In addition to two good days of preparation here at the Sony Open, I am also carrying the good vibes of a solid performance from last week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions into this tournament. After a six-week break from competition, I teed it up in the winners-only tournament last week in Maui with high expectations for myself in 2016. I had put in a lot of hard, focused, intelligent work over the off-season, and I was ready to let that shine against an elite field to start the year. I began the tournament in an unsettling fashion by bogeying the first two holes, but I recovered to post a two-under-par round of 71 in my first round of the year. I followed that with rounds of 66, 69, 69 for a 17-under-par total and a tied-for-sixth-place finish in the tournament. It was a solid score and a solid result with which to start the year, and both my performance and the result validated the effort that I put in over the offseason.
Playing in the Tournament of Champions was a very cool experience and one that I would like to have each and every year for the next few decades. I won't lie; it was extremely fun and even a little intimidating to share such an intimate tournament with the likes of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson, and other top players in the world. It was almost overwhelming, in fact, early in the week to look around at the players with whom I was sharing the practice facilities, but as the week wore on and the tournament began, I firmly grasped the facts that I had earned the right to be there and I belong in that company. What I cool feeling! And my play showed that I believe it. I truly believe that I belong in that tournament and among those players, and I'm ready to keep doing the work that will get me back there every January.
I could tell several stories, golf and non-golf related, from the week in Maui, but I'll just mention some cool things in bullet-point format.
-I saw sea turtles! I don't know anything about marine biology, but using my parent's snorkeling gear right off the beach in front of the hotel, I swam with sea turtles.
-I shot -17 for four rounds without ever feeling like I putted as well as I can.
-I got to see humpback whales breach from the golf course.
-On the twelfth hole on Sunday, I hit a poor drive into the wind and it went into a bunker that was less that 250 yards to carry. When I got to the bunker, I couldn't even see my ball. It had plugged so deeply into the face of the sand that I had to remove some sand to identify my ball and then re-cover it. I was in a bad spot, but I swung hard and advanced my ball about six feet. From there, I faced a blind shot of about 180 yards into a strong wind from the first cut of rough. I hit a four iron into the sky ahead me. It ended up on the green about 25 feet from the hole, and I made that for par. It was one of the better pars of my life, and it helped me keep a solid round going on Sunday.
My week in Maui was a great start to 2016. I'm really excited to keep following my plan and to continue improving, and I'm ready to have another good tournament in Hawaii at this week's Sony Open.
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