Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre...or lack there of

There was no glamorous storyline, no treasure, no direction from John Huston, but "Bogey" was part of my experience at the base of the Sierra Madres. It was a bad week for me on the greens. A few wayward swings and poor putting left me missing the cut this week. I gave myself more great birdie looks early in the round, but never converted.

While these "MC" (missed cut) weeks are very disappointing, I refuse to dwell on negative results. This is just the beginning of the tour season and my goal is to win on the Canadian Tour and peak at the end of the year just in time for PGA Tour Q-School.

I will regroup and be ready to contend at the next event in Victoria, Canada in one month.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Cause You Had a Bad Day..."

...The Daniel Powder song was the theme music to today's story. There isn't much I can say about today's round. I made two bad swings early playing aggressive approach shots that led to double bogies. After "steadying the ship" with two pars and a birdie, I made a poor driver swing and lost a ball on the 18th (my 9th). I spent the entire front nine trying to battle back, but the birdie attempts never came to rest in the bottom of the cup. It was a tough day and the only thing I can do to change my score of 78 today, is play the best golf of my life tomorrow. If I can play one of my all-time best rounds of golf and I get just a little help from the field, there is a chance I could play the weekend. If I can make this happen, tomorrow's theme will be Tina Turner's "Simply the Best."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Riviera Nayarit Classic

This week the Canadian Tour hosts the Riviera Nayarit Classic in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The brand new, highly-anticipated Litibu Golf Course, will open just for this event. The Greg Norman design is amazing: 4 holes are set along the ocean with the 5th looking identical to the par 3, 7th at Pebble Beach. Every hole demands different shots and has tremendous character.

Some holes weave through the jungle and require players to shape their ball flights, and others bring gigantic contours into play around the fairways. The fairways are generous and the greens are large. Because the Mexican government offered the Canadian Tour this venue and Litibu has opened early, the course isn't quite tournament ready. While the fairways and bunkers are in spectacular shape and the views are heavenly, the greens are too new to cut short. The result is extreamly slow and inconsistent putting surfaces for the week. Because I putt best on tightly cut, speedy greens, my biggest challenge will be to remain patient and make sure every putt that does not drop in the cup, runs past the hole. This will give me the best chance to make solid strokes that result in made putts.

I have taken pictures of this amazingly beautiful golf course, but will not be able to upload them on the blog until I return home. (Be on the lookout over the next couple weeks)

My ball striking is consistently strong and my pitching has returned to a stellar level. I am going to enjoy the relaxing ocean walks, the challenges each hole present and the opportunity to play great golf in a top level event. Great things to come this week! I begin the quest for my first Canadian Tour win tomorrow at 2:30 pm.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Finals Round Paves Way for Fresh Start

Bad day. I began with two tough breaks. I was stymied up against two trees in my first three holes. This wasn't so much a result of bad swings as it was being unprepared for four rounds of competition in Mexican heat. I haven't played four competitive rounds consecutively since I last played in Asia in 2008. I just didn't prepare myself properly and was fatigued going into the final round.

While I finished the event at +2 and played my last 20 holes in +7, there were some good things that I can take away. Firstly, making the cut this week improves my tour ranking order, giving me entry into the first Canadian Tour event in Canada, the $250k Times Colonist Open in Victoria next month. Secondly, I made the cut in my first Canadian Tour event despite my game not being in top form. Thirdly, I was able to play four consecutive tournament rounds for the first time in over 18 months. This will help me be prepared for the coming tournament week.

Tomorrow morning I leave for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the second event on the tour schedule. While I am disappointed in my finish this week, I am going to use the positive characteristics of the week to help propel my coming week of competition.

My caddie Sergio said to me this morning, "Last two holes yesterday, very bad Senor." I responded, "We're moving on with today." On a bit larger scale, this event is over and it is time to get focused on the new opportunity the coming week presents.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Moving Day

Today had serious potential. I gave myself frequent birdie chances on my front nine, but failed to convert most. I came away from the front nine at -1 with 2 birdies and 1 bogey. I hit a 6 iron from 198 to within 10 feet on the 535 yard par 5, 2nd hole (my 11th of the day because I began on the 10th). I poured the putt in for eagle and was on my way. A couple mental mistakes en route to the club house left me at -1 for the day after I tapped in at the last.

The score was not indicative of how well I played. The opportunities to shoot a very low score presented themselves today. If I can create similar opportunities for myself tomorrow, "moving day" (the standard name for day 3) may come a day late.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Coming Through in the Cluth

I don't often feel like I weathered a storm after I played. I don't often feel the need to breathe a sigh of relief. Today I did.

The conditions were hot and windy. The grain in the bumpy, inconsistent bermuda greens took many putts for detours around the hole. For 17 holes, almost all my birdie putts fell pray to these challenges. I struck the ball well today and gave myself the chance to shoot a great score had the putts fallen. After bogeying 17, I felt -1 may be the cut and I had dropped to even par for the tournament. I needed a birdie on the 9th (my 18th because I started on the back nine today).

I hit a brilliant 3-wood, splitting the narrow fairway lined with water, bunkers and o.b. stakes. I punched a 9-iron under the wind to the front hole location. 10 feet left. After surveying the putt I committed to the line and hit the ball squarely in the middle of the putter. I looked up to watch the ball fall into the center of the cup, assuring me a chance to play the weekend in my first Canadian Tour event of the year.

My round had so much potential, and it was exhausting remaining patient for 17 holes before I was able to watch a birdie putt fall in the hole. It was a full day's work, but making birdie on the final hole to secure a chance to play the weekend and make a paycheck, was worth the wait.

Five or six under par is very attainable. If I can shoot a low round tomorrow, I will have a chance to make a run at the lead come Sunday afternoon, and that will be really exciting.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

1st Round Mexican PGA Championship

I drove the ball well and was deadly inside of 10 feet with the putter to finish at -1, 71. To put myself in contention to win the tournament, I will need stronger iron play as the event continues. I started the day by hitting an approach shot over the top of the pin. My ball buried in the back bunker. 16 holes later, I hit another poor approach well past the pin, Sergio (my caddy) received my club and quietly sighed, "wrong club...again." It was actually more of a poor swing than a poor club selection (maybe a little of both), but my casually blunt, 67 year old Amigo, was not shy about letting me know he was disappointed. I plan on giving him more to cheer about tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Golf Tournament Preparation

The day before the tournament is always crucial. After a long day of travel and two of hard practice, it's a chance to catch up on some rest and do some last minute checks. On the day prior to competition, it's important for me to spend more time visualizing my rounds, than I do on the practice range. I create my final strategy, see myself playing my best and then for about 1 hour, I putt, hit chips, pitches, wedges and a few tee shots. Then it's time to turn off the side of my brain devoted to mastering golf, believe I have prepared as best I could, and relax. The final component to that plan can be the most difficult.

At 8:45 in the morning, I will blast a cut 3-wood down the 1st fairway and my event will be underway. You can visit for 9 hole score updates. Until the morning, I am going to forget I am a pro golfer, enjoy some tacos and hone my Spanish greetings.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Playing the Right Notes

Played my first practice round today. The breeze blowing off the ocean makes for some tricky tee shots on holes defined by king palms. Placement, not length, is crucial. It's 3 woods and 2 irons all day off the tee to set up shots from the 150 marker. It will be a putt off this week. The lowest scores will come from solid short iron play and better putting. With a new, comfortable grip on my putter, the club feels like an extension of my arms. It's like Clapton playing the blues. I'm just playing the right notes with the putter right now.

Tomorrow, I will play early with my caddy Sergio: an older man with a relaxed demeanor who shares my affinity for high heels on senoritas. Sergio will be my looper for the week and my guide through the ocean gusts and grainy greens of El Cid.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mazatlan Mexico

I spent the day traveling to the sunny, warm city of Mazatlan in central Mexico. I write this over looking the sun setting on a light blue sea. There is a pool that winds through the resort, complete with tiki bars serving Coronas and the gentle strums of James Taylor to encourage a carefree attitude and the purchase of more margaritas. Of course, this isn't the resort I'm staying at. I'm paying 300 pesos to use another resort's internet because my hotel doesn't offer this service.

The town outside the coastline where the airport is located, reminded me Johor Bharu Malaysia. Homes are brightly painted, thick graffiti lines the walls of every compound and the hot sun has left the ground charred.

I walked around the practice area of tournament course and saw the opening tee shot. Based on viewing one hole, I'm guessing the course will resemble a narrow, south Florida resort course with extremely grainy greens, strong ocean breezes and hazards lurking.

I'm excited to test my hypothesis tomorrow morning for the first practice round. The Corona Mexican PGA Championship begins Thursday.