I have to be honest, it felt like I was dragging myself to the airport again on Monday… the workload of the last 21 week stretch, plus an exciting and hard-working week in Vegas had really drained my energy. I told myself that this was like 3rd period hockey, and planned to leave it all out there in my last event before a two week break!
The golf course was big, with lots of water and very grainy Bermuda grass. The 18th hole was the most memorable, particularly because there seemed to be three times more water than fairway…
I adjusted the lie angles on my irons, and had some of the best practice with Butch that I have had all year. It took us a few tweaks, but I think we had finally found the perfect recipe for my irons! I also did a little bit more golf ball testing with the Callaway team, as they are putting the finishing touches on the prototype golf balls set to release early next year.
Spoiler alert, they’re really good.
We hit draws, fades, soft shots and full shots with several versions of balls to see how they reacted, and make sure the ball performed optimally for all types of shots.
I teed off Thursday afternoon, and Butch (who was being honored by the tournament for his contributions to the Houston Open and golf in Houston) followed along on his personal golf cart… And joked that his credential had so any access letters that it looked like he was in a spelling bee.
In the afternoon wind, I shot an excellent 68 to move into a tie for 14th. My short irons were really good, as Butch and I were working on flighting them lower to control distance better. I teed off again the following morning, but played one hole (note, in 75 degrees and no wind) before a thunderstorm rolled through. After a two hour delay, I went back to the 11th hole to be greeted by temperature in the low 60s and 20-30mph of wind. It was a grind, including smashing a drive that only went 239 yards on 18 (where I hit it nearly 320 yards the previous day) but ground out a 74 that only moved me back to 31st place.
Again, I had a frustratingly slow start on Saturday, going three over through my first 12 holes before making three late birdies and a bogey to get back to a 73. I had dropped down to 46th, and talked to my girlfriend Danielle Kang (on the LPGA Tour, who just won this week in Shanghai!!). I told her how I was frustrated that my best finish on the PGA Tour was 29th place, and that I hadn’t moved forward on a weekend since Panama in January…
Needless to say, I got an earful about setting my goals higher and being more positive. I had been too focused on what everyone else was doing around me on the weekends especially, and while I fought back well, the poor starts were affecting me too much. She gave me three things to focus on, which her older brother Alex had told her to do a few years back as well: do not look at leaderboards, focus harder on my mental scorecard, and say two nice things to myself about every shot I hit.
I did this, and started Sunday with a much more positive attitude and a pitching wedge that I nearly holed on the second hole. I hit a few birdie putts too firm in the early going- the cold weather and Sunday cut had the greens far faster than I expected.. I then birdied the 5th hole (the 3rd hardest on the course), and made a great birdie on the 6th hole (the hardest on the course, that I had previously played in 5 over par). The first green I missed in regulation was a perfect 4iron on 9 that got just hit by the wind into the bunker… but a great sand save and I turned in 3 under par. I missed a short birdie putt on 10 and barely missed another on 11, but then got on my best run of the season. I birdie 12 with a wedge, up and down birdie on 13, hit 6iron to 20’ for birdie on 14, pitched to 3’ for birdie on 15, and hit 18 to 10’ for birdie on 16. I rocketed up the leaderboards (exactly how high, I am not sure ;).. I just missed my par save on the 17th hole after having to lay up out of a bad lie in the bunker, but made a great sand save on the difficult 18th to shoot a final round 65, my best round on tour at 7 under par.
This moved me up to 17th place, my best finish on tour, and validated a lot of the hard work and changes I had made over the past few weeks. I raced to the airport, and enjoyed my three hour flight back home to Vegas, where I was going to have my first two week stretch in my own bed since… March!!
Thanks again for following, and see you in Bermuda!