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.