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.