If you are not on a main tour like the PGA or European Tour, the life of a professional golfer consists of hotel rooms, practice rounds and millions of miles in your car going from stop to stop. I feel like I’ve spent my last 3 weeks living out of my car; 6 hour drives twice a week going from a Web Monday qualifier to a mini tour event to the next Web Monday qualifier. I’m grateful that my trusty 2001 Toyota Corolla has made it this far!
It all started back in Chicago for the first Web Monday where I qualified for the Rust-Oleum Championship. The week was awesome and it was everything that I had hoped the tour would be. It wasn’t the biggest event that I had played in but it was certainly large enough to get me outside of my comfort zone. I found there was so much going on that week that I didn’t expect or even contemplate – additional forms to file, product representatives to collaborate with, family passes to organize etc… It was mentally draining to simply be there for the week. A big Monday qualifier with lots to do Tuesday and Wednesday. My game felt good heading into the tournament and I was 1 under par through 6 holes. With danger lurking around the corner however, I got very intimidated by a few tee shots and played quite timid and defensive; my usual tendencies came out and I wasn’t fresh enough to bounce back as well as I would have liked. My first missed cut as a professional but plenty to take away from the week with me.
After the Web event and a couple of days to recallibrate, I headed up to Minneapolis to a golf course called North Oaks for some practice and a practice round for an event I would play later that month (the only time that I could fit it into the schedule). Practice rounds are a very important thing, they gives us an opportnity to plan the best way of attacking a golf course and something I will always do – even if the only time to do so is two weeks before an event.
After a successful couple of days, I drove down to Wichita in Kansas for the next Web Monday qualifier. I teed off in the early afternoon with the wind getting up and plenty of low numbers already posted. I played fine but nothing great – 1 under par but 6 shots back on getting into a playoff. The Web Monday qualifiers are historically some of the hardest to get through because you can go out and shoot 7 under par and lose in a playoff. It is brutal!
After Kansas, I drove another couple of hours south to Tulsa in Oklahoma. There is a mini tour event called the Adams Tour – they host some pretty good golf tournaments for guys in between events and wanting to peg it up for 72 holes. I was playing well through 36 holes – I was tied 3rd at 11 under and feeling pretty good. Similar to the couple of weeks before this however, a few bad misses came out at the wrong time over the weekend and I was severly penalised. I ended up 10 under for the event and tied 37th. A rough finish to a great start.
Taking the positives out of the first couple of rounds, I drove up to St. Louis in Missouri for the next Web Monday qualifier. We had perfect conditions in the early morning and I was 7 under par through 14 holes. I got off to a great start but then hit a bad tee shot off the par 3 15th and made a sloppy bogey. On the par 3 17th hole, knowing that I needed at least one birdie coming home, I hit a beautiful 8 iron to about 9 feet and rolled in the birdie put. On the last hole, I had a short putt for par that would have got me into a playoff at 7 under but I hyped myself up too much for it and failed to focus on my thought on the greens for the week – I missed it right and had a long drive ahead of me to ponder how it all unfolded like that.
Following the short miss on the last hole, I drove 9 hours back up to Minneapolis for that small event I had already had a practice round for. I was absolutely shattered when I arrived in the early morning. I took all of Tuesday off and then pegged it up on Wednesday in the North Oaks Professionals Cup. Again I got off to a hissing start being 6 under par through 12 holes. Theres an old adage to “take one shot at a time” but my mind was racing to all sorts of crazy low scores with 6 holes to play with three of them being par fives. I think the travel was starting to take it’s toll on me because I came home very poorly – 3 over in the last 6 holes to shoot 3 under and lose by 1 shot. Another really tough finish after putting myself in a fantastic position atthe begining.
There have been a lot of close calls over the past month or so – I am working extremely hard but am always coming up just that little bit short. I feel this is a pivotal position to be in and I’ll continue to grit it out and grind as hard as I can and ALL OF A SUDDEN, one day, in the near future, I know that it will all click and come together for me. It’s an exciting prospect and one I’m eager to continue working hard for!
I have a week off here in Ames to recover, recap and recalibrate before heading back out on the road. On the horizon for me is another Web Monday, a PGA Tour Monday (the John Deere Classic) and a mini tour event (the Waterloo Open). I’m excited to continue learning and developing and I’m sure that some great success is just around the corner! The next big event for me is the FIJI International on the PGA Tour of Australasia.