Monday, May 22, 2017

Visible Progress

I’ve been making a lot of invisible progress lately. By that, I mean that my scores have been consistently rather stinky, but beneath that, I have felt subtle improvements growing. At last week’s Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas, I made some visible progress. The end result of the tournament was still pretty stinky, but I did get to play four rounds, and I’m excited by some of the steps forward that I took.

The visible progress was in the form of a first-round 67 (-3). I played late in the day and the winds were incredibly challenging on Thursday afternoon. I birdied the first hole of the tournament, and though the blustery winds wreaked havoc, I dropped just one shot on Thursday. I executed beautifully all day and rolled in some nice putts on my back nine to shoot three under. There was one score of 66 posted in the afternoon wave, but my round on Thursday was the next best of those who played in the afternoon.

I wasn’t done with my signs of visible progress. I came out Friday morning and got my putter heated up. Starting on number ten, I made a great putt of eight or nine feet to save par after a sloppy opening approach shot. I then proceeded to take advantage of some beautiful ball-striking by holing birdie putts of 10, 8, and 20 feet on the next three holes. After a couple of solid pars on holes 14 and 15, I executed three good shots on the par-five 16th hole and rolled in a seven footer for another birdie. Through 25 holes of the tournament I was -7 and in first place by myself!

Okay, reality check time. I finished the tournament at +4 for 72 holes and in a tie for 61st place, so obviously, a lot of that stinky stuff came out over the last 47 holes. I’m really not sure why. I had some nervousness playing in one of the later groups on Saturday, but I have often thrived on that kind of nervous energy in the past, so I don’t think that was the problem. A wickedly cold putter on the weekend was certainly a big part of the reason for the disappointing performance, but I really don’t know why that happened either. At the end of the day, I don’t think I can explain why I went from so good to so bad last week, but, fortunately, it doesn’t need to be explained.

I’m super excited and encouraged by the visible progress I made last week. It only lasted 25 holes, but it was (is) there. I’m going to embrace that, and I’m going to keep working hard to improve my game so that I can perform at a great level more consistently.

I entered last week with a renewed focus to become the best player in the world from 150 yards and in, and I shaped my preparation accordingly. That is going to be a point of emphasis for me moving forward. I will continue to nurture and develop my long game, but the majority of my practice will involve putting, short game, wedge-play, and short irons. I want to be the best player in the world in these areas, and that goal is attainable.

I now have a two-week break to work on my game and make more progress. The next time I tee it up will be for U.S. Open Qualifying on June 5. Between now and then, I’m going to celebrate the visible progress I saw this past week in Dallas and also work really hard to keep improving.


I am excited, and I am having fun. Despite the poor results that have stretched on for quite some time now, I feel that I am in a great spot. I can never say for sure when, but I feel like great things are just ahead. Thank you for following me, and keep it here for a practice report sometime in the next couple weeks.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New Belief

Results-wise, I still don't have anything good to report. After two more tournaments--the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina and The Player's Championship in Florida--I still haven't gotten things to click in competition. I actually did a lot of positive things both weeks, but didn't have the consistency to post good scores. I ended up missing both cuts.

I know this is sounding like the same song on repeat, but I actually do believe that I am close to playing well. Conditions were challenging in North Carolina, and I posted a two-day total of five over par. In a ten-hole stretch on Thursday, I was +7. That means for the other 26 holes on Thursday and Friday, I was two under. That is significant because the leader was only -6 through two rounds in North Carolina. Clearly, I need to play better and clean up that sloppy stretch, but this shows that there is good stuff in there.

In The Player's Championship, I had a similar positive experience despite the disappointing result. I began the tournament with a one-under-par back nine on Thursday, and after a solid par on the first hole and a perfect drive down the reachable par-five second hole, I really felt like I was going to post a good score. I made a mess of the second hole after my great drive, but even after that setback, I executed really well over the last seven holes. Unfortunately, I had a few errors in judgment on the firm and difficult golf course, and my good execution was not rewarded. I actually made bogey on three of the final seven holes without ever hitting a shot that landed more than a couple steps from where I was planning. I posted a 75 (+3) in round one, but it felt really good. I hit a lot of good shots in round two, but I also hit some lousy ones and posted another 75 to miss the cut by four shots.

I am really sick of reporting this news, but I'm not discouraged. If anything, I feel like I'm having a re-awakening of sorts. The frustration of the last 16 months has forced me to do some evaluating, and I had a revelation yesterday morning. My practice for the last two years has been focused largely on becoming a better long-game player. I've worked hard on my golf swing and become a better five iron player. This work has been valuable and necessary, but it has taken me away from my essence and from what makes me great at golf. I want and need to be the best player in the world from inside 150 yards. And the good news is that I can be! And what's more? I haven't been even close. In fact, this year, I've been a below average wedge player and an average-at-best putter. With a renewed focus on the things that make me great, I'm going to get after being the best in the world from 150 yards and in. My long game has improved, and it good enough to allow me to accomplish everything I want in golf, but I must (and will!) be better than good from inside 150 yards.

This revelation and the new practice mindset it is encouraging does not guarantee that things will turn around immediately, but I'm filled with a new belief that I am going to get things turned and going in the right direction. I'm super-excited to get after it.

I'm currently on my way to Dallas for the Byron Nelson Tournament. I'm excited for a great week. Thank you for following and please keep it here for more updates!

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...