Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Evil Round 4 Monster

A disastrous 78 today.

Until I learn how to defeat the evil round 4 monster that I transform into on the final day of competition, I will never succeed consistently as a pro golfer. Day 4 has been my nemesis since I turned pro. I haven't fully acknowledged it until now, and maybe that is one of the issues. Instead of advancing from the top 25 into top 20 or 15, I fall off the map on the final day: from a profitable professional golfer, I transform into a useless hacker. It was very costly in Asia and it has been thus far on the Canadian Tour.

The same swing, rhythm, energy and feel troubles inevitably show up on day 4 and I continue to react the same. It is the very definition of insanity. I have become a very solid, competitive three round professional golfer. Unfortunately, pro golf requires 4 cumulative rounds of competition. I need to prepare and train my energy levels, swing and feel for day 4 if I expect to reach my potential.

In the last three weeks, I've made all three cuts, finished 12th shooting -17 and secured my Canadian Tour card for next year. The final round of 2/3 events have cost me thousands of dollars however and just making cuts is no longer an acceptable measure of success.

Like I wrote two weeks ago, I need to continue to set myself up for success through the first 3 rounds of tournaments and be more prepared for final rounds with a new game plan and better preparation during off weeks.

There are lots of great things to take away from the past three weeks on the Canadian Tour, but the most important is to learn from the round 4 failures to succeed in future events.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Long Round

I teed off at 10:40 am for round 3 of the Canadian Tour Player's Cup and tapped in for 69 at 8:52 pm. With a 5 hour severe weather delay, I spent more than half the day waiting to get back on the course. Through 4 holes, I was cruising at -2 and had a great chance for birdie on 5. Then the suspension horn blew following loud thunder rumbles in the distance. It would be another 5 hours before I could hit my shot at the 5th.

At the end of a three week stretch of hard work and competition, day 3 proved to be exhausting. I had many chances to "take it deep" today (shoot low scores), but squandered them with avoidable mistakes.

With all the rain and difficult pin positions, very few of my competitors "took it deep," and I actually advanced my standing to 25th place today at -2 for the tournament. If I can maintain my focus for one final round tomorrow and capitalize on all the opportunities that come my way, it will be a very special week resulting in a top finish.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Player's Cup: Day 2 Recap

Not much time...just finished the round, have to get out for dinner. Today's recap: Played very solid on the front nine (8 pars, 1 birdie). Hit a terrible block-slice out of play on 11 and made double bogey to go to +3 for the tournament (+1 was the cut at this time). During a 30 minute wait on the next tee, I became determined to beat the cut line and trust my swing. I took that determination over every shot and birdied three holes in closing to shoot 69 (-2). The conditions were difficult: rock hard, slick greens, windy conditions and fighting to sneak under the cut line. I am at even par for the tournament and am tied for 27th heading into weekend play.

This is my 3rd straight cut made on the Canadian Tour and I have a great opportunity tomorrow to move up the leaderboard and position myself to make an epic Sunday run at the leaders! It's great to make cuts, but even more exciting to know I am improving and moving up in the world of pro golf!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Importance of Trust

I ran out of steam today on the 17th hole at the Canadian Tour's Player's Cup. I finished with a bogey and a double on the closing two holes for 73 (+2). Included in this score was +1 on total par 5 scoring. Whenever I play par 5s over par during a competitive round, I am sure to get lapped by the field.

The course is a short Donald Ross design with extremely undulating, slick greens. Position around the holes is paramount as are angles into the greens.

Down the last four holes, I tried to play low punch shots under the wind, taking one more club and reducing my swing speed. Last week, I played my closing holes making full, confident swings and trusting in my abilities instead of trying to control the ball with abbreviated swings like I did today. The short swings resulted in poor strikes and were not chosen out of trust. I played well last week because I fully believed in my swing.

Tomorrow, I need to regain the same trust and belief as last week when the closing holes approach. I am very much looking forward to redeeming myself in round 2 and shooting a score that gets my name closer to the top of the leader board.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The End of This Week's Hunt

As the day came to a close, I faced a 6 foot par saving putt on my 72nd hole. It had been a challenging day: I battled my swing, fatigue and the pressure and thrill of being in the hunt on the final day. My timing and rythm had left me on the first tee and I spent most of the day scrambling my golf ball around the course trying to salvage par. The back nine was bipolar: 5 birdies, 3 bogeys, a near hole in one and, dare I say, a shank. When this 6 footer on the 72nd hole fell, it would be my first par in 9 holes.

I closed with -3 69 on the final day to finish at -17 for the tournament and tied for 12th place. It was a solid event and marks the lowest 72 hole total of my professional career. While I wish I could have been a stronger contender on the final day, I am still pleased with the progress I'm making. This finish nearly secures my Canadian Tour card for next year.

I will write more in the coming days while I'm on my way to The Player's Cup in Winnipeg for the final stretch of this 3 week run. For now, it was great to feel the sunday rush of being in one of the final pairings and being in the hunt. Off to celebrate my best finish on the Canadian Tour so far. I'll look to top it next week in Winnipeg!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

In Contention in Saskatoon

Another round of 66 (-6) leaves me at -14 headed into the final round. I'm 5 strokes back but have a chance to contend for a win with a great closing round.

I started my round timidly, fighting a block-cut swing that left my tee shots sailing towards the tall native grass right of the fairways. After chipping out of the knee-high fescue at the 2nd, I played an approach shot to 10 feet and made the putt for birdie. After four straight pars, I made a 40 foot eagle putt on 7, birdied 9 and came to 10 at -4. The 610 yard monster played downwind, and I hit a driver and a three wood over the green. Facing a delicate chip over a severe slope, I played a chip and run 7 iron perfectly that found the middle of the hole for another eagle!

At -6 though 10 holes, the round looked promising. While I gave myself a few more great opportunities, the birdie train slowed as it reached the clubhouse and I parred the last hole for 66.

I felt a bit disappointed I couldn't squeeze a few more birdies out of Dakota Dunes Golf Links today. I still have a distant chance to win however. If I can convert a couple more tomorrow and close with the low score of the day, I'll have a great chance to win!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Going Low at Dakota Dunes

The wind was calm, the greens were receptive and the Dakota Dunes golf links was defenseless. I birdied my 18th hole today for a -6, 66 leaving me at -8 for the tournament.

Before teeing off, the buzz around the course was players were going low. The cut was moving to -3, then to -4 and eventually would get to -5! Feeling a bit nervous on the first tee, I popped up a 3 wood and left myself an intimidating approach shot of 210 yards to the 440 yard opening hole. I pulled out 6 iron and played a very solid shot that left me 12 feet from the hole. That would be the most challenging approach shot of the day.

I made a 15 foot eagle putt on my second hole and I was off to a quick start. I felt very comfortable all day, giving myself birdie attempt after birdie attempt (I would have 18 of them today). I hit 18 greens in regulation, the first time I've accomplished this during professional competition in over a year. It was one of those amazing and rare days when golf is actually easy because you're completely in control. I didn't convert quite as many birdie putts as I would have liked, but my putting certainly is showing signs of improvement.

Yesterday, I wrote if I continued to strike the ball well and gave myself chances, I would eventually capitalize on them and that is exactly what happened. At -8, I'm in great shape heading into weekend tied for 19th. Another great round like this tomorrow is just what the golf doctor ordered.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dakota Dunes Round 1

The golf course lent itself to low numbers today. With multiple rounds of 64 and 65, the field took it deep on the links course left unprotected by the wind. After a shaky start, I seemed to find a bit of momentum, birdieing my 4th, 7th, 9th and 11th holes of the day. The steady charge ran out of gas though and I closed with 7 straight pars to finish at -2, 70.

I feel very good about my game right now. I'm hitting lots of greens in regulation and giving myself great looks for birdie. I know if I can continue to give myself chances, when the putts fall, I'll go low. This was a solid start to the tournament and I've left plenty of room for advancement tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dakota Dunes Casino Open

After a disappointing final round last week, I'm playing for a bit of redemption tomorrow at the Dakota Dunes Casino Open. The course is unique from the others played on the Canadian Tour because it is a links course. The wind cuts across Saskatoon's open plains and across the course creating challenges at every hole. Yesterday afternoon, a storm flared creating an F3 tornado not far from the course.

The course is long at 7300 yards and despite afternoon showers, should play fast and firm. Massive slopes on the green edges will provide some opportunity for creative shot making. Based on how well I've struck the ball in the past week and a half, I believe this course will suit my game and give me an advantage over a shorter hitter. I should be one player in the minority that is able to reach some of the 600+ yard par 5s in 2 shots.

As always, putting is crucial. I've gone back to my belly putter and made some minor stroke adjustments this week that should give me a chance to hole more putts.

I'm looking forward to another great week and improving my results.

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th on the 4th

The 4th and final round of the ATB Financial Classic took place on the 4th of July. I sported the red, white and blue Pin High attire and believed I would make some fireworks. I lost my opening tee shot to the right woods and failed to save par.

Edmonton is a beautiful city with a massive gorge running through it's center. The gorge also guards the right side of the 3rd hole at Edmonton CC. I became a little more familiar with the landmark when I over cut my tee shot into the treacherous gorge. When I failed to convert a crucial bogey saving putt from 20 feet, I had lost three shots to par in the first three holes.

I hit two more poor shots on 8 and 9 leading to bogeys after failing to convert par saving putts. I closed my round solidly, but continued to miss likely birdie opportunities down the final stretch. 75 was the best I could manage on a day where nothing went right. If fireworks were lit, they backfired. This seems to be a reoccurring theme on the final day of play. I haven't been able to maintain a high level of play through 4 rounds of competition.

My body rotation gets a bit quick on the final day causing my downswing to get on top of the proper swing plane resulting in slices and pulls. In my last two day 4 final rounds, putts also have a way of veering away from the hole at important moments in the round.

The best way I know to overcome these final round disappointments, is to keep playing four round events. The more final rounds I play in, the more comfortable I'll become and I will break through and have success.

I don't feel the week has been a total loss though: I hit some great wedge shots, delighted a few fans with drives of epic proportion, tested out a new short putter in competition, and made a little money in the process. My host family, Barry and Susan Kuwalchuk, were absolutely amazing. Barry caddied for me, kept me relaxed and gave me some helpful perspectives. His energetic and very optimistic wife Sue was the best fan on the course!

Prior to last week, I hadn't planned to play this tournament at all. I was very fortunate to have this opportunity to compete and believe I'll be more prepared for success at the next event.

I leave today for the next Canadian Tour event, The Dakota Dunes Open in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

ATB Financial Classic's Moving Day

Saturday saw some of the best shots I've hit in a long time. My ball striking was impeccable leaving many close birdie opportunities. I failed to convert most however, and struggled with my new putter for the first time. After a disappointing bogey at the last in front of the gallery, I finished with a -1, 70. Going into the final round I am tied for 27th at -2 for the tournament. If I can convert on similar opportunities tomorrow, I may be able to nab my first top 10 on the Canadian Tour. I've hit great shots and putts this week and tomorrow is a perfect chance to do both at the same time for an entire round!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Staying for the Weekend

After opening with 72 at the ATB Financial Classic, I finished my second round today at 69. I'm at 141 (-1) for the event and will make the cut. On my first hole of the day, I hit my drive behind a tree and had to chip sideways back to the fairway. A rocket 3 wood from 260 left me 8 feet and I was on my way. On my second hole, the ball moved when I placed my putter behind it on the green and I had to take a penalty stroke...this was an unfortunate break and it could have destroyed my positive energy if I had let it.

The desicive hole of the day was the 6th (my 15th... we started on the backnine). I hit a driver and a nine iron to the 507 yard par 5 to within 2 feet. A tap in eagle left a little safety net between the cut and I.

Tomorrow I will try to pick up where I left off and play to make birdies. I'm 6 back of the lead going into the weekend and a low score tomorrow would have me contending for a win come Sunday. Keep checking back for the good news!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

ATB Financial Classic Round 1

This post will be abridged due to exhaustion: Wind kicked up and blew furiously in the afternoon, made ball striking very hard. My wedge was my magic wand and I pitched, chipped and punched it near the hole to save pars. I finished with 72 (+1)...tomorrow I play at 9:10 and have a great chance to jettison up the leader board.