Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ready in Utah

Utah sure is a beautiful place. The mountians have me feeling at home, and I have really enjoyed two days of great preparation for the Tour's Utah Championship. Though this is a long-time event on the tour, it is being hosted at a new site this year. The course is called Thanksgiving Point. It is a nice track and a good test. I feel very good about the work that I have put in lately, and I am ready heading into the event. I am going to trust my process and enjoy myself out in the beautiful setting this week. It is going to be a great tournament. Thank you for following me, and keep it here for updates after the rounds!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Great Week of Work at Home + A Bittersweet Change

I am currently traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah, to get back to work on my goals on the Tour. I feel great about my game as the Tour heads into a stretch of five consecutive tournaments to end its regular season. This past week at home was exactly what I needed it to be--thoroughly restful and extremely productive. There was one sad element to my time at home, too, but even that has turned into a positive, and I leave feeling motivated, refreshed, confident and happy. I'm excited to have a great finish to the Tour season. 

My Outcome Goals of winning two more Tour events and finishing the season (including the four "Finals" events) as number one on the money list are well within my reach. In reality, however, my focus is to keep completing my Process Goals. I have control over my preparation, and it is a strong commitment to my Process Goals that will allow me to reach the Outcome Goals I have set. For the third time in the last four weeks, I completed both my Full Fitness Routine and Full Practice Schedule while at home. It is such a great feeling for me to do that, and I know that it is great for my golf game. This week in Utah will mark the final week of the sixth five-week segment of the year for my Process Goals. Because of the great work I have done over the past four weeks, I owe only Light Fitness and Light Practice Schedules this week to complete all of my Process Goals for this segment. I will get that done, and I know that completing my Process Goals gives me a great chance to succeed on the course. 

I truly do feel as excited and motivated as ever as I head back out, but this week, something is different. My beautiful and trusty caddie isn't with me. Alicia has been struggling this year with bouts of dizziness and low energy that have made her feel sick at times. It has been particularly bad a few weeks, and the worst was our most recent tournament in Alabama. She is so tough that she hasn't wanted to talk about not feeling well all year, but it got to a point in Alabama where we knew something was wrong, and we couldn't ignore it. Her energy level was dangerously low, and she felt dizzy to the point of nausea. She has been a remarkable stud to not only carry my bag all year, but stay in my rounds mentally enough to provide genuinely helpful insights while on the course. But after feeling, in her words, "just yucky" for most of the year, we are going to quit pretending it's okay and try to find some answers. We visited three different doctors during our week off, and Alicia is going to stay home and undergo a couple of tests over the next ten days. We are excited to get some answers, and super-excited about the prospect of her feeling much better soon. By the way, in case anyone is worried about Alicia's ambition level... Within twelve hours of our decision that she should no longer caddie full-time, she had already requested more responsibility with the organization for which she works at the University of Tennessee AND agreed to teach her first class for the University of Missouri's online school. Professor Alicia H. Malnati, Ph.D. is confident that she'll be getting her energy back soon! Alicia can still do all of her work from the road and we plan to continue traveling together after her next ten days home in Tennessee. I will definitely miss having her with me on the course every week, but I'm actually quite happy with our decision and very excited for her to feel better and join me on the road next week in Kansas City. 

I'm also pumped to re-unite with my caddie, Brandon Winton. Brando and I already have one win together, and I'm ready to team up and get after some more! Brandon told me earlier this year that one of his career goals is to be a part of a victorious Ryder Cup team. I'm ready to get to work towards that! 

One last note... Zach Johnson won The Open Championship at St. Andrews. He won because he knows his strengths, practices his strengths, believes in his strengths, and trusts his strengths on the golf course. He won because he works really hard AND intelligently. He won because he doesn't care what other players can do--he just takes care of his business. This is inspirational to me because Zach Johnson doesn't do anything that I can't do; he just does it all a little bit better. I'll get there, though, and I honestly believe that. 

I'm feeling great, and I'm pumped to get back to work. Keep it here for updates from Salt Lake City, and thank you for following me!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Barbasol Championship Wrap-Up

I am disappointed with my performance at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship this past week in Opelika, Alabama. As good as my game felt going into the week, I expected to contend in the tournament. Instead, rounds of 70 and 73 sent me home early. I was in the right place mentally and felt completely comfortable on the course, and I honestly don't feel badly about the way I played, but I definitely am not happy with the scores I posted or the final results. My putter cost me a lot of shots in the opening round, and in round two, I hit a few erratic drives at meaningful times and could never get anything going. It didn't feel like anything was so far off that I should have missed the cut, but no matter how well I executed, it seemed that everything was just a tiny bit off this past week. It all has me feeling very disappointed about my time in Alabama, but I am not discouraged in the least moving forward. 

I know that I always need to be improving, and this past week enforced that, but I still feel like I am ready to tee it up and win on any tour right now. With that said, I am very thankful to have a week off and to spend some much-needed time at home. I will rest and recharge while also putting in some great work on my game. I will be ready to compete for wins when I hit the road for another stretch on the Tour next Monday. 

My work has continued to be good. I actually gave myself the weekend off from practice and used my "no practice requirements" week that is built into my Process Goals this past week. I did grind out a Light Fitness Routine and am more than on track to complete all of my Process Goals for this segment. I'm excited to have a great week of work here at home. 

All is good! My Outcome Goals are still very much within reach, and I am feeling great. There are nine remaining Tour events on this year's schedule--five regular season events and four Finals events. I definitely believe that I can achieve my goals of winning two more (at least!) tournaments and finishing the year as number one on the money list. 

I am pumped! Thank you for believing in me and following my career. Great stuff is coming. Keep it here for an update or two from a great week at home!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Change of Plans; Great Opportunity

Alicia and I traveled to San Francisco on Monday morning to begin preparations for this week's Tour event at the TPC Stonebrae. When we arrived, however, I got a call from the PGA Tour office telling me that I was in the field for the Barbasol Championship in Opelika, Alabama. The Barbasol is a brand new Tour event held opposite the British Open. My 176th place finish on last year's Fed-Ex Cup list does not offer me PGA Tour membership, but it does grant me access to PGA Tour events in a "field-filling" category. Apparently the Barbasol field needed players, so I got a call. When we first got the call, my instinct was to stay in California and continue my good play on the Tour. Alicia quickly encouraged me to look at flights, though. Her logic was really good. She said, "you are playing well enough to win. Let's go win a Tour event!" I couldn't argue with that, and we found a flight that could get us to the Southeast in time for a practice round, so we pulled an audible. I will be competing on the PGA Tour this week, and just like Alicia said, I'm going to give myself a chance to win! 

I'm definitely a little bit worn out from the sudden change in plans and extra travel, but I have this Wednesday off, so I'll rest. I'll be ready to play when Thursday morning rolls around. I'm determined to have a solid week and stay committed to the plan which has brought me success this year. I'm going to prepare well, have a great attitude on every shot, and believe that I can win the tournament. I'm excited for this opportunity. 

Thank you for following me, and keep it here for updates from the Barbasol Championship! 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Boise Wrap-Up

I had a great week in Boise. I posted a final-round 67 (-4) to finish the week at 18 under par and in a tie for seventh place. As always, I can remember some mistakes and missed opportunities that were costly, but a top ten finish is a good accomplishment and a nice indicator that my game is strong. I am feeling great as we travel on to the next stop on the Tour this week. 

Sunday was a really good day for me in Boise. I had played poorly in the third round and was particularly disappointed with my mindset that day. I bounced back nicely and had a great attitude on Sunday. I did some upsetting things in the final round (three-putted the fifth, airmailed the green with a wedge on the ninth, missed the fairway wildly on the eleventh), but I never let those mistakes rattle me. I stayed positive and recovered well on all occasions. The one mistake that still stings a little bit is my poor tee shot on the easily-reachable par-five 16th hole. I was feeling great, but I was poorly committed to that tee shot. I missed it badly to the left and was stuck in a prison of thick trees. I tried to play wisely, but I stayed in the rough for my next three shots and ended up with a bogey on the hole. That one was costly, and it definitely hurts a little bit, but it doesn't overshadow a great week or a great effort on Sunday. I am proud of the way took control of my thoughts on the final day and played a solid round. 

In addition to having a good week on the course, I put in tremendous work as well. For the second consecutive week, I completed my Full Fitness Routine and my Full Practice Schedule. I feel such a powerful sense of accomplishment from getting all of my work done, and that feeling translates into confidence on the course. I know that achieving my Process  Goals will get me to my Outcome Goals, so I am very focused on getting them done. 

We are currently in route to San Francisco for this week's Tour event at the TPC Stonebrae. I've never been to this course before, but I am excited to put in some good preparation and have another great week. Keep it here for updates from the Bay Area!

Thank you for following and caring about my career!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Boise Rounds 1, 2, & 3

I need a nice cathartic post here to let out some emotions following my third round. After opening the tournament with rounds of 66 (-5) and 62 (-9), I played erratically on Saturday and allowed my thoughts to spiral a bit out on the course. At the end of the day, I held it together well enough to post an even-par round of 71, but I feel like I hurt myself with some negative thinking and by applying too much pressure. The news is obviously not all bad, but I definitely need to give myself a little refresher on my mental game. 

Let's start with some good news. I played beautifully on Thursday and Friday. A six-birdie, one-bogey effort on Thursday was highlighted by great iron play and some solid putting. I missed just one green on Thursday. In Friday's round, I was "on" in all aspects of my game. I drove it beautifully on Friday, and I really putted well. I birdied seven of my first nine holes, to make the turn in 28! That was cool! I let a couple of birdie opportunities get away from me on my second nine, but I really played nicely all day. I definitely entertained the thought of a score in the 50's, but I never let it become too big of a distraction in my mind. I actually ended my round on Friday with a very sloppy drive on the ninth (my 18th) hole, but I maintained a great attitude, and after pitching out of the trees, I got up-and-down from 80 yards to finish off the bogey-free round. My game was really clicking in rounds one and two, and it felt great. 

I continued to feel great heading into round three, and I started fairly solidly. I parred the reachable par-five second hole, but came back with a nice birdie on the third. Then, for the first time in quite a while, I three-putted for a bogey on the par-three fourth hole, and though I was displeased with that, I felt okay mentally. In fact, I went on to roll in a nice birdie putt on the next hole, and I thought that would get me going. I gave myself great birdie putts on holes six through eight, but converted none of them. During that stretch, I think I began to get impatient. I yanked my drive well left of the ninth fairway into some thick trees. I saved a nice par, but I carried some disappointment with my tee shot away from that hole. I proceeded to miss every fairway but two for the remainder of the round. I struggled on the greens as well. I was rattled. I felt desperate to get something going, and I pressed. My iron and wedge play held up well, but I was too erratic off the tee and too uptight on the greens to get anything out of my game. I let myself down mentally, and that stinks. 

Now it's time to forgive myself and move forward. Today's round was another learning experience for me, and I think I have some quality thoughts as to how I can improve. Here's what I'm thinking. I feel disappointed when I hit poor shots or fail to make putts that I believe I can make. I justify that feeling of disappointment by telling myself that I work really hard and therefore shouldn't hit poor shots--especially in meaningful situations. That's all okay, but I end up letting the disappointment I feel after hitting a bad shot or putt linger in my mind for too long. Without me realizing it, that lingering disappointment affects my ability to do my job. So, I have a different way to think about this situation. The reason that I work really hard on my game is not so that I will never hit poor shots. I work really hard on my game so that I know I am prepared to handle any challenges that come my way. I will always hit occasional disappointing shots, but because of the hard work I put into my game, I am prepared to recover and still get good results overall. So, moving forward, when I hit poor shots, I'm going to let myself feel the disappointment in that moment, but as I start walking to the next shot, I'm going to be prepared to let my hard work shine. 

This thought is very consistent with the pre-shot catch phrase Alicia and I came up with last week in Canada: Plan, Trust, Execute, No-worries. Regardless of what has preceded it, in the moment that I'm going to hit a shot, I need to have a good plan, believe in the plan and myself, and execute fearlessly. There is no room in that for lingering disappointment, doubt, or pressure. I'm ready to go play with a better mindset! 

There's more good news. I'm still 14 under par through three rounds and in eighth place in this tournament with one round to go. This golf course has 18 birdie holes, and I'm going to go play them one shot at a time tomorrow with a great attitude. As I often say, it's time to get after it!

Thank you for following me and keep it here for a final-round report and wrap-up from a great week in Boise. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Nova Scotia Wrap-Up

My expectations are high. I walked off the course after the final round of the Nova Scotia Open feeling very disappointed. When I look back on the week, however, I can definitely see that it was actually a very positive tournament. I posted nine under par for the week and finished tied for 16th place. I did a lot of things extremely well, but my expectation is to win golf tournaments, and at the end of my round on Sunday, I felt like I had missed a chance to do that. 

So, what went wrong? (Truthfully, not a lot.) Most glaringly, I finished my third round with a triple bogey on the 18th. I failed to fully commit to my tee shot, and I missed in the left rough. From there, I probably tried to do too much when I played a hybrid from a thick lie with more than 200 yards to the green. The rough grabbed my club head and I hit a low-left diver into thick trees well short and left of the green. One penalty shot and four swings later, I closed my round with a tough-to-swallow seven on the par four. With the exception of the blunders on that hole, the only other regret I have from the week in Canada is trying too hard over some shots. I find myself getting a little too results-oriented and thinking of the outcome (worrying) rather than focusing on the process (planning). It is a good thing for me to want and expect to win, but when it is time to hit shots, my mind needs to be focused on having a good plan and trusting it. Worrying about the outcome during shots causes me to be tense and to make poor decisions. I feel like that happened to some degree over the weekend in Nova Scotia. 

So, what did I do well? (Quite a bit!) There were a lot of very encouraging things from the tournament. First of all, I truly believed that I was in contention and thought I could win up until my birdie try stayed just high of the cup on the 71st hole. It is fun and extremely valuable for my growth to be in the hunt. Even better news is that while in the hunt, my game was good. I have no idea what my best-ever total for greens in regulation is, but I hit 60 of 72 for the week in Canada. I felt like I was very in control with my irons and wedges. I was not thrilled with the way I putted, but I am very proud of the fact that I had no three putts for the week on challenging putting surfaces. I feel like my flawed, results-oriented thinking pattern affects me most on the greens, and it did hamper my ability to get hot with the mid-range birdie putts, but I was extremely solid from short range and with my pace on the long ones. Overall, I'm pleased with all areas of my game. I need to continue to get better, but I feel like I'm heading in the right direction. 

My trusty caddie, Alicia, and I came up with a little four-word catch phrase to summarize the mental process I want to go through over my shots. It goes like this: Plan, Trust, Execute, No-Worries. It is so simple, but that is what I need to do over each and every shot. Have a plan. Trust that it will work. Execute the plan. Do not worry about the results. 

The thing that allows me to trust that my plan will work is my preparation. The practice and work that I do to prepare for tournament situations is paramount to my success. In Nova Scotia, I had one of the very best weeks of work that I can ever remember. I completed my Full Fitness Routine and my Full Practice Schedule. It was a great way to start the sixth five-week segment of the year for my Process Goals. I'm excited to keep doing great work so that I can feel prepared when I'm coming down the stretch with a chance to win golf tournaments. 

I don't have to wait long for that opportunity. Alicia and I have spent the entire day (literally, we began at 3:00 AM in the Atlantic Time Zone) traveling to Boise for this week's event on the Tour. We are excited to get settled in here and get back to work! 

Thank you for following and keeping up with me. I really appreciate all the support I receive. Keep it here for updates from Boise! 

And enjoy a few pictures from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Nova Scotia Round 1

My 6:50 tee time on Friday morning necessitates a very short post here because it is time to go to sleep! 

I played beautifully in the first round of the Nova Scotia Open. My game had felt a bit off all week leading up to the start, but I was determined to have a good attitude and a great plan for every shot. I did just that, and I executed quite nicely as well. I had a bit of a rough stretch off the tee during my second nine holes on Thursday, but overall, I was very pleased with all aspects of my game. I birdied the ninth my--my final hole in round one--to polish off an opening-round 65 (-6).

I'm excited to keep getting better throughout the tournament. The plan will remain the same. I'm going to have a smart plan on every shot and maintain a great attitude. It's going to be a good week!

Thank you for following me, and keep it here for more post-round reports!

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...