Monday, October 26, 2015

Baby Steps in Las Vegas

I finished my week in Las Vegas with a disappointing final round. I was in the middle of a bunched leaderboard beginning the day on Sunday and had a chance to make a very positive move with a solid round. Instead, I had a terrible start and was five over par through seven holes. I fought back and finished on a high note with birdies on the 71st and 72nd holes of the tournament, but the damage had been done. I ended up tied for 56th place after rounds of 70, 67, 71, and 73 for a three-under-par total. It was definitely a very disappointing finish, but it was a great week overall. 

It is certainly not my goal to make cuts, and, truthfully, I don't like talking or even thinking about making the cut. The reality, however, is that I had missed the cut in my last four tournaments, and when my ball disappeared in the left rough on the 11th hole on Friday, I had to use my mental game and be tough. I began the day on Friday on the outside of the projected cut-line, but I felt good and was confident I would play well. I overcame an early bogey with three front-nine birdies and was feeling good as I made the turn. I birdied the tenth hole as well, and instead of thinking of the cut-line, I was focused on climbing the learderboard. Then, I pulled my drive just a few yards left of the fairway on the 11th hole. I thought at worst I would have to play a low shot around some sparse trees and run it up to the front of the green. Instead, we searched for five minutes and never found my golf ball. It was very strange, and it definitely rattled me. I took my stroke-and-distance penalty and made a double-bogey six on the hole. I had thoughts of panic, but then I remembered that I control my thoughts. I got back into the moment, and executed beautifully down the stretch. I birdied three of the final seven holes after my lost ball on 11 and posted a second-round 67 to position myself nicely in the middle of the field heading into the weekend. Again, I don't like thinking about the cut, and making the cut is not one of my goals, but I was very proud of the way I overcame the tough break early in my back nine on Friday and responded with some solid golf to get to the weekend.

That was my baby step in Las Vegas. I overcame some adversity, staired down my cut anxiety, and delivered a good Friday performance. I still have some big steps to make, though. I am struggling off the tee box. Through six rounds of this young PGA Tour season, I have hit just 30 of 84 fairways. That's not a typo or poor math--just poor driving of the golf ball. Now, in my defense, I'm getting closer and I did hit a lot of "good drives" in Vegas that missed the fairways, but those numbers are not even close to good enough, and they definitely reveal a problem. I'm not looking at them and feeling discouraged, however. I know that I will drive the ball well, and the way I see it, I am currently four under par for the year while hitting less than 36% of my fairways. I'm going to make strong strides in that department, and my results will improve dramatically. 

I'm currently heading home for one week off. I can't believe it, but I'm actually going to pass on the opportunity to go watch my Royals in person as they kick off the World Series. I need to rest and regroup before Alicia and I head out for a final three-week run of tournament play in 2015. I'm going to relax a little bit, get in some quality work on my golf game, cheer for my Royals from afar, post on here about my goals for the 2015-2016 season, and be ready to finish the golfing year on a high note when Alicia and I leave on Sunday for a three-tournament trip starting in Jackson, MS. 

Thank you for following and believing in me. I'm a broken record, I know, but great things are coming. Please keep it here for an off-week report and for more details about my 2015-2016 goals. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Getting Ready in Vegas

I am excited to write a good post detailing my goals for the 2015-2016 Season. I have made some changes and am excited to already be working on them. I am going to hold off and share those in a post next week, though. Right now, I am focused on having a great week and a good tournament at the Shriners Hospitals Open in Las Vegas. 

I am really happy with the work that I have put in so far this week. After struggling badly off the tee last week in Napa, the long clubs have been a major focus of my practice, and I feel like I've made a great deal of progress. I know that accuracy off the tee is one of my strengths, and I'm ready to drive the ball great!

I have had really good practice sessions here in Vegas, and yesterday afternoon I played a little practice round match with some buddies and felt very sharp out on the course. I enjoy to have some kind of match in a practice round because I like the focus that it helps me bring into my shots. I had a little bit of an epiphany this morning, though. The effort and focus that I bring during a practice round match is pretty close to the effort level that I should give during tournament rounds. I often find myself tyring too hard during the competition rounds. Focus isn't something I need to force; it occurs naturally when I go through my routine well. In tournament rounds, I often find myself trying too hard to focus, and that can cause me to feel anxiety. During the tournament rounds, I need to be disciplined enough to be in the present and go through my routine on every shot, but once I do that, I also need to relax and enjoy playing the GAME! 

That is my commitment this week. I am going to continue to work hard and prepare well, and then I am going to enjoy myself on the course. I will have the discipline to stay in the present and go through my routine on each and every shot, but when it is time to start my swing, I am going to be relaxed and confident! 

I'm excited to continue a great week and have a good tournament here in Las Vegas. Thank you for following me and please keep it here for updates throughout the event! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Excited and Bummed after Round Two

I'm not going to be playing this weekend at the Fry' Open in Napa, California, and that stinks. I gave it a heck of a run on Friday, though! A lot of the same problems that plagued me during round one lingered into the second day, but I did a lot things well and made it very interesting right down to the final hole Friday evening. I played the last 11 holes in four under par to post a second-round 69 (-3) and reach one under par for the tournament. Unfortunately, the cut fell at two under par. I was in the final group, so I knew I needed to eagle the last hole to make the cut, and my wedge shot from 93 yards looked as though it might have a chance before settling some four feet away from the hole. At that point, I knew I would have the weekend off, but I proudly knocked in the putt to break 70, and I feel great about the effort I gave to get back into the tournament.

I definitely need to improve my play off the tee dramatically. I hit just 10 of 28 fairways for my two rounds in the tournament. That is not good. My swing feels pretty good, and I'm happy with the way that I am putting the club on the ball, but I've got to get it pointing towards my target a little better. I need to do it a lot better, actually. My tee shots were way way off on Thursday, and, though they were closer to the fairway on Friday, I still felt out of control. I showed some really positive signs with my irons and wedges, and I was fairly solid with the putter, too. I feel like I could be in contention in the tournament with even a mediocre driving performance. I'm going to work on it, and I'll be ready to play next week. 

Despite my early exit from the tournament, I am very encouraged by much of what happened this week. I feel great about the work I put into preparing for the event, and I am very pleased with my mental game. I was composed and in the moment on nearly every shot. I was definitely a little bit jittery at times, but I used my routine well and forced myself to stay in the present. I didn't get the results that I want from this event, but it was still a step in a good direction. 

I'm bummed to be done with this tournament, but I'm excited overall! Thank you for following me and keep it here for a "what's next" report over the weekend. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Optimism after Round 1

Not a lot looks very good from the stat sheet on my opening round at the Fry' Open. I hit just four of fourteen fairways and just eight of the eighteen greens. A made four bogies and just two birdies in ideal scoring conditions. On a day when nearly thirty players shot 68 or better, I posted an opening-round 74. Yuck. That stuff is the bad news. There is good news, however. I was proud of where I was mentally in the first round. I committed to my routine nicely and was in the moment over each shot. Some positive signs from game were that I actually hit the ball very solidly and putted well. When I find my groove and start hitting the ball straight again, I'm going to be in great shape! I feel confident that the work I am doing is good, and I am going to continue to trust it. 

With that said, things are definitely a little bit off right now. I'm driving the ball crookedly and the majority of my longer shots are just starting and staying off-line. My swing feels good, and my contact with the ball is pure, so I'm confident that I can get things grooving again. I had a nice practice session after my round on Thursday, and I will head into my Friday afternoon tee time for round two expecting to play well. I actually holed some nice putts to save pars on Thursday, so I am going to give myself those putts for birdies instead of pars the rest of the week! I really am feeling good; I just need to get things clicking. 

Alicia had a great line for me when we were talking after my round. She said, "You can do this. Go get yourself a top-five finish this week." It'll definitely take some big improvement to get that done, but I really feel like I am close to playing well. I'm going to get out there Friday and start making progress towards Alicia's command. 

I'm definitely not off to the start that I wanted here in Napa, but I'm not as far off as the scores indicate. My mind is in a great position, I'm starting to feel some confidence with the putter, and I'm ready to clean up the looseness in my long game. Thank you for following me and keep it here for another report after round two!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ready to Get the PGA Tour Season Started

Just as the title of this post says, I am ready to get the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season started. I am ready in many ways. Physically, I definitely feel prepared. My body feels great, and my golf game does, too. In terms of rest and energy level, I feel fully charged. Mentally, I am in a great place. I had a fantastic off-season last week, and one of my off-season tasks was establishing a more consistent schedule of talking with my mental coach, Dr. Rick McGuire. He and I have had two great talks since the middle of last week, and I feel like my mind is ready to kick off this new year. I am ready to play well. 

I have spent a good bit of time this week talking and thinking about my goals for this season. I published a picture of my Goal Board in a post on Sunday night. Those are my Outcome Goals for this season. I stand by those goals, and think they are very good and attainable outcomes, but I kind of wish I hadn't been so hasty in publishing them. That's not to say that I regret making them public in any way, it's just that I want my focus to be far away from those outcome goals. I will discuss in more detail what I mean by this in a later post, but just know that I have a slightly different structure to my goals this year and a couple of brand new goals as well. I am excited about them, and I think they will help guide my practice and my play in a good direction. I will discuss all this in more detail soon. 

The one thing that I will talk about specifically right now on the eve of my first tournament round of the season is a new category of goals that Coach McGuire and I discussed this week. He asked me to come up with one to three "Personal Goals." These are statements about my life that I want to embody everyday. After thinking about it for a while, I came up with two Personal Goals.

1.) I Choose to Be Happy
2.) I Choose to Share Happiness and Good Regardless of My Circumstances

My life is great, and I'm doing exactly what I love to do. If I make a birdie or a bogey; If I win or I miss a cut, I am in a great place in my life. I want to choose happiness and choose to share that happiness with others regardless of my circumstances at any given moment. That is powerful stuff. 

Lastly, I am going to commit to playing golf in the moment tomorrow, this week, and this whole season. I know from my rookie year on the PGA Tour that there are a lot thoughts and big distractions that can spiral in a player's head at this level, but I am committed to being focused on the shot at hand when it's time to hit a golf shot. I have created an anchor, something to pull me back into the present when my mind starts wondering, and I will have it in my pocket during every round I play this year. I have trained too hard mentally and physically to let the distractions beat me, and I'm not going to let that happen. I will be in the moment over all of my shots this year, and that is an exciting thought. 

I have put a lot of hard work into this so that I can go have fun and enjoy my dream job. My second year on the PGA Tour begins tomorrow. It's going to be a great one, and there will be many many more to follow. 

Thank you very much for cheering for me! Great stuff is coming. Keep it here for reports from the week!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Great "Off-Season"

Just for the record, I actually wrote a really good post on my first flight today, but I lost it in the transitioning of my phone back into cellular mode, so now I'm just going with the bullet points format! 

Alicia and I really did a nice job of making the last seven days feel like a real off-season. 

I looked back on the year and thought about what worked and what didn't. Here's what I came up with:

A lot of what I did worked! I'm proud of the plan that I had and my commitment to it. I improved in almost every area of my game. 

The two areas that stand out to me as needing improvement are resting and putting. I'm constantly going 100 miles per hour and by the end of the season, I was worn out. I love what I do and love to work hard at it, but overtraining can eventually become counterproductive. To address this, I'm going to build a few more light weeks and off weeks into my practice schedule and be intentional about resting on Wednesday mornings during tournament weeks. With regards to my putting, I believe that my practice routine became a little stale this year. My putting felt great in practice all year, but my performance on the course wasn't good over the second half of the year. I'm not going to make any drastic changes, but I am going to mix a couple of new drills into my putting practice repertoire. 

For the most part, I really liked what I did during the 2015 Tour season, and I want to keep doing it moving forward. With a few modifications in key areas, I'm confident that I will thrive. 

Alicia and I are traveling today to kick off the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season in Napa, California. I'm currently finalizing my Process Goals for this new season, but my Outcome Goals are ready, and I am ready to get after them! 
It's go time! Thank you for following me and believing in me. Keep it here for reports from Napa--including my all-important Process Goals!

Monday, October 5, 2015

2015 Tour Season Wrap-Up

I'll start with just a quick update from the last event. I posted rounds of 73, 71 (+4 total) and missed the cut by four shots at the Tour Championship last week. I actually felt great about my iron play, and I started to drive the ball much better on Friday, but erratic play off the tee on Thursday and a very poor putting performance doomed me in what could be my last Tour event ever. It certainly stinks to finish the season in a rough patch and to end on a missed cut, but I am feeling really good about my game. 

As I hinted above, I did not have the closing stretch that I wanted to the year. If you include the one PGA Tour that I got into back in mid-July, I collected just one top-ten finish over my final ten events and I missed six cuts in that stretch. Those numbers sound painful, and I really do not like them, but I think that stretch of golf could fall under the cliche "two steps forward and one step back." The off-season work that I did preceding the 2015 Tour season definitely yielded two giant steps forward for me, and as I continue to improve, I can accept taking one step back. I know that the work I am doing will continue to produce great strides forward, so I am at peace with the temporary step backwards. 

It is a shame to end the season on a down note, but I can assure you that my memories from the 2015 Tour season will be great ones. Let me review what I accomplished this year. I checked off two of my three Outcome Goals: 

1) I have earned my PGA Tour Card for the 2015-2016 season.

2) I won a tournament in thrilling fashion with birdies on the final three holes to claim the biggest event of the Tour's regular season. 

I could stop there it would clearly be a successful year, but there is much more about which to be excited. I set two statistical goals for the season. I wanted to average greater than 66% of Greens in Regulation. The Tour statistics say I averaged more than 70%. According my my records, which are more accurate, I was actually at 67.005% for the season, but I am very strict and don't count any fringes as a Green in Regulation even if it was a great shot and close to the hole. In any event, that was mission accomplished for the year, and I feel like I am just at the tip of the iceburg in terms of where my ball-striking is heading. The other statistical goal I set was to have a par-five scoring average of less than 4.6. I ended up at 4.66 for the year, so I came up short of that goal, but I am so pleased with the way my driving of the ball and wedge play are continuing to improve. As those two areas keep getting better, I am confident that I will be able to feast on the par-fives moving forward. My game is continuing to evolve and improve, and my accomplishments from this year's Tour season are certainly strong evidence that I am on a great path. 

The most important thing (other than my PGA Tour Card, of course!) that I will carry from the 2015 Tour season into the future is a commitment to and belief in the value of my Process Goals. I know that "Process Goals," "Practice Schedule," and "Fitness Routine" are things that I talk about way too much on my blog, and I know that they are boring concepts compared to making birdies on Sundays to win tournaments. I truly believe, however, that having focused, goal-oriented preparation is the single most important element of my success. As I look back over my practice journal from this season, I can see that I was very disciplined in my work. I am proud of the dedication that I showed to my Process Goals, and I am excited to carry that commitment with me to the PGA Tour.

The 2015 Tour season is over. It was a great one! Now, it's my one-week off-season to get ready for the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season, which begins next week in Napa, California. It is time to regroup, recharge, and get ready to go. In the next few days, I will come up with new goals for the new season, and I'm really excited about that. Keep it here to see what I want to accomplish over the next twelve months and the plan that I will follow to get it done. 

Thank you very much for following me, supporting me, and believing in me on this journey! Great things are coming!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ready to Turn It Around

I am in a bit of a slump. I still feel really good about the work I am doing and the general state of my game, but I am shooting lousy scores. I let it get me down a little bit in the first round. After opening the tournament with a two-birdie, no bogey front nine, I struggled on my back nine and posted an opening round 73 (+3). It felt bad to let the round get away from me on the back nine, and I was feeling pretty bummed into the evening, but then I remembered how much progress I have made lately. Golf is a hard game, and there will always be rough stretches, but overall, I am still improving. That is really exciting. I am ready to go out there tomorrow and continue getting better. I really do believe that I am close to playing great golf, and tomorrow's round just might be the turning point. Either way, I am still very encouraged and know that I am heading in the right direction. Thank you for following me and keep it here for another report after round 2!

Quick Catch-Up + A Cool Thought for This Week

I am long overdue for an update on here, but I'm not going to give a very thorough one this morning. Here's the over-arching picture. I played with a great attitude and felt good all week in Columbus, Ohio, last week, but I posted scores of 76 and 75 to miss the cut. It is always disappointing for me to miss a cut, but I honestly felt great about many aspects of my performance. I traveled to Jacksonville, Florida, for this week's Tour Championship feeling very good. My preparation for this week's event has actually been a little scattered and hasn't felt all that great, but I know that I am ready to play well. My work has been on point for the three week's leading up to this, and though I haven't been getting the results I want, I am following my plan well. I had a motivating thought this morning. If I continue to follow my plan well and stay on my path of steady improvement, this week could very well be my final event ever on the Tour. That is pretty darn cool, and I'm ready to make it a great one!

Thank you for following and rooting for me! I'm sorry for the lack of updates over the past several days. I'll do better moving forward. Keep it here to continue enjoying the journey with me!

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...