Sunday, February 7, 2016

Deceptively Good in Phoenix

On paper--or on the PGA Tour website, more accurately--nothing about my week in Phoenix would appear overly positive. I missed the cut. I hit less than half of my fairways and less than half of my greens in regulation. With rounds of 71 and 72 (+1), I posted an over-par total for the first time all season. I still hate to miss a cut, but other than about 20 minutes of sulking on Friday evening, I have nothing but positive feelings about my week and my performance in Phoenix.

I really feel great about a lot that I did during the Phoenix Open. I had a great week of practice, and even though my stats certainly don't show it, I actually hit a lot of really shots in the tournament. I was swinging fearlessly (for the most part), and though I definitely wasn't sharp, I was in control with the exception of a couple wild misses on Thursday. My scrambling was a bright spot as I converted 16 of 18 up and down opportunities from within 50 yards of the hole. While it is poor to miss so many greens, short game numbers like that indicate that I was not missing by much and that I was missing in reasonable spots. I'm also particularly proud of the fact that I was five for five in scrambling from the sand. Shane and I have been working hard on my bunker play lately, and it is fun to see that work paying dividends. My short game was definitely strong in Phoenix, and I feel like my long game is close to being there, too.

I know that I need to have birdie putts to be successful. In total for 36 holes, I had just 16 birdie putts in Phoenix, and several of those were not reasonable looks. I know that is a problem, and I definitely need to continue to improve and strive for more consistency with my ball-striking. I am on the right path, though. My golf swing feels better and better to me all the time, so I know that if I continue to trust the work that I am doing, it's going to start clicking again.

One of the most positive things about the week in Phoenix was my attitude. Despite never really getting anything positive going from a scoring perspective, I stayed calm and played with a lot of freedom during my short stay in the tournament. I definitely got a little overwhelmed by the big crowd on number 16 my first time there, but I even took that in stride. I did start to press just a little bit down the stretch on Friday, but given that I was hovering right near the cut-line the entire tournament, I actually thought about it very little. I was happy with my mindset, and I am excited to continue playing with that type of process-oriented thinking.

Speaking of the cut-line... It didn't actually become official that I had missed the cut until early Saturday morning. I ended up finishing tied for 71st for the second tournament in a row. That is a big bummer because the top 70 and ties make the cut on the PGA Tour. I played in the early wave on Friday, and it seemed for most of the afternoon that my score would earn me a Saturday tee time. It wasn't to be, however, and that is okay. I actually made a gutsy par on my 36th hole to give myself a chance to make the cut. After an errant drive left me with a tough second shot from the fairway bunker, I hit my approach into a left green-side bunker some 90 feet from the right hole location. To make matters worse, I had to stand outside the bunker and reach way down below my feet to hit the shot. I hit a great bunker shot to leave myself about seven feet to save par and I rolled that putt right in the middle. It ended up not being quite enough to earn a weekend tee time, but it sure felt good to save that par at the time!

So, I definitely know that I need to hit the ball a little bit better, but I also know that I'm not far off. Alicia and I have already made the journey to Pebble Beach, and we are so excited to get another week started. My game is close to coming together. Great things are just around the corner. Thank you for following and believing in me. Please keep it here for an update from Pebble Beach!

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