Monday, February 23, 2015

Great Week of Work; Monday Qualifier for Honda Classic

The last week has been an adventurous search for some warm conditions, but I am happy to say that I have had some great practice and played some very good golf as well. After showing some positive signs but missing in the Monday Qualifier last week in Los Angeles, I stayed in Southern California through midday on Saturday and had some great practice at a course called the TPC Valencia. In addition to solid practice, I also spent an afternoon at the Titleist equipment test site and got confirmation that both my equipment and golf swing are working well. It was strange being so for from home and not actually being in a golf tournament, but I am thrilled to have been so productive during a week when I could not have gotten much done at home. 

I was so productive, in fact, that I was able to complete my Full Fitness Routine and Full Practice Schedule last week. It was a challenging week of practice, but I am very proud of my stick-to-it-tiveness. I struggled with my putting drills but finished them by Sunday morning and it took an extra hour of bunker practice Sunday evening to hole my sand shot for the week, but I got it all done. My ball-striking is starting to click and my wedge practice has been very very good. I feel great about the work that I am doing, and it is definitely starting to show. 

I got some strong validation that my work is working today. On Saturday, I flew from Los Angeles to Palm Beach, Florida, to attempt another Monday Qualifier--this time for the PGA Tour's Honda Classic. I struggled off the tee a little bit and cost myself a couple shots with that, but otherwise, I played beautifully. I never missed a green from the fairway or on a par three and I posted a five-under-par round of 66. It wasn't quite good enough to qualify, but it sure was nice to play well and post a good score. 

Now, I am heading home to regroup and re-pack for the next stretch of Web.com Tour events. It's still awfully winter-like in Tennessee, so I don't think I'll stay there long. Alicia and I are flying out of Florida to head back to South America on Sunday, so we will probably head that way a day or two (or three) early. Whatever we decide to do, I am going to have productive work again this week, and I will be ready to get it going when I tee it up again on the Web.com Tour next Thursday. 

I feel like my game is starting to come together and, more importantly, I feel like my mind has been fairly sharp on the course the last two Mondays. I am excited and I believe as strongly as ever that great things are coming. Thank you for following and keep it here for another report this week!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

LA Open Monday Qualifier

I did not qualify, and I really wanted to, so that stinks. However, I had a feeling on the golf course that I haven't had in quite a while. I felt like I was in complete control of my golf ball. It was great. I didn't have that feeling in all areas of my game, but with my irons and wedges, I was as good I can remember since 2013. I hit a few squirrelly drivers that led to bogeys during the Monday portion of my round, and my putting was way off both days. I ended up shooting a one-under-par round of 70, and it took 65 to qualify, so by that measure, I wasn't close, but I can tell you that I am very close to playing great golf. 

I am going to spend the rest of the week (until Saturday) here in Southern California working on my game, and I will fly from here to Southern Florida to attempt next week's qualifier for the PGA Tour's Honda Classic. 

I know that I am kind of like the boy who cried wolf in terms of promising success, but the hard work that I have done is really starting to come together. I need to get all areas of my game clicking simultaneously, but I am very close to making that happen. Great stuff is coming! Thank you for following and keep it here for a practice report from Southern California. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cold Week at Home; Warm in LA

I spent last Monday through Saturday in a very cold East Tennessee. We had a beautiful day on Wednesday, but apart from that, it was a hard week of work. I am very very pleased with my level of productivity given the situation. I did a lot of work on my swing mechanics indoors and maximized my outdoor practice time as well. I had every intention of completing a Full Fitness Routine and Full Practice Schedule last week, and a fought hard until the end. I had a great week of fitness work and easily completed my Full Fitness Routine. I had a lot of very good goal-oriented practice and completed a lot of the elements of my Full Practice Schedule, but I simply ran out of time with a couple of practice items remaining. I did complete a Light Practice Schedule, and I'm very pleased with the work I did. It was challenging weather-wise, but I enjoyed some great time at home and still got in some great work last week.

Instead of getting better, the ten-day forecast says that things are getting worse in the short-term in my beautiful Tennessee home. I decided on Friday morning that I needed to get out of there so that I could keep moving forward with my golf game. I booked a last minute flight to Southern California and signed up for the PGA Tour's Los Angeles Open Monday Qualifier. I took off early Sunday morning at landed in sunny Los Angeles just before noon Pacific Time. Poor weather is not typically the motivating factor to sign up for an event, but in an inverted way, it was this time. I am excited to be in some warm sunshine and to keep getting better. 

Now that I am here, I am excited to tee off later this afternoon with a chance to qualify for a PGA Tour event. My practice has felt great, and I am ready to play well today. This is a popular Monday Qualifier, and it will definitely take a great round to get the job done, but I am ready to post one. I am going to have a smart plan on every shot, commit to it, and execute fearlessly. I felt that in my first two Web.com Tour events this year, my mental game was rusty more than my physical game. I'm ready to shake off that rust. I'm excited to compete. It's going to be a good day!

There was a fog delay out here this morning, and that almost ensures that I will not finish my 18 holes today, but I will get started well. I will update you on my progress tonight, and hopefully will have great news by Tuesday morning! Thank you for keeping up with me!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Process Goals: Segment 1 Complete!

I know that if you follow and root for me, the fun stuff to hear about is good tournament results. I didn't exactly deliver those over the past two weeks, but I really am feeling better about things in my golf game than I have in a long time. After a frustrating year on the PGA Tour last year during which I struggled in a lot of areas, I committed myself to improving in two major ways. First of all, I committed to improving my swing mechanics. I sought out a new swing instructor to add to my team and dedicated myself to learning about and improving my golf swing. Secondly, I committed to getting back to my style of preparation--a planned, goal-oriented practice and conditioning regimen. I have done a great job of following through on both of these commitments, and I am confident that the fun stuff--namely, good tournament results--is on the way!

The work that I have done on my golf swing feels so good and makes so much sense that I expect it to all work right away. I do think it is very close to clicking, but I found that when things got a little bit out of sorts in my last tournament, I couldn't quite find the same feelings on the course that I am able to achieve in my practice... YET. I will get there, and it won't take me long. I am definitely moving in the correct direction, and that will begin to shine through in competition very soon.

My style of preparation is embodied in my Process Goals, which hold me accountable to weekly fitness routines and practice schedules. This year's version of my Process Goals breaks the year down into five-week segments and gives me a little bit of flexibility by allowing for a couple of light practice and light fitness weeks each segment. This past Sunday wrapped up the first five-week segment of the year, and I am very pleased to say that I completed all of my Process Goals. I know that following my plan and achieving my Process Goals puts me on the path to accomplish my Outcome Goals, so I am feeling great!

Here is a picture of my Process Goal journal from two weeks ago. This was a Full Fitness Routine and a Full Practice Schedule week.  

My tournament results have not been what I expect or want yet this year, but I still feel like I am on the right path. I have lofty Outcome Goals, but I also have a great plan to achieve them. I'm going to continue to be committed to improving my swing mechanics and following my Process Goals, and I am condident that I will have success. 

The Web.com Tour does not play again for three weeks. I'm not yet certain what all I will do in that three week period, but one safe bet is that I will work hard and get better. Thank you for following me and keep it here for practice reports and other updates. Great stuff is coming!



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Colombia Championship Round 2

I began the second round of the Pacific Rubiales Columbia Championship a little bit behind the eight-ball after an opening-round 76. Still, I felt good about my chances to play a great round, and things started promisingly with a beautiful drive down the extremely tight opening hole. I followed that with a nice wedge to about eight feet, but I didn't hit the putt with enough energy and it missed. I felt great about that start, though. Another nice drive on the difficult second hole had me in pretty good position, but I over-cut my six-iron approach shot into a right greenside bunker, bladed that shot over the green, and made a deflating double-bogey. I never let up in terms of effort, but my execution just stunk for the rest of the front nine. I'd hit a promising shot here or there and follow it with a terrible one. I was even a little bit sloppy on the greens, and I turned at 41 (+6). Despite knowing that I had no chance to make the cut, I was determined to play a better second nine. I still hit a few sloppy shots, but for the most part, I played solid golf on the back nine and shot one under par for a second consecutive round of 76. A pair of 76's is always bad, but this week, on a golf course that I felt suited my strengths perfectly, it was particularly poor. Still, this week will teach me valuable lessons, and I will continue to learn and imporove. 

The golf course for this week's event is quite narrow with beautiful tree-lined fairways. It is fairly short anyway, and the fact that it sits at 8,860 feet elevation makes it play even shorter. In addition to having challenging fairways to hit, the thing that really gives this course some bite is its extremely firm and slopey greens. At times, even wedge and short iron approaches needed to land short of the green in order to hold the firm surfaces. All of these elements combined to create a challenging course that should have played perfectly to my strengths. 

One of the lessons that I learned this week involves a Wednesday practice round. The course was playing just as firm and challenging on Wednesday as it did for my tournament rounds on Thursday and Friday. Yet, on wednesday, while having a match with my friend Matt Harmon, I hit 13 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens and definitely shot well under par. The difference between that Wednesday round and the two tournament rounds is that I was not afraid to hit bad shots on Wednesday. I simply picked a target and executed fearlessly. In the tournament, I was constantly playing defensively trying not to hit shots into troublesome spots. I am always going to have an intelligent plan and choose my shots wisely, but in the tournament rounds this week, I took that way too far. I played defensive and even scared golf shots. I was trying to avoid failure rather than pursuing success. In that Wednesday practice round, I had an intelligently aggressive plan for every shot and executed without concern. I need to carry that philosophy into my tournament rounds. 

In addition to playing with a poor mental approach, something was a little bit off mechanically this week, too. I feel excellent about the work that I have put into my golf swing over the past three months, and I know that work is making me better, but I'm sure it hasn't all taken hold and become perfectly natural yet. Despite playing great on Wednesday, something was off in my swing by Thursday afternoon. That is definitely disappointing but not at all discouraging. I now have a three-week break before the Web.com Tour plays again, and I will have some great work in that time and will be ready to go!

Speaking of great work, I am one solid workout away from completing a Light Fitness Routine this week, and that is all that remains for me to complete all of my Process Goals for the first five-week segment of 2015. So, before Alicia and I fly back to the States today, I'm going to get that workout done, and I will write another post either Sunday or Monday detailing more about my Process Goals this year and wrapping up what has been a great start to the year. 

I'm sorry for the disappointing news from the tournament here in Colombia, but I know that good things are coming. Thank you for keeping up with me, and keep it here for more updates!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Colombia Championship Round 1

I was bad in the first round of the Colombia Championship. The course fits me well and my game has been feeling excellent all week, but I was not good at all when the bell rang on Thursday. I made a long putt to open the tournament with a birdie, but made four bogies and a double-bogey over the next 17 holes. It is definitely disappointing to play such a poor round. I have worked really hard on my game, and I feel like I should be consistent enough not to have such a down performance, but it was just one of those days. I couldn't get things clicking in any facet of my game. The end result was a five-over-par round of 76. 

I do feel disappointed; I don't feel discouraged. I still feel like my hard work is working and I'm going to stay after it. I will tee it up well outside the cut-line in Friday morning's round, but I believe that I can play a solid round and make it to the weekend. My main goal for round two is to trust my work and play intelligent golf one shot at a time. At the end of the day, I know I'll be pleased with the results if I do that. 

It's way more fun to write about the good stuff, but I know that a lot of that is coming! Check back for a great report from round two Friday evening. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Bogota!

I could write several paragraphs about how good I am feeling about everything this week heading into the opening round of the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship. Instead, I'm just going to leave it at that. My golf game feels great. I absolutely love the golf course here. And Alicia and I have really enjoyed doing a little bit of exploring in Bogota. It all has me feeling great. My tournament begins at 12:50 PM on Thursday afternoon, and I am ready for a good one. I'm going to play with patience and stay in the present and trust all the hard work that I have put into my game. It's going to be a good tournament. 

As always, thank you for following me, and keep it here for updates throughout the tournament. For now, enjoy these cool pictures that Alicia took when we journeyed to the top of one of Bogota's highest mountain peaks (Monserrate, >10,000 feet). 







Monday, February 2, 2015

Panama Championship Round 4 and Wrap-up

My final score and my finish in the tournament do not paint an accurate picture of what my day was like on Sunday in the Panama Claro Championship. I posted a one-under-par round of 69 to move up slightly in the field and finish in a large tie for 40th place, but I played so much better than that. Coming off a rough day on Saturday during which I really felt like my thinking was poor, I had a much better mindset in round four. At the beginning of the day, I set a goal of moving up into the top 25, but then committed to playing my round one shot at a time as I tried to achieve that goal. I played beautifully, and through 14 holes, I was four under par for the round and back to even par for the tournament. I really hit only one very poor shot on the closing three holes, but a misjudged approach into the 16th and then that one bad shot into the 18th really cost me as I made a bogey and a double-bogey on those two holes, respectively, to fall to one under par for the day and three over par for the tournament. It is very disappointing to have finished poorly, but I can honestly say that I feel okay about the mistakes because I was committed and in the present on each of those shots coming down the stretch. I feel like I played better than a 69 in the final round, and I am highly encouraged by that moving forward. 

Overall, I am very pleased with my start to the Web.com Tour season. I certainly would have liked to do better than a 40th place finish, but I overcame some mental struggles to post good rounds, and I feel like my week in Panama is definitely a positive place from which to start building. My ball-striking was fairly good, but a tough day on Saturday skewed my greens in regulation stat. I hit 13, 13, 8, and 12 greens respectively for the four rounds. Saturday's round also hurt my par-five scoring average as I played the two par-fives in one over par in round three. I ended the week two under par on eight par-fives. Both of those statistical categories need to improve, but I am not at all discouraged by either of them. I really feel like my overall performance in Panama was pretty good. My putter was very cold through the first three and a half rounds, and I struggled with my mindset in the middle two rounds, but I know that I excel in both of those areas, so I will get back on track. I am really excited, actually, when I look back on this first week, and I am ready to improve upon it. 

One thing that I am particularly pleased with from the week is my committment to my Process Goals. I set out to complete both my Full Fitness Routine and Full Practice Schedule, but I wanted to do so without overwhelming myself in the near 100-degree Panama heat. I was incredibly productive and efficient with my work, and I did complete my full practice and fitness goals for the week. My only concern at all is that my Full Fitness Routine might be a bit too much during a tournament week in very hot conditions, but I will withhold judgement for now and and make adjustments later in the year if necessary. I was feeling very tired Friday evening but actually had a great energy level over the weekend. The thing I know for sure right now is that I like my Process Goals for this year very much and believe that a continued strong committment to them will get me to the Outcome Goals I have set. 

Because of the great week of work I just completed, this week will be very fun and a little bit interesting for me. Because of the structure I have set up for my Process Goals this year, I am responsible for only a Light Fitness Routine this week. I have completed all of my Practice Schedules for the first five-week segment of the year. I have never been at a tournament before and not had practice goals to meet, so I am curious to see how this week goes, but I am very much looking forward to some more relaxed work. I thik this will be very good for me, but only once every five weeks!

Now Alicia and I are in Bogota, Colombia. This is a brand new adventure for us, and we are excited about it. I am excited to get back to work. I feel like I got off to a solid start in Panama, but I am ready to stay in a better mindset for the entire tournament, get the putter hot again, and get into contention. It's going to be a fun week! Keep it here for updates from Bogota, and thank you for following me! 

Here's the view outside our hotel room: 

Catching Up on a Positive Last Month

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