Monday, January 16, 2017

A Great Week in Hawaii

In a variety of ways, the last week has been the perfect start to the 2017 portion of the PGA Tour season. Alicia and I were able to soak up seven-and-a-half days of perfect Hawaii weather, and we had a blast doing it. Additionally, I was able to shake a few layers of competitive rust from my game and delivered a very encouraging performance on the course. It’s always a bit sad to leave Hawaii, but as we fly back to the mainland today, we are feeling extremely happy about the week we’ve just had.

Off of the golf course, Alicia and I really took advantage of the chance to do “Hawaii things.” We swam with the happy fishies, worked on our paddle-boarding skills (though we spent a lot of time sitting on our butts because of the shallow water and sharp coral beneath), hiked to the top of a volcanic crater, did some wave “surfing” in an ocean kayak, enjoyed reading and breakfasts on the beach, and ate enough pineapple to make our mouths hurt. It was a really fun week!

On the course, I am really pleased with a lot of what happened. I was brilliant at times in all areas of the game. I didn’t have the consistency that I will look to develop as I get into a rhythm, but I showed a lot of promise.

I opened the tournament with a score of 69 (-1) on Thursday. I was a little wayward off the tee that day, but I battled hard and still had a chance to post a good round. Unfortunately, my tee shot on the last hole of the day ended up going out of bounds. It was a poor drive that I pulled left of the fairway, but it was a little unfortunate that it went out of bounds. It actually bounced over a harmless fairway bunker as it made its way off the course. I was a little rattled by that finish, but still, I had done a lot of things really well on day one.

In round two on Friday morning, my erratic driving continued a little bit. I wasn’t wildly off, but on Waialae Country Club’s firm and narrow fairways, I was far enough off to be constantly playing from out of position. Fortunately, I had a great attitude and a hot putter in round two. Despite not driving the ball well, my confidence was never really rattled. I kept believing I was going to hit the next one well, and I did hit some good drives over the course of the round. More importantly, I felt great on the greens. I rolled in four birdie putts from outside of 20 feet including a 60+ foot putt on the 16th hole. I posted a second-round 66 (-4).

I liked the way I played on Saturday in the third round, but on a day when seemingly everyone went pretty low, I could muster only a one-under-par round of 69. I did several things well on Saturday, but still missed a lot of fairways, and, for the first time all week, missed a couple of short-range putts that I expect to make. Still, I finished the round feeling good about my game.

On Sunday, I had flashes of brilliance. I hit some perfect iron shots, and that was very fun. On the downwind par-3 17th hole, I hit a 6 iron from 199 yards to less than three feet. Then on the into-the-wind par-4 8th hole, I hit that same six iron from 163 yards and it landed just a couple feet short of the hole before releasing out eight feet past. On the very next hole, my last of the tournament, I hit a four-iron from 195 yards into a slight wind to less than three feet. It was really cool to see such good iron shots. Actually, my last four full swings of the tournament all produced really great shots. It was a good feeling. I didn’t play perfect golf on Sunday, but each time I hit a poor shot, I followed it up with a good recovery shot. My short game felt really sharp by Sunday, and I made of couple of good par-saving putts to keep my scorecard clean. With a birdie-eagle finish, I posted a final-round 65 (-5) and moved up the leaderboard a little bit to finish tied for 27th at 11 under par. It was an exciting way to finish a great week.

Statistically, I don’t love my numbers from the tournament. I hit less than half of the fairways, and my approach shot statistics weren’t great either. I actually feel like I drove the ball much better over the weekend, but I still missed a lot of fairways by a narrow amount. In terms of my iron play, I definitely hit a lot of poor shots this week, but it was a really good sign to see some great ones on Sunday. I feel good about the way I’m swinging, and I’m confident that my consistency will improve and lead to the better stats that I’m aiming to see.

My short game and putting stats were quite good, actually. I hit some rusty short game shots early in the tournament, but overall, I was very pleased with my work on and around the greens. I will look to keep sharpening these two areas, but I am very pleased with the starting point I achieved in Hawaii.

Right now, I am heading to the California desert for the old Bob Hope Classic—now called the CareerBuilder Challenge. This event features a pro-am format and is contested over three courses before the final round is contested at the Stadium Course at PGA West. The pro-am format makes for long rounds during the competition, so I am excited to continue to prepare intelligently. I will put in some work on my golf game and in the gym, but I will also prioritize being fresh and clear for the tournament rounds.

It was an amazing week in Hawaii. We had a lot of fun and did a lot of great work. I’m excited to build on that and keep improving.

Thank you for following me and for your great support. Keep it here for updates from the desert.

2 comments:

  1. How about posting some pics occasionally, like Alicia does on Twitter. Also would enjoying hearing a little about others pros, like Billy Hurley.

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  2. It was a great pleasure to meet you and Alicia on your stop over here in Hawaii. As a volunteer I would say you were the most gracious to us and we really appreciated your kind words. I now follow you on tour and I wish you nothing but success. I hope to volunteer again next year at the Sony Open so maybe we can meet again. Best of luck. Brian

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