Monday, January 23, 2017

A Week of Positive Things in the Desert

I'll start with the bad news. I made some horrible swings and lost my way a bit at times during the final round, and I ended up finishing 77th--last among those who made the cut. My golf felt yucky at times on Sunday, and I was really disappointed because I felt great heading into the final day. At the end of the week though, I'm remembering the things that made me feel great more than the disappointing elements. It was definitely a positive week overall.

After traveling from Hawaii to La Quinta, California, on Monday, I put in two light but thorough days of preparation on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was feeling good about my game heading into the tournament, and I was ready to face some rare challenges in the desert. Cold, rain, and wind all threatened each day of the event, and though we ended up missing most of the tough weather, it still made for an interesting challenge having to consider the elements at a tournament that quite often feels like playing in a perfect bubble.

I was ready for the challenge when I went out to the course on Thursday. I began the three-course tournament at La Quinta Country Club. It was uncomfortably cold when I started and there were periods of light rain, but, like I said, I was ready for it. I came out hitting the ball really nicely. I had great looks at birdie on each of my first four holes but didn't get any putts to fall. I played along steadily with pars on each of my first eight holes. I made a mistake off the tee on my ninth hole and then messed up around and on the green on my twelfth to make two bogies. Through 13 holes, I was birdie-less and two over par at an event where scores typically are quite low. I didn't panic, and I still felt ready to play well. I birdied three of my last five holes on day one to post a one-under-par 71. It was a good finish.

The day two forecast was even more ominous, but again, I felt prepared for the challenge. The Tour moved tee times up an hour in hopes of beating the worst of the weather, so I began my second round early in the morning on the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West. I had to rely on my short game a little bit on Friday, but I was solid around the greens. Despite not being particularly sharp with a lot of my shots, I was bogey-free and four under par through 14 holes. I hit a very poor wedge into the par-five 15th and dropped a shot there, but finished the day with two more great up and downs for pars on the last two holes to post a three-under-par 69.

On Saturday, I moved to the tournament's host course, the Stadium Course at PGA West. The Stadium Course is a Pete Dye design, and though the landing areas are actually pretty generous, the course is quite visually intimidating and is very punishing of big misses. I played very solidly from tee to green on Saturday. In fact, my only two bogies were both the result of a three-putt. I was a little off on the greens on Saturday, but as winds picked up quite a bit on my second nine, I made nine consecutive pars to post a one-under-par 71 and make the cut on the number at -5 for the week.

Then Sunday happened. I hit some crappy shots and putted really poorly and ended up with a 77 to finish the week at even par. But, mixed in there on that disappointing day were some really great shots. I nearly holed a wedge on the 12th hole. I hit a five iron to four feet on the intimidating 13th hole. On the par-five 5th hole, I hit a three wood to about 15 feet into the small, well-protected green. In addition to these shots, I drove it beautifully all day. The end result was really disappointing, but there we plenty of encouraging things even on Sunday.

Statistically, we have the Tour's "stroked gained" metrics from rounds played on the tournament's host course, only, so I have data from my third and final rounds. My driving was incredibly positive, whereas my putting was horribly negative. In between, the numbers show that my iron play and short game were both slightly negative, but in both cases, these numbers are skewed by a few horrific shots that were actually outliers for the week. I feel like my wedge play was a bit off and my putting was miles off last week, but otherwise, I was very pleased with how I played. I'm excited to keep building on the good stuff.

I'm now in La Jolla, California (just north of San Diego), for the Farmer's Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. I'm excited to return to Torrey after skipping this event last season. This event uses both the North and South courses at Torrey Pines on Thursday and Friday before moving to the famed South Course for both rounds on the weekend. These are big, long, demanding golf courses, and I am going to be ready for them!

Thank you so much for following and caring about me! Keep it here for an update from Torrey Pines.

1 comment:

  1. I love to see you making cuts -- keep it going at Torrey.
    Jeez, can Alicia beat you at arm wrestling yet ?!?


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