Saturday, April 29, 2017

Rats

After two weeks that truly were great fun for me, I don’t have a whole lot of good news to report results-wise. The Valero Texas Open in San Antonio is definitely one of my favorite stops of the year, but unfortunately I didn’t play very well so my week there was cut short. Then, I played the Zurich Classic of New Orleans for the first time since 2014. Brand new for this year, the event featured a team format. I paired up with one of my closest friends, Mark Wilson, and despite having an absolute blast, Mark and I had a tough start and couldn’t quite play well enough to recover. So, I’m heading home early from New Orleans, too.

It stinks to miss cuts and to not be competing on weekends. I’m really sick of it, but I am still proud of the effort that I’ve been putting in and am confident that my hard work will bear results.

I’m not really sure which variables will play the biggest role in helping me to get things turned around, but I do have some definite areas in which I need to improve. First of all, I need to regain my swagger on the greens. It’s not just that I haven’t had any great putting weeks lately; I’ve actually been putting poorly. My putting practice has been going okay, but I’m never feeling great over my putts right now. I know that I am brilliant with a putter in my hands. Through smart practice and a free mindset, I can release that brilliance again and do so consistently. Next, I need to be much more consistent with my wedges. I have weeks when I feel okay about my wedge play (Hilton Head), but then I also have weeks where my wedge play is atrocious (Texas Open). Even at my worst, I need to be an above-average wedge player, and I know that I can be through disciplined practice and smart execution. Finally, I need to clear my mind to compete more freely. I am currently feeling a lot of stress, pressure, and anxiety when I’m on the course because I feel desperate for better results. I know I play my best golf when I feel freedom, and I also know that I can choose that feeling. It is very difficult for me right now, but I can choose to feel free, and I am progressing toward doing it.

Finding excellence in these three areas is not a far-fetched task for me. I can do it. I’ve been excellent in these areas before, and I will be again.

I’m definitely disappointed, frustrated, and even sad about my results lately. But all I can do with the past is learn from it, and I feel like I’m ready to do that. I am excited to keep going and keep growing. I have incredible opportunities ahead, and I’m ready to seize them! I’m still living my dream, and I still have the best job in the world. I’m ready to do it well.


Thank you for believing in me and following my journey. Keep it here for great news moving forward!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Progress at Harbour Town

I moved forward in a big way last week at Harbour Town. A slow start to the tournament created a challenge and a disappointing final round kept me from have a good finish, but in between, a lot of extremely encouraging things happened. I'm continuing to make physical progress in all areas of my game, but more importantly, I am moving toward feeling more freedom and having more mental clarity on the course as well. I'm excited to keep playing!

Last week was fun. Harbour Town is possibly my favorite course on Tour, and I had one of my best friends, Ryan Nelson, caddying for me for the week. I had three great days of preparation, and really felt ready for the tournament. Despite a frustrating and unsettling poor start in which I was three over par through six holes, I still felt like I was ready to play well. I chipped in under the watch of the lighthouse on Harbour Town's iconic 18th hole (my ninth) on Thursday for my first birdie of the tournament, and for the next 45 holes, I played a lot of good golf.

The strongest memory for me from the week will be the way I played the final seven holes on Friday. Though I'm trying hard to not let outside distractions affect my mental process towards each shot, I must admit that I was acutely aware of the cut as I was playing on Friday. That definitely caused some stress for me, but I executed beautifully over my final seven holes. I converted two beautiful shots on the par-four 12th hole into a birdie. I continued to hit really good shots, but narrowly missed great birdie chances on holes 13, 15, and 16. I stood on the 17th tee believing I would need to play the final two holes one under par to make the cut. The par-three 17th was between an eight iron and seven iron for me on Friday. I wasn't sure that I could quite get an eight iron to the hole, but I knew that I would have a hard time stopping a seven iron on the green with a strong wind at my back. I decided to commit to the eight iron, and I hit a beautiful shot. The ball flew high with just a tiny draw and fell perfectly on my selected target just right of the flag. The ball rolled out perfectly and finished twelve feet short and right of the hole. I definitely felt some nerves, but I was composed, and I rolled my putt into the left edge of the cup for a birdie! It was a great feeling. I proceeded to hit a shockingly poor tee shot on the closing hole, but I hit a great four iron from right of the fairway to just in front of the green, chipped close, and finished with a par to post two under par for the first 36 holes.

I still felt way more stress and anxiety related to the cut than I would like to feel, but this time, I took control of those feelings and stayed in the present. It was a huge step in the right direction!

I played an interestingly great round on Saturday during which my ball-striking felt a little off the entire time, but I managed it very well and shot a 67 (-4) to move up quite a bit on moving day. Then, on Sunday, I had the most beautiful warm-up session and striped my opening tee shot. I felt confident, but it didn't happen for me on Sunday. I hit too many errant shots and never got the good stuff flowing. My Sunday 75 (+4) dropped me down the final standings quite a bit.

I did have one very cool Sunday highlight, though. On that same 17th hole, with the same wind and the hole location just a little farther back on the green, I hit a seven iron that landed just over the front bunker and released right into the middle of the cup for a hole-in-one! What a memory!

I am striving to improve in many areas, and my week at Harbour Town was definitely a move in the right direction. I'm excited to keep it up. Physically, I'm prepared to play well and feel like I'm only getting better. Mentally, I've had a lot going on inside my head, but I feel ready to quiet some of the noise, come back to the present, and have a lot of fun.

I am currently on the way to San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open, and I'm excited to keep progressing. Thank you for following me and please keep it here for more updates moving forward!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Close in Houston

A birdie-free 75 in the opening round was not the start I was looking for or expecting after two weeks of great preparation for the Houston Open. I was feeling primed physically and mentally to get after it, so I was definitely pretty bummed after the first round. When I look back on it though, I really was prepared. I just had a rough day. I hit some bad shots at the wrong times and didn't make any putts. I was prepared, I just didn't execute very well. That first round had me behind the eight-ball for round two, and I did end up missing the cut, but this week felt different and better than some of my recent disappointments. I'm prepared to play well, and it's going to happen soon!

Round two was really fun. I woke up Friday morning feeling a little bummed about my poor score from the day before, but I discussed those feelings with my caddie (Alicia!), and we decided that I was going to forget about everything and just go play as if I was having a fun round with my buddies. I had absolutely not given up on getting back into the tournament, but I knew that the best way to do that would be to go have some fun. I felt relaxed and confident during my warm-up and was  genuinely excited to go play. The wind was picking up for the afternoon, and I felt ready for the challenge. I hit a good drive down the middle on the first hole and then hit my second shot too well as I pierced an eight iron through the wind and over the flag into the back fringe. From there, I casually rolled in a fifteen footer for my first birdie of the tournament, and I smiled real big. I went on to birdie four of the first six holes in round two. After a good drive on the par-five eighth, I was really feeling it. I committed to my second shot and was feeling good, but I splashed my three wood into the pond right of the green. Despite the bogey, I was still feeling good, but I just couldn't get it going the rest of the way. Still, with winds increasing and conditions becoming more difficult, the cutline began to rise, and I still had a great chance to make it to the weekend with four holes to go. I hit a disappointingly poor wedge shot into the par-five 15th hole and made a par. I then hit a lot of good shots over tough final three holes, but ended up finishing par-bogey-bogey to post a score (72, even par) that wasn't nearly as good as how I felt I had played. It was really fun to play well and feel some excitement again, though!

One more cool story about the second round: I ended up bogeying the final hole, but that doesn't tell the story of what really happened. After my bogey on the 17th hole, I needed an eagle on the 484-yard 18th hole to make it to the weekend. I smoked my drive down the watery par four and had 187 yards to the front left pin which was tight to the water. The wind was helping off the right, and I had 179 yards to the front edge of the green. I knew to make it I had to hit a seven iron up in the air and have it land softly right on the front of the green. I hit the most beautiful shot, and it was falling left on the wind and going right at the flag. It landed on the edge of the front fringe and skidded forward past the flag all the way to the back tier of the green. It was so cool to hit that shot and actually see it have a chance while it was in the air!

So, at the end of the day, this will go down as a missed cut and that is always a little bit disappointing for me, but this was actually a really good week. I am feeling physically prepared to play great, and I will continue to work to make my swing more autonomic so that it's more consistent in tournament situations. I'm also really close to feeling mentally prepared to play great. There is definitely a big part of me that still wants success too badly and is too obsessed with results right now, but the attitude of just having fun and being relaxed is a good start to overcome that. I was close to getting it in Houston, and I am going to get there!

I now have Master's week off unfortunately, but I will use it to prepare well for a long and great stretch of golf after the Masters. I'm super excited, and I know that great stuff is coming.

Thank you for following and believing in me, and please keep it here for good news moving forward!

Catching Up on a Positive Last Month

I've been too busy playing golf tournaments and working on my game to update my blog! That's really not true, but I have been keepin...