I could have back, but in the 13-hole stretch from number three through number 15 in the afternoon, I made five bogeys and no birdies. Actually, I didn't birdie number 16 or 17 either, but knowing that I needed birdies coming in, I gave myself fantastic chances on each of the final three holes. After two great shots on the watery par-5 18th, I nearly chipped in for eagle and made a birdie to get back to five under par for the 36-hole qualifier. It seemed at first like that might be good enough for a playoff, but in the end, it came up one shot short. It is hard to swallow playing so well and not finishing the job, but Monday proved to me that I am ready to play great golf again. 

Though I will not be playing in the US Open this summer, I certainly have a lot for which to play over the next few months. And the great news? I am ready to play the best golf of my life!

I am in Memphis this week for the FedEx St. Jude Classic at the TPC Southwind. After seeing this course for the first time on Saturday morning, and playing a full practice round yesterday afternoon, I can already say that it is one of my absolute favorite courses on the PGA Tour. I am ready to have a great week! 

My last five days have been all about preparing for and recovering from the 36-hole marathon of U.S. Open qualifying, so I have not been staying on top of my normal fitness or practice regimen, but I am ready to get back to work. I feel energized, motivated, and ready to go! It's going to be a great week in Memphis! Keep it here for updates and good news. Thank you for keeping up with me and believing.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I Think I'm Ready

I know my head is back on straight, and I think my game is ready to perform well, too. I've had a great week of practice and preparation, and I am ready for a busy week now in Memphis. Monday morning at 8:30, I tee off at Colonial Country Club for 36 holes of U.S. Open Qualifying, and on Tuesday I will begin preparing in earnest for the PGA Tour's FedEx St. Jude Classic. I have a lot of stories to share from this past week of work, but for now (as it is bedtime!), just know that I am back to my fun-loving, positive, and trusting self and that I am ready to be the steady-playing birdie machine that I have been in the past. Come back for a report from U.S. Open Qualifying in the evening, and keep it here for a great week! Thank you for believing in me!

Catching Up on a Positive Last Month

I've been too busy playing golf tournaments and working on my game to update my blog! That's really not true, but I have been keepin...