Time to take some inventory. I played my first Major Championship this week. That is a good thing. I had to do something special to earn the right to be in the PGA Championship. I can't forget that I won on the PGA Tour last Fall. That was less than a year ago. And it was very good.
I missed the cut this week in my first Major. I posted consecutive rounds of 73 for a six-over-par total and finished four shots outside the cut. This marks my tenth consecutive missed cut and 17th in my last 18 events. That is bad. I presently feel far-removed from the celebration of the win that qualified me for my first major. I feel beaten up, and it feels very bad.
If I were to trust everything that I feel, I would be in trouble right now. I feel beaten up. I feel bruised and battered. I feel like I'm failing. These are the things that I presently feel. Here are some things that I know, even if I can't feel them right now. I know that I am a PGA Tour winner. I know that I am continuing to work on the right things in my golf game. I know that my process leads to steady improvement, and that my best golf is still ahead of me. I know that I will continue to get better. I know that I will come out of this slump. I know that I have a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. Most importantly, I know that results on the golf course don't define me as a success or failure. I may not be able to feel all of these things right now, but I know they are true.
I'm definitely bummed, but I've got too much good stuff going on to sulk. First of all, I have an amazing wife, family, and team of supporters who love me and are there for me exactly the same whether I've just won a tournament or just missed my 17th cut in 18 weeks. Secondly, even though the results don't show it, I really am working on the right things and improving my golf game. I can't exactly explain what's going on with my tournament play. My practice feels better and better each week, and I feel like all areas of my game are ready to excel. I'm hitting the ball more solidly than ever on the range, and I'm really starting to control it well, too. My putting was definitely off at the beginning of this slump, but my stroke feels good again, and I'm starting the roll the ball really well. My short game and wedge play are both solid. I just need to relax and let it happen. Subconsciously, I know I'm putting added pressure on myself to end this slump and get back in the hunt on the weekend, and I find myself playing with a lot of tension. It's easier said than done, but I've got to be tough enough to let go of worrying about results and go play with freedom. I'll be honest: I'm not sure how to do that right now, but I'm going to figure it out. I've got too much talent, and my game is rounding into form too well to allow myself to continue to play with tension.
I usually have a specific action plan for how I'm going to make things happen. Right now, I really don't. I'm going to keep working hard on my golf game so that it is even more ready to perform in tournament conditions, and I'm going to make the conscious decision to let go of results and play with freedom. When I truly play with freedom and let the good golf that is in me come out, I'll qualify for a lot more majors.
The tone of this post has been largely negative, and it is coming from a place of great frustration, but I don't want to forget the place it started. I just played in my first Major Championship. That is really cool. And there will be many more; I am confident of that.
I know a lot of you out there are rooting for me and believing in me. I really appreciate it, and I believe in me, too. I'm off to Hartford, CT, now for the Traveler's Championship next week. It is one of my favorite events on Tour, and I'm going to prepare well and play with great freedom. Keep it here for updates!
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