Friday, August 15, 2014

Following the Plan and Making Progress

Friday, August 15, was a good day! It's been the weeks leading up to it, however, that have made the difference. On Friday I played a solid round to move from slightly outside the cut-line to safely playing the weekend at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, NC. Now, I understand that I shouldn't be trying just to make the cut, and that is certainly not my aim, but I'd be lying if I said the cut-line wasn't on my mind after quite a few frustrating weeks on the wrong side of it. For the past six weeks, I have been diligently following my work routine with a strong belief that I will regain the consistency that has characterized my solid play over the past few years. Friday's round just might serve as a turning point for me. My hard work has definitely been showing in my practice, and it was great to feel it yield results in a tense situation in Greensboro. I'm going to keep doing my work and keep getting better, and I'm confident that consistently good results are in my near future! 

Rounds of 70, 67 (-3 total) have me seven shots behind the leaders heading to the weekend here at the Wyndham Championship. This is the last event of the PGA Tour's regular season, and I need a special weekend to advance to the Fed-Ex Cup Playoffs. I'm just going to believe in myself and focus fully on each and every shot. I'm always saying great things are coming, so watch out for me this weekend! 

Thank you very much for following and believing in me! Keep it here for an update after the tournament.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Finding Form

I am feeling great about things. After the disappointment of my early exit from last week's event in Reno, I traveled home and finished up a solid week of practice with a thorough day on Sunday. This week I have taken full advantage of my week off with some really productive work. I have balanced quality time on the practice facilities with three good matches on the course, and my game is definitely moving in the right direction. I am back in the habit of a Peter Malnati-like practice routine, and if my "friendly" matches here at home are any indication, good results are soon to follow. 

On Tuesday, I played at Fox Den Country Club before playing Wednesday and Friday at Holston Hills. I had a rocky start with three bogies in the first six holes at Fox Den on Tuesday, but since then I have played 48 holes of bogey-free golf with 17 birdies. Obviously, that is here in the comfort of my East Tennessee home, but still, I have hit a lot of quality shots, holed a few key putts, and in general played very steady golf in the face of some serious ("friendly") competition. It is encouraging to see good shots and shoot some good scores.

The most encouraging thing is that I can see my practice working. I am back in the routine of having focused, goal-oriented practice, and this week I have seen some of my successes from the practice facilities show up on the golf course. I have a few more putting drills and a little bit of wedge work to do this weekend, and I am very excited to keep following my process and improving.

Sunday afternoon, Alicia and I will hit the road and drive to Greensboro, North Carolina, where the final PGA Tour event of the regular season is next week. I am going to try my hardest not to worry about the results at that tournament, but I can honestly say that I will be going into it the most prepared to play well that I have been all year. 

But for now, I'm going to stay in the present. Keep it here for a report late this weekend as I am going to keep getting better! Thank you for following and believing in me. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Not Yet

It's Saturday, and I'm traveling home. Erratic play in Reno earned me an early exit from the Barracuda Championship and a couple of extra days off before my final regular season event of the 2013-2014 PGA Tour season. It is never fun to miss a cut, and this one certainly adds to my growing frustration, but I am committed to my plan and believe that I am heading in the right direction. 

The final results from Reno look pretty ugly. Needing to birdie the final two holes to make the cut on Friday, I finished with consecutive double-bogeys instead. That dropped me into the bottom of the field. My play was certainly inconsistent and at times very sloppy, but I actually showed a lot of positive signs during my two tournament rounds. I hit great drives, and some quality iron shots, and I actually felt really good over the putter for the first time in a while. Unfortunately I could never string together enough good shots consecutively to get anything going. I just haven't been able to capture the sharpness or consistency yet this year that has characterized my past success. 

I am definitely back on the right track, however. I have been thoroughly committed to my work routine for the past four weeks, and I show great signs in my practice. I have always been a better player on the course than I am on the practice facilities, but I am clearly fighting some sort of confidence issues during my tournaments right now. I have the next week off and will use it to continue sharpening my physical skills, but I will also think about some strategies for recapturing my mental edge during tournament play. 

I am very excited about the progress I feel in my game. My process works, and I can see improvement as I practice. As for my mental game, I have always used my mind as my greatest strength on the golf course, and I have a great resource to help me get the positive thoughts flowing again. Confidence is a choice, and I will make some good choices to ensure that I am feeling great the next time I tee it up. 

As I said in multiple posts a couple weeks ago, I need to have a long-term vision of success. This year's golf results have been really lousy so far, but I have learned a tremendous amount and truly believe that my plan has me on a trajectory to be one of the best players in the world. I am going to continue to improve, and I am very excited for the future. 

I will be working from home this next week and preparing for the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina. That is the final PGA Tour event of the regular season, and I will go into it in my best form of the year! 

Thank you for caring about me and keeping up with me. Stay tuned for updates as I continue moving forward! 

*Random side note and cool picture: I think it is important for me to get my mind off of golf every now and then, too. Here is a view from a quick adventure that Alicia and I took before leaving the Reno-Tahoe area on Saturday.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Barracuda?!

I am at the Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nevada. Barracuda, an information technology company, is the new title sponsor of the Reno-Tahoe Open, and I think a tournament with such a cool name will be a fitting place for me to have a great breakthrough. 

I had a great weekend of practice in Montreal, Canada, and for the third consecutive week, I finished all of my map goals last week. I have continued my solid work with some good practice the last few days, but I have really emphasized time on the golf course in my practice here in Reno. I played 27 holes on the tournament course on Tuesday, and went offsite for a great match with some other players on Wednesday. I am probably a little bit behind on my practice goals for this week, but the time on the golf course has been high quality preparation for me. 

I really feel like I'm back on a Peter Malnati-like schedule. My game is still not as sharp as I would like for it to be, but for the first time in a while I am genuinely believing in my process and my method. I know that I am getting better and am confident that I will be very successful moving forward. 

Now it is time to go to bed! Remember as you check results from the Barracuda Championship that the scoring this week works in a modified Stableford format. That means rather than counting strokes in relation to par, a player's score is determined by a point system. Birdies and eagles earn points while bogeys and doubles cost points. This is the only week all year that you should be rooting for me to have high scores!

Thank you very much for keeping up with me, and please check here for great updates throughout the week.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Heartbreak but So Much Positive in Canada

I'll start with the bad news, and this one really stings. I made a double bogey on my 36th hole of the Canadian Open to move from safely inside the cutline to missing the weekend by one shot. I cannot relay with words how absolutely awful that feels, but I promise the news is not all bad from Canada. 

So, here's the story. I was erratic in Thursday's opening round. Despite feeling prepared heading into the tournament, my iron play was quite poor in round one, and I didn't scramble as well as I needed to in order to post a good score. I did start to find that loving feeling on the greens and rolled in a few big putts, including a 40+ footer on my final hole for a closing birdie to post an opening-round, three-over-par 73. That closing putt was big, and I entered round two feeling like I was ready to play well. I came out Friday morning and despite a shaky iron shot into the first, had a solid start with five consecutive pars. I really found some nice form over the next 12 holes. On holes six through 17, I missed just one green in regulation and had a lot of great looks at birdies. I converted four of those birdies, and stood at four under par for my round heading to the 18th tee. In that twelve-hole stretch, I played well enough to win a PGA Tour event, and that is really cool! 

Of course, the final hole of my second round turned a bit nightmare-ish, and that is a story unto itself, so here goes. I was committed to my plan off the tee, but facing water up the left side of the hole, I missed right of the fairway and ended up in a fairway bunker. I was so certain that I could play a fade with a four iron and loft the ball easily out of the bunker, but my ball smacked the face of the bunker on the way out and settled in the fairway just forty yards in front of me. I definitely felt a little nervous at that point, and on the ensuing shot, my nerves showed. I tugged an eight iron well left of my target and missed the green long and left to a back left hole location. I faced a daunting up-and-down, but I attacked it fearlessly. I slid under the ball just a bit too much with my flop shot, however, and it didn't make it to the green. So I faced another quick pitch shot for my bogey, and I nearly holed it. That fifth shot went in the left center of the hole and rimmed out on the right side. From there I tapped in for a six and posted a second-round, two-under-par 68. 

That debacle on my 36th hole definitely has me feeling bummed out, but it's very important that I learn from it and remember the hugely positive day that preceded it. The first lesson I will take from that experience is to trust my strengths more. I have a great short game, so I didn't need to try to get my second shot from the fairway bunker all the way to the green. I could have chosen a more lofted club and played the ball some twenty yards short of the green and trusted my short game to help me save par. Secondly, I will use this experience as more "toughness training" so that I will be better in big situations moving forward. My iron play had been beautiful since the first hole on Friday, and I definitely let the situation on the 18th hole adversely affect my process over my third shot. My routine is great and my thought process is great; I just need to trust them in all situations. Most importantly, I want to make sure that my mistakes on the 18th hole don't overshadow the great golf that I played on Friday. I played bogey-free, four-under-par golf on a tough course in windy conditions for 17 holes, and, as I said earlier, for a 12-hole stretch, I truly played well enough to win a PGA Tour event. I will learn from the nightmare on my 36th hole, and Friday at the Canadian Open will be remembered as a great day.

So, despite my tournament being cut a couple days short, I am having a great week up here in Montreal. I have been very efficient with my practice, and I felt well-prepared heading into the event. I am really pumped with how much better my game is feeling right now than it did just a few short weeks ago. Returning to my roots of a very disciplined work routine has me feeling like I get better every single day, and it was really great to see some signs of great improvement on the course this week. I have just a few more practice goals to meet over the weekend, and I am motivated and excited to get them done. There is definitely some lingering heartbreak over having this weekend off, but I am following my plan very well, and I feel like I am on the right path to be very successful! 

Thank you for caring about me enough to read this entire post and for continuing to believe in me. There is great stuff coming! Keep it here for a report from a good weekend of practice and a preview of next week in Reno-Tahoe, Nevada.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

That Lovin' Feeling

My long-time coach as I've grown up in golf, the great Bobby Bray, always calls it "that lovin' feeling" when I get my swing grooving and am hitting the ball really well. I don't know that I've quite found that just yet, but I can honestly say that I've got that lovin' feeling back with my practice routine and my approach to my golf game. For the second consecutive week, I completed all of my Map Goals, and I'm flying to Canada already knowing I'm going to do it again this week. Focused and disciplined preparation is my formula for success. As I have done my work over the past couple of weeks, I can feel my belief returning. My game is definitely improving a lot right now, but that belief is even more important. I truly believe that my preparation routine will help me be one of the best players in the world. I've got that lovin' feeling back with my work, and I think I'm pretty close to getting it back with my game as well! 

As I said earlier, I am on my way to Montreal, Canada, for the RBC Canadian Open. I am excited to see a brand new place (to me!) in the world and to continue following my process. I know I'm going to have a great week in Canada. Keep it here for updates and a picture or two. Thank you for supporting me!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ready To Be the Best


have spent the last two days at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game (ASG), and though I only touched my clubs for a quick 18 holes Tuesday morning, I feel like this excursion has been great for my golf game. Through my relationship with MLB.com, Alicia and I were given the royal (Royals!?) treatment during the ASG festivities, and it's strange how much my experience impacted me and has me motivated moving forward. In addition to feeling very refreshed after having an absolute blast for 48 hours in Minneapolis, I am inspired to go be an "All-Star" in my arena. 

The team from MLB.com made me feel like a stud during my time with them at the ASG. I did play well in our golf outing on Tuesday morning, but even before that, the vibe I got from them was: "you made it to the PGA Tour, and we think you're awesome!" Obviously a lot of you have offered that same message to me all year, but after some fairly humbling results thus far in my rookie campaign, it was very cool to feel it from a sponsor. 

Their belief in me got me thinking about the way I believe in myself. I am always striving and working to be MY best, but the thought never really occurs to me to be THE best. That is crazy because I have skill sets to be one of the best players in the world. I will never hit long, towering iron shots or dominate courses with power, but I can certainly be the most accurate player and the one with the best wedge play, putting, and mental game in the sport. I have a long way to go because I am not near it right now, but when I get close to achieving MY best, I believe that I will be one of THE best. 

The good news is I already have a plan in place to reach my best golf. Last week I recommitted to my process of focusing on steady improvement each week. This process includes a disciplined approach to my preparation (weekly "Map Goals") and a long-term vision of success. My becoming one of the best players in the world is not predicated on my tournament results next week but rather is dependent on my continual progress over the coming months and years. If I do my work habitually and improve consistently, I will be one of the best players in the world in my career. 

I love my job. I can't wait to go to work. I am going to be THE best. I am going to be an "All-Star"!

Thank you very much for believing in me and keeping up with me. Progress is coming. Great things are coming. Keep it here to enjoy the ride with me!