Thursday, May 28, 2015

Raleigh Round 1

I had it going for a stretch in the first round of the Tour's event in Raleigh. After solid pars on my first three holes, I saved a nice par after an errant tee shot on my fourth hole and then holed a difficult pitch shot for birdie on my next hole. That got me started. After the pitch in, I birdied three of the ensuing four holes without having to make a putt outside of three feet. It was fun! I hit only one poor shot on my second nine, but I couldn't seem to get the ball close to the hole. Still, I got it to five under par heading to my last hole, the par-five ninth. I hit two quality shots to leave myself a perfect wedge into the green, but I misjudged the distance and hit a very disappointing shot that ended up a long way from the hole. I wasn't particularly disappointed with either of the putts I hit on that closing hole, but neither went in, and I left with a bogey to post 67 (-4) on day one. It was a lousy way to end a great round, but I am very excited to get back after it Friday morning in round two. My game is feeling great. Thank you for following, and keep it here for more!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ready in Raleigh

The title of this post says it all. After a great week of practice at home last week, I have had very solid preparation on-site for this week's Tour event. My game is feeling good, and I am very comfortable with everything here in Raleigh. I am confident that I will have a great tournament and am excited to get it started. 

Thank you very much for your support, and please keep it here for post-round reports each day!  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"You Know What They Call Someone Who Works at It Like You?"

I was out at the practice facility where I do the majority of my work when I'm home, and a familiar face came walking towards me one evening. It was Steve Golliher, who is a life-long Knoxvillian with a strong amatuer golf career and as much love for the game as I have. Steve walked straight up to me and said, "You know what they call someone who works at it like you do?" I shrugged, and he replied simply, "A winner." With that, Steve was off into his own world to practice his game, but that simple observation meant a lot to me. And you know what? I believe him, too. 

The results that I have seen on the golf course the past two weeks appear far from that of a winner. I struggled mightily in the Tour event that ended a week ago and had to grind hard to make the cut and post a 41st place finish. This past week while home, I played 18 holes three times at three different golf courses with three different friendly competitors. I was defeated in all three matches and never posted a good score. Yet, I feel like a winner right now. Why? Because I followed my plan to a T and had a fantastic week of work. After a long and physically exhausting week of sloppy golf at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, I knew it was important for me to have a great week of work to get back on the right track and re-establish good habits. I did just that. My progress may not have shown during my three matches this week, but I am really starting to find a groove during my practice, and I know that will carry over into the busy stretch of tournament golf that is forthcoming. 

I definitely work hard at my game, but I think what separates me from my competition is the fact that I work smart. I have practice goals and a lot structure to my work each week. This week, I set out to complete my Full Fitness Routine and my Full Practice Schedule. I achieved both, and that feels great. Here is my practice journal for this week: (I know it's hard to read, but the point isn't the content; it's the fact that I track and record my practice each week.)
This week concluded the fourth five-week segment of the year for my Process Goals. By taking the week of the BMW Pro-Am off from fitness work, I made it impossible for myself to complete all of my Process Goals for this segment, but I made sure that was my only shortcoming. I completed all of my practice requirements, and with the exception of that week, completed all of my fitness work as well. 

So, yes, I do feel like a winner. I am proud of the work that I have done, but I am also very excited to stay at it. I definitely have a long way to go, much improving to do, and A LOT left to accomplish. I'm excited because the schedule really gets busy starting this week, and I am ready to play. Alicia and I are in Raleigh, NC, this week for the first of three consecutive Tour events. I will continue to prepare well and feel like a winner heading into the tournaments. I honestly believe that I will feel like the winner after some of the tournaments, too. 

Thank you for following along, believing in me, and supporting my career. Keep it here for news and updates from Raleigh!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Catching Up; BMW Pro-Am; Back to Good Habits

I have obviously taken a little break from blogging. It wasn't intentional, but over the past two weeks, I haven't sat down to spill my thoughts on this forum. Not doing so is actually bad for me. My ramblings on here are both cathartic and motivational for me, and I can tell a difference in my mindset when I neglect this useful form of journaling. That's not to say that I haven't been plenty busy. I'll give you an update of what the last couple weeks have looked like, but, more importantly, I will talk about what I'm going to do moving forward. 

Two weeks ago I was off from competition. I did a little bit of everything, though. I traveled to Orlando for a day and a half and spent some good time with Mitchell. I also had some good practice home in Knoxville and spent a great morning with Jake Reeves emphasizing some of the keys that have had me playing so well this year. I completed my Light Practice Schedule that week, and though it wasn't my most thorough week of golf, I felt good about the work that I did. Off of the course, I had a fantastic week of workouts and completed my Full Fitness Routine. I even got some extra workouts in as Alicia and I re-arranged some furniture in our house. That was fun, and I'm actually pretty excited about the finished product. But, getting back to golf, I feel like I had a productive week off and was excited heading into last week's event. 

The Tour was in greater-Greenville, South Carolina, last week for the BMW Charity Pro-Am. It was my first time playing the event, but I knew that the format mirrored that of the PGA Tour's Pebble Beach Pro-Am in that each professional is paired with an amateur or celebrity for the tournament rounds and the tournament takes place on three different golf courses. Pro-Ams can be fun, and this one was, but it makes for a very very long week having to learn three different courses and then playing six-hour plus rounds during the competition. I decided early in the week that I was going to use my week off from practice requirements and have just a light week of fitness. By the time I got to Wednesday afternoon, it was clear that I wasn't even going to complete a Light Fitness Routine. I did all of my stretching for the week and one light workout on the Thursday evening, but that was it. Not completing my Fitness Routine is bad, but for this particular week, I can justify it. It was a grueling seven days. 

As for the golf, I have to say that my performance contributed to the grueling nature of the week. I felt good heading into the tournament, but after a solid start on Thursday, I started to misfire badly. It began with the driver and eventually bled into all of my clubs. I was just hitting the ball way off line, and it made me work very hard on golf courses that should have been quite score-able. Fortunately, I sprinkled stretches of stellar play in with my erratic shots, so I was able to stay in the tournament. I'll share just a few of the highlights and nightmares. I hit two balls out of bounds on my 16th hole during the first round and made an eight on a very short par four. The errant tee shots were definitely lousy, but they were as much the result of poor preparation as they were poor execution. However, after suffereing the quadruple bogey, I came back and birdied the next hole--a 220-yard par thre. So after posting a very poor one-over-par 73 in round one, I moved on to the tournament's "host" course for round two. I birdied the first two holes and felt like I was ready to play great before having a bit of a rocky stretch through the middle of the front nine. I continued to battle, though, and after going birdie-eagle on holes 15 and 16, I found myself at six under par for the round. I quickly bogied the final two holes, however, to limp home with a four-under-par 67. As I began round three, I knew I needed a great score to make the 54-hole cut. I was determined not to think about that because I simply wanted to have a great plan and execute one shot at a time. I again birdied the first two holes and felt great, but my erratic play was far from over. A couple of horrific shots and some poor putting had me back to just even par for the round through ten holes, and making the cut seemed far-fetched. My mind wondered to a bad place, and I once again found myself obsessing over making the cut. My trusty caddie, Alicia, came to the rescue with a very appropriate pep talk and got me back on track. I needed the help of a couple of long putts, but I played the final eight holes in five under par--including an eagle on my 14th hole and a perfect nine iron to one foot on my 17th hole--to reach eight under par for the tournament and make the cut on the number. It was a great feeling to dig myself out of some negative thought patterns and achieve something good. So, I was on to the final round, and unfortunately, it was more of the same pattern from the week. I had a fantasitc start with birdies on holes 2-5 to stand at four under par through five holes. I proceeded to hit two absolutely horrific shots over the next three holes, however, and gave a couple of shots back. I fought hard and grabbed two more birdies on the back nine and had two reach-able par fives ahead. Unfortunately, I lost my steam, and once again limped badly home with pars on the two par fives and a pair of bogeys on 17 and 18. It was disappointing to finish on a downer note, but it was appropriate given the up and down nature of the week. I was definitely closer to bad than good throughout the four tournament days last week, but I still managed to do enough good things to be around all week with a chance at doing something good. 

My overall analysis of my performance at the BMW Charity Championship is that I feel like I was playing badly, and I still shot eleven under par for the week and finished tied for 41st in a field of 168 pros. That's not all bad, and it means that if I can continue to do the things that I did well and eliminate some of the errant shots, that I will be right back where I want to be. So I am highly encouraged!

As a cool side-note, my amateur partner was actor Lucas Black. Luke and I were buddies during my college days at Mizzou, so it was cool to play with an old friend. I made a lot of birdies and two eagles during the week, so I helped Luke's cause a little bit, but as I was limping in on Sunday, he played the final four holes in three under par (four under par with his handicap), including a dramatic birdie (net eagle) on the final hole to win the Pro-Am portion of the competition! It was really fun to be a part of that!
Now it's time to get back to being me. I don't regret anything about the practice or fitness routines I put in last week because it was an exhausting week and energy conservation was a big part of preparation. With that said, I did not pass my three part standard of success last week. That standard is: Have I prepared properly for this week's event? Did a commit to a smart plan on every shot? Did I hit every shot with the belief that I could win the tournament? Obviously, I don't literally mean that I should be thinking I can win the tournament when I'm twelve shots back and have only four holes to play, but I should approach each shot with the mindset that I still can accomplish a lot and achieve something positive. This past week, I feel that I was lazy in my practice rounds, which affected my ability to have a smart plan on every shot, and also feel that I hit several shots thinking about the cut-line and the money list rather than winning the tournament and doing my best. So I would have to say that this past week did not meet my standard of success. I am motivated to get out there and do better!

I'm excited moving forward. I have this week off from competition, and it is my last one for quite a while. I am ready to have a Full week of fitness and a Full week of practice. I'm already off to a good start as I had a great afternoon or work yesterday. 

Despite what I would call a poor week last week, I still feel really good about the state of my game. I feel like I am playing well and am really enjoying playing and practicing. I woke up this morning and went in my work room, and I wrote down a few motivational points. Some of these align with the goals I published at the beginning of the year, and some of these are simply thoughts to keep me pushing forward, but here is what I wrote:
I am ready to get after it!

Thank you for following me and for caring about my progress. I appreciate your support! Keep it here as I continue to work towards my goals. More great stuff is coming--and I'm going to share about it more often on here!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sorry about the Font

I don't know why my last post is showing up with the difficult font to read. If that happens again I'll try to figure it out and fix it. For now, I'm just calling it an anomaly, so please accept my apology and keep reading!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Wrap-up From Victoria National

It is a very good sign about the state of my golf game when I walk away from a tournament tied for 14th place and am very disappointed.

I had a great week in Indiana at the Tour's United Leasing Championship. The host course for the event, Victoria National Golf Club, is an incredible (and incredibly difficult) venue. I certainly had my share of ups and downs during all of the rounds, but through 69 holes of the tournament, I was at five under par, which is the score that ended up in second place. Unfortunately, I played the final three holes of the tournament in four over par and tumbled into a tie for 14th place at one under par. Despite the disappointing finish, I am able to remember the the solid play from the first 69 holes, and I leave Victoria National feeling as encouraged as ever. 

And there is plenty about which to be encouraged. My short game was on point, and, for the most part, I was quite happy with my putting as well. My iron play was quite good at times, and I continue to be pleased with my wedge play. I showed some real mental fortitude in some tough spots throughout the week and gutted out a lot of great bogies after finding some of the trouble that exists on every hole at Victoria National. A lot of the hard work that I have put in really shined through the demanding test of last week's event, and that is exciting to see. 

Victoria National also revealed some question marks about my game that have me motivated to keep striving for improvement. On possibly the most intimidating tee-shot golf course I will play all year, I drove the ball quite poorly. I finally got it to start clicking a little bit on Sunday, but for most of the week, I was missing fairways both directions and causing myself lots of trouble. In addition to my struggles with the driver, I found that my iron play became shaky on a couple of the most intimidating looking holes. Actually, I am thinking specifically of the 16th hole. The picturesque par three absolutely ate my lunch. It features a very narrow green surrounded by water on three sides, and I found myself highly uncomfortable on that tee each day. I hit two five irons and a seven iron into the water on that hole during four rounds of tournament play. I attribute the uncomfortableness I experienced on that tee to not quite fully "owning" my golf swing yet. I know I am on the right track, and in anything less than the most intimidating of situations I can rely on it, but I still have work to do to truly trust my swing. As always, my shortcomings from Victoria National don't feel like failures so much as a nice reminder to keep grinding. I am excited to keep getting better. 

Speaking of getting better, I debuted my new "tournament-week" edition of my practice goals at Victoria National and really enjoyed them. I still felt just as good about my preparation as usual, but felt less stressed and tired due to my practice schedule. I completed a Full Practice Schedule and a Light Fitness Routine last week, and I feel great about both. 

I have no tournament this week and am excited for the chance to work on my game. I am currently traveling to Florida to spend Tuesday morning with Mitchell, and I also have a day set up to spend time with my boy Jake Reeves back home as well. I am going to keep getting better, and that is exciting given that I am already seeing good results.

Thank you for following me and for your support. I'm sorry for not giving any updates during the tournament in Indiana. I'll do better moving forward. Keep it here for a practice report from home later this week!

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...