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. 

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