Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Hard-Work Phase of the Off-Season

In my last post, I said that the term "off-season" can be a little misleading when used to describe my time away from competition. I don't like to take much time off, but this month I have actually done a really nice job of adding rest and time away from the golf course into my routine. Alicia and I have relished some lazy mornings from time to time here in December, and we enjoyed severel great days of Christmas-ing with both of our families. So I guess I have had something of an off-season, and I have really appreciated it!

With that said, I've also been getting after my golf game pretty hard, too. I took the week of Thanksgiving completely off from golf and the gym but have been back at both with quite a bit of energy since then. 

If you follow my blog regularly, you may remember me writing at the beginning of this PGA Tour season about replacing my Goal Board and the idea of big Outcome Goals with a more process-oriented Plan Board. Here it is:
That Plan Board is guiding my work. My Performance Goals and Personal Goals don't need a lot of explanation. My performance goals are simply statistical benchmarks for which I will strive thoughout the season. I did well in many of those areas in my five events of the Fall Series, but I can definitely continue to improve in all of them. As it says on my Plan Board, I want to continuously "work towards" my Performance Goals. My Personal Goals are simply statements about the character with which I want to live my life on and off of the golf course. I feel like if I am working towards my Performance Goals and living out my Personal Goals, it puts me in a great position to be successful. 

The part of this board that might require some explanation--and the part that is specifically applicable to the conversation of hard work--is my Process Goals. My Process Goals define my preparation. So what do "Practice 20, 20, 10" and "Fitness 25, 20, 5" mean? Simple. I have created for myself a Full Week Practice Schedule, Light Week Practice Schedule, Full Week Fitness Routine, and Light Week Fitness Routine. These schedules and routines simply lay out the practice drills and workouts that I will do during a full or light week of work. So, back to the 20, 20, 10 and 25, 20, 5. The 2015-2016 PGA Tour season--from the Fry' Open back in October through the Tour Championship in late September--covers exactly 50 calendar weeks. During those 50 weeks, I will complete 20 weeks of Full Practice Schedue, 20 weeks of Light Practice Schedule, and 10 weeks off from practice. Similarly, I will complete 25 weeks of Full Fitness Routine, 20 weeks of Light Fitness Routine, and 5 weeks off from fitness activities. Having my Process Goals structured this way holds me accountable to following a strong plan but allows me to have flexibility and rest when I need it, too. My Process Goals are really the basis for my success in golf. My improvement starts with following my process, and steady improvement is the reason that I have and will continue to achieve the things I want.  

As for what is contained in my Practice Schedules and Fitness Routines, I will just say that both are made up of a challenging but realistic set of expectations that work all areas of my golf game and my body. Following the Practice Schedules I have set up makes my practice fun because I am always trying to achieve goals and complete a task. It makes my practice very focused and intentional.  Similarly, following my Fitness Routines gives me extra motivation to get my work done in the gym and be prepared physically to be the best that I can be on the course. 

In the four weeks since Thanksgiving, I have completed my Full Fitness Routine all four weeks and have completed two weeks of Light Practice and one week of Full Practice. That is some pretty good work for the "off-season," and I am feeling great.

In addition to that work towards my Process Goals, I have also put in some really good work on my golf swing. I feel like my mechanics are continuing to develop and my swing is becoming more repeatable, more efficient, and more effective. It is cool for me to see how much working towards my Process Goals helps to integrate new swing feelings into my game quickly. Because I am always doing drills that require me to achieve some result, I am forced to balance "swing practice" with actually hitting shots to specific targets. Practicing in this way has allowed me to work on my golf swing without losing the target-orientation that has always allowed me to play well. The bottom line is that as my swing improves, I am improving my golf game right along with it. Though it sounds counterintuitive, those two do not always happen together. In this way, working on my Process Goals is helping me with the work that I am doing on my swing, too. 

I couldn't be happier with the way that I am following my Plan Board this off-season. That is the hard-work phase. Now, for just a minute, I get to have a little extra fun and enter the dream-big phase of the off-season. But, before I do, I want to make one thing clear: My Plan Board has replaced my Goal Board. I'm not into Outcome Goals. I want to play well; I want to win tournaments; I want to have a long and successful career at the highest level of golf. Those things are obvious. I don't need to write them down. Instead, I need to follow a great plan so that I can make them all happen. I have the great plan in place, and I'm going to follow it. The dream-big phase isn't about writing down specific outcome goals. It's more fun than that. It is day-dreaming about possibilities that are very realistic for me if I stay committed to my plan. 

Here are the things I day-dream about: 

Qualifying for and contending in major championships.
Climbing towards the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Winning the Fed-Ex Cup.
Playing on Ryder and Presidents Cup teams. 

See? Wasn't that fun? Now, here's the coolest part: I can make all of those things happen. 

That is the end of the dream-big phase of the off-season. It's time to get back to following my plan. That is the thing that is written down. That is the formula for success. That is the thing that I can control. It will bring me the results that I want. And, most importantly, following my plan is pretty darn fun, too!

Thank you very much for following me and for your support. The off-season is nearly over, and I'll be back in action next week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Keep it here for more frequent reports as I get back into the tournament schedule. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Celebratory Phase of the Off-Season

As it applies to me, the term "off-season" might be a little misleading. I genuinely love to work at my profession. I made it a full seven days without practicing the week of Thanksgiving, but that felt like a very long time to me. I know the importance of rest, and I am certainly taking things fairly easy this month, but I love the process of getting better too much to spend much time away from golf. The off-season does offer an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the great things that happened over the past year, and we have certainly enjoyed doing some of that, but it is also the time to set the stage for an even better season moving forward. We have already celebrated, and I will continue enjoy some rest, but my focus is very clearly set on being prepared to reach new heights in 2016.

It is important to look back on 2015 and really celebrate all that I accomplished. After getting banged up from a confidence standpoint during my rookie season on the PGA Tour in 2014, I knew that I either needed to get better or find a different profession. I decided to do the former. I dedicated myself to a thorough plan that addressed all areas of my game during the long off-season preceding the start of the 2015 Tour schedule. I began the season with my sights set on returning to the PGA Tour, and I remember feeling confident. I won the fourth event of the Tour season, collected several other top-ten finishes, and finished the season number four on the money list. After the final event on the Tour, I had just one week off before the start of the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season. My second year on the PGA Tour started with a missed cut, but despite that, I knew that I was ready to compete at the highest level this time around. Three weeks later I won the Sanderson Farms Championship for my first PGA Tour win, and I collected another top-ten the next week in Mexico. Clearly, from simply looking at the results, there is a lot to celebrate this off-season. The thing that I will remember the most, and of which I am most proud, however, is the fact that I bounced back from a low point at the end of the year in 2014 to achieve what I did in 2015. I know that with the right plan and a smart work-ethic, I can achieve great things in golf. That knowledge is worth celebrating. 

Alicia and I have done a couple of things to celebrate the great year that we have had. First, we took a trip with our agents to New York City to see the offices and to visit with another possible partner in KIND Snacks. I had never been to NYC before, so the trip was a thrill for me just to see that crazy place, but to get to spend time with our friends from MLB was special. They were super excited for the success that we have had, and also, just like me, ready and expectant for more of it. Getting to see the corporate offices of KIND Snacks was really cool also. I have greatly admired that company since finding out about them earlier this year, and my admiration grows the more I learn. No relationship with them is official, but whether I represent them in any way or not, I will enjoy their products and share their passion for trying to make the world a KINDer place. 
The other thing that we did to celebrate our year was host a dinner to say "thank you" to all of our friends who have supported us and made it possible for us to live the lives that we do. It was a great night, and it was amazing to see all of the people who showed up to share their love for us. I'm so thankful to Alicia for planning the party and making it happen. 

It is important to celebrate, and we did so with those two incredibly fun and fulfilling events this off-season, but now my focus is on making sure we have the need for another celebration dinner next December. I have been working on my golf game since the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and I am excited to say that I still feel like I am getting better. I have a three-day trip down to Florida scheduled for later this week so that I can get in some intense work, and I will continue to put in solid half-days of work here in Tennessee throughout this month. In my next post, I will describe what my practice and fitness goals are for this 2015-2016 PGA Tour season, but for now, just know that my off-season work is being guided by a focused plan. I am preparing to be better in 2016 than I was in 2015. That should make for a couple of fun celebrations next December. 

Thank you for following me and for your continued support. Keep it here for the next installment of my off-season series which will focus on my practice and fitness goals. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Great Look Back; Time to Move Forward

I have had a break from everything--even blogging, apparently--over the past six days. Since finishing the PGA Tour's Fall Series last week at Sea Island in Georgia, I have not done any serious golf-related activities. I know that time off is valuable, and I certainly won't go all-out over the next couple of weeks, but I am ready to get back to work. It was an amazing Fall Series for me and one definitely worthy of celebrating, but I still have much to accomplish and am ready to keep improving. 

I'll start with a quick recap of the last event. I played nicely at Sea Island, but unfortunately, my off-season started one day early. I made the cut, but hovered near the bottom of the leaderboard on Saturday and ended up getting MDF'd. "MDF" is short for made cut, did not finish. The MDF policy is enacted in events where more than 78 players make the cut. It exists to limit the field to a more managable size so that the everyone can finish within the television window. It didn't feel good to be sent home before the final round, but that end result was not indicative of the way I felt about my game. Playing in windy conditions, I had some of best ball-striking stats ever. I feel like I turned a corner with my driving of the golf ball, and my iron and wedge play were good as well. I hit a very high percentage of fairways and greens, and really had plenty of chances to get something good going, but I was just a little bit off on the putting surfaces. I never did a good job with my pace on the greens, and that made a big difference. I suffered a couple of very uncharacteristic three-putts during the week and never got into a good groove at all. I posted scores of 69, 71, 70 (-2, total) and missed the chance to play on Sunday by a single shot. It was disappointing to go home a day early, but it was nice just to make the cut feeling as "off" as I did on the greens. I'm not the least bit worried because I know that I will usually putt well, and if I continue to the hit the ball the way I did at Sea Island, I will be in contention a lot. Though the end result will show a tie for 75th place for me in the Fall's final event, I feel great about my game and the opportunities that exist heading into the 2016 portion of the schedule. 

Those opportunities changed just a little bit three weeks ago. Remember this:
That win changed a lot of things for me. Now, instead of wondering which events I will get into, I need to be pondering some different things, such as, which events will I choose to skip. To answer one of the most common questions I have recieved, my win did NOT earn an invitation to the 2016 Masters. What it did do, however, is put me into the fully exempt winner's category on the PGA Tour for the rest of this season and the next two full seasons as well. That means that I will get into all of the "regular" events and a lot of the special tournaments as well. To put it another way, when I was a rookie on Tour, I played every single event that I got into, and that totalled 18 tournaments. This season, I will have the opportunity to play in neary 40 events. That is really cool, and I love to play, so I may get fairly close to that number, but I obviously need to be smart about it. 

I am still really motivated, however. The fact that I have not yet secured an invitation to the 2016 Masters has me very hungry to win again soon. Plus, I really like this feeling:
The post-victory glow looks pretty good, too:
That first win was definitley unforgettable, but I am hungry to have that winning feeling again. I would like to make it a habit, actually!

The way to do that is with consistent, intelligent, focused preparation. That is why I am excited to get back to work. Rest is preparation, too, and I know that, so I am excited to combine all the hard-work elements of preparartion that I enjoy with some quality down time over the next five weeks. I will hit the ground running and ready to compete in 2016. That reminds me of one other opportunity that my win secured for me. I will be starting the 2016 tournament schedule at the Tournament of Champions in Maui the first week of January. That kind of makes me wonder what the post-victory glow would look like in Hawaii. I'm motivated to find out!

It has been a great journey to the milestone achievement that happened this Fall, but I'm still going to sign off with my traditional promise: great things are coming! I will post periodically on here during the off-season, so keep it here to see how I am getting better! Thank you for following and believing in me!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Good Week in Mexico; Still Getting Better

I posted two very solid rounds to finish the tournament in Mexico. After being outside the cut line with four holes to go on Friday, I finished that round with a couple birdies and then posted matching rounds of four under par (67) on Saturday and Sunday. Coming off the excitement of the previous week in Mississippi, I definitely felt a little bit strange early during the tournament in Mexico, but I was pleased with the way I stayed composed and played well over the weekend. My good play was rewarded with a sneaky, back-door top-ten finish. I finished in a seven-way tie for tenth place. It was a great week, and I'm very excited to keep it going.

The thing that excites me the most is that I am still improving. I was once again erratic off the tee at times in Mexico, but I hit some great tee shots on challenging driving holes down the stretch. My putter was not particularly "hot" during this tournament, but with the exception of a couple surprising misses early in the week, I was very solid from inside of eight feet, which is important. My iron play continued to be fairly solid, and my wedges and short game were a bright spot this week in Mexico. I am obviously playing well right now, and I feel like things will continue to get better as well. 

I was very interested to see what my mindset would be like on the course the week after a breakthrough victory on the PGA Tour. I knew that motivation to play well would be there because it always is for me, but I wasn't sure what I would feel like. I was predictably a little calmer than usual as the tournament began, but I actually got just as intense as ever as early struggles on Friday had me on the wrong side of the cut line. I got a little more anxious than I would like to be in the middle of the round on Friday, but I composed myself well enough to get the job done. Over the weekend, I was actually proud of the intensity I had. I may have gotten a little too into it in the middle of the round on Sunday, but I was definitely competing hard, and I stayed composed (that's my new word) and delivered a good performance down the stretch. One thing that I could tell for certain is that I am hungry to win again. That is a good feeling, and I'm confident that I will have a lot of chances to do just that.

Alicia and I are currently en route to Sea Island, GA, for the RSM Classic. This is the final event of the PGA Tour's Fall Series, so we are excited to put in one last solid week of work before we get a short break from competition over the holiday season. 

My focus is definitely on this week's event and being sharp for it, but I still want to do a post on here with some pictures and more information about my win two weeks ago. Keep an eye out for that in the next couple days!

Thank you very much for following me and for your support!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Feeling Good in Mexico

In many ways, this week has felt strange. Riding a high of excitement following last week's win, I arrived in Mexico late in the day on Tuesday. The late arrival and the exhaustion of trying to celebrate and decompress from last week left me in a great state of mind but not in a normal state of preparedness for this week's event. By noon on Wednesday, though, I told myself I wanted to get back to work and focus on doing my job. I played this course two years ago, so my lack of a practice round was certainly not detrimental. My intention was to be as prepared and hungry to play well this week as I had been in my first three tournaments of this young PGA Tour season. After a good tune up on Wednesday afternoon and another good practice session Thursday morning, I felt that I was in the moment and ready to go by my 12:10 tee time in the opening round. 

Of course, there was one big reminder that things are different in my life this week than they were at the start of the previous tournament. Rather than my typical tee time at the far back end of the wave with my fellow 2015 Tour graduates, I was in the front half of the wave playing with Matt Kuchar and Russel Knox. That is nice, but what was even nicer is the fact that I felt very much like I belonged there. It was definitely different, but the new tee time category felt good, and I am already used to it. 

I began the tournament with a par and a bogey on the first two holes, but I followed that with an incredibly solid fifteen holes in which I made five birdies and no bogies. I three-putted the 18th green on Thursday to end my opening round on a sour note, but the three-under-par 68 was a nice start to the tournament. I was less solid on Friday. I sprinkled in a really poor shot every few holes on Friday and my putter wasn't there to bail me out. I was two over par for my round and outside the cut-line with four holes to go, but I rallied with some good shots late. I birdied holes six and nine (my 15th and 18th on Friday) to post an even-par second round and advance to the weekend. I never got anything going on Saturday, but I played solidly and posted a five-birdie, one-bogey round of 67. I'm currently seven under par for the event and sitting in the middle of the field with a chance to make a very positive move on Sunday. 

I am definitely still beaming about my maiden victory on the PGA Tour last week in Mississippi, but I also know that win is just the beginning for me. I'm proud of the way I've been able to focus and do my job so far this week in Mexico. It'll take a Herculean effort to reach the top of the leaderboard this week, but I am excited to continue playing solidly. 

Thank you for following me and for your support. Please come back for a final-round report late Sunday or Monday.    

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Something Big

I end most of my blog posts with the promise that big things are coming. This one will be no different--I still believe that big things are coming. But this past week in Jackson, Mississippi, I had an experience that I would certainly have to describe as something BIG. On a rain-soaked week that forced a marathon Monday finish to complete 72 holes, my game rounded into form. My iron play, wedge game, and putting were solid from start to finish; I started to drive the ball better as the week went on; and I stayed as composed mentally as I can ever remember throughout the week. Spread out over five days, I posted scores of 69, 66, 68, 67 for an 18-under-par total, and I claimed a one-shot victory in the Sanderson Farms Championship for my first win on the PGA Tour. I think it's safe to say that something big happened. 

It took until Sunday morning to complete my second round, but I felt great about my position at the half way point. I was six shots behind the leader, but I was feeling great about my game. I opened my third round on Sunday afternoon with a solid nine holes of 8 pars and a birdie before play was halted by darkness. When round three resumed on Monday morning, I birdied three of my first five holes, and I started to think that it could be a special day. I did a really nice job of staying in the present, though, and I closed my third round solidly enough with four consecutive pars. 

There wasn't enough time between the end of round three and the start of round four to really think about where I was in the field, but I knew that I was within one or two shots of the lead. I was definitely excited and a little bit anxious, too. I walked to the first tee to begin my final round with a simple plan in mind. I wanted to stay composed and give myself a birdie putt on every hole. I darn near did that, too. 

I hit the first four greens and rolled in birdie putts of about 15 feet on holes three and four. A poor second shot on the par-five fifth hole had me out of position, and though I hit the green with my third, I was a long way from the hole. After a decent lag putt, I hit my only poor short putt of the week and missed a three footer for my par. I was definitely surprised and a little bit rattled. I feel like I stayed in control of my emotions well, but unfortunately I missed the fairway on the par-four sixth and then missed the green way to the left. I was in trouble, but I hit a phenomenal third shot to give myself a long par putt. I missed the par, but the tap-in bogey was pretty good from where I had hit my second shot. After the back-to-back bogies, I did what I had done all week. I composed myself, hit a great shot on the par-three seventh, and rolled in a straight uphill 30-foot putt for birdie. Making that putt was a big turning point for me. From there, I played mostly great golf the rest of the way. I made birdies at 9, 11, and 12, and I knew I must be near the lead. I made a mess of the par-five 14th hole, but managed to get my third on the green and convert a long two-putt for par. I didn't know exactly where I stood, but I knew that I had a chance to do something really good with solid play down the stretch. 

Over the final four holes, I hit every fairway and every green. I converted an up-and-down for birdie after hitting a great drive on the short par-four 15th and then converted solid two-putt pars on the final three holes. I didn't know where I stood until I approached the final green. I saw that I had a one shot lead, but knew that several players behind me could potentially still catch me. In any event, I knew that I had a straight-forward 50-foot putt, and I needed to hit a good one. I went through my routine, but felt funny standing over the ball. I backed off, thought about how great my life is, and walked into the putt again. I felt the pace and made a great stroke. The ball was on a good line, but pulled up about two-and-a-half feet short. I was definitely nervous over the last putt, but I was confident, too, and I rolled it right in the middle of the cup. What a great feeling that was! 

I watched on tv as the last three groups played the final holes, and no one caught me. I won the tournament. Something big happened. 

I'm still a little bit in awe. I knew that I was good enough to do it, but to be a PGA Tour winner feels a little surreal right now. There are obviously quite a few perks that come with this win, and I'll talk about those in another post soon, but I wanted to tell the exciting story of the big week!

Now, as promised, I still believe big(ger) things are in store. This is a milestone, and it's fantastic, but it is the beginning. Winning is fun, and I'd like to make a habit of it. I have a plan in place to do just that, and after another 22 hours or resting and enjoying this win, I'm going to get back to work in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, at the Mayakoba Classic. 

The outpouring of support that Alicia and I have received is incredible. Thank you so much for caring about us and following this journey! Keep it here for more updates and some cool pictures from the win, too!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Royals, THE Plan, Unfinished Business

It has been a long time since I have posted here on my blog, and I am very excited about many things that have happened since my last update. I could write a small novel, but I am going to try to be quick and efficient as I touch on topics ranging from my goals for the year to my beloved Royals capturing the greatest prize in baseball. I am feeling rested, ready, inspired, and most of all happy as I prepare to kick off the first of three consecutive tournaments to end my 2015 competitive calendar. 

I'm going to start with my Royals. Just more than one year ago, I used the motivational phrase "unfinished business" to describe both the Royals and my golf career. I had achieved the childhood dream of reaching the PGA Tour, but did not play well enough in my rookie campaign to keep my Card and establish myself at that level. Likewise, the Royals had played well enough to reach the 2014 World Series, but heartbreakingly fell short by one run in game seven. I said that we both had unfinished business because the Royals needed to get back to the World Series and win it, and I needed to get back to the PGA Tour and establish myself there. This fall, through a display of grit, teamwork, defense, and simply doing the "little things" right, the Royals' players took care of their unfinished business. They claimed the 2015 World Series, and it was an absolute joy to watch! I have achieved the first step in my unfinished business by earning my way back to the PGA Tour, and I'm ready to display the same grit and determination that the Royals did and resolve my unfinished business. 

I have a good plan to do just that. In the past, my Goal Page has always started with some big Outcome Goals that I am seeking to achieve. This year, I'm not even thinking about outcome. We all know (and me most of all!) that I'm trying to establish myself on the PGA Tour and earn my right to compete at this level year after year. Instead of pinpointing outcomes that will help me achieve this, I'm going to focus on a plan that will guide me along the way. The plan that I have come up with starts with Preparation (Process) Goals. I have a practice schedule and a fitness routine that I will commit to over the course of the 50-week PGA Tour season. The next concept in my plan is working towards key Performance Goals on the course. If I can focus my preparation to excel in a few key statistical areas, great results will follow. The final area of focus in my plan is my Personal Goals. These are commitments that I make in my life regardless of whether things are going well or poorly on the golf course. I know that being a good human being is more important to me than being a great golfer, but I also know that the two can and will work together. I'm excited about my plan. It is a good one, and following it will lead to the results that I want. Here is what my new Plan Board looks like:
I know that this board probably leaves some questions, but slowly, over the next several weeks, I will explain things in more detail. 

Using this plan as my guide, I had a great week off and have had two very productive days of preparation for this week's PGA Tour event in Jackson, Mississippi. During the first two events of this young PGA Tour season, I was over-anxious and tense. I didn't do a great job of following my Personal Goals, and that affected my ability to deliver on the course. I know that bad golf is going to happen from time to time. It happens to everyone in the entire world, but I don't want to let it happen to me because I'm not composed on the course. My game is starting to click, and I'm ready to play. I'm going to be happy and composed on the course, and if things go my way, I'm ready to have a great week. 

I feel great! I'm still on cloud nine about my Royals resolving their unfinished business, and I'm ready to follow my plan and resolve mine as well! Thank you for supporting and believing in me. Keep it here for more insights and updates from Jackson, MS.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Baby Steps in Las Vegas

I finished my week in Las Vegas with a disappointing final round. I was in the middle of a bunched leaderboard beginning the day on Sunday and had a chance to make a very positive move with a solid round. Instead, I had a terrible start and was five over par through seven holes. I fought back and finished on a high note with birdies on the 71st and 72nd holes of the tournament, but the damage had been done. I ended up tied for 56th place after rounds of 70, 67, 71, and 73 for a three-under-par total. It was definitely a very disappointing finish, but it was a great week overall. 

It is certainly not my goal to make cuts, and, truthfully, I don't like talking or even thinking about making the cut. The reality, however, is that I had missed the cut in my last four tournaments, and when my ball disappeared in the left rough on the 11th hole on Friday, I had to use my mental game and be tough. I began the day on Friday on the outside of the projected cut-line, but I felt good and was confident I would play well. I overcame an early bogey with three front-nine birdies and was feeling good as I made the turn. I birdied the tenth hole as well, and instead of thinking of the cut-line, I was focused on climbing the learderboard. Then, I pulled my drive just a few yards left of the fairway on the 11th hole. I thought at worst I would have to play a low shot around some sparse trees and run it up to the front of the green. Instead, we searched for five minutes and never found my golf ball. It was very strange, and it definitely rattled me. I took my stroke-and-distance penalty and made a double-bogey six on the hole. I had thoughts of panic, but then I remembered that I control my thoughts. I got back into the moment, and executed beautifully down the stretch. I birdied three of the final seven holes after my lost ball on 11 and posted a second-round 67 to position myself nicely in the middle of the field heading into the weekend. Again, I don't like thinking about the cut, and making the cut is not one of my goals, but I was very proud of the way I overcame the tough break early in my back nine on Friday and responded with some solid golf to get to the weekend.

That was my baby step in Las Vegas. I overcame some adversity, staired down my cut anxiety, and delivered a good Friday performance. I still have some big steps to make, though. I am struggling off the tee box. Through six rounds of this young PGA Tour season, I have hit just 30 of 84 fairways. That's not a typo or poor math--just poor driving of the golf ball. Now, in my defense, I'm getting closer and I did hit a lot of "good drives" in Vegas that missed the fairways, but those numbers are not even close to good enough, and they definitely reveal a problem. I'm not looking at them and feeling discouraged, however. I know that I will drive the ball well, and the way I see it, I am currently four under par for the year while hitting less than 36% of my fairways. I'm going to make strong strides in that department, and my results will improve dramatically. 

I'm currently heading home for one week off. I can't believe it, but I'm actually going to pass on the opportunity to go watch my Royals in person as they kick off the World Series. I need to rest and regroup before Alicia and I head out for a final three-week run of tournament play in 2015. I'm going to relax a little bit, get in some quality work on my golf game, cheer for my Royals from afar, post on here about my goals for the 2015-2016 season, and be ready to finish the golfing year on a high note when Alicia and I leave on Sunday for a three-tournament trip starting in Jackson, MS. 

Thank you for following and believing in me. I'm a broken record, I know, but great things are coming. Please keep it here for an off-week report and for more details about my 2015-2016 goals. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Getting Ready in Vegas

I am excited to write a good post detailing my goals for the 2015-2016 Season. I have made some changes and am excited to already be working on them. I am going to hold off and share those in a post next week, though. Right now, I am focused on having a great week and a good tournament at the Shriners Hospitals Open in Las Vegas. 

I am really happy with the work that I have put in so far this week. After struggling badly off the tee last week in Napa, the long clubs have been a major focus of my practice, and I feel like I've made a great deal of progress. I know that accuracy off the tee is one of my strengths, and I'm ready to drive the ball great!

I have had really good practice sessions here in Vegas, and yesterday afternoon I played a little practice round match with some buddies and felt very sharp out on the course. I enjoy to have some kind of match in a practice round because I like the focus that it helps me bring into my shots. I had a little bit of an epiphany this morning, though. The effort and focus that I bring during a practice round match is pretty close to the effort level that I should give during tournament rounds. I often find myself tyring too hard during the competition rounds. Focus isn't something I need to force; it occurs naturally when I go through my routine well. In tournament rounds, I often find myself trying too hard to focus, and that can cause me to feel anxiety. During the tournament rounds, I need to be disciplined enough to be in the present and go through my routine on every shot, but once I do that, I also need to relax and enjoy playing the GAME! 

That is my commitment this week. I am going to continue to work hard and prepare well, and then I am going to enjoy myself on the course. I will have the discipline to stay in the present and go through my routine on each and every shot, but when it is time to start my swing, I am going to be relaxed and confident! 

I'm excited to continue a great week and have a good tournament here in Las Vegas. Thank you for following me and please keep it here for updates throughout the event! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Excited and Bummed after Round Two

I'm not going to be playing this weekend at the Fry' Open in Napa, California, and that stinks. I gave it a heck of a run on Friday, though! A lot of the same problems that plagued me during round one lingered into the second day, but I did a lot things well and made it very interesting right down to the final hole Friday evening. I played the last 11 holes in four under par to post a second-round 69 (-3) and reach one under par for the tournament. Unfortunately, the cut fell at two under par. I was in the final group, so I knew I needed to eagle the last hole to make the cut, and my wedge shot from 93 yards looked as though it might have a chance before settling some four feet away from the hole. At that point, I knew I would have the weekend off, but I proudly knocked in the putt to break 70, and I feel great about the effort I gave to get back into the tournament.

I definitely need to improve my play off the tee dramatically. I hit just 10 of 28 fairways for my two rounds in the tournament. That is not good. My swing feels pretty good, and I'm happy with the way that I am putting the club on the ball, but I've got to get it pointing towards my target a little better. I need to do it a lot better, actually. My tee shots were way way off on Thursday, and, though they were closer to the fairway on Friday, I still felt out of control. I showed some really positive signs with my irons and wedges, and I was fairly solid with the putter, too. I feel like I could be in contention in the tournament with even a mediocre driving performance. I'm going to work on it, and I'll be ready to play next week. 

Despite my early exit from the tournament, I am very encouraged by much of what happened this week. I feel great about the work I put into preparing for the event, and I am very pleased with my mental game. I was composed and in the moment on nearly every shot. I was definitely a little bit jittery at times, but I used my routine well and forced myself to stay in the present. I didn't get the results that I want from this event, but it was still a step in a good direction. 

I'm bummed to be done with this tournament, but I'm excited overall! Thank you for following me and keep it here for a "what's next" report over the weekend. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Optimism after Round 1

Not a lot looks very good from the stat sheet on my opening round at the Fry' Open. I hit just four of fourteen fairways and just eight of the eighteen greens. A made four bogies and just two birdies in ideal scoring conditions. On a day when nearly thirty players shot 68 or better, I posted an opening-round 74. Yuck. That stuff is the bad news. There is good news, however. I was proud of where I was mentally in the first round. I committed to my routine nicely and was in the moment over each shot. Some positive signs from game were that I actually hit the ball very solidly and putted well. When I find my groove and start hitting the ball straight again, I'm going to be in great shape! I feel confident that the work I am doing is good, and I am going to continue to trust it. 

With that said, things are definitely a little bit off right now. I'm driving the ball crookedly and the majority of my longer shots are just starting and staying off-line. My swing feels good, and my contact with the ball is pure, so I'm confident that I can get things grooving again. I had a nice practice session after my round on Thursday, and I will head into my Friday afternoon tee time for round two expecting to play well. I actually holed some nice putts to save pars on Thursday, so I am going to give myself those putts for birdies instead of pars the rest of the week! I really am feeling good; I just need to get things clicking. 

Alicia had a great line for me when we were talking after my round. She said, "You can do this. Go get yourself a top-five finish this week." It'll definitely take some big improvement to get that done, but I really feel like I am close to playing well. I'm going to get out there Friday and start making progress towards Alicia's command. 

I'm definitely not off to the start that I wanted here in Napa, but I'm not as far off as the scores indicate. My mind is in a great position, I'm starting to feel some confidence with the putter, and I'm ready to clean up the looseness in my long game. Thank you for following me and keep it here for another report after round two!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ready to Get the PGA Tour Season Started

Just as the title of this post says, I am ready to get the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season started. I am ready in many ways. Physically, I definitely feel prepared. My body feels great, and my golf game does, too. In terms of rest and energy level, I feel fully charged. Mentally, I am in a great place. I had a fantastic off-season last week, and one of my off-season tasks was establishing a more consistent schedule of talking with my mental coach, Dr. Rick McGuire. He and I have had two great talks since the middle of last week, and I feel like my mind is ready to kick off this new year. I am ready to play well. 

I have spent a good bit of time this week talking and thinking about my goals for this season. I published a picture of my Goal Board in a post on Sunday night. Those are my Outcome Goals for this season. I stand by those goals, and think they are very good and attainable outcomes, but I kind of wish I hadn't been so hasty in publishing them. That's not to say that I regret making them public in any way, it's just that I want my focus to be far away from those outcome goals. I will discuss in more detail what I mean by this in a later post, but just know that I have a slightly different structure to my goals this year and a couple of brand new goals as well. I am excited about them, and I think they will help guide my practice and my play in a good direction. I will discuss all this in more detail soon. 

The one thing that I will talk about specifically right now on the eve of my first tournament round of the season is a new category of goals that Coach McGuire and I discussed this week. He asked me to come up with one to three "Personal Goals." These are statements about my life that I want to embody everyday. After thinking about it for a while, I came up with two Personal Goals.

1.) I Choose to Be Happy
2.) I Choose to Share Happiness and Good Regardless of My Circumstances

My life is great, and I'm doing exactly what I love to do. If I make a birdie or a bogey; If I win or I miss a cut, I am in a great place in my life. I want to choose happiness and choose to share that happiness with others regardless of my circumstances at any given moment. That is powerful stuff. 

Lastly, I am going to commit to playing golf in the moment tomorrow, this week, and this whole season. I know from my rookie year on the PGA Tour that there are a lot thoughts and big distractions that can spiral in a player's head at this level, but I am committed to being focused on the shot at hand when it's time to hit a golf shot. I have created an anchor, something to pull me back into the present when my mind starts wondering, and I will have it in my pocket during every round I play this year. I have trained too hard mentally and physically to let the distractions beat me, and I'm not going to let that happen. I will be in the moment over all of my shots this year, and that is an exciting thought. 

I have put a lot of hard work into this so that I can go have fun and enjoy my dream job. My second year on the PGA Tour begins tomorrow. It's going to be a great one, and there will be many many more to follow. 

Thank you very much for cheering for me! Great stuff is coming. Keep it here for reports from the week!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Great "Off-Season"

Just for the record, I actually wrote a really good post on my first flight today, but I lost it in the transitioning of my phone back into cellular mode, so now I'm just going with the bullet points format! 

Alicia and I really did a nice job of making the last seven days feel like a real off-season. 

I looked back on the year and thought about what worked and what didn't. Here's what I came up with:

A lot of what I did worked! I'm proud of the plan that I had and my commitment to it. I improved in almost every area of my game. 

The two areas that stand out to me as needing improvement are resting and putting. I'm constantly going 100 miles per hour and by the end of the season, I was worn out. I love what I do and love to work hard at it, but overtraining can eventually become counterproductive. To address this, I'm going to build a few more light weeks and off weeks into my practice schedule and be intentional about resting on Wednesday mornings during tournament weeks. With regards to my putting, I believe that my practice routine became a little stale this year. My putting felt great in practice all year, but my performance on the course wasn't good over the second half of the year. I'm not going to make any drastic changes, but I am going to mix a couple of new drills into my putting practice repertoire. 

For the most part, I really liked what I did during the 2015 Tour season, and I want to keep doing it moving forward. With a few modifications in key areas, I'm confident that I will thrive. 

Alicia and I are traveling today to kick off the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season in Napa, California. I'm currently finalizing my Process Goals for this new season, but my Outcome Goals are ready, and I am ready to get after them! 
It's go time! Thank you for following me and believing in me. Keep it here for reports from Napa--including my all-important Process Goals!

Monday, October 5, 2015

2015 Tour Season Wrap-Up

I'll start with just a quick update from the last event. I posted rounds of 73, 71 (+4 total) and missed the cut by four shots at the Tour Championship last week. I actually felt great about my iron play, and I started to drive the ball much better on Friday, but erratic play off the tee on Thursday and a very poor putting performance doomed me in what could be my last Tour event ever. It certainly stinks to finish the season in a rough patch and to end on a missed cut, but I am feeling really good about my game. 

As I hinted above, I did not have the closing stretch that I wanted to the year. If you include the one PGA Tour that I got into back in mid-July, I collected just one top-ten finish over my final ten events and I missed six cuts in that stretch. Those numbers sound painful, and I really do not like them, but I think that stretch of golf could fall under the cliche "two steps forward and one step back." The off-season work that I did preceding the 2015 Tour season definitely yielded two giant steps forward for me, and as I continue to improve, I can accept taking one step back. I know that the work I am doing will continue to produce great strides forward, so I am at peace with the temporary step backwards. 

It is a shame to end the season on a down note, but I can assure you that my memories from the 2015 Tour season will be great ones. Let me review what I accomplished this year. I checked off two of my three Outcome Goals: 

1) I have earned my PGA Tour Card for the 2015-2016 season.

2) I won a tournament in thrilling fashion with birdies on the final three holes to claim the biggest event of the Tour's regular season. 

I could stop there it would clearly be a successful year, but there is much more about which to be excited. I set two statistical goals for the season. I wanted to average greater than 66% of Greens in Regulation. The Tour statistics say I averaged more than 70%. According my my records, which are more accurate, I was actually at 67.005% for the season, but I am very strict and don't count any fringes as a Green in Regulation even if it was a great shot and close to the hole. In any event, that was mission accomplished for the year, and I feel like I am just at the tip of the iceburg in terms of where my ball-striking is heading. The other statistical goal I set was to have a par-five scoring average of less than 4.6. I ended up at 4.66 for the year, so I came up short of that goal, but I am so pleased with the way my driving of the ball and wedge play are continuing to improve. As those two areas keep getting better, I am confident that I will be able to feast on the par-fives moving forward. My game is continuing to evolve and improve, and my accomplishments from this year's Tour season are certainly strong evidence that I am on a great path. 

The most important thing (other than my PGA Tour Card, of course!) that I will carry from the 2015 Tour season into the future is a commitment to and belief in the value of my Process Goals. I know that "Process Goals," "Practice Schedule," and "Fitness Routine" are things that I talk about way too much on my blog, and I know that they are boring concepts compared to making birdies on Sundays to win tournaments. I truly believe, however, that having focused, goal-oriented preparation is the single most important element of my success. As I look back over my practice journal from this season, I can see that I was very disciplined in my work. I am proud of the dedication that I showed to my Process Goals, and I am excited to carry that commitment with me to the PGA Tour.

The 2015 Tour season is over. It was a great one! Now, it's my one-week off-season to get ready for the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season, which begins next week in Napa, California. It is time to regroup, recharge, and get ready to go. In the next few days, I will come up with new goals for the new season, and I'm really excited about that. Keep it here to see what I want to accomplish over the next twelve months and the plan that I will follow to get it done. 

Thank you very much for following me, supporting me, and believing in me on this journey! Great things are coming!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ready to Turn It Around

I am in a bit of a slump. I still feel really good about the work I am doing and the general state of my game, but I am shooting lousy scores. I let it get me down a little bit in the first round. After opening the tournament with a two-birdie, no bogey front nine, I struggled on my back nine and posted an opening round 73 (+3). It felt bad to let the round get away from me on the back nine, and I was feeling pretty bummed into the evening, but then I remembered how much progress I have made lately. Golf is a hard game, and there will always be rough stretches, but overall, I am still improving. That is really exciting. I am ready to go out there tomorrow and continue getting better. I really do believe that I am close to playing great golf, and tomorrow's round just might be the turning point. Either way, I am still very encouraged and know that I am heading in the right direction. Thank you for following me and keep it here for another report after round 2!

Quick Catch-Up + A Cool Thought for This Week

I am long overdue for an update on here, but I'm not going to give a very thorough one this morning. Here's the over-arching picture. I played with a great attitude and felt good all week in Columbus, Ohio, last week, but I posted scores of 76 and 75 to miss the cut. It is always disappointing for me to miss a cut, but I honestly felt great about many aspects of my performance. I traveled to Jacksonville, Florida, for this week's Tour Championship feeling very good. My preparation for this week's event has actually been a little scattered and hasn't felt all that great, but I know that I am ready to play well. My work has been on point for the three week's leading up to this, and though I haven't been getting the results I want, I am following my plan well. I had a motivating thought this morning. If I continue to follow my plan well and stay on my path of steady improvement, this week could very well be my final event ever on the Tour. That is pretty darn cool, and I'm ready to make it a great one!

Thank you for following and rooting for me! I'm sorry for the lack of updates over the past several days. I'll do better moving forward. Keep it here to continue enjoying the journey with me!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ready in Columbus

This week the Tour Finals event is in Columbus, Ohio, at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course. It is an amazing golf course, and I am ready to tackle it. My preparation has been on point again this week, and I am feeling great about everything. I wrote two messages to myself myself on my gloves this week. One is a very simple reminder of my plan and says "confidence, freedom, trust." The other says "use today to be better tomorrow." That doesn't mean that I don't want to be focused on the moment; rather, it is my way of reminding myself that whether I have an off day or win the tournament by ten shots, I still need be focused on steady improvement moving forward. Golf is unpredictable, and you can never say for certain what will happen on any given day, but I can say with near certainty that I am going to continue to improve and be very successful over the long haul. For now, I'm ready to play with confidence, freedom, and trust and have a great tournament in Columbus. Thank you for following and please keep it here for updates through the tournament!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Motivated and Ready To Be Better Mentally

This one is tough to swallow. I have had a great week of work, and I felt very prepared to play well on a course I really like, but I posted scores of 70 and 74 to miss the cut by one. I let myself down by reverting to some old, poor thought patterns and that is what makes this particularly painful. This week's result, and the shortcomings that let to it, have prompted me to do some serious introspection. I am still really disappointed, and this one really hurts, but I will be stronger mentally and better than ever because of this week. 

Here is the truth: I still face severe cut anxiety. I have focused strongly on my mental game, and I really feel like my routine is healthy and powerful, but I still let anxiety from the cut line dictate my mood on the golf course sometimes. This week, I played some of the best golf of my life in the middle of my opening round. I had battled back from a rough start over the first four holes and was four-under-par through 16 holes. I didn't do anything terribly wrong, but I bogeyed the last two holes of that first round. Given the great golf that I was playing, it should have been no big deal, but after that poor finish, I immediately allowed thoughts of the cut line to dominate my mind. When I teed it up on Friday, I still felt prepared physically to play well, but I definitely had anxiety in my thoughts. I was executing my shots very well, but a misjudged lie on the third hole led to a bogey, and that brought the anxiety to the front of my mind. I stayed committed to my pre-shot routine and still hit a lot of quality shots, but rather than playing with confidence, freedom, and trust, I played with fear for the rest of the day. That fear caused me to feel uncomfortable over some big shots and kept me from delivering the great skills I have worked so hard to develop. It is very hard for me to admit these mental shortcomings, but from this place of honesty with myself, I can make a great plan and move forward to be better. 

Here is another truth: The success of my golf career is never dependent upon any single week. I have long held the belief that steady improvement will ultimately lead to the achievement of all of my goals in golf. Therefore, the thing that I fear the most -- a missed cut -- is really nothing to fear at all. Neither my unspoken goal of steady improvement nor any of my written goals are impacted by a missed cut. But, I have allowed a missed cut to symbolize failure to me. In reality, the only way I can fail at golf is if I stop improving. My success will be defined by a long-term process of continuing to hone my mental and physical skills. I know that I have a great plan in place for long-term success, and I am not going to let the cut line control me. 

Whether I am near the cut line on the first two days, coming down the stretch with a chance to win, or battling to climb from the middle of the pack, I want to approach my golf shots with the optimism that comes from knowing I am on a successful path. To help me in times when negativity and fear are trying to overtake my thoughts, I am going to keep a reminder in my golf bag of all the reasons I can hit every shot with confidence, freedom, and trust. I have worked way too hard and am on way too good of a trajectory to let fear of anything control my thoughts on the golf course. 

I am still disappointed with what happened this week. I think I might have needed this reminder, though. I still believe in my plan. I am going to continue to prepare well and to play with confidence, freedom, and trust. The only difference is that I will have a reminder in my golf bag to make sure that I do so even when things seem difficult. I still believe that all of my goals are attainable, and I know that I will continue to improve. A missed cut is a set back. It does stink. But, it is not something to be afraid of, and it will not derail my progress. 

I believe that great things are in store in the very near future, and I know that great things are in store in the long-term. Thank you very much for believing in me and supporting my career. Please keep it here to enjoy the progress with me. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

North Carolina Round 1

I had a wild ride in the first round of this week's Tour Finals event. My opening tee shot of the tournament hooked violently to the left of the tenth fairway, and though it stayed in bounds, I was forced to play my second shot laterally. I chopped my way up the hole and eventually one-putted for a double-bogey. I had to execute a great recovery shot on the next hole after another poor tee shot. Then, on my fourth hole of the day, I again drove the ball errantly into a hazard and advanced my second shot about two yards. I saved a good bogey there and then flipped a switch. My game has felt fantastic in my practice this week, and after shaking off some early nerves, it looked beautiful on Thursday as well. I played holes 15 through seven (I started on the back nine) in six under par and really felt that all areas of my game were clicking. I finished my round on a down note, but that doesn't change the way I feel about game. On the eighth hole, I made a mental error which led to a bogey, and then a pulled drive and a poor chip resulted in a closing bogey on the ninth. I opened my round poorly and closed it in disappointing fashion, but on the middle 12 holes, I reaped the benefits of my hard work. My swing was clicking. I was smashing the ball confidently down the fairway off of the tee, delivering precise iron shots, and putting very well. My game is in good shape, and my plan is working. I'm going to keep following it: prepare well and play with confidence, freedom, and trust. My preparation has been on point this week, so I'm excited to continue to play with freedom on the course. I tee off at 12:58 on Friday, and I'm ready to get back out there and get it grooving again. Thank you for following me, and please keep it here for more updates.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Wrap-Up from Indiana

I had a great week in Ft. Wayne, Indiana to begin the Tour Finals. I put together three solid rounds on Friday (69), Saturday (68), and Sunday (69) to climb the leaderboard everyday after a cold-putting but steady opening round of 72. My even-par first round had me just outside the cut line heading into Friday, but my consistent play over the next three days netted a T-10th place finish. I'm very pleased with the way I followed my plan last week, and that finish is a great start toward achieving my goal for the Finals. 

Although my play was very consistent over the final 54 holes, there is still plenty of room for improvement. I gave myself a mental challenge on Friday. After playing the first 11 holes bogey-free and 4-under-par, I hit a great drive and had a good chance to go for the par-5, 12th hole in two. Unfortunately, I hit a poor 3-wood that rattled around in trees right of the green and ended up bouncing into the hazard short and left of the green. I thought I got a good break because my ball was playable, but I hit my next shot deeper into the hazard and ended up making a double bogey. When I saw my third shot land in the water, my head began to spin a little bit, and I must admit, I immediately thought about the cut. However, I am really proud of the way I responded, and despite feeling some nerves for the next several holes, I remained focused and trusted my routine. I ended up playing the last six holes one-under-par to keep myself in the tournament heading into the weekend. I made another double bogey on Sunday. The par 3, 11th is a tough hole, and I hit my tee shot into the bunker, but that was actually a pretty good miss given hole location. I recently made a slight change to my bunker technique, and my results had been great throughout the week in Indiana. However, I think I got a little bit too excited with this bunker shot. I thought I could make it but ended up chunking it badly and left it in the sand trap. It was painful to make the double bogey in the middle of what felt like a final round charge, but once again, I responded very well and birdied the next hole on my way to playing my last seven in 2-under-par. I definitely made some mistakes in this tournament, but it was very encouraging to see my mind and my game recover well. 

After the week in Indiana, I feel like my game is trending strongly in the right direction. I feel like I am driving the ball as solidly as I ever have, and though my iron play was still a little bit erratic, I am starting to hit them very well. In addition to that, my short game was very sharp, and for the first time in several weeks, I started to putt the ball with a lot of confidence. The only area of my game that was disappointing was my wedge play, but even that was great in practice, so I know it's going to be dialed in soon. After a few frustrating weeks to end the regular season, this past week was a great way of getting back on track for the Finals and the upcoming Fall Series. 

As Alicia and I travel from Indiana to North Carolina, the thing that has me feeling the best about the way I opened the Finals is the way I followed my plan. Though my goal for the Finals is big--WIN!--my plan is simple: prepare well and play with confidence, freedom, and trust. I had a great week of work in Indiana. I was very efficient, and I completed my Full Fitness Routine and my Full Practice Schedule. 

When my practice journal looks like this, it usually means I have prepared well. As for the mental aspect of my plan, I am not going to lie. There were times when I felt nervous, uptight, and results-oriented out on the course this week. But, I was able to stay focused, and for the most part, I trusted my routine on every shot. My formula works, and I am excited to keep it up moving forward. 

The next stop in the Finals is River Run Country Club in Davidson, NC (just north of Charlotte). It is another golf course that I really like, and I am excited to have another great week. Thank you for following me and keep it here for more good stuff!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Round 1 in Indiana

I'm done with my first round at the Hotel Fitness Championsip in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I posted an even-par round of 72 in beautiful scoring conditions. I am definitely not thrilled with that outcome, but I am very pleased with much of what happened. 

My preparation for this event has been excellent, and I felt good standing on the tenth tee for my 7:51 a.m. starting time, but I was a bit anxious at the beginning of the day. A couple of very squirrely shots in my first two holes had me working hard early, but I quickly settled down and started to hit the ball much better. I cost myself a couple of shots early in the round with short-range misses on the greens. My putter has been cold for the last several weeks, and that is very frustrating. I saw it start to turn around today, though. I was never able to get any putts to fall in the opening round, but I was very happy with the way I rolled the ball over the final twelve holes on Thursday. So, after a rocky start, I settled down and saw some very encouraging things from my ball-striking, and, for the first time in a while, I felt some very confident and solid putts leave my putter-face. In addition to that, I feel like my attitude and mental game were very good. All of the pieces are coming together, and I am ready to play well. 

I tee it up at 12:51 p.m. on Friday. The weather forecast predicts rain and possible storms, but I am ready for whatever happens. My game is good, my mind is right, and my plan is going to work. That means I'm going to continue to prepare well and play with confidence, freedom, and trust. And I'm going to get my putter rolling, too! Good stuff is coming. 

I'm going back to the course to "prepare well" this evening. This is the view I will have:
Life is good!

Thank you for following me and keep it here for more!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Great Week Off; Ready for the Finals

I had a fantastic break from competition this week. I was able to enjoy a little down time with the comforts of home, but I did a lot of focused practice as well. I know that I have been swinging well, but after a few weeks of frustrating tournament play, it was very nice to have a great week of work. Alicia and I are on our way to Ft. Wayne, Indiana for the start of the Tour Finals, and I am feeling ready. 

My Outcome Goal for the finals is very clear: I want to be the leading money winner for these four events. The formula for achieving that goal is to prepare well and play with confidence, freedom, and trust. Last week I completed a Full Fitness Routine and Full Practice Schedule, which helps me feel prepared. I want to stay committed to my Process Goals during the busy month ahead. However, great preparation doesn't do me much good if I put too much pressure on myself and tighten up on the course. The reason I work so hard is so I can stay in the present and enjoy the game I love while I'm in the middle of competition. My  mental game is one of my greatest strengths, and I am going to have the discipline to go through my routine and arrive at trust on every shot. That routine breeds confidence and allows me to play with freedom. This combination of good preparation and a sound mental game will lead to me achieving my outcome goal. 

I am excited to get a great week in Ft. Wayne started tomorrow morning. Thank you very much for following me, and keep it here for reports from the tournament. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Productive Week; Gearing Up

Last week ended with the celebration of a major accomplishment. Alicia and I traveled home from Oregon with a PGA Tour Card in hand for the 2015-2016 season. I allowed myself to enjoy that feeling for a little while (and it felt GREAT), but I am still highly motivated moving forward. I'm definitely proud of the season that I've had so far, but I know I can keep getting better, and I'm ready.

I sat down with my Goal Board on Tuesday morning and thought a little bit about the past five weeks. At times I have put a little bit too much pressure on myself and have been trying too hard on the course. I'm still really happy with my Process Goals and my commitment to them, but I wanted to write down a couple of new thoughts and one big Outcome Goal to guide me though the Tour Finals. Here's what is going to drive me: 

To "Win the Tour Finals" means that I want to be the leading money winner over the next four events. Achieving that goal comes with a couple of big prizes. First of all, it earns a spot in The Players Championship field, and, more importantly, it gains the title of "fully-exempt" status on Tour. That term is a little misleading because it doesn't guarantee entry into every tour event, but it does mean that a player sits ahead of the Tour-graduates category and is not subject to re-shuffles. Those are both enticing prizes, and I am motivated to earn them. 

I have not made this lofty goal to add pressure to myself over the next four weeks. Rather, I have made it to remind myself of what I think is very possible when I prepare well and play with a great attitude. And that is exactly what I am going to do. I have already had a great week of work, and I am excited to continue that heading into the Finals, which begin next week. 

I have a great job, and I'm excited to keep getting better at it. Who has a better office than me?

Thank you for following me! Keep it here for a week-off wrap-up report in a couple days.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Checking off My Goals: A Look Back at 2015 So Far

Last night in Portland it became official: I am going back to the PGA Tour for the 2015-2016 season. The Tour held a ceremony for the 25 leading money winners following the conclusion of the final regular season event, and it was a great thrill to be among the group celebrating. I still have a lot of work to do, and there is much that I can still accomplish in the Tour Finals, but I have officially secured my PGA Tour Card for next season, and that is the realization of my number one Outcome Goal for this year.
It is very gratifying to be where I am right now. After a rough year that beat up my confidence as a rookie on the PGA Tour in 2014, I came up with an off-season plan and committed to it this past winter. I started the process of making some changes to my swing mechanics to help me become a more efficient and consistent ball-striker. I outlined a practice schedule to ensure I had focused work on my short game and putting while working to improve my swing. I stayed dedicated to a good fitness routine to keep my body in great shape. I followed my plan well, and when the Tour schedule kicked off in early February, I felt confident and ready. 

I started the year slowly with two bottom-of-the-field weekend finishes and one missed cut in the first three events. In fact, in the third event, I shot 85-77 on the weekend to literally finish at the very bottom of the field. I wasn't rattled or deterred. I knew that I was on the right track and continued to believe that I was ready to play well. I was right. The very next week, I made 30 birdies, shot 22 under par, and won the HSBC Brasil Champions event.

That event featured the biggest purse of the year during the Tour's regular season, and my win not only checked off my number two Outcome Goal for the year, but also put me on the very fast track to achieving my number one Outcome Goal of returning to the PGA Tour. 

My win in Brazil also opened my eyes to a new goal for the year: the possibility of earning "fully exempt" status on the PGA Tour by being the leading money winner on the Tour. I held the top spot for a number of weeks, but currently sit in fourth place on the list and face quite a deficit behind the leader. It will take a Herculian effort in the Finals to achieve the number one spot for the season, but I have certainly not abandoned that goal.

I now have one week off to prepare for the Tour Finals. The Finals is a four-event series in consecutive weeks in which the top 75 competitors from the Tour's regular season and numbers 126 through 200 from the PGA Tour compete for an additional 25 PGA Tour Cards for the 2015-2016 season. My Card is already secure, but the order of the Cards is very significant, and that is what is on the line for me at the Finals. Two players will emerge from the Finals with "fully exempt" status on TOUR for the 2015-2016 season. Those two players are the leading money winner cumulatively from Tour season and the leading money winner from the four Finals events. My goal is to earn one of those spots. 

It has already been a great year. I have proven to myself that dedication to my process works. I have achieved my primary Outcome Goal for the year. I am going to the PGA Tour for the 2015-2016 season. Now it's time to keep following the same process that got me here and keep believing in it. This is just the beginning. There is still a lot to accomplish. I know my formula for success, and I'm ready to keep following it.

Thank you very much for keeping up with me and cheering me along through it all. It has been a fun season so far, and I am going to keep getting better. Keep it here to enjoy the journey with me!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bum Result, but Positive Performance in Portland

One principle of being mentally tough is knowing that my performance is going to stink occasionally. This week in Portland, my preparation was on point, my attitude was right where I want it, and I just made a few very costly mistakes with my execution. I hate that, but I have to know that it is alright and that this was still a very positive week. If I do a poor job of handling the things that I can control (preparation and process), I feel like that is a failure on my part. If I prepare well and take care of my process but end up with a bum result, I can be at peace in knowing that sometimes that is going to happen. That is where I am this week. I feel very disappointed not to be playing the weekend, but I know that I prepared well and had a good attitude on the course, so I can accept the results. 

I ended up with scores of 75, 73 (+6, total) to miss the cut but eight shots, but each of my rounds featured a "what-the-heck?" hole. In Thursday's opening round, I was even par with a horribly cold putter through 11 holes before making a mess (literally) of the par-three 12th. I blocked a short iron well to the right of the water-guarded green before blasting my chip shot too far and having it roll into the pond. It stayed on the muddy edge of the water, and hilarity ensued. Click the link below if you don't believe me.
The result of that was a tough-to-swallow seven on the par three. I maintained a good attitude moving forward, but I dropped a few more shots before a great birdie-eagle finish gave me a glimmer of hope heading into the second round. Friday's round saw another solid performance crushed by a cold putter and another big number. This time the big number was even bigger, and it came on the par-four 16th hole (my seventh of the day). I was in a greenside bunker in two facing a long bunker shot to a back hole location. I needed to be a aggressive, but I caught the shot thin and it flew into the abyss behind the green. I had to drop in the same spot and hit the shot again except from a plugged lie. To my amazement, I hit nearly a carbon copy of the first shot and had to drop in the bunker once more. I popped the third one safely onto the green and two-putted to secure a nine on the hole. A seven on a par-three and a nine on a par-four will usually derail even the best of rounds, and these two certainly thwarted my efforts in Portland. 

Despite the obvious disappointment of the scores and final result, I was very pleased with my ball-striking in general over my two rounds at Pumpkin Ridge and especially with my performance over my final eleven holes after making the nine. To close out my round on Friday, I hit the final eleven greens in regulation and had a birdie putt of less than 20 feet on nine of those holes. My putter remained cold, and that is certainly a little bothersome to me, but I was very encouraged by the way I hit the ball. In fact, playing on the most demanding course we had seen in the last several weeks, I hit 29 of 36 greens in regulation. That is encouraging stuff. I definitely have some work to do to get my good vibes going again with the putter, but I know I'm never far off with that club. Overall, I feel great, and am excited to get back to work soon!

To end the regular season on the Tour with a missed cut is definitely a bummer, but I will take a great deal of positive things from this week's event. More than that, the end of the regular season is a natural stopping point from which to take a look back on the year as a whole, and I would be crazy not to feel great when doing that! I will be on a plane for a long time tomorrow, and I will write a post summarizing my feelings about the year as a whole and looking forward to the big events to come. There is still so much to accomplish, and I am feeling great. 

Thank you for following me and believeing in me! I really appreciate all the support I receive. Keep it here for a big report sometime on Monday. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Happy in Portland and Ready to Trust

I have had two great days of work here in the Greater-Portland area heading into the final Tour event of the regular season. I have been on-point with my preparation, and I am feeling energized and ready to go. It is easy to feel energized here because the weather and the golf course are both incredible, but I would be feeling good anywhere after my last two days. I am excited to keep up the good work and have a great week here.

The host venue for this event is called the Witch Hollow Course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, and it is absolutely fantastic. It is beautiful, well-conditioned, and very demanding. I am excited to play it, and I feel prepared to play it well.

My practice has felt excellent the last two days, and I have hit on a little key that has really helped. I need to make sure I follow my pre-shot mental routine all the way through to the last step, which is saying the word "Trust" as I start my swing or stroke. I noticed even in my practice drills over the last two days that I was trying to steer or guide the ball towards my target rather than trusting my process and letting the club flow. I vow this week to be process-oriented and to trust myself and my plan on every shot. I'm going to do that, and I'm going to let the club swing confidently on every shot. 

It's going to be a great week, and I am excited for it. Keep it here for updates after the rounds and thank you for following me!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Knoxville Wrap-up

I did three loads of laundry last night (Sunday) at my house in Knoxville, Tennessee. Doing laundry at the end of a tournament week is nothing unusual, but this time it was a little bit different. It felt symbollic, almost. I washed everything: light clothes, dark clothes, and every golf towel that was in my bag or car. I needed to wash away the attitude that I carried around the course with me over the weekend in my hometown event. I am disappointed with the way that I played over the final 28 holes of the Tour's Knoxville Open, but it's not the results that left me feeling like I needed to metaphorically wash the weekend. I was very poor mentally over the final two rounds, and that stinks. The good news is that I control my thoughts, so even though I can't change the past, I can learn from it, wash the negativity away in the laundry, and move forward strongly. 

I am ready to do just that, but first, just to give it some closure, let me talk about what went wrong over the past two days. I entered the week with a pretty good attitude. I knew the course suited me well and that I was coming off a great week of practice. I also knew that it was going to be a busy week for me with a lot of great but potentially distracting hometown obligations, so I had a nice mix of confidence and caution in my mind heading into the tournament. After the first 44 holes, however, the caution was gone. I was playing great. Despite a very cold putter, I birdied 12 of the first 44 holes and made just a single bogey. In the beginning stages of Saturday's round, I was hitting the ball so well that I felt certain I would get the putter going, and I just felt like the tournament was mine to win. I got ahead of myself for sure, and my putting never did come alive. I missed consecutive six-foot putts for birdies on the 12th and 13th holes on Saturday, and I began to get impatient and furious. On the following hole, I rammed a 15-foot birdie putt four feet past the hole and missed the ensuing bid for par. I carried that rage to the next hole, and though I tried to have a good plan for my approach shot, I didn't commit well enough to my smart strategy, and I over-curved my iron shot towards the left hole location and watched as my ball one-hopped into the pond left of the green. I really let my thoughts get away from me in that stretch. I was determined to have a better attitude for Sunday's final round, but I still wanted it too badly on the course. I was results-oriented early, and I found myself getting angry with every shot that didn't go perfectly and especially with every putt that missed. I was impatient, frustrated, and angry for the majority of my time over the final 28 holes of the tournament, and that stems from being results-oriended. I didn't feel like myself. I wasn't having fun. And that is why those three loads of laundry were symbollic for me. I washed away that impatient, results-oriented, no-fun way of thinking. 

I know how to think well on the golf course. For me, thinking well starts with feeling prepared. The reason that I commit to my Process Goals each week is to know that I am prepared when I hit the course in competition. From there, the key element to my on-course mental strategy is being firmly rooted in the present. Anger and frustration are focused on the past, and a results-oriented mindset is worried about the future. When I let my mind live in the past or the future, it negatively affects my ability to do my job in the present. My job is to deliver focus on each and every shot. I need to take in all the information pertaining to each shot, formulate a smart plan, visualize the shot, feel the shot, and then trust that process as I start my swing. This may sound tedious, but it is actually very freeing, and golf is the most fun when I play in that state of mind. If I can truly go through that process and arrive at a genuine sense of trust before I start my swing or stroke, then I don't need to worry about the results. Anyone who has ever played golf knows that the results will not be good every time, but if I commit to that process and believe in it, I give myself the greatest possibility to be successful over every shot. That is thinking well on the golf course. 

One last thought on this subject: the results do matter; of course they do! My livelihood depends on the results. But I don't have full control over the results. I only control my process. If I give each shot a very present-minded focus and go through my process well, I know that I will be successful in the end. I also know that I will be at peace and have a lot of fun, too! So, yes, of course the results matter, but I know that the way to achieve the results I want is to focus on, be committed to, and believe in my process. 

By the way, here are the results from the weekend that felt like a personal catastrophe while it was happening. I posted rounds of 67, 66, 71, 72 (-8, total) and finished tied for 34th. Disappointing? Yes. Troubling? Absolutely not. 

I also rallied late in the week after a slow start to complete a Light Fitness Routine and Light Practice Schedule. That keeps me on track to complete all of my Process Goals for this segment, but I need to have two good weeks of work over the next 14 days. I'm ready for it!

Alicia and I travel today for Portland, Oregon, and the final Tour event of the regular season. I've heard the golf course this week (Pumpkin Ridge) is a solid and demanding track. I'm going to have a great six days there, and I'm going to blog about it throughout the week this time. It's amazing how writing stuff on here helps me internalize my thoughts, so expect more updates moving forward. 

Keep it here to share this journey with me. Thank you very much for following me and for your support. I am excited and know that great things are coming!

New Blog Site

Hi everyone! Thank you for continuing to try to keep up with me. As you might have noticed, I've not been updating this blog at all late...