Friday, March 28, 2008


The week did not get off to a good start when I pulled out my driver for the first time since Shanghai and the head was dangling off. The bag handlers at the airport must be able to get more club head speed out of it than I can! Another pro living in Taiwan, who owns the same driver, has lent me it to me for the coming week and Titleist is building me a new one, so I should be covered. I don’t think I will use the same two driver strategy Phil Mickleson utilized in '06 though.

I have been focusing on freeing play this week. When a player competes for a week with the wind cutting across holes with water on both sides of the fairway, their golf swing tends to become tight, immobile and slow. I received great advice that I should make my practice week as unrestricted as possible and play fun shots: the majestic ones; the high shots that move both ways on command. To hit these shots, a player must utilize their athleticism and make fuller, freer movements. The same principle applies to putting. Keep it really simple with the only thought being the ball going in the hole. It is a superior mentality to play golf with and makes the journey around the course exceedingly fun. In between shots I've worked towards breaking apart the 'score box' that golf locks its players inside. I've played with only a handful of players in my life who are able to do this...

We measure ourselves relative to this conceived score and word dubbed, "par." A shot that moves away from our intended lines and places par in harms way, creates tension and a sense of lack of accomplishment. To destroy this model, I've been trying to view each shot as uniquely individual. I do this by reminding myself, "I did not hit my shot to this point, I walked out onto the course and placed it here because I wanted the opportunity to play this shot." Thus, no matter where the ball is, I've made the conscious choice to play from here and there is only that shot. Everything becomes rendered perfect in my world. Every swing is not related to every other swing. Thus, If you have missed a few 6 foot putts in the previous 17 holes, those strokes have no bearing on your ability to make the one on the 18th.

My focus now needs to be on winning. I have come to Asia to gain valuable experience reinventing myself as a man not connected to a past of ups and downs, but a present moment focused only on success. I need to move beyond thinking about how much potential I have and live up my ideal self image on a daily basis. There is no such thing as par or time, there is only this moment. As Sports Psychologist Diana Mcnab says, "every time you look at your watch, it should only say 'NOW.'

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pictures from Shanghai

Visit this link to my website for Shanghai and KEB Invitational Pics:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Final Round KEB

The wind HOWLED today...To illustrate: on two parallel 440 yard holes, one played into the wind and the other down. On the hole playing into the wind, I hit a full, solid driver to 177 from the front edge of the green and proceeded to bash a low flighted 3 iron, coming up short by two yards. On the following hole, I hit the same drive to 51 yards from the front edge of the green.

On my first hole of the day I was left with a 133 yard approach shot straight into the gail. I stood over the ball with a 7-iron and as the gusts nearly blew me over, I changed to a 6. From this distance into a light breeze I would normally hit a low-flighted 9 iron...this was before the wind was even near its peak! The scariest part of today was standing over putts positioned on slight slopes and hoping you didn’t look down at the ball to find it blowing away.

I finished with another disappointing round of 76 today. My first paycheck from the tour wont quite cover my week's expenses but I suppose after the struggles my game has experienced in the last three days, I should feel fortunate I made a check at all. The best news of my week was finding out today I was invited to next month's SK Telecom Open -- a co-sanctioned event between the Korean and Asian Tours that KJ Choi, Jim Furyk and Chris Riley played in last year.

I'll head back to Taipei tomorrow and spend the week grinding down the glitches in my game. I leave for Tottori, Japan this coming Sunday for the next Korean Tour tourney. I'll reflect further in the coming week. Tonight, I am tired from a week of too many strokes and too few smiles. No worries, fewer strokes and more smiles are imminent.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Adapt and Overcome

Aside from 10 holes in the first round where I was able to ride a wave of momentum, this has been the worst week of golf I have played since I've been in Asia. I nearly picked up today's round where I left off yesterday's. The weather has posed a serious challenge as it has been 45 degrees with 20 mph winds and off and on rain and usually, I welcome that weather. So despite terrible play and a barely made cut, I need to learn from this event so I am more prepared for the next and it can be a positive experience.

I started the tournament in the correct frame of mind wanting to have a personal best tournament. I had my heart set on double-digits under par for a number. I visualized shooting it and my great play in the second half of the first round made me believe I could get that done. See a problem with this thinking yet? I was already in a score-oriented frame of mind. I went into day two with visions of grandeur and a head-snapping, low round. I started off the round by hitting two shots on a par five over the green and into a nasty hazard. It was position Z. It may not have been quite cold enough to snow at 7 am yesterday morning, but I had built a snowman on my first hole anyway, racking up an 8. I was devout to my thought process at this stage and here lies the problem. I watched my name come off the leaderboard in one hole and I was determined to get it back up there quickly, so I pressed.

It was tunnel vision with the flag stick; there was nothing else in my head. It didn't matter where the pin was, I needed my name back on the top of that leaderboard. When the aggressive play got me in trouble because I couldn’t execute, I found myself further away from the leaders and I pressed harder. I pressed so hard I went numb. The feeling was toxic, it was like a pressure poison in my veins. It was in the mid-forties outside and I was boiling. The only reason I have improved at golf is because I have been able to make par my friend and remain patient. In the last two days, I regressed to a time when I was an incredibly inconsistent and unpredictable player. To make things more problematic, I let the disappointment of yesterday take away my hunger for success today. I was like a car running on its last fumes. My ZONE is just above a positive, neutral state of mind and I missed it on the extreme high and low side. Both of these corners of the spectrum are horrible places for a golfer.

What can I take out of this? Discussing this tour's tournament sites and weather conditions this week with the veteran players, I have discovered that out here, par is a great score. Par makes you money. The courses are difficult, the tournament setups and course styles are different and the weather, adverse. I need to adapt. Some of the oldest knowledge are planet has says that if you cannot adapt, you cannot survive. This week is a perfect example of that. If I could have made par my friend yesterday, stayed patient and played as if it were a chess match, setting myself up in this moment for success in the next, I may have a very different blog post tonight.

It's the first event of my rookie year on the Korean Tour and I will try to find my ZONE tomorrow and chalk this one up as a great debut learning experience. If I can continue to learn and implement that knowledge into every journey around the course, this will be a successful year and a great career. The journey continues into better days...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

KEB Invitational Rd. 1

Some rounds of golf are amazing because of how great they are while others because of how humble they can make us. My round today was amazing because it contained both. Through 7 holes I was +1 after blowing two great opportunities on par fives. This course's challenge lies primarily in the undulating slopes that comprise every green and secondly, due to water hazards in play on 14 of the 18 holes. Hole 8 was one such hole and my tee shot went swimming, leading to a double bogie. I was +3 through 8 holes and felt the noose tighten.

Walking to the ninth tee, after seeking relief in profanity, my caddy said, "we're not even half finished the first round of a four day tournament." As obvious and repetitive as that comment can be by someone trying to comfort you during a humbling round, it unlocked a string of images that made me believe I was ready to handle this situation. So I went to work.

I picked away at the black numbers one moment at a time and birdied the ninth. Then I birdied the 470 yard par 4, 12th. I followed that with a tap in birdie on 13 and 15. The 17th has a KIA Sportage just off the tee, which is given in the event of a hole is one. I rifled a six iron at the flag 190 yards in the distance. A player from China in my group used the only English I heard him speak all day, he was enthousiastically saying, "go in!" The ball landed a few feet in front of the hole and led to another birdie. I capped off the round by making a downhill, 20 footer on 18 in front of the tv cameras, for one final birdie and a back nine of 31. In 10 holes, I had altered my future moving from +3 to -3; from prisoner, to executioner.

I go into round 2 in solo third place, three strokes away from the leader and will look to burn up the cold morning air at 7 am.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tournament Masks

The tournament put on a player's dinner tonight. One of the entertainment acts was a traditional chinese performance where a dancer/magician changes faces over the course of a song. The performer begins with one type and color mask and without ever touching his face, and in the blink of an eye, can change masks: one comming off, one going on and the transition is too fast to witness, appearing seemless. It is puzzling and spectacular. From what I was told, there are only a small number of performers who can do it successfully and no one outside their tightly formed circle knows their secret method.

It was a fitting act because the night before a big event begins, I try to put on a different mask. I try to lay the idea of tournament golf aside and focus on anything else. At this point, I've put in my preparation and there is nothing more I can do tonight to enhance tomorrow's play beside rest, relax and sleep well. So the pink elephant that looms is my tee time tomorrow at 11:30, but it is my job to put on the mask with the pink elephant blinders. It is one of the only times during the course of a tournament week that I will really try to get away from anything having to do with golf.

The weather has been very cold for the last two days, not getting above 50 and that is not supposed to change for the comming weekend. Tomorrow will be spent bundling up to stay warm and finding a rhythm to get hot. If you are awake late tonight and happen to be around the computer, go to and click on 2007 Korean Tour Schedule in the left hand column...the schedule will pop up and click on KEB Invitational for live scoring. Otherwise, you can read about my first round tomorrow on the blog. If all goes well, the next time you hear from me I will be wearing my red, under par mask. Over and out.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Korean Tour Debut

It has been quite an adventure getting to the tournament site. It started with the previous post I wrote in Hong Kong and moved in and out of Shanghai. When I arrived in Shanghai just before midnight on Friday, it had been a long day running around what I thought was a massive airport in Hong Kong, but paled in comparison to what I was about to experience in the most populated city in the world. The new airport in Shanghai is called Pudong International. It is on the outskirts of the city, a little over an hour away from the center of Shanghai's bustling business and tourist center.

My hotel was a basic, clean hotel, 15 minutes away from the city center. Because Shanghai is so massive with seemingly infinite places to stay, no maps list any hotels under a 4 star rating. This made it a challenge for the taxi driver to find the accommodations. Maybe it was an act, or possibly the specific drivers I hailed, but contrary to what many of the locals say here, the taxi drivers have not known any of my destinations this week. This leads some to refuse service and some to get mad at you, the tourist, for not knowing your way!

Saturday was a day to unwind from the chaos of Friday's travel but actually led to further chaos. I traveled into the heart of the city for some sightseeing. Being a weekend, I didn’t expect travel to be too congested or difficult, but I had never been to a city with 20 million people, in a country with over 1.3 billion people! It did not seem to matter where we were, or at what time we were there; Shanghai is jam-packed, bumper to bumper, shoulder to shoulder. Walking around downtown, you use "the five 'Ds' of dodge ball -- dodge, dive, dip, duck!" You never knew you could feel claustrophobic in such a massive place.

The architecture of Shanghai is spectacular. While many of the tall buildings are built with an extremely unique, far-eastern style, the structures that lay underneath give you the feeling you are in an old, European village. Some of the smaller buildings in downtown have a European gothic look, with dark brick and large clock towers. It is the most tastefully eclectic city I have ever seen.

I managed to repay a tourist karma debt by assisting a polish businessman to make his way a few miles across town to his hotel. Apparently, the locals understood American Chinese, also dubbed 'Chinglish,' more than they could grasp Polish Chinese (I have yet to come up with an abbreviation for that language). I have pictures I will load on my site following this tournament.

The abridged version of the journey home consists of getting lost, not being able to hail a cab in downtown because it is against the law, taking the wrong subway train to the other side of town, getting a taxi lost and finally making it home after a long, roundabout route. It may have been necessary though, as I discovered China is the first Asian country I have visited that sells Gatorade...whoohoo!

Yesterday was a similar day as I took a taxi across the city into another Chinese province, where the tournament is hosted. The resort did not have an official address and we ended up in two wrong towns, each 20 minutes away from the resort. The trip took us into factory cities: endless rows of factories and warehouses outside of Shanghai. They stretched on as far as the eye could see. I assumed these are the kinds of places that produce all those items with a little tag that reads, "made in China." After the taxi’s tires made their final revolution into the resort's front entrance, the ride took about 2 hours and cost 340 Renmenbi (about $50 US).

Tomorrow and Wednesday are practice days before the start of the event on Thursday. If you go to and click on "2007 Schedules Korea Tour" in the left hand column, the 2008 schedule will pop up and you can get information on this week's event, including live scoring. My tee time is 11:30 Thursday and I play with a player from China and another from Korea. I am excited and look forward to a successful debut on the Korean Tour. The event is televised on CCTV, Chinese National TV and promises to be a great tourney. I will continue to update as the week moves ahead and am looking forward to finding the fairways and greens for the first time on this Chinese adventure.

Friday, March 14, 2008

First Leg of the Adventure

The Korean Tour is co-sanctioning an event with the Asian and European Tours this week in Korea: The Balentine Championship. The Korean Tour's top players were given exemptions into the event, the majority of whom will travel to Shanghai to play in my debut event. It will be a great opportunity to dive into the pool without dipping a toe.

I've spent all day traveling today. This morning to Taipei Airport for a flight to Hong Kong. All afternoon I have run around and waited in Hong Kong in an effort get an expedited visa for China. Hong Kong is an international hub for activity. If you thought the line for a Disneyland ride was long, you haven't had the discomfort of the hour immigration line to get out of Hong Kong International Airport. People are so skilled with language here it is astonishing. As I have spent the last few months learning mandarin with little success, the majoirty of people I have spoken to today speak mandarin, cantonese and english at some level. It is impressive to say the least.

As I peered out the window of the plane when we were touching down, I caught a glimpse of a course on the ocean with a towering, jagged, picturesque mountain in the background. It was quite a sight and the urge to tee it up surged through my golf muscles. Unfortuately, I had to leave it out of the itinerary today so that I can include it in my comming week's itinerary: a strange matter of priorities.

My tournament sequence of events is a very different experience than any I've had in the states. It's an adventure to get to tournaments. Air travel, immigration and language barriers make getting in the tournament site's vacinity challenging: it probes your patience and stamina. Then, getting to the hotels and tournament sites when you might as well be on a different planet and then have to negotiate a price with cab drivers looking to make a fast score, hardens you. It has to. Otherwise, as Tin Cup would say, you end up flat, broke and busted.

I'll continue to report as this week's adventure unfolds. My flight to Shanghai is late tonight and if all goes somewhat smoothly, I'll find myself dreaming by 01:30 this morning.

Keeping you updated on the journey,

Thursday, March 6, 2008


It's been great to feel relatively normal (I use relatively because, am I ever normal?) for the past five days. I've used the time to try to regain some weight I lost during my illness (15 pounds) and prepare for my upcoming event in Shanghai. Over here, a US Passport is like a VIP card. Yesterday, I became aware that China is the one of the few doorman bouncers that wont acknowledge that card. To gain entry into Shanghai for the event on 3/20, I have to travel to Hong Kong and spend a day trying to obtain a visa. Hopefully, that will go smoothly and get the tournament adventure off to a positive start.

Since I have been able to live at Sunrise Country Club, my preparation has improved dramatically. My room is over the club's gym and a half-a-sand wedge away from the practice facilities. My game's progress in this past week has been self-inspiring. My distance control is exceptional by my standards, and I feel that this progress is habitual rather than temporary. I think my distance control is the facet of my physical game that has improved the most in the five months I have spent here. The difference may only average out to a few feet closer to the hole per shot, but that can account for saving one stroke per round and that equates to dramatic improvement at this stage.

I also have a new putter I am working with this week. Titleist made me a Red X belly putter, which my mom was so helpful to ship to me. The ball comes off the putter looking like Miles Davis in his groove; smooth.

There is another facet that will continue to improve my preparation: Sunrise Country Club is the National Amateur Training Center for Taiwan. Thus, the best amateur golfers in the country practice here on a daily basis and they are all junior golfers. Two of them are standout players that break 70 on a regular basis and the remaining 5 are between 13-15 years old and carry the hopes of Taiwan golf on their narrow shoulders. This helps me in two ways: 1. There is always young, hungry talent wanting to beat the pro; 2. I get to spend time around young golfers that use most of their practice, enjoying the game.

I recently saw an interview with Tiger at Dubai where he said that his evening practice routines consist of envisioning practice with his father and friends when he was a junior golfer. When he played strictly for the love of the game. Tiger tries to remain childlike in his practice. If you've ever been a junior player who was dropped off at the course early in the morning on your parents' way to work and picked up at dusk because you couldn’t get enough golf, you know why this strategy makes a lot of sense. Golf is never more simple and fun than when you are a junior golfer competing all day against your friends, for pocket change. There is purity about it that echoes love and dreams. It was during this time that I was free to pretend I was already on the PGA Tour, playing for a victory at Augusta. I saw myself there, it felt real and simple. A few years of growing up and that purity and those uninhibited dreams are more difficult to duplicate. But it is that exact love and those exact dreams that make impossible nothing. Cutting to the chase: being around junior golfers in this state of mind for a few hours a day is going to help me reconnect to that clarity.

I'm in a great place here and very excited for what lies ahead. Until then, find a way to take yourself less seriously and enjoy the road your on. I've heard that God is happiest when His children are at play.