Saturday, April 2, 2016

What Follows an Epic Collapse?

Golf is a humbling game. I thought I had it this week in Houston. I prepared beautifully, and for the first 27 holes of the tournament, I looked and felt great. I was having fun and executing well. In brutal weather conditions on Friday, I played the front nine in two under par to reach five under for the tournament. I felt great and was so pleased to see my game reflecting the positive signs I have been experiencing in practice. Then, with one bad swing, it all changed. I drove it into a hazard on the tenth hole, made a bogey, and despite telling myself all the right things, I became anxious and defensive. I failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities in the holes that followed my bogey, and then I collapsed over the last four holes. I finished bogey, bogey, bogey, double-bogey to not only fall out of contention but also miss the cut by two shots. It was a humbling finish, to say the least.

Bad golf is one thing. I really don't like it, but I know that it is going to happen sometimes. This was something different in Houston, however. It's not like I forgot how to play good golf on the walk from the ninth green to the tenth tee on Friday. Rather, I let a fairly minor mistake set off a fearful reaction inside of me and lock up my good stuff. It doesn't feel good to admit that because I know that my mental game is under my control. I also know that it is one of my greatest strengths, but I haven't been using it well lately. It always stings to miss a cut, but I missed this one because of a lack of mental toughness, and that really bothers me.

I have to move forward and be better. I think a good place to start is reiterating how well I played in Houston. I had three full days of great practice at home before traveling to Texas, and then had two solid days of preparation once there. I teed it up in the tournament and performed as well as I have since the first event of the year. Given the tough conditions on Friday morning, I really believe that I played as well as I've ever played on the opening nine holes of my second round. There are some tough shots on that course, and I stepped up and executed fearlessly and well. It was really good stuff. Though my putter still didn't get hot, all areas of my game were solid, and things were clicking. That is encouraging. I will remember that.

I will also remember the collapse. I need to learn from it. I definitely battle with the same cut anxiety that I have discussed before, and in Houston, I lost that battle. On the front nine on Friday I was on offense. After my bogey on number ten, I was playing defense. I was saying the right things to myself consciously, but my inner thoughts were rushed and panicked. It is frustrating to have to learn the same lesson more than once, but I think this week's reminder will be a powerful one for me. When my thoughts turn to the cut-line, I need to stay on offense, quiet my mind, remember to enjoy myself, and play to win. My collapse in the Houston Open was mental. That hurts me. But I will be better because of it.

In recent posts, I've given myself a little motto by which I'd like to live on the golf course. "Don't worry; have fun; play with Freedom." Somehow, I forgot all about this when I needed it most. Following this motto wouldn't have changed the bad swing I made on hole ten on Friday in Houston, but it certainly would have changed what followed. Moving forward, I'm going to write down this motto, meditate on it, share it with Shane, and tell him to punch me if he sees me not living by it on the course! I work too hard to let tension and fear lock up my skills. This is my positive self-talk on the course: "Don't worry, have fun, play with Freedom."

I'm definitely frustrated by my recent stretch of poor play and especially so with my epic mental collapse on Friday in Houston. Do you know what follows an epic collapse, though? An epic climb to a brand new height! My skills are greater than they've ever been before. I'm going to play with Freedom and let them out.

Thank you for following and believing in me. These last couple months have beaten me up, but I believe in me, too! Great things are coming. Keep it here to enjoy the journey with me.

3 comments:

  1. No doubt, those great 27 holes will extrapolate soon into great 54 holes and then to great 72 holes. Keep going at it, lots of people love reading your blog entries and root for you every tournament and hoping that every livescore update is showing you with more birdies!

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  2. Great words of encouragement for anybody who has ever played the game. Focus on the positive, learn from the negative, and then leave them both in the past and concentrate on the next stroke. Thanks for the insight and best of luck moving forward. You get to play the game we love for a living....so blessed!

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  3. I feel like u are going to have a great week in Hilton Head. Stay positive. Breakthrough coming.

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