Lets change things up a bit. Rather than bore everyone to death with yet another tale of missed putts and opportunities, I think the focus should be on the positives of the West Coast Swing and my plan moving forward. On paper, things look dismal. Missed cuts and mediocre finishes have been the norm over the past six weeks. I certainly didn't expect these results when I boarded a plane for Palm Springs back on January 3rd. However, I am actually very, very excited heading into my first off week of the year. I know, I know…..how can I be excited over another missed cut? Have I lowered my expectations? Absolutely not! For those that know me personally or have followed my blog since day one know that I am very competitive and extremely hard on myself. I accept only the best and I don't settle for mediocrity when it comes to anything that I do. It doesn't matter if I'm playing golf or being a father, husband or friend - I simply expect and demand the best from myself. So with that in mind, I am obviously not thrilled with my results over the past six weeks. However, when I look at the big picture, I am as encouraged, optimistic and excited about my golf game as I have been since turning professional in 2001. That's impossible, right? Three straight missed cuts and "I am as encouraged, optimistic, and excited about my golf game as I have been since turning professional in 2001?" I can hear you now…What about the successful 2009 Nationwide Tour season where I almost won three times and top 10 finishes were almost a weekly occurrence? What about my near victory at the Byron Nelson last year? It sounds weird but I truly believe that I am playing better from tee to green than I did during either of those times. The problem, of course, lies on the greens and my inability to make putts so far this season. Seems like an easy fix, right? Wrong. How can I fix something when it is nearly impossible to pinpoint what exactly is wrong? I continually hit great putts and that is what makes it so frustrating. The ball is starting on line and more times that not, it hits the hole. The ball just isn't finding the bottom of the cup. It certainly would be a lot easier if I was pushing or pulling putts and the ball wound up way off line. Even my playing partner this past week at Riviera, Chris DiMarco, commented several times to his caddy, as well as mine, about my near misses. He told them "I cannot believe how many great putts he has hit that haven't gone in. As soon as they start falling, he will win by a mile." That's pretty encouraging, especially when it comes from a veteran like DiMarco. Despite the talk, at the end of the day (and especially in my mind) a missed putt is a missed putt, regardless of how big or small. So why am I so "encouraged, optimistic, and excited?" The biggest reason is the fact that my ball striking is light years ahead of last season and any other time in my career. I am driving it well off the tee and if I miss a fairway it is usually by only a yard or two. In fact, I can name on one hand the number of fairways I have missed by more than a few yards all year long. The majority of my missed fairways come from actually going through the fairway rather than right or left. My irons are more solid and crisp than in years past, as well. I credit a great deal of that to a pretty healthy hip that is allowing me to turn freely. My good friend and swing coach, John Tillery, has definitely helped add validation to what I am doing with my golf swing. We haven't made any major swing changes so far but we have a game plan in place that will eventually add even more consistency. My short game has improved a great deal, as well, and I am especially excited about my bunker play. So where do I go from here? How can I improve my putting (which in return will improve my results)? I honestly have no idea… HaHa. Just kidding. I have a few things to try this week while I am practicing at home. TaylorMade made me several different putters to try out before I return to action week after next in Florida. Who knows? A small tweak to my setup or a different putter could change things forever. In all reality I am not a bad putter. I am actually a good putter who just wants to be the best.
Like I mentioned earlier, this coming week will be my first off week of the year. I have played six straight tournaments and I haven't slept in my bed or played with my dog since January 3rd. My black lab, Bo (or BoBo), may not even recognize me! I cannot wait to spend the week with my family and see what its like to be a full-time Daddy and Husband again. I plan on taking my little maniac Jake fishing and to the golf course almost everyday. I know he is supposed to attend 3 year old Church school this week but if I have my way, he will be playing hooky!! As for Libby, she is keeping Beth on her toes. I am sure my bride is anxious for an extra hand or two with Libby, and I am looking forward to playing with my girls too.
All in all, my golf game is better than it appears. I am going to work hard this week and hopefully I will see the results in Florida. Regardless of what happens with my golf, my family is happy to have me home and that means more than anything!