Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Getting After My Process

I talk a lot about my work habits and the importance of my preparation here on my blog. Those habits are spelled out and embodied in my Process Goals, and I am very proud of the commitment and discipline I have shown towards them this year. I really feel like having consistent, focused, goal-oriented practice is my biggest key to success. For the first time all year, I missed by quite a bit on completing all of my Process Goals over my last five-week period. I feel like my physical effort was still there, which is good, but as the weeks get longer, hotter, and more demanding, focus and intentionality towards my goals become extremely important. Completing my Process Goals each week is as much about planning and discipline as it is about my execution. This week begins a new five-week segment for me. I will compete four of the five weeks in this period. Conditions promise to be challenging, but I have built the flexibility into my goals to allow breaks when necessary. I am going to get my Process Goals done, because they are the steps that will allow me to achieve the Outcome Goals I have set. I'm ready to get after it! 

I'm off to a good start this week in Nova Scotia, Canada. I've had two nice days of work up here and am excited to keep at it. It's going to be a great week for me. Thank you for keeping up with me, and come back for a pre-tournament report Wednesday evening!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wichita Round 2

Well, it still stinks! I have the weekend off in Wichita after a disappointing second-round score of 75. Regardless of the good play that precedes it, a missed cut just feels awful. However, my game is still in great shape, and I've already turned my attention (and my travel) toward next week's event in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The result in Wichita, though disappointing, does nothing to derail my pursuit of my goals. 

So what happened in Wichita? I'm really not sure. I played beautifully to begin the tournament. In fact, I was bogey-free and four under par through the first 16 holes of the competition despite a fairly cold putter.  During that stretch, I hit some fantastic shots and really felt great about things. I finished sloppily on Thursday with bogies on my final two holes, but I felt like I went into Friday with a good attitude. I definitely didn't execute my shots as sharply on Friday, but I didn't feel that far off, either. After opening my round with a par, I bogied five consecutive holes. During that stretch, I hit a couple of tee shots into the rough and one poor iron shot, but three times I hit what I thought were pretty good approach shots that ended up off the back of the green in bad shape. I think I was just misjudging the wind. Whatever the cause of the miscues, my rough start had me behind the eight-ball, but I was proud of the way I stayed committed to my plan. I did a nice job of playing one shot at a time; I simply couldn't get anything going. I felt like I had a chance to play my way back into the tournament until a slightly over-drawn tee shot on the par-four seventh hole (my 16th on Friday) found the water. That led to a sloppy double-bogey and my fate was sealed. Still, I finished with some great shots on my last two holes and birdied my final hole of the tournament. 

No amount of positive thinking, or even a birdie on the final hole, can make a missed cut stink less, but I am not moving forward from my week in Wichita feeling discouraged. Alicia and I changed our travel plans and are on our way to Canada this (Sunday) morning. I am excited to go have a great week in Nova Scotia and give myself another chance to win a tournament. 

I'll come back early next week with an update about my Process Goals. I'm excited to keep working hard (and smart) and keep getting better. Thank you for following me and caring about my career. Keep it here for updates from Canada!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Wichita Round 1

I'm playing great. In round one of the Web.com Tour's Air Capital Classic, I hit every fairway and had 14 birdie putts inside of thirty feet. My putter wasn't hot, but I still was four under par and bogey-free through sixteen holes. Unfortunately, I limped home with bogies on holes 17 and 18, but that doesn't change the fact that I am playing very well. Morning thunderstorms have delayed the start of round two, but when I tee off on Friday afternoon, I need to stay dedicated to my process and commit to playing one shot at a time. I'm playing so well that I feel like I should win all these tournaments, but that very positive feeling is actually working against me sometimes because it causes me to get ahead of myself over shots. I do believe that I can win, and that is a very good thing, but I need to use that confidence as motivation to focus on each and every shot. I'm going to do a good job of that in round two, and I feel prepared to play a great round. Thank you for following and keep it here for more!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ready in Wichita

I have had two nice days of preparation and am feeling great for this week's Web.com Tour event. The course here in Wichita features narrow fairways and fantastically thick rough. In addition to that, steady winds promise to add some challenge to the event. With that said, the course rewards accurate tee shots with plenty of short iron approach shots into soft greens that roll nicely. I'm going to play one shot at a time and have a great plan on each and every one of them. I'm going to get after it this week. Keep it here for updates after the rounds. Thank you for following!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Be Tough or Quit?

During a practice session at home this week, a friend made the observation to me that I beat people in tournament play "because [I] have more guts than them." On the surface, I didn't really agree with that statement because I was thinking of "guts" as the boldness to go for and pull off heroic shots. On further thought, however, I realize that he meant "guts" in a different way. I have the guts to follow my plan and to believe that my work-ethic will carry me to success over players who may have more talent than me. I have the guts to out-work and out-smart my competition and to believe that my style of golf will win. 

The important thing for me is continuing to display those guts when things get difficult. I titled this post "Be Tough or Quit" because I feel like those are the two options I have when facing a challenge. Clearly, I would never quit in the literal sense by walking off the course during a competition, but the moment I start to doubt my work and doubt the fact that I am good enough to be successful, I have quit in a way. I want to have the guts and the toughness to continue believing in myself and my process even when I face a challenge. Any time that I am faced with the option to be tough or quit, I want to be tough. 

This conversation is directly relevant to my most recent tournament experience, but it can be applied almost daily as well. When I reflect on letting the 54-hole lead get away from me at the Web.com Tour event in Cleveland, it is clear that my three-putt bogey on the sixth hole in the final round really rattled me. Instead of displaying the guts that it takes to stay committed to my routine and believing that good results would follow, I panicked and tried to force the good results to happen. Essentially, I quit believing in my process. This same way of thinking can be applied almost everyday in my practice as well. When things get difficult, I have the choice to be tough and stay committed to my plan, or I can quit and be less focused towards my goals. I want stay committed to my process and to believe that I will be successful. That takes toughness, and I've got it. 

I think it's worth noting that being tough doesn't guarantee successful results every time, but it does put me in the best position to get the very most from my practice and tournament play. 

I am ready to go do it! Alicia and I hit the road/air tomorrow (Monday, 6/22) for a four-week trip on the Web.com Tour. We start in Wichita, Kansas. 

I have done great work over the past seven days. I took two days completely off from golf and fitness on Monday and Tuesday to rejuvenate. I then had three fantastic days of work at home, which included some quality time with Jake Reeves. Over the weekend, I made a quick trip to see Mitchell. I got in a lot of great work and feel like my game is continuing to get better. As for my Process Goals for this week, I did a great job of knocking them out in a short time period. I completed many elements of my Full Fitness Routine and Full Practice Schedule, but in the end I can give myself credit for only a Light week of each. Still, I'm quite pleased with the work I did, and I feel well-prepared as I head back into competition. 

Thank you very much for following and supporting my career. Great things are coming, so keep it here to enjoy the journey with me!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Disappointment (A Little Bit) in Cleveland

The title of this post sounds so negative. In truth, I did feel negative for a little while after finishing the Web.com Tour's Rust-Oleum Championship. Beautiful play through the first three rounds had me two shots clear of the field heading into the final day, but I was a little bit off physically and, more importantly, mentally in the final round. After standing at 15 under par through three rounds, I posted a one-over-par round of 72 on Sunday and finished the tournament tied for fifth place. Even as I write that, a strong tinge of disappointment comes over me. I expect to win. I work hard so that I can win. I put myself in a great position to win. And I didn't win. It stinks. 

My overall feelings looking back on the tournament in Cleveland, however, are far from the negativity relayed by the title of this post. I feel great! Let me rattle off some of the positive things from last week in bullet point form:

-I shot fourteen under par for the week on a fantastic golf course.
-Through 59 holes, I had made just one bogey. 
-I played 20 holes on Saturday; I was in or around the lead all day; and I never made a bogey. 
-My third-round 67 was my 11th consecutive competitive round in the 60's. 
-I finished fifth on the third most competitive professional golf tour in the world.

Clearly, it wasn't a disappointing week. Sunday was not my best golf, but I will take the positive things away from my week in Cleveland, and I will use them to give myself many more chances to win this year. 

So, what did happen on Sunday? I had a very solid start in which I hit all of the first five greens in regulation and made two birdies. Then I panicked a little bit after a three-putt bogey on the par-five sixth hole. I was trying to tell myself all the right things, but I wasn't responding to them very well. I had played beautifully all week, but I felt shaky and uncomfortable after that three putt. I proceeded to hit a couple of loose tee shots and then short game shots that were just a little bit off on each of the next three holes. I made bogies at holes six, seven, and eight and had to roll in a nice par-saving putt at the downwind par-five ninth. That stretch of holes felt like a nightmare, and I definitely did not control my thoughts as well as I can through that time. I still felt a little bit rattled going into the back nine, but I did a nice job of calming down and executing some shots. I could never get any good mojo going though, and I finished the tournament with ten consecutive pars. 

The lesson from this experience is not a new one. I need to stay focused on my process, especially at the times when it is hardest to do so. The three-putt on number six during the final round was the first time all week I felt vulnerable. I began to think about the outcome and tried to force good things to happen. I wanted to win so badly that I wasn't able to stay in the present and take care of my business one shot at a time. I don't believe for one second that I suddenly lost my game on the sixth green on Sunday. I simply let anxiety creep into my thought process by thinking about the outcome over my shots. Like I said, this is not a new lesson, but it is a very powerful reminder. 

So, with that, it's time to move forward! I can't even do the math to tell you how many under par I am over my past four tournaments, but it is a lot, and I'm ready to go give myself more chances to win so that I can handle them better!

I updated my office motivation board this morning. Here it is:
I know there is nothing new about anything that is written on there, but I like the new nature of the image. My Outcome Goals are written, and then the umbrella statement that covers all of my goals is "Be the Best That Peter Malnati Can Be." I am motivated to continue to work hard, work smart, stay focused, and achieve my goals. 

As an update in that area, I am still very much committed to my Process Goals. They are my plan that will get me to the Outcome Goals I have set. I did not have a thorough week of work during the event Cleveland, but I am very much at peace with that. The 37-hole day of golf at U.S. Open Qualifying on Monday and then a tournament week filled with weather delays created a situation where completing all of my Process Goals would have been counterproductive. With that said, I need to get back on track this week while I'm home and have a solid week of work. I'm ready to do just that!

FUN SIDE NOTE:
I was lucky enough to be invited down on the field before the Cleveland Indians game on Wednesday to participate in a closest-to-the-pin contest with two other Web.com Tour players. It was super fun being on the field, and I can't wait to get down on the field with my Royals in Kansas City sometime soon, too! I hit two wedge shots, and my second one fell just past the flag that was planted in center field. I won the contest! It was really cool. 

Thank you for following me and supporting my career! Great stuff is coming, so keep it here to enjoy the journey with me!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Rust-Oleum Championship Rounds 2 & 3

I followed my opening-round 64 with consecutive rounds of 67 on Friday and Saturday. My play in the third round was a little bit different than the first two. After hitting nearly every green in regulation through the first 36 holes, I was a little bit erratic in round three. I missed a few fairways and missed lots of greens, but my short game was spot on, and I never made a bogey. It is really cool for me to see that I can achieve the outcome I want using different areas of my game. I shot the same score in rounds two and three but played completely differently. Now, with that said, I like the hitting-lots-of-greens variety better, but it's exciting to know that I have the game to post a great round even when I'm not hitting the ball my best. And, by the way, even though I missed a lot more greens on Saturday, I still feel like I'm swinging great. My game is in great shape, and my scores are reflecting that. 

My performance here in Cleveland has me in the position for which I strive. I am leading by two shots heading into the final round. There is definitely a lot of excitement that comes with this position and some nerves as well, but I am prepared for it, and this is exactly where I want to be. I am going to go out there today with a great attitude, play one shot at a time, trust my hard work, and post another good score. I will take care of my business. I relish this opportunity. 

Keep it here for a report from the final round, which I will post sometime on Monday. Thank you for following me and believing in me!  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rust-Oleum (Cleveland) Championship Round 1

When my Pro-Am was rained out after nine holes on Wednesday morning, I did not feel well-prepared at all for this week's Web.com Tour event. I didn't arrive in Cleveland until Tuesday evening because of U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying on Monday, so I was counting on the Pro-Am to be my practice round. I did not get to play the back-nine, and what's worse is I felt tired and out of sync on the nine holes that I did play. It had me feeling pretty crummy about things as I watched it rain and fretted about not being able to practice or see the back-nine of the course, so I did something out of character for me. I went back to the hotel, and I took a nap. Wow! What a difference that made! I returned to the course late Wednesday afternoon, walked the back-nine (I wasn't allowed to play, but I could at least see the holes), and had a power hour practice session. Then, I woke up even earlier than usual for my 7:10 a.m. first-round tee time and snuck in a mini-practice session during my warm-up. By the time I walked to the tenth tee just a few minutes after 7:00 a.m., I felt well-prepared and was pumped to get started!

Things actually didn't look promising after my opening tee shot, which I pull-hooked well left of the fairway into some thick trees, but I still knew I would play well. I pitched the ball back out to the fairway, got up and down from 93 yards to save par, and was off and running. I went on to hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation and post a bogey-free opening round of 64 (-7). Over the final ten holes of my round, I hit every fairway and every green. It was very solid, and it felt great. 

It is really nice to see that my hard work carries over and easily trumps one morning of feeling a little bit out of whack. I have continued to follow my Process Goals despite the busyness of the past few weeks, and the value of that showed in how quickly I was able to get things feeling good again after a bad morning on Wednesday. I'm going to continue to follow my plan, and I know that I'll keep moving in a great direction. 

My game is good, and I know that I can deliver the kind of performance that I gave in round one over the next three days as well. It all comes down to being prepared, having a smart plan on every shot, and trusting it one shot at a time. Good things are coming. Keep it here for more. Thank you for following!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

68, 68, 68, 68, 68, 67

The title of this blog post represents the six scores I posted during five days of competition in Dallas over the past week. Another appropriate title for this post would have been an oxymoronic phrase such as "positive frustration" or "encouraging disappointment." I posted four consecutive 68's in the Web.com Tour's Greater Dallas Open and finished tied for 12th. I followed that effort with rounds of 68 and 67 on Monday in U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying, but finished the day as the second alternate from my qualifying site, so it is highly unlikely that I will compete in this year's Championship.  I'm clearly playing well, and I definitely feel much more positive and encouraging energy than frustration or disappointment  from my time in Dallas. 

I was very pleased with my play for the most part in the Web.com Tour event. I opened the tournament with two solid rounds on Thursday and Friday. I shot 68 every day, but the two weekend 68's were miles apart in terms of my performance. In great scoring conditions on Saturday, I holed a wedge shot on the opening hole for an eagle and reached -4 through six holes before scuffling a little bit and playing the final 12 holes in even par. On Sunday, I again started quickly, but after two bogeys late in my opening nine, I played beautifully in some tougher conditions and shot three under par on the final nine holes of the tournament. My fourth consecutive 68 moved me up the leaderboard a little bit and I finished tied for 12th. I want more than that, but with the exception of the final twelve holes on Saturday, I am very pleased with the way I played in the event. 

The real heart breaker came Monday in U.S. Open Qualifying. I wasn't as consistent as I like to be, but I had stretches of beautiful golf on a very nice and fairly demanding course in Dallas. I shot another 68 (-2, this time) in the first 18 holes. That score had me outside the qualifying score after the first round, but I was in good position. I birdied four of the first six holes in the afternoon round and felt like I had something special going. A few sloppy tee shots and one particularly disappointing lag putt led to a couple of costly bogies on my closing nine holes, including the 36th hole, and my second-round 67 left me out by a single shot on a spot in our national championship. It is a shame that I didn't finish the long day better, and it hurt pretty badly to come up agonizingly short in U.S. Open Qualifying yet again, but I still posted two nice rounds on a great golf course. 

Clearly I am playing well, and I'm feeling very good about that. I'm currently in Cleveland where I tee off at 7:10 on Thursday morning to begin the Web.com Tour's Rust-Oleum Championship. The long day on Monday combined with travel on Tuesday and weather problems shortening the Pro-Am on Wenesday have definitely combined to negatively affect my preparation, but I can tell that I really like the course here, and I know that my game is in solid shape. I'm going to have a great week! Keep it here for great (and more frequent) updates moving forward! Thank you for following me!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Greater Dallas Open Preview

The Web.com Tour is visiting a new venue this week for the debut of the Greater Dallas Open. The golf course is called The Lakes at Castle Hills, and, despite being quite literally under water just five days ago, it is definitely a worthy track for the competition. The course is wide open for the most part but does feature some nice bunkering and challenging green complexes. It is definitely not the type of course that I would pinpoint as directly suiting my strengths, but I like it a lot and am confident that I will compete well. 

My preparation for this week's event has honestly not been great. I have had a couple of very nice range sessions but didn't play particularly well in my practice round or the pro-am. I also have not put in my normal work on the practice green, YET. Still, I know that overall, my work has been very good lately, and I am excited to tee it up in another tournament. Also, I have a late tee time on Thursday, which will allow me to have some productive preparation in the morning. I will be ready!

Regardless of my physical state, I am going to be on point mentally this week. I am going to stay committed to each shot and stay present over every one of them. It's going to be a good tournament. 

Thank you for following and keep it here for reports after the rounds!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Wrap-up from Raleigh

I didn't have my good stuff in Raleigh. I drove the ball erratically, and that made it difficult for me to ever maintain much of a run. That's not to say I didn't have flashes of brilliance, but at the end of the week, I made too many mistakes to have a good finish. I ended up with rounds of 67, 71, 68, and 69 for a nine-under-par total and a tie for 30th place. I'll share some stories from the week, and then talk about what I need to do moving forward. 

GUNS A'BLAZING ON SATURDAY
They call Saturday "moving day," and after a disappointing round in great conditions on Friday, I came out ready to move in round three. I birdied the opening hole, narrowly missed birdie opportunities on the next two holes, and then went birdie-birdie-par-birdie-eagle on holes four through eight. The eagle was a hole-out from 132 yards. It was exciting stuff!

WOEFUL SECOND-NINE PERFORMANCES
I was a combined 12 under par on my opening nine holes during the four tournament rounds. I started on number 10 and opened the tournament with a four-under-par 31 on Thursday, shot six under par on the front nine on Saturday, and overcame a rocky start to shoot two under par on the front nine on Sunday. My second nine performances included three days at even par and a three-over-par 38 on the back nine on Saturday. I don't necessarily think my poor second half performances indicate any kind of large problem, but it certainly was a frustrating characteristic of the past week. 

STRESS ON SATURDAY; FUN ON SUNDAY
After my hot start on Saturday, I had visions of a very low round, and I could taste the sensation of being in contention for a win coming down the stretch. I know better than to let those kind of thoughts into my head over golf shots, but I was definitely thinking about grand things between shots. When some wayward shots and disappointing putts started to ruin my vision, I really took it hard. I felt like I was letting a lot slip away, and it was not a fun feeling. I approached Sunday with a renewed commitment to playing one shot at a time and enjoying myself, and I'm very pleased with my attitude in the final round. I was still too erratic to post a great score, but I felt like I was in a good state of mind over every shot.

STILL FOLLOWING THE PROCESS
I had a great week of work in Raleigh. I was on pace through Friday to complete my full weeks of practice and fitness. I lightened up on the workouts over the weekend, so I ended completing my Full Practice Schedule and Light Fitness Routine, but given the nature of the long, hot week, it was a very solid effort. I know that achieving my Process Goals will keep me on track to accomplishing my Outcome Goals, so I am proud of that work.

LESSONS MOVING FORWARD
The first take-away point from the week in Raleigh is that I need to continue improving. I always know that, but it was particularly clear after this week. My swing is feeling good, but I definitely have a long way to go to achieve the consistency and control for which I strive. I also need to continue to improve my mentality on the course. My early success this year has definitely gotten me into a winning mindset, which is a very good thing, but I find myself thinking ahead a bit too much on the course right now. I'm thinking of results and the money list when I know that focus on each shot is the only way to achieve what I want. My mental strategy is simple--stay in the present and focus one shot at a time--and I need to trust it when I'm on the course in tournament play. 

I don't have to wait long to get back in action. Alicia and I drove home from Raleigh last night, and we fly to Texas this evening for the Web.com Tour's new event, the Greater Dallas Open, this week. I'm excited to keep working and improving. I know that more great things are coming. Thank you for following and for your support. Keep it here for reports from Dallas. 

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...