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!

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