Monday, March 31, 2014

Houston - Monday Qualifier

Even though we were first alternate and had a great chance of getting into the event on his number, he still wanted to play today in the qualifier so he could start seeing some putts drop. Well.....that is exactly what happened. Taking only a total of 21 putts for 18 holes, Kevin made nine birdies with one lone bogey to shoot eight under (64) and was the low qualifier. It was fun to be a part of it and watch him play. We changed up the routine today, keeping things simple and just got back to playing golf. He played with a clear, uncluttered mind and stopped trying to be perfect. He committed to his decisions and wasn't focused on being perfect. Now, we just need to keep building on this and keep it rolling. Today was a big step on getting that confidence back.

Valero Texas Open (San Antonio, TX) - Recap

We didn't get into the field for Bay Hill so we had the week off leading up to San Antonio. I had a great week off after three weeks on the road. I was able to take the family to Chapel Hill and watch a good friend coach our local High School to a win in the NC State 3A Championship with a last second game winning shot, do some spring cleaning yard work, watch the kids soccer games, and play a little golf with the kids. It definitely recharged the batteries and I was ready to get back to work.

Although the drive to San Antonio is 18 hours from Morganton, I made the decision to cut expenses and make the drive. I left early Sunday morning, drove 14 hours, stopped for the night and rolled into San Antonio around lunch time on Monday. Kevin was not flying in until Monday night so I was planned to head out to the course for some course work. Unfortunately, shortly after I arrived, an afternoon thunderstorm hit the area and shut things down for the rest of the day.

I met Kevin Tuesday morning for some range work. He has been struggling the last few weeks with his irons hitting into the wind. The ball has been spinning too much so the ball "steps up" and falls out of the sky when hitting into the wind. He spent the week off with his instructor, John Tillery, on trackman testing and recording ball spin, launch angles, etc. When we arrived on Tuesday, we worked with the TaylorMade Tour staff and they build him a new set of irons with different shafts to help improve his "numbers". Kevin loved the feel of the shafts and we saw an immediate improvement in the ball flight. We went out and played an afternoon practice round with Bo Van Pelt, Scott Brown and Robert Allenby. A weather system moved in Wednesday morning and the temps struggled to get above 50 with a wind chill hanging around the lower 40's. We spent a few hours in the morning chipping and putting before it started raining and it got too bad to continue. The rain stopped around lunch time and we headed back out for some more practice. 

Thursday's round was delayed 2.5 hours due to fog. When we finally teed off, Kevin felt great and we were looking forward to a great week. After two solid pars to start the round, we missed the green from 120 yards and couldn't get it up and down. Another missed up and down on the next put us two over early and clawing our way back. Unfortunately, we couldn't gain any momentum as we didn't make a birdie all day and the longest putt we made was 6'8" according to shotlink. It was a very frustrating day and patience was wearing thin. We had now played 47 holes in competition without a birdie. After the round, we spent the rest of the afternoon working on putting. Missing most of the putts right, Kevin and JT worked on keeping his stroke more square on the backswing. 

Because of the delay on Thursday, Friday's tee time was pushed back until 3:00pm. We met at 12:00 for some short game work before lunch and starting our normal warmup. Kevin once again had a very solid ball striking round. We were able to make three birdies but two of those birdies came from putts inside 2 feet. According to shotlink, we only made one putt outside 15 feet for the entire week. Unfortunately, it really doesn't matter how good the ball striking is if you can not make a putt. It's also the putter that effects the attitude the most. For us this week, it kept us from focusing on the positives, trying to be perfect, and put too much pressure on the rest of the game. Confidence is so important in this game and when you don't have it, it is almost impossible to play it well. You start beating yourself up along with everyone and everything else around you. We need to find a way to turn that around.

This week is Houston. As of Friday, we were not in the field and was third alternate. We decided to stay in San Antonio Saturday and Kevin went out for a mid morning practice session and workout. On Sunday morning, Kevin drove over to Houston with me and we went out to the tournament course and played a few holes with Hudson Swafford. Our tee time today for the Monday qualifier is 1:39. We moved to second alternate early this morning and while I was writing this post, Kevin text me and said we moved up to first alternate. He said he still wants to play the qualifier today because we can not play the tournament course. We need to keep playing so we can start seeing putts dropping. We are going to keep banging it out and it will turn around.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Valspar Championship (Tampa, FL) - First Round

With some extremely tough playing conditions, Kevin played a nice and tidy round of golf today. We caught a little bit of a break with our late tee time. With temps not getting much above 60 and the wind blowing about 20mph; our 2:20 tee time gave us the warmest part of the day with the wind calming down a bit later in the day.

Teeing off the tenth, Kevin got off to a great start with birdies on the first two holes. We dropped a shot with a bogey on the par three 15th but came right back with a birdie on the toughest hole on the course (16th hole). He continued to play well for the rest of the day. The greens were getting bumpy late and it was tough to make putts. He hung tough finishing the day with a nice one under (70) and in great shape after one round.

We tee off tomorrow at 9:30.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Puerto Rico Open (Saturday/Sunday) - Tampa Monday Qualifier

It has been a wild few days with a lot of golf and very little sleep. Saturday's round was met with very little wind and scores were low. Kevin struggled hitting fairways (4/14) but was able to hit 16 greens for the day and shot three under (69). Starting the day in a tie for 33rd, his 69 dropped one spot to a tie for 34th at the end of the day.

On Sunday, Kevin drove the ball much better and continued hitting a lot of greens (16/18) but struggled with the putter. His speed was a little off and we had 18 straight two putts (36 putts total) for a final round 73. His six under total backed us up to a tie for 49th. Needing a top 10 finish to get into the field for the Valspar Championship, we were now heading to Tampa to play the Monday qualifier.

Soon after checking in at the airport, we found out that our 8:15pm flight was delayed three hours and not leaving until 11:15. We finally arrived in Tampa at 2:30am, got our bags, picked up the car and drove the hour north toward the Monday qualifier. We finally checked into the hotel at 4am and set the alarm for 7:20 for our 9:00am tee time. After three hours sleep and some help from a Five Hour Energy drink, Kevin played great. Never seeing the golf course before, we managed our way around without a bogey and shot a six under par round 66. With only four spots available, we were tied for first with one other guy after the morning wave. We had some lunch and then had to wait about six hours for the afternoon wave to finish. No one else was able to match our score and we qualified without a playoff. Finally leaving the course about 7pm and heading back toward Tampa for the Valspar Championship we stopped for a quick dinner and then some much needed rest.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Puerto Rico Open - Thursday and Friday

Well, it's nice to finally get into a tournament. After being on the alternate list the last few weeks, we come to Puerto Rico knowing we are in the field. I arrived Monday and Kevin flew in Tuesday morning. We played a practice round Tuesday afternoon and then filled in for nine holes during Wednesday's pro-am.

Kevin has played solid over the first two days. The wind is blowing about 20mph every day which makes it difficult at times but he is hitting it solid which makes it easier to manage. On Thursday, we had a little trouble in the middle of the first nine and we were over par early. We made a double after his shot from a fairway bunker hit the lip and barely made it out and a missed up and down led to the other bogey. But he hung in there and birdied all the par fives the rest of the way and shot one under (71) for the day.

The only blemishes on Fridays card came from two three putts. A missed short putt on the fourth and then another on the 11th after a poor first putt. But once again, he kept fighting and birdied three of the last four to shoot three under (69). His four under total puts us t-33rd heading into the weekend. With 80 guys making the cut, the Tour decided to split the field, pair us into threesomes and tee off both nines. We tee off today at 9:45 on number 10

Friday, February 14, 2014

AT&T Pebble Beach / Northern Trust Open Summary

Since I haven't posted in a while, here is a summary of the last few weeks. After missing the cut at Torrey Pines (San Diego), we did not get into the field for the Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, AZ. I flew home but Kevin decided to stay out west and spent the week practicing in Palm Springs, CA. It turned out to be a great decision since the weather back home was miserable and he would not have been able to get much practice in if he did came home.

I flew back out to California on Sunday and met Kevin early Monday morning at Pebble Beach. The ATT Pro-am was played on three courses (Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula and Pebble Beach) so we needed to get a practice round in on each before Thursday. The weather was perfect Monday through Wednesday but turned nasty by the time the tournament started. Rain, wind and cold were the words that described the rest of the week. Thursday's round was at Spyglass and we were able to get around in at par (72) even though we didn't hit it well early in the round. Fridays round was at Monterey and it was the best ball striking round of the week. Kevin got it to four under through eight holes and then we held on for dear life as we made the turn back into the wind to finish the day. The wind was so strong that solid drives were only going 225 yards and 3 irons were going 170 yards. His two under (70) was one of the best rounds for the day.

Saturday's round was on Pebble and the winds were up again. With the exception of the opening drive on ten that found the ocean, Kevin played solid in the tough conditions. Play was suspended for a few hours because the wind was so strong, as it was blowing balls on the greens. After opening with a double bogey, we finished the day with a three over par (75). His one over total put us in a tie for 64th but because 25 amateurs also make the cut and play on Sunday, the "playing" cut for the professionals this week was the top 60 and ties. So, even though Kevin earns FedEx points and money for his 64th place, it left us one shot out of making the "playing cut" for Sunday and we did not have the opportunity to improve our position. Then, making it sting a little more, Kevin and his amateur partner shot 18 under par and made the team cut so we had to play on Sunday anyway as a team.

Because of the late finish on Sunday, Kevin was not able to catch his flight to LA, so he made the five hour drive with me to LA. On the drive to LA, we found out that because there were three guys that finished in the top 10 at Pebble, we were now third alternate for the Northern Trust Open. On Monday, we went out to Riviera and played in the Monday pro-am as our practice round. Kevin was not feeling well so he took Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday off. Tuesday morning we moved up to second alternate so on Wednesday we had a nice afternoon practice session and got prepared just in case we got into the tournament. As it turned out, only one other player withdrew, leaving us the first man on the outside looking in.

After spending 7.5 hours at the golf course on Thursday waiting to see if everyone was going to play, we left the course and headed toward the airport. On the way, Kevin was able to get the last seat on a flight leaving at 2:45. Without any time to spare, we got him on the flight and he headed home. Unfortunately for me, due to the weather back home, I was not able to find a flight home until Saturday. We are off again next week and then the "Florida swing" starts in Palm Beach, FL at the Honda Classic. With the next reshuffle for our category coming after this week, we will once again be close to getting into the event. Kevin is projected to drop to 20th in his category and that will be very close to the number that will get into the Honda. He is planning on entering the Monday qualifier if we do not get into the field.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Farmers Insurance Open (La Jolla, CA) - Practice

The North and South courses at Torrey Pines are playing long and tough. Even with dry conditions over the weeks leading up to this event, the rough is extremely long. Narrow fairways, long rough and firm greens all equal tough conditions. On top of all of that...the bumpy poa annua greens will test patience. It's going to be a difficult test but we are ready for the challenge.

We played the North course on Monday in a charity pro-am and then had a practice round Tuesday on the South course. Kevin hit the ball well and drove it awesome during both rounds. The bumpy greens made it frustrating practicing each day but it is something we have to deal with. We knew this coming to these events on the west coast but it still makes it tough mentally. Today we had our normal practice Wednesday. After Kevin's morning workout, we hit some balls and then worked on our putting. We took a break for lunch and then spent some more time on the putting green before calling it a day. We tee off tomorrow on the South course (number 10) at 9:50 with Ed Loar and Michael Block. 

Here is a link to an interview I had on Tuesday. A retired caddy that has a blog stopped me Tuesday morning and asked for an interview. He posted it last night so you can take a listen if your interested.