Monday, February 27, 2017

Agonizingly Close at PGA National

A cold putter on Thursday and a driver that was just a fraction off on a difficult golf course on Friday cost me at the Honda Classic. I played beautiful golf for much of the tournament, but those two areas of weakness got me as I posted rounds of 70, 71 (+1, total) to finish tied for 71st place and miss the cut by a single player.

I was pretty devastated on Friday evening when the final verdict became official. I wasn't devastated simply because of the fact that I missed the cut or that I was so close to making it; rather, I was devastated because I truly believe I was in position to have a great weekend and a great finish in the tournament. When the day ended on Friday, I was ten shots behind the leader and just four shots behind 17th place. More importantly, I was playing some terrific golf. It was hard to swallow that I wouldn't get the chance to compete over the weekend.

Now, with a couple of days to process it, I'm able to realize how incredibly positive my performance was last week at PGA National. With thick rough, narrow fairways, and water in play on nearly every hole, the course was a strong challenge. But I was ready for it, and handled it really well.

In round one, I had one of my best ball-striking rounds I can ever remember. I drove it well, hit my irons very solidly, and was really never in any trouble at all around the course. I gave myself a lot of good birdie opportunities, but unfortunately converted very few of them. With a cold putter, I posted a two-birdie, two-bogey round on Thursday.

On Friday, I putted a better, and my iron play was again very solid, but my driver was just a fraction off. I never missed a fairway by more than a few steps, but I missed several by that narrow margin, and that was trouble. Three times in my round I ended up near the lip of a fairway bunker and couldn't advance my ball to the green. I made four bogies in Friday's round, and all were the result of a missed fairway that prevented me from hitting my second shot onto the green.

Despite the disappointing result, I really feel incredibly encouraged by the way I played. I really need to work on my putting and find the consistency on the greens that has helped me achieve the things I have in golf, but from a ball-striking perspective, I feel that I am better today than I have ever been. I need to continue to improve and become sharper and more consistent, but I know that I am moving in the right direction.

I have this week off to hone my skills at home, and I'm excited to have a great week of work. Next week the Tour visits one of my favorite stops at Innisbrook's Copperhead Golf Course for the Valspar Championship just outside of Tampa. I will be ready to go for that event.

Thank you for following me and for your support. Great things are coming, so please keep it here to enjoy the journey with me!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Focused on the Positives from Riviera

I'll start with the bad news from Riviera. I opened the tournament horribly with four bogies in the first seven holes despite perfect scoring conditions. Throughout the week I really struggled on the greens. My pace was very poor at times and I missed several short putts. For the tournament I had six or seven three-putts. On top of that, I lost my way with my swing a little bit over the final 16 holes of the tournament and hit a lot of poor shots. I ended the tournament with a tie for 64th place finish--a disappointing result.

That is the end of the bad news! I did a lot of things really well last week. I drove the ball beautifully for most of the week. I hit some of my best iron shots in a long time. I battled back from being four over par through the first seven holes of the tournament to get myself back into a position to fight for a good finish over the weekend. I played Riviera's signature hole, the drivable yet diabolical par-four tenth in 12 shots for the week. I twice laid up and hit beautiful wedge shots to the Ping-Pong table sized back section of the green and twice drove it perfectly to the fringe short and left of the green to set up easy up-and-down birdies. That was really good. I began my fourth round birdie-birdie and had the feeling like I was going to really play well. So many good things happened, and I feel great about them!

I've definitely been suffering from a bit of low golf self-esteem lately. My results have been poor for the past 13+ months and it has taken a bit of a toll on my confidence. I know that I've been working on the right things, though, and I know that I have made great progress in my practice. That means that I am ready to play well, and good tournament play is just around the corner. I'm ready to get back in the mix consistently. My play at Riviera showed signs of that.

Today is a travel day as Alicia and I head from the West Coast to the East Coast for the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. I'm excited to keep competing. Great things are coming. Thank you for following me, and please keep it here for an update from Florida!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Short Post to Catch Up

It has been two weeks since my last post. In that time, I enjoyed a great week of recharging away from tournament golf and then gave a really disappointing performance at one of my favorite venues.

I started with five days at home in Tennessee. I worked on a my game a little bit, had two fun and productive matches with my buddy Jonathon Hodge, and worked hard on my fitness during that time. Alicia and I then had the privilege of attending (and participating, in Alicia's case) in the wedding of two of our good friends in Atlanta. It was great to kick back and really enjoy a happy occasion with some great people. I probably didn't get as much golf work done as I should have during my week away from competition, but I did a lot of productive things and really rested up as well. It was great.

From the wedding in Atlanta, Alicia and I traveled to one of my favorite places in the world--Pebble Beach, CA. Despite ugly conditions including lots of rain, wind, and cold temperatures, I still really enjoyed being there. In the challenging conditions, I feel like I prepared fairly well for the event last week, and at times my performance reflected that. I had stretches of good golf in each of the first two rounds. My short game was on point for each round last week, and I had stretches where my ball-striking was good, too. Unfortunately I putted very poorly throughout the week and everything except my short-game abandoned me on Saturday. Because of the three-course rotation for the event, the cut is made after Saturday's third round rather than the traditional half-way point. I entered the third round feeling like I had a good chance to get back into the tournament. I was playing the most score-able course in the rotation on Saturday, and, I was feeling pretty good about the way I was trending. Sadly, I played really poorly in round three. I didn't drive it well, my iron play was poor, and I was atrocious with the putter. It all added up to a six-over-par round of 77 and it meant I didn't get to return to Pebble Beach for the final round on Sunday.

That's a sad story because I never want to miss an opportunity to play Pebble Beach! In addition to that, my performance on Saturday stung a little bit because it came out of nowhere. I really expected to play well. I'm going to respond to that disappointment in a strong way, though. Though I certainly haven't been lazy the last two weeks, I haven't been intentional about my preparation, either. I've been a little sloppy with my mental approach to my practice, and that has carried over to my mental game on the course. I'm going to be meticulous with both the structure and execution of my practice this week, and I'm going to have myself in the best possible state to take care of business in the tournament.

By the way, the tournament this week is the newly named Genesis Open (The Los Angeles Open) at Riviera Country Club. This is a great event on a storied course, and I'm excited for it. I'm going to prepare well and then compete with focus and freedom. It's going to be fun! Keep it here for an update from LA. Thank you for following me!

Close Calls and More Progress

I'm playing good golf, and it's really fun! I haven't been able to put enough consistently good play together yet to have a good...