My time in Jackson was great. After a 27-hour travel day from Malaysia to start the week, I was pleased with how quickly I adjusted and began a fairly normal preparation routine for the tournament. My sleep patterns were disturbed only slightly and only for the first two nights. By the time my afternoon tee time arrived for the first round on Thursday, I felt rested and ready to go play well.
And I did, somewhat. Thursday I played one of the better ball-striking rounds of my life. I drove the ball beautifully and was very in control with my irons and wedges. I had 17 birdie putts in the first round, and with the exception of two, all were from less than 25 feet. Unfortunately, I made just three of them. The one hole on which I didn’t have a birdie putt resulted in a double-bogey, so my first round added up to a one-under-par 71, but it felt really good. My ball-striking wasn’t as sharp on Friday, but I putted the ball better and posted a two-under-par 70 to advance to the weekend. I had a great practice session on Friday afternoon and felt poised for a strong weekend performance, but that never materialized. On Saturday I was just a little bit off with my ball-striking and putting and couldn’t quite get anything going. I settled for a third-round 71. Then, on Sunday, my putting woes from Thursday returned and I let frustration affect me a little bit. I stayed really committed to giving my best effort on every shot, but despite giving myself 14 birdie putts (and 12 inside of 25 feet), I looked and felt hopeless on the greens. I made zero birdies on Sunday and posted a final-round 75.
I ended my title defense tied for 68th place. I was actually surprised how disappointed I felt during my round on Sunday. I never gave up, but it was clear from fairly early in my final round that I didn’t have things clicking on the greens. It was really frustrating. One of my goals for this season is to make a conscious decision to love my job every day. (That usually comes quite easy!) When it became clear that my title defense at the Sanderson Farms Championship was going to finish somewhere in the bottom of the field, I let the frustration sink in and, for a time on that Sunday, overshadow the love that I have for what I get to do. Jackson feels special to me, and floundering on the weekend and finishing towards the bottom of the field just didn’t seem right.
Looking back on the week, I can honestly say that deep frustration I felt on Sunday is my only regret. I feel great about the way I prepared and the attitude that I carried into the week. I wish I had stayed a little more upbeat throughout the weekend, but I will learn from that. From a performance standpoint, I’m actually really encouraged by most of what happened in Mississippi. I had a few shaky stretches of ball-striking on Friday and Saturday, but for the most part, I hit the ball really well. Similarly, my short game was really good with the exception of a couple of shots. The thing that held me back was an extremely poor performance on the greens, and I know that will go down as an anomaly. I certainly wanted a better result from the week in Jackson, but after a little reflection, I definitely leave there feeling really encouraged about my game.
I snuck home for a day after Jackson and am currently heading to Las Vegas for this week’s event. I am going to keep working hard and keep loving my job. Things are really close to coming together, and I’m confident that great results are just around the corner. Thank you for supporting me, and please keep it here for an update from Vegas!