For the most part, I believe that I have a fairly healthy sense of perspective about life and golf's place in it for me. Golf is my career. It is one of my passions. It is very important to me. It is NOT life and death by any means. It doesn't crack the top three of things that are most important to me in my life. Still, it hurts when it doesn't go well and my hard work doesn't produce the desired results.
My last tournament inflicted some pain. Playing at one of my favorite courses on tour (Innisbrook), I played really nicely. Despite being just fractionally off with my driver and having a few things go wrong, I was playing very solidly. I was one under par through 35 holes, and I piped my drive up the par-four ninth hole--my last on Friday. From there, I faced a very inviting shot. I had 148 yards to a back right flag from a great lie in the fairway. I wasn't trying to be too aggressive, but I was definitely trying to give myself a good birdie opportunity. I pushed my iron shot a little bit, but it was flying just right of the pin. Unfortunately, I had misjudged the wind and selected the wrong club. My ball flew past the hole and bounded off the back of the green. From there, I misplayed a pitch shot, hit my first putt too hard, and nervously stroked my three-and-a-half foot bogey putt right of the hole. At the time, it was a bit of a soul-crushing double-bogey. It dropped me from one shot inside of the cutline to missing the cut by one. It was painful.
For a couple days, I wasn't sure how to respond. I've always been good about being intentional with my response to adversity. I have always found something positive--some kind of silver lining that I can take and build from moving forward. This time I must admit that I felt pretty defeated for the days that immediately followed.
That feeling of pain has brought around some needed change, however. The first change was not of my choosing, but it is something about which I am excited. My caddie, Shane, called me on Tuesday evening and told me that he wants to split. I've never blamed Shane for my current slump, and, despite some differences in personality and communication style, I actually have really appreciated the work that he has done for me. It's sad to see our partnership end, but I think he's right that something fresh will be really good for both of us. I'm excited to move forward in that regard.
I don't have a long-term solution to my caddie vacancy yet, but I do know who will be caddying for me in my next event. I'm going to reunite the dream team that worked so well in 2015. Alicia will caddie for me in Houston! Regardless of what I decide to do long term, I am very excited to take the things that I have learned and work to build a caddie relationship that works best for me tactically, mentally, and emotionally. This change will be a positive step forward for me.
Another change that was inspired by the pain I experienced at Innisbrook is a new sense of ownership over the thoughts I'm thinking. I've been feeling tremendous weight bearing down on me lately, and I've been blaming the last 14 months of poor results for causing that weight. I've also been feeling like golf has been difficult and that I can't seem to catch a break. I've been blaming outside things for the feelings of pressure, anxiety, and disappointment I've been feeling. In reality, those feelings are thoughts, and they originate inside of my own head. What I think is a choice, and thinking right is a skill. I have not practiced this skill nearly as much as I've practiced my physical skills lately, and it's time to change that. I control what I think, and my thoughts control how I feel. I'm going to take control of what I think.
I think I'm a great golfer. I think I'm a winner. I think I can go play with freedom and trust.
I certainly know that this isn't the last time I'll ever face adversity or disappointment in golf. I also know that I have the skills, both physically and mentally, to deal with and overcome adversity. I am ready to practice and use those skills.
I'm excited to get after it! I've decided not to play in Puerto Rico this coming week so that I can have another week off to practice my skills and rest up for a big stretch of golf ahead. I'll tee it up in Houston March 30-April 2, and I'll be ready.
Thank you for following and believing in me. Great things are coming. Keep it here to enjoy the ride with me.
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