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!

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