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!

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