In some ways, I'm better at golf than I have ever been in my life. I'm swinging the club the best that I ever have, and in practice, that has resulted in the solid and consistent ball-striking for which I strive. In tournaments, however, my play has ranged from inconsistent to downright poor over the past several weeks. I am definitely frustrated with my results lately, but I still feel really good about the long-term prognosis of my work.
My last post was called "Sometimes I Stink." I have played two tournaments since then that verify that statement. I posted rounds of 75, 72 two weeks ago at the Valspar Championship in Tampa. I had entered the tournament feeling good about my game, and I showed some really positive signs with good play off the tee, but my iron play, wedges, and putting were all very sub-standard, and I missed the cut by two shots. From Tampa, I moved just up I-4 to Orlando for my first Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. After my preparations for Mr. Palmer's event, I felt so ready to play well. I had practiced well. My full swing was clicking, my short game was feeling sharp, and I was ready to get hot with my putter. My good feelings never came to fruition in the tournament. I played with tension, posted frustrating rounds of 73, 76, and missed the cut by five shots. Sometimes I stink, indeed.
Over the past couple days, I've spent some time asking the question "why?" Not "why do I stink sometimes?" I know the answer to that. I stink sometimes because golf is a human performance, and bad shots, poor rounds, and tough stretches are a part of the territory. The question I have been asking is "why do I feel prepared to play well, but struggle in the tournaments?" I've discussed this with Alicia and some other members of our team, and I think we're on to something.
First of all, I am allowing myself to feel tension on the course. I know that I'm in a little bit of a slump, and I don't like it, so I'm trying too hard to make good things happen. I'm assigning more meaning than there really is to every shot I hit right now. I know better than to do this, but I've got to be intentional about letting go of the results and enjoying my process. Secondly, for the first time ever in my life, I am concerned about playing the game "properly" when I'm on the course. My entire golfing life, I have just been scrappy and done whatever I can to get the ball in the hole quickly, but right now I'm trying to make sure I swing correctly and hit the correct shot in all situations, even if that takes me out of my comfort zone. I never used to do that. There are no judges in golf, and an unconventional three beats a beautiful four every time. Finally, I am trying hard not to make mistakes on the course. When I won the Web.com Tour event in Brazil, I played hyper-aggressively off the tee. I actually made eight bogeys that week, but I also made 30 birdies and won the tournament by four shots. I feel as though I'm playing cautiously in tournaments right now when my best style of play is getting after it and trying to make a lot of birdies.
Another way that I can sum up all three of these areas I have just discussed is simply to say to myself, "don't worry, have fun, and play with Freedom." I think that will be a nice little catch phrase for me over the next several weeks. Don't worry; have fun; play with Freedom. I like it!
My game really is good. All areas of my game have looked sloppy at times during my stretch of poor play, but I have had some fantastic practice over the past several weeks, and I feel ready to play well.
I made a last-minute decision to play the PGA Tour event in Puerto Rico this week, so after soaking up a couple days at home, I will travel there Wednesday morning. I'm excited to keep playing, and I'm looking forward to a fun tournament in Puerto Rico. What am I going to do? I'll prepare well like always, then on Thursday I'll tell myself, "Don't worry, have fun, play with Freedom!"
Thank you for following and cheering for me. I really appreciate the support! Also, I know I haven't done a good job of keeping my blog updated lately, but I'm going to do better moving forward, so keep it here for more frequent reports!
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