On Thursday, I felt really good as I set out to tackle the famed beast that is the South Course. I knew the course would be extra demanding with soggy fairways and dense, wet rough, but I felt ready for it. Beginning on number 10, I hit great shots on my first two holes and started with two solid pars. On the long par-four 12th, I narrowly missed the fairway in the left rough and gouged my second shot out into the fairway some 60 yards short of the green. From there I was simply too aggressive with my wedge shot to a back pin. I flew it past the hole because I knew it would spin back on the soft greens, but it took one small hop and got all the way into the rough over the back of the green. I did my best from there to chip to 15 feet and two-putted for a double-bogey. I hadn’t really hit any terrible shots, but my mistake with the wedge was punished. I stumbled through the next two holes with a sloppy bogey on the par-five 13th and a three-putt bogey on 14, so I stood at four over par through five holes. I was rattled and disappointed, but still determined and confident. I missed only two greens the rest of the day—a strong accomplishment around that course—and played the next 13 hole in two under par to post a reasonable first-round score of 74 (+2). I was very pleased with my attitude and my performance after the tough start.On Friday I moved to the North Course, which, despite a recent renovation to add length and change the green complexes, plays a bit easier than its neighbor. The winds picked up on Friday, however, so there was still plenty of challenge. I again put myself behind the eight-ball early. After two good swings and an opening par, I hit horrific pull-hooks off the next two par fours. Both found hazards and led to a double-bogey and a bogey, respectively, so I found myself three over par through four holes and in trouble for the second day in a row. I hit another lousy tee shot which led to a bogey on the sixth hole, but over my final twelve holes, I played beautiful golf from tee to green. I actually gave myself opportunities to get back in the tournament, but I couldn’t convert my birdie chances on the greens. I ended up fighting back for a one-over-par round of 73 on Friday, but my +3 total left me three shots out of a weekend tee time.
Despite the disappointing end result, I will take so much encouragement from this week. My iron play was very solid and at times exceptional this week. On the South Course on the Thursday, I hit a three hybrid 224 yards to seven feet on the par-three 16th and then hit a five iron 190 yards to three feet on the par-three 8th. On the back nine of the North Course on Friday, I nearly hit the hole on both par threes with a five iron and six iron. The five iron was from 204 yards downwind, and from the tee it looked for sure like it was going to go in. Another stat that speaks to how well I was hitting my approach shots is that despite both courses playing very long, I missed only one green in two days after driving it in the fairway. I am extremely encouraged by much of what I saw at Torrey Pines.What do I need to do better? I need to eliminate big mistakes and putt more consistently. I missed ten fairways in two days, and that’s really not horrible around those two courses, but three times I missed the fairway wildly into situations where I either had to take a penalty shot or couldn’t reasonably advance my ball to the green. I need to clean up those misses. I also need to putt more like myself more often. Putting is a challenge on the soft poa annua greens of the South Course, but I was sloppy with my pace a few times and missed a couple of short putts that I expect to make. I also three-putted from 15 feet once on the North Course and failed to convert a number of make-able birdie putts as I tried to climb back into the tournament. I know I can clean up these two areas.
I hate to be traveling on a Saturday, but I am excited about our destination. We are heading HOME. The year is young and I am still incredibly excited about playing and competing, but three weeks on the road is enough to make me crave a few nights at home. I’m going to take next week off, and I’ll work on my game, continue to work on my fitness, rest up, and get ready to go on another three-week stretch.
I really do feel great about my game and the direction everything is heading. It's going to be a great year! Thank you for following and caring about me. Please keep it here to enjoy the ride with me.