Monday, October 24, 2016

Napa -> Malaysia -> Jackson

I'm definitely a bit behind again on the updates, and so much has happened over the past two weeks. I've been on airplanes a lot in the last seven days and am now one short flight away from being in Jackson, Mississippi, for the Sanderson Farms Championship. My golf has almost been overshadowed by the adventures of the past week, but I have great things to report on both fronts.

My results certainly haven't been great on the course, but I am really pleased with much of what has happened. I opened the 2016-2017 season with a bogey-free 67 (-5) in Napa, and though I didn't sustain that pace through the tournament, I added rounds of 72, 71, 70 in tough conditions. The end result was a tie for 35th place. Obviously, that is not an exciting finish, but some exciting stuff did happen. I had to battle steady rain and gusty winds during my second round on Friday, and I hung in there well to shoot even. Then, on Saturday, I had an atrocious start. After a routine par on the first hole, I bladed a bunker shot on the second hole and made double-bogey. I then pulled my tee shot on the third hole and got a bit unlucky as it hit a tree and bounced way left to end up out of bounds by less than an inch. That led to another double-bogey. At four-over-par through three holes, I was determined to just keep playing, and I fought all the way back to one under par for my round by the end. That was cool! I will remember Napa for the great round I played on Thursday and the perseverance I showed through tough conditions. It was a very solid week to start the season.

From there, the adventures really began. Alicia and I were scheduled to make our first trip to Asia from San Francisco on Sunday night after Napa. Excited for our journey, we shuttled down to the airport from Napa and arrived at the ticket counter well in advance of our flight. When our passports swiped at check-in, we were alerted to a problem. Our passports expire in January 2017, and Malaysia requires six-month validity of passports for entry. After three hours in the airport begging for answers, reasons, and options, we realized we weren't going to fly that night. I was so discouraged. It is a good thing Alicia was with me because I likely would have just gone home if I had been by myself. She encouraged me to not give up, so we booked a hotel in downtown San Fran, arrived there after midnight, awoke before 6 a.m. to try to reschedule potential flight options, and then went and got in the walk-up line at the U.S. Passport Agency an hour before it opened. I still can't believe it, but we walked out of there three hours later with new passports and headed straight to the airport. We caught a 12:20 p.m. flight to Tokyo, and by 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, we were at our hotel in Malaysia.

So I definitely didn't have a normal week of preparation for the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, but I was thrilled to be there and, in hindsight, am thrilled we made it work. My game and body both felt a little rusty when I teed it up in the first round on Thursday. I managed to shoot even par, which isn't a good score on the course there, but I was pleased with the way I fought. I actually formed up very nicely from a ball-striking perspective over the next three days, but my short game and particularly my putting were really bad. I posted scores of 72, 73, 71, 68 (-4, total) for the week, and finished tied for 51st. That's not a good finish, and those weren't good scores, but I feel good about the way I played. My game is in good shape, and I know that I am not going to putt as poorly as I did over the last three rounds there in Malaysia very often. It was a great experience to play in Malaysia in the first place, and I'm taking a lot of positive things away from that week.

Alicia and I have had a much smoother experience traveling back from Malaysia. We left our hotel at 4:30 a.m. Monday Malaysia time, and after 28 hours of travel, we will magically land in Jackson at 6:00 p.m. Monday Jackson, Mississippi, time. We're in Houston now with just one short flight left.

I am excited to be back in Mississippi for the Sanderson Farms Championship. I obviously have great memories from this event last year, and I feel like my game is better now than it was then. I know that it will be a challenging week in a lot of ways, but I'm going rest up from the travel, prepare well, and enjoy myself. It will be a lot of fun!

Thank you for following me and please keep it here for updates!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Prepared in Napa

I am feeling ready to go here in Napa, California. I have had two great days of preparation at the Silverado Resort golf course, and I am excited to start the tournament today. My game definitely feels good, but more importantly, I feel a real sense of calm from knowing that the work I have been doing is also very good. I'm moving in the right direction, and I'm excited to go out and give my best effort on each and every shot I face this week. And, I'm going to have a lot of fun doing it!

Keep it here for updates from the tournament, and thank you for following me!

Monday, October 10, 2016

2016-2017 Season is Here

Six weeks is pretty short as off-seasons go, but I have packed a lot of great stuff into the 43 days since I last teed it up in a PGA Tour event. I have definitely been chomping at the bit to get back to competition. It is now officially a tournament week again, and I am excited and feeling great.

I packed my off-season with lots of work on all areas of my game. I really dedicated myself to owning (as opposed to tinkering with) my swing mechanics. I had two wonderful two-day sessions with Mitchell over the course of the break, and he helped guide me and ensure that I am working to own the right things in my swing. I am very encouraged by how good and comfortable my swing is feeling. I also have been extremely dedicated to my wedge play, short game, and putting during the break. These areas are definitely strengths for me, but my statistics and results from the 2015-2016 season show that each of these areas can be much better and much more consistent. I feel great about the work that I have done to make my strengths stronger, and I'm excited to let them shine. Lastly, I have also spent a lot of time thinking about and working on my mental game. I know that my physical performance will be awry at times, but I don't want to let the way I am thinking contribute to or exasperate any physical shortcomings. I feel very confident and at peace with the work that I have done in all areas of my game, and I am excited to go compete and have fun letting that work show.

I always love my job. Even in the midst of horrible slump when I am feeling upset and frustrated, I still think I have more fun than most of my peers. This off-season, though, I really reconnected with my genuine love for what I do. I had so much fun. I balanced days of "grinding" on the practice facilities with days of playing fun matches with my buddies. I found great pleasure in both endeavors. I am determined to carry that genuine joy and enthusiasm into the tournament season with me.

I am currently at the Denver airport en route to Napa, California, for the Safeway Open. I couldn't be more excited to get back to tournament golf. Thank you very much for following and supporting me, and please keep it here for updates and insights from the tournaments.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Off-Season Update

I love to compete and play tournament golf. In that sense, having six weeks off this time of year feels a bit odd. I also love to prepare for competition, and for that reason, I have really enjoyed having this break. In addition, I love to spend time in my beautiful East Tennessee home and be with my family, and I have been able to do both of those. In every way, I have soaked up the goodness that comes with a break from the competitive travel schedule. 

I have definitely used this time to work on my golf game. I have made a couple of slight tweaks to my mechanics to continue the progress I have been making with my full-swing. It is nice to have time away from competition to really ingrain swing adjustments. As I learned this year, it is hard to compete without feeling full ownership of my swing. I have put in a lot of swings on the range and a lot of rehearsals during this break, and I have made tremendous progress. I have also been extremely focused on my wedge play, short game, and putting. These are my biggest strengths, and I'm determined to make them even stronger while I work to improve my long game. After spending the first three weeks of my "off-season" exclusively on the practice facilities, I have transitioned back onto the golf course over the last two weeks and have been balancing a "practice mindset" with a "scoring mindset." I am really pleased with how everything is feeling. I have definitely improved all areas of my game over the last five weeks, and I'm excited to keep moving in the right direction.

Being home has also given me a chance to spend a little time in the Great Smokey Mountains. A couple of weekends ago, my sister Laura, Alicia, and I went on a beautiful hike to the top of Mount LeConte. It was a blissful day!

Then, this past weekend, we had extended family and friends in town to witness Laura's wedding! I don't have any pictures of the ceremony itself, but it was amazingly beautiful. I couldn't be any happier for her and my new brother, Clarke!

It has been a really special off-season for sure. I'm excited to have one more week to put in great work on my game and soak up everything that comes with being HOME. I'll use this time to make some goals and a bit of a plan heading into the 2016-2017 season, which, I am excited to say, begins next week!

Thank you for following, and keep it here to enjoy the great ride with me!

Visible Progress

I’ve been making a lot of invisible progress lately. By that, I mean that my scores have been consistently rather stinky, but beneath that,...