Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Holidays

My apologies for my absence from my blog for a while.  I came up short at Q-School First Stage in October as many of you know.  Some bad breaks and failure to get anything going led to a measly 78 in the first round.  Fortunately, my game was really beginning to come together, despite the poor score.  It began to show in the next round when I tied the course-record at Kinderlou Forest with a 7-under par 65 to get me to -1 total…and I only hit 9 greens!  I cruised the next day, in total control, hitting 15 greens, only to watch 9 putts catch lip or the edge and not go in.  Great play led to a 73.  The last round was quite windy and cold, and I got off to the start I needed, getting it to -3 thru 4.  I was -3 thru 10 and in great shape on the par-5 11th, with 3-iron in hand, and not much trouble to speak of.  A poor swing and a block right, which was really amplified by the wind, found fescue and led to a bogey.  One more loose swing on 13 off the tee led to a double bogey, and ultimately did me in.  Final round 73, and just a couple shots short.  But I had my game back, even if it was one day late.  College coach Tim Grogan caddied for me.

I've been working on strengthening this off-season to better prepare for the rigors of playing for 10-months straight.  I put the clubs down for a month and just started hitting balls again a week ago.  I'm recharged and ready to go.  How ready?  I just flew into Phoenix today and made 8 birdies en route to a 5-under par 67 at Seville GC.  I know it's going to be a good year, and I'm in a really good place.  I'm in town for the Tommy Bahamas Desert Marlin, which my dad and I have teamed up for the last 2 years.  I'll stay a couple days after to continue to get some practice in, and then head back to Pittsburgh thru mid-February before I head to a warmer location.

Again, I apologize for not updating this site the last 3 months.  It was difficult to continue to come on here and write about failures.  To miss at Q-School by so little and to be right there really stung and I just needed some time away.  But now I'm back with a clear head and a clear slate for a new year.  My game seems to have progressed to its strongest spot in the last 2 years and I know GREAT things are ahead.  My new years resolution this next year is to come on here daily and give updates.  So give me another chance and follow my exploits.

Appreciate the support and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back To Competition

I'm down in Kannapolis, NC right now for the first of three fall series eGolf Tour events. The first round of this week's tournament at Cabarrus CC begins today and I tee off at 12:40. I've played here last year when the eGolf came here, and I also played a college tournament here my freshman year at Marquette, so I know the course fairly well. On top of that, my game really seems to be peaking at the correct time, and I'm excited to play today to see what kind of score my hard work of late will bear.

My last trip to the Milwaukee/Chicago was a successful one, as I continued to diagnose some small problems in my swing and have spent the last 3 weeks trying to eliminate them. I worked with Joe Boros a couple times over the last few weeks as well, and we've got me hitting the ball quite well. The putter has been brilliant during my play the last couple weeks, granted that wasn't in tournament conditions, but at the very least it was a strong confidence boost. It looks like I'll be fighting some rain today, including a 100% chance of thunderstorms from 3-5PM, so I might not finish today.

Results can be found HERE

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to Milwaukee and Chicago

My last trip up to Milwaukee definitely proved to be beneficial, and I'll be driving up there tomorrow to do it again. 3 or 4 really good days of practice and playing, with a fun day in Chicago on Saturday when I'll be going to the Jack's Mannequin (my favorite band) concert there. I've been to 5 of their shows and Andrew McMahon, the lead singer, puts on a spectacular performance every time I see them.

Again, I really feel like I've been working on the right things, and the game really seems to be coming together at the right time. My next competitive tournament rounds will be a pair of eGolf tournaments during the last two weeks of September. Until then I will continue to improve my game.

Monday, August 29, 2011

One Shot Short

Today was the Mylan Classic Monday qualifier at Green Oaks in the Pittsburgh area. It's a par 70, 6400 yard course, who's greens consistently run at about 14. The pins today were in some really difficult spots, and scores showed. I played fantastic for 12 holes, and my only hiccups were a pair of 5 foot birdie putts that I didn't make. Both were downhill sliders that can be very touchy when the greens are that fast. I was 4-under and cruising. I hit a pretty good drive on my 13th hole of the day, just off the left edge of the fairway of a 480 yard par 4. When I got up there, my ball proved to be 6 inches out of bounds. I was shocked. The problem is that there is a little creek that sticks out of the treeline about 20 feet. The treeline is OB, and instead of marking the creek as a hazard, they just mark that as OB as well. My ball wasn't anywhere near the treeline, and yet I was out of bounds. Devastating. I'd played solidly up to this point, 4 birdies, no bogies, and I was about to make double after a half-decent drive. I made some good swings coming in, besides my 7-iron on 17, which was awful. It's a 200 yard par-3 and I short sided myself for the first time all day and made bogey. I finished with a 1-under par 69, falling one shot short of a playoff at 68. The frustrating thing is if my ball just stops a foot shorter at 13 I have an easy par and a decent birdie opportunity in front of me, and I'm still on pace for a 4-under 66, while 67 wound up being the low for the day.

Overall a frustrating experience, but a sign of good things to come. I'm playing great and was in total control for almost my entire round today. It's a crime that I won't be playing this week in the Mylan Classic because I know that I would be competitive there. And it would have been an awesome experience to play in front of a hometown crowd, but for the 2nd straight year it is not to be. Anyhow, I'm playing some great golf and had to play a quirky little course that jumped up and got me on one swing. That happens, but I'm really on pace to be playing my A-game by Q-School time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eventful 2 Weeks

The State Open got started out just the way I wanted with a very solid 68 in the first round, which put me in 4th place on a difficult track at Moselem Springs. My course management was very good, I hit it solid, and made most of everything inside 8 feet. Unfortunately, day 2 saw me struggle, as the heavens dished out some water starting on my third hole, and not relenting until about 14. I fought through the rain, but was missing short putts and not quite dialing my distances in. Ultimately I scored very poorly for how I felt I was playing. But that's golf, you have to find a way to score. I finished with a 78, and feel far enough to miss the cut.

I decided a trip to Milwaukee was in order. The plan was to meet up with former MU Coach, Tim Grogan and see what he had to think of my swing. After all, he watched me swing it pretty good for three years. The other thought was to meet up with Mike McDonald, this year's State Amateur Champion in Wisconsin, as we practiced together alot my Senior year, and I would typically ask for some input from him when we practiced. Both decisions proved to be good ones.

I got to downtown Chicago on Wednesday around Noon, and met up with a couple friends for lunch at a place called the Protein Bar. It's basically a Chipotle type of restaurant but with extremely healthy options. I got a Buffalo Chicken wrap, with Vegan Buffalo sauce, organic chicken, and organic quinoa. Look out for these to start opening up outside of Chicago, because the food was good, healthy, and the line was out the door. As I crossed into Wisconsin, I remembered playing at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha. I couldn't remember if they had just gone public or private the last time I was there two years ago, but figured I'd stop by and check. Plus, the last time I played there was for the US Open qualifier and I played with the pro there, Rick Leslie, so at the very least I had a good excuse to stop by and say hello. Driving in, it became pretty apparent that they were probably private. The course looked like it was in spectacular condition. Rick was there and we spent 15 minutes catching up and said I could go out and play if I wanted, that they were pretty much empty today. It was nice to get out of the car and play some golf after being in a car all day. The course was awesome.

on Thursday and went out to Ozaukee CC, site of my course record 61 when playing with Nathan Colson my freshman year. Who was there to greet us, but Mike Bielawski, the new assistant pro out there. Talked to him and caught up for a bit and then went out and played. Grogan and I worked on the range out at Missing Links after that round and filmed some swings. That evening I made it back to Bristlecone Pines for a 4 o'clock tee time with my buddy Tony, who's in the midst of dominating medical school. I was staying with him and his parents, who live out at Bristlecone. We got 9 holes in, and I finally realized that I was about out of swings for the day. Plus I distracted our focus by pointing out there was a B-Dubs (Buffalo Wild Wings) nearby that looked promising, and we were both hungry.

Day 2 took me out to the Bog, a common stomping ground from my MU days. We we go there a couple times a week to play when I was on the team. I got out there early and went through my short game drills. Completed a circle drill, and a ladder drill, and then went over to work on my chipping until Grogan arrived. When he did, I pulled out my laptop to show him my swing from the John Deere Classic that my dad had taken. He immediately noticed a couple differences in setup and takeaway which we went over before we played. We got 12 holes in and went inside for a quick dinner. He brought his camera in and I downloaded some videos from that day into my computer. We split-screened the current swing with the John Deere swing and definitely noticed a few differences. We were on the right track.

Saturday morning I drove down to Chicago for the day. The plan was to go to the beach at 1030AM and watch the Air and Water Show and then go to the White Sox game. However, the weather didn't want to cooperate with those plans. The Air show was postponed until about two due to serious thunderstorms. So we never made it to the beach, but did watch the Air show from a friends 45th story balcony. It was pretty cool to see Tomcats and F-15s buzzing over the city buildings. The White Sox game was exciting as they rallied for a late win over the Rangers. It's a good stadium, but certainly no PNC Park. I stayed the night down there and drove back up to Milwaukee on Sunday morning. I stopped at a Panera's for Breakfast on the way up, and to conduct a Fantasy Football draft that started at 930am. I got back into Milwaukee around 1230 and went for a run along the lakefront, one of my favorite things to do in Milwaukee. I then drove up to Hidden Glen near Grafton and met up with Mike McDonald for some golf. He's always very good with coming up with one simple little tip on how I'm swinging, and his input was extremely helpful. We had a close match, but I squeaked out a 2&1 win, so burgers were on him that night. We stopped at a little mom n pop type place. Kind of a Kopps knockoff, but the burgers were good and so was the ice cream.

Monday morning I met up with Grogan one last time at Brown Deer to take a look at the short game. He watched me hit pitches for 20 minutes and liked the improvements I had made since my college days. I had to cut our time short however, as Dr. Licktieg was able to fit me in for an adjustment at 945. After my chiropractic stop I went out to Tripoli CC for the Marquette Business School Golf Outing. I played with my roommate's mentor, Brad, and two really nice guys from Northern Trust. We had a blast and even wound up winning. I thought for sure I would win something in the raffle, especially after stuffing the Fred Astaire Dance Lesson box with most of my tickets, but unfortunately I came away empty handed. I drove down to Chicago that night so I would not have to deal with rush hour traffic in the morning. And I just got home Tuesday afternoon.

It was an extremely productive and useful trip up there.

Off to Sewickly for some practice and play

Monday, August 8, 2011

Solid Play, State Open today

I finished up the last eGolf event with a pair of solid rounds that saw some good ball-striking, but I didn't score as good as I should have. I fired a 71 and followed it with a 73. The 73 was a bit disappointing considering I was 2-under with 4 to play and shot 1-over. Just made a couple bad swings coming in. But overall, I'm very pleased with how I'm playing, and just in time for the State Open at Moselem Springs!

Unfortunately, yesterday's practice rounds were washed out due to 2 inches of rain the night before, so nobody was allowed on the tee boxes or greens yesterday. However, myself, Joe Boros, Mike Larkin, Kevin Shields, Jason Schmader, and CG Mercatoris went out together and walked the course. We had a productive day formulating game plans, taking notes, lasering distances, and talking strategy. The course looks to be in good shape, although the fairways were quite wet. It's a pretty tough layout for the most part, and I would be surprised to see more than a couple people take it under par for the week. When the Amateur was here in 2006 only the winner was under, and he wasn't more than 2.

Mike Larkin, Joe B, and myself grabbed dinner together afterward at a cool Italian Restaurant called Florences. As they sat us, I immediately felt like I had been there before, saying, "Umm, guys, does this not exactly look like a Damon's Sports Grill?" And it did. It had the 4 big TV projection screens and volume adjusters on the table to choose what you wanted to listen to. The food was great, and on the way out I read an article on the wall, saying how the restaurant used to be a Damon's (I knew it!), but they decided to keep the sports bar feel to go along with the Italian atmosphere. Interesting. We all really enjoyed it.

I tee off at 1:30 today out at Moselem and I'm about to head there right now to get an hour or two of practice in before I grab some lunch and re-warm up.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Playing Well...

After a solid even par 72 in the first round, which saw a devastating double bogey on my second hole, I came back today with a needed -3 par 68 at Star Fort. I made alot of solid up and downs on my front nine today, and stroked alot of good putts as well. With 8 holes to play I was still Even, and knew that it would most likely take 3 birdies to see the next day. I had a nice up and down on the par 5 11th, which netted me my first birdie on the back nine. On the very next hole, my chip stopped on the lip and lingered for what could have been two in a row, but I settled for a par there. A few holes later I ripped a driver over the corner on the short par 4, 14th. A solid wedge shot from 50 yards to 4 feet found me a second needed birdie. 2-under par with 4 to go. I bombed a drive on the par-5 15th and only had 210 to the pin. I cut a 4-iron perfectly and... too much adrenaline apparently as it one-hopped over the green into a horrendous lie. Gave myself an 8-footer, but it slid past. Three to go, and I still needed one more as I reached the difficult par-3 16th. Did I say difficult? Apparently not... as I ripped a 6-iron to 15 feet, just on the fringe and drilled the putt dead center to move to 3-under. I made it easy on myself on the last two, and had a couple birdie chances, but they both meandered by the hole. In all, 5 birdies and 2 bogies on the day. Solid playing overall, and I really feel good about my game right now. I'm a few more made putts away from putting up a 66 here soon and jumping right back into contention tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In Greenwood, SC

I got down to Greenwood, SC yesterday after an 11-hour drive. But I got in at 5:30 thanks to an early 6:30 start to the day. So when I showed up at Star Fort GC and it was basically empty, I was able to play 2 balls around the course in under 3 hours. I'm hitting it really well, and the putter feels fantastic as well. I really feel like this is going to be a good solid week. Star Fort is the course last year where I came to 18 thinking that I needed to make a birdie to make the cut. I poured a 20-footer into the center of the cup, only to find out the cut was even lower than I thought it would be and got the scissors. So there's a positive going into this week: I played poorly here last year and almost made the cut. Now that I'm playing good, we'll see how well I can do.

I spent some of Saturday
playing miniature golf while competing on the NHMGT (North Hills Mini-Golf Tour). It was started this year by high school friend Pat Colony (pictured with some bumper car trouble to the left) and his brother Chris. 9 Mini-golf courses in the North Hills area of Pittsburgh have been selected, and you have to play them all with other people competing on the Tour by an August 8 cut-off date. The top 8 players will then play in the Tour Championship on August 13. I played with fellow Treesdale phenoms Brett Bergman and Joseph Zinsky (video of some of his cave troubles below). I find that mini-golf is a good way to free yourself up and stop worrying about your stroke. In fact, one of my best putting tournaments ever, The US Bank Championship in Milwaukee, was prepared for by playing mini-golf the Sunday prior to the tournament. And I stroked it superbly for the first round there.


I hit it absolutely fantastically today at Grand Harbor for my practice round. Shot a 68, and made both my playing partners open their wallets after the round. Tomorrow I tee off at 8am. Playing Grand Harbor first... CAN'T WAIT!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oakmont Today

There is no better test of golf, period. I'll be playing out at Oakmont this afternoon with Villanova standouts Brett and Brock Bergman. Oakmont is probably my favorite course of all-time, as it requires you to be on top of all facets of your game. Twice I've really had it going out there and played my best golf, and there's no better feeling in golf than to take on Oakmont and come away victorious from the battle. The first was while playing with my friend Jim Usher. I had shot 60 in the Tri-State Amateur at Tom's Run, his course, and he wanted to take me out to play. It was 2 weeks after the US Open was there, so the rough was still pretty nasty. That was the US Open I missed by a shot, which was a shame because I was really playing well and felt I could have competed and made the cut had I been a participant. We went out and played, and I made 8 birdies en route to a 66 out there. Two years later, during the final round of the PA State Open, I was firing on all cylinders out there once again. And except for a double on the par-3 13th, due to hitting a 5-iron too good and over the green, I played extraordinary golf. I fired a 68 in that round. So I'm very excited to test my game out there this afternoon. It will show my progress, or exploit the part of my game that still needs work.

The last eGolf event led to another missed cut. I just didn't translate my great ball-striking in the practice rounds into the tournament rounds. That will happen, I just could have used a couple more days to practice what I was working on. No worries though, I'm on the cusp of some seriously stellar golf... just in time for the State Open out at Moselem Springs in two weeks...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eventful 6 days

Things didn't go as well as I hoped in Kannapolis. I fired an Even par 71 in the first round and really had a roller coaster type of day. I made 6 birdies, 4 bogies, and a double bogey. But I got off to a really good start in round 2 and was -3 thru 11 holes, and that's when things got weird. I layed up on a difficult par 5, after hitting three iron off the tee. Apparently I did some seriously bad gorilla math and wound up 190 from the green still. Trying to stay on top of the ball and hit a cut, I slid ever further on top of the ball and the ball caught some hossle, flying right and slicing OB... a sudo-shank. Some bogies coming in cost me any chance of making the cut, which fell to -1. The putter was a big part of the problem this week, costing me at least 3 a round.

So now what? I called Dan Kubelik in Hilton Head, a former Treesdale great who's now out at Belfair, and left him a message that I might be headed that way. Then I received a text from my buddy Kenny in Chicago. He was going up to Milwaukee and playing 36 on Saturday and half jokingly said that since I'm now available, after missing the cut, that I should come up and play. Hmmm, a plan started forming in my head. It was about 2:30 on Thursday, and I started making some calls. New plan, fly to Chicago Thursday evening. Friday at 9:15 I'd go to the Bettinardi Studio and get a new putter and look at my stroke and what's going on with it. Drive up to Milwaukee with Kenny and play 36 with our buddy Tony and Brandybrook and Bristlecone Pines. Meet up with Tim Grogan Sunday morning for a quick lesson and then drive down to O'Hare and catch a flight back to Charlotte. My mom booked a flight using points and made it official. So I headed to the airport.

One problem though... I forgot my travel case! So I headed back over to the club at Irish Creek and started asking guys if they had one I could borrow. Surprisingly nobody had one in their car, and now I needed to get headed to the airport, but what to do. Fortunately my mom located a Dick's on the way and I stopped a bought a travel case. So I get to O'Hare and I'm waiting for my clubs at baggage claim, and after a while there's probably 3 people left. So I go to the US Airways area and they tell me my bags not on this flight and they'll be in the next one. Really!? Seriously though? It would work out OK though as they would successfully deliver them to me... at 2:45 in the morning.

My trip to the Bettinardi Studio was extraordinarily helpful. I got more of a mallet looking putter, but it's made with the same material as the one I'm currently using, so it feels exactly the same. But the most helpful thing was seeing my stroke on the V-1 system they newly installed. The guys who was fitting me and myself were able to pick up on a couple things that were just a little off. I wrote down what we found and have something to work on. Also, if you've never been there and are looking for a new putter, it's worth the trip. They make great putters, and the fitting process is really cool. You'll also learn something about your stroke while seeing it on the V-1 system.

My little lesson Sunday morning with Grogan was also pretty helpful. I figured that he might be able to pick up on something that looks different, since he watched me hit it great for 4 years. Within a few swings he already had a pretty good idea. He slightly adjusted me grip and had me trying to take it back lower and more one piece. Gosh did that feel solid!

So I flew back Sunday afternoon and drove down to Aiken, SC. I played a practice round with Peter Malnati yesterday and hit it great. He commented a couple times on some of my drives, saying, "This is the best I've seen you hit it since college." Let's hope so... but I agree! I'm super excited for the tourny this week as I return to Woodside Plantation for the first time since I was about 14 and playing in the Youth Sports Festival.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Return to Irish Creek

I'm returning to the site of my First Stage knockout last fall. It was at The Club at Irish Creek last October that I failed to make it through the First Stage of Q-School, but no hard feelings this time around. The course sets up really well for me, and I've played there over 10 or 15 times coming into this week's eGolf Tour event. I feel strongly about my game right now, as proof of my play in the West Penn Open minus two holes. I am ready and due for a breakout week here and my goal coming in is to just "play golf." Less thinking when I'm out there, more doing. I played a few rounds this weekend at Treesdale and Sewickly and shot under par in each round. On top of that I've had a couple good practice round days, despite the 102 degree heat and humidity that I had to deal with today. The greens at both courses this week are a bit on the slow side, as they're obviously apprehensive of losing the greens due to the heat. Fair enough, just have to hit it even closer then.

I'm teeing off at 12:40 tomorrow at Irish Creek and I'll be playing River Run on Thursday.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two Flustrating Holes

I played quite solidly for 34 of the 36 holes in this week's West Penn Open. I didn't hit it as well the final round, but was still hitting it decently well and managed the course well. I was -3 on the day heading into 16, and was -4 overall for the tournament. I blocked a rescue wood into the right rough and misjudged the wind on my second shot, flying my ball into some fescue over the green. Three chips and two putts later, I picked the ball out of the hole for a round-killing, triple bogey, seven. It was a much different 7 from the one the prior day however. The day 1 seven, was mostly due to stupidity and the fact that I was hitting it so unbelievably well that I thought I could hit any shot I wanted. The day two 7 was due to a poor drive, misjudgment, and a couple poor chips. Ultimately, failed execution. It's funny how failed execution can be so much easier to swallow than sheer stupidity. Obviously I was still extremely disappointed, but I didn't play anything wrong, unlike the attempt at hitting the mega-cut on day one.

The really frustrating thing was walking off the 17th green and seeing the scoreboard, which had me in 2nd place at -4, but it didn't have my last two holes factored in. I couldn't believe how many people had backed up, and that I would've been in 2nd had I just made a couple pars. But it was not to be, regardless this tournament was another step in the right direction, as my ball-striking was superior all week long. I finished T-11 and am now gearing up for a two-week eGolf Tour trip. I'm playing at the Club at Irish Creek next week and then headed to Aiken, SC to play at Woodland Plantation. A place I am actually fairly familiar with as I played there a couple times while playing in the Youth Sports Festival that Treesdale used to take part in.

I'm very excited about what these next two weeks will hold. I'm really swinging it well and working on the right things. And feel good about the putter right now as well. Some wedge work is still in order, and that's what this weekend's main focus will be.

Oh, and I know flustrating is not a real word. It's flustered and frustrating combined into one. I felt it more accurately portrayed my emotions, haha.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oh, So Close!

I had it. Mike Van Sickle was back for the first 11 holes today. I hit it fantastic and was -5 thru 11 today at Nevillewood for the West Penn Open. Then, studpidity struck. I left my drive on number 3 out right and was 3 feet outside the fescue. Totally fine, but a tree blocked any direct path to the green, so I was forced to layup. Right? Right? Im so stupid, No. Out comes the 3-wood, as I'm 245 out and I try to hit a mega-cut from a decent lie in the rough. Very do-able, although high risk. Don't pull it off. The ball comes out low and straight, flying over a bunker and OB. I go on to make a 7 on the hole. Why couldn't I have been born with an angel over my one shoulder telling me, "Layup Mike, it's OK, we'll hit a wedge in close. No worries." No, no, instead I was born with only the little devil who's yelling "Hit it! Come on! We can pull this shot off. It'll be so cool! Don't lay up you wuss... come on, GO FOR IT!" Sigh, and I've gotten so good ignoring him too...

I've still been fighting this darn Mega-Cold I've got and it got to me a bit on the last few holes as well. I felt really fatigued and mentally drained. A couple shots slipped away and I wound up with a -1, 71. Disappointing, since I was playing like I was going to shoot an easy 64, but a step in the right direction. I mean I really had my swing going. Prob the best I hit it since the final round of the 2009 PA Open at Oakmont. Looks like the lead will be at -5 and I will be 4 back. Certainly within striking distance, especially for how I was playing. Just need to get a hot putter tomorrow!

Went to the doctor afterwards and was prescribed a 5-day Z-pack. Hopefully that'll get me to kick this nasty bug.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Not what I was hoping for

Round 3 at the Fuhrer saw much of the same as the first two rounds, as I let some shots slip away, especially on holes 3 and 8. Through 3 rounds I sat at 11 over par, and I was a combined 10 over par on those two holes combined. So that was really a killer, because besides those couple holes I played alright. I just kept hitting poor tee balls and getting into trouble on those two holes. I wound up with a 75 in Round 3. I got home and intended on practicing some putting, as I let some short putts get away from me. Unfortunately, I laid down and absolutely crashed. I slept for about 2 or 3 hours on the couch. Which was exceptionally odd, because I NEVER do that. Anyhow, Doug Stadler, who was caddying for me this last week, and I went that evening to see Super 8 and my throat began to feel a bit sore. I slept absolutely awful that night and realized the next morning that I had a cold coming on.

Round 4 was a bit miserable. The pins were extremely difficult and some wind picked up. Worst of all I was congested and a bit dizzy. Again I couldn't get comfortable over the short putts and missed a few en route to a final round 77 to finish in 13th place. Very disappointing, as I really wanted to play well in Mr. Fuhrer's event.

I then spent Thursday caddying for my dad in US Senior Open qualifying. I really enjoy caddying for my dad, but I was even sicker and it was truly a miserable day for me. My dad got it around alright while not playing his best, and he was only +1 thru about 13 and had a lob wedge in his hand. If we could have managed a birdie there, then we might've come close. However, we had some trouble there and made a bogey, which really deflated the momentum my dad had going. Plus, it was 50+ guys for 1 spot. It took a -2 par 68, and we finished with a 76. However, a pair of Chocolate Malts from Dairy Queen afterwards made us both feel a little better.

I woke up Friday turning a corner and feeling slightly better. I got some really good practice in at Treesdale before I headed to Nevillewood to play a practice round for next week's West Penn Open. I hit it absolutely fantastic out there, and feel my game has begun to turn a corner as well. I'll be doing some circle drills this weekend to work on making putts.

On a sad note, Steve Cottingham has resigned as the Marquette AD. He was an absolutely fantastic individual who did a lot for me, the golf team, and the entire athletic department. He made some fantastic hires, added some sports teams during a time when schools are doing nothing but cutting them, and brought a new excitement to the athletic department. He will be very much missed, and I hope Marquette finds someone of his caliber to fill the void he has left.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

RDs 1 & 2 at the Fuhrer

I finished the first two rounds at the Field Club today, playing in the Frank Fuhrer Invitational. I shot a pair of 73's on a difficult course setup, which has me sitting in 9th place. Overall I hit the ball pretty well, very well in the morning. The putter failed me a bit in the first round, but came back with avengence in round 2. Unfortunately, alot of the good putts I made were for pars as the ball-striking wasn't quite as crisp in the second round. The greens out there are extremely fast, but also very soft. I had a few really good shots land past the pin and spin off the green.

Round 1 was very steady, I made an early birdie on 11, my second hole of the day, and made 8 pars on the rest of the nine. I bogied the converted par 5, third hole, which is now a par 4, and was even through 16. Then disaster struck as I chopped my way to a triple bogey 7 on number 8. Interesting fact though, in my three PA golf Association victories I made a 7 once in each tournament. So although it really hurt, I've battled back from it before.

My 73 in round 2 would have been much better if I had just parred my last 3 holes. Once again I did not finish strong as I bogied 16 and 18, a pair of par 3s coming down the home stretch. I feel pretty good about my game though, and I'm in a position where I solid 60's round today can put me right in the hunt.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Old Elvis Cup Tomorrow

I'm super excited to be playing in the Old Elvis Cup at Sewickley Heights tomorrow. Mike Dowling, who helped me out a lot these last two years, has invited me to play. It's a 36 hole event which includes 74 players, one of which is Rocco Mediate. There is a nice little purse which goes to some of the winners and skins. I had my best range session with Joe B in 2 years today and I'm really looking forward to seeing how low I can take it at Sewickley tomorrow. The danger out there is always the greens. There is alot of slope to them, and they're always very fast. I usually manage to wind up on the wrong side of the hole a couple times out there and finish with some 3-putts. But I'm going to try to think my way around as best I can, while staying aggressive at the same time. This is really going to be a fun event and hopefully I will be able to get some really good momentum from it.

I missed a pair of cuts on my last trip to Charlotte, and decided to take a couple weeks to stay around the Pittsburgh area and focus on sharpening the game as much as I can. My next scheduled event will now be the Frank Fuhrer Invitational. That is the one tournament I really circled on the calender this year and said, "this is it, I'm winning this one." I love Mr. Fuhrer's event and it's extremely meaningful to me. To get the opportunity to play in his event as I have for year's now is truly special.

I went to Sewickley this evening with my dad. The grand opening of the new and improved practice range occured today. It looks awesome. The teeing ground has just about doubled, and the grass looks pure. Rocco put on a little show for some members and hit the ceremonial first drive, which he humorously topped (Don't worry Roc, it probably won't be the last time that happens on that range). Much fun was had by all who attended, as Rocco pulled a couple kids out of the crowd to hit a couple balls as well.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hole in One

I played my second practice round in two days today. I played Southern Pines GC yesterday, and played at Pine Needles today. It was your typical practice round day until I reached the par 3, 13th. It was at 197 yards and downhill a good bit and I ripped an 8 iron pretty much right at the pin. My eyes aren't great, and the green was a bit shiny, so I never saw it land, but the guys in my group started saying, "I don't see it...do you see it? Quick grab me the laser!" One of the guys grabbed the laser and looking said, "Yeah, I'm about 99% sure that's in the cup." Sure enough, when we walked up there and peered in the cup, it was resting at the bottom. A hole-in-one... in the practice round. What a waste. haha. It'd be nice to make it in the tourney, but I guess I can't be too picky when it comes to holes-in-ones. Coincidentally, my only Double Eagle to date also came in a practice round. That was for an FCWT junior event out at Yankee Trace in Dayton, OH.

Today's hole-out now brings me to a grand total of 2... 3 if you count a mulligan, which I don't. I was playing with my roommate Kenny McKee at Lincoln Park in Milwaukee and we were on number 8. Mind you, not too many of the yardages are correct out there. I fired an 8-iron there that flew the green and went halfway up into the trees. For fun, I threw down another ball and fired a 9-iron... up and down the stick. With the ball in mid-air I yelled after it, "Oh God... Don't go in the hole!" It proceeded to one-hop into the cup, an "Ace," but really just a very elaborate par.

My only other hole in one came in the CR Miller Junior Matchplay event at Edgewood CC. I was playing Ryan Castanet in a match, and we both hit really good looking shots to this uphill par 3, I think 14. We get up to the green and there's one ball 6 inches from the cup. It was his. Sorry, you just lost the hole. He would go on to get the last laugh that day though, as he beat me 3&1.

I'm feeling really good about things going into the first round tomorrow of this week's eGolf event. I had some awesome practice after today's round and I'm teeing off at 10:40 at Southern Pines tomorrow. Can't Wait!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hitting the road again

Finished packing the car and I'm all set for my next voyage down to North Carolina. I'll be playing at Pinehurst this week, and then Charlotte the following week at the Palisades, where I won a college event.

It's been a good week of practice after my failed US Open qualifier. I fired a 67 two days after that qualifier while playing with Mike Larkin out at Treesdale. I was even 7-under thru 12, but made a pair of bogies coming in. I feel really good about how I'm striking it, and my putter feels good too. I'll be sure to hit plenty of shots from around the greens out of the bermuda grass in the next two days to try to get re-acclamated with it. But I once again feel ready for some competitive golf.

I've got about an 8 hour drive tomorrow and I'll be hitting the round a little after 6AM. I'll be hoping to get a late-afternoon practice round in when I get there. The tournament begins on Wednesday, and we'll be playing at Pine Needles and Southern Pines CC. Results will be on the eGolf Tour website.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wet Day

Really a roller coaster of a day out at Quicksilver, as I wound up with a worthless 77, but there's plenty more to the story than that...

I had one par on the front, along with 2 doubles, 2 bogies, 3 birdies, and an eagle 2 on the par 4 ninth, where i hit driver in front of the green and one-hopped a flop shot into the cup. One-over 37, but still right in it.

Slow play and rain highlighted the day as Quicksilver quickly began to look like a spillway for the Ohio River. The rain was light on the front nine, but really picked up intensity on 12. I bogied 11, but got it back with some good shots on 13. 1-over with 5 to play, which included 2 reachable par-5s. Good position. The rain came down even harder, my umbrella even came out, which I rarely use. It has to come down hard for me to open that up. Surprisingly, the greens managed to stay firm most of the day, as the fairways overflowed with water.

I bogied 14, a par 3 and headed to the par 5 15th. I hit a great drive, but it wound up a couple feet into the rough and had a truly atrocious, wet lie. I hacked a rescue to 100 yards, where the water was almost up to my ankles. I called a rules official over to take a drop. After about 5 drops and constant searching for a non-casual water spot, he finally said, "I think that's as good as we're going to get." As good as we're going to get? If that's the case shouldn't we be under delay if there's no spots that aren't casual water??? Just saying. Regardless, I got it onto the green, but 3-putted. The next two holes also saw me in the fairway and hitting shots fat as water sprayed up from contact. It was aggravating to say the least. Any other tournament/event would have gone under delay an hour prior. But that's the problem with US Open Locals, they need to get it in, as some people can't come back the next day, and they may not have the course available. So you've got to get it in, even if the course is unplayable.

I bit my tongue after the round, didn't say anything about it to the WPGA guys and went and had lunch at Applebees. A couple glasses of Mountain Dew never hurt to ease the pain either. Sorry for venting...
Next up is the eGolf event starting the 25th in Southern Pines. I still like where my game is at, and look forward to playing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

US Open Local qualifying tomorrow

I'm playing at Quicksilver tomorrow for the Local qualifying for the US Open. I'm definitely ready. I played out there yesterday with former high school teammate Mitch Mercer, who is leading the way tomorrow with the 8:30 time. We both made a promising number of birdies which was good, considering the course was practically underwater and playing long. Although we both lost a few balls due to plugging, which could be a serious problem tomorrow, especially since it's supposed to rain all day. I've played there numerous times and I know where to hit it on the greens which have some serious slope to them. I'll be teeing it off at 10:30, near the end of the pack. Hopefully the greens won't get too bumpy from footprints, but they might.

I shot 30 on the Grove course out at Treesdale on Saturday, and shot a couple under on both balls today, after they airrated the greens...again. I'm really hitting it well and I'm definitely ready for tomorrow. My parents will both be out there forecaddying, to help make sure I don't lose any balls due to the plugging, while Joe Zinsky will be on the bag.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tenative Schedule thru August

Events with an * are events I'm not officially in yet...

May 17 - US Open Local qualifying at Quicksilver GC in Midway, PA

May 25-28 - eGolf Tour event in Southern Pines, NC

June 1-4 - eGolf Tour event at the Palisades CC in Charlotte, NC

June 10 - The Old Elvis Cup at Sewickley Heights CC

June 15-18 - eGolf Tour event in Salisbury, NC

June 22-25 - eGolf Tour event in Stanley, NC

June 27-29 - The Frank Fuhrer Invitational at the Pittsburgh Field Club

July 5-6 - West Penn Open, the Club at Nevillewood

July 13-16 - eGolf Tour in Kannapolis, NC

July 20-23 - eGolf Tour at Woodside Plantation, SC

August 3-6 - eGolf Tour in Greenwood, SC

August 8-10 - Pennsylvania Open at Moselem Springs

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Poor Finish

Friday was a roller coaster of a round, although the scorecard would suggest otherwise. I made 2 birdies and 2 bogies on the day, but it was a very interesting round in breezy conditions. I hit the first 10 greens in a row, but was 1 over par. The problem was that I didn't hit it very good, but was consistently missing it straight. So although I was hitting greens, I really only had a couple good birdie looks. The one conversion being on a well struck 8-iron on the par 3, third hole, coming to rest 9 inches from the cup. Then, my green streak was snapped when I hit it in a bunker on the difficult par 3 11th, and had a tricky up and down. But an awesome bunker shot to two feet kept me going. I would go on to miss 6 greens in a row, converting a 30 yard pitch, a 15 yard flop shot, an easy pitch from in front of a green, a super difficult shot from the back of a bunker to a short-sided pin, and finally a 60 foot putt from the fringe. Got all six! A two putt birdie on 17 got me back to even. I treaded water on a day when I had far from my best game. I stood T-5 going into the final round, just 4 shots off the leader.

The final day saw me hit it really well on the front nine. I hit one really poor shot into two and was dead in a bunker and short-sided. NO chance. Blasted out to 25 feet and 2 putted. A number of good shots with too much spin got some ridges and fell off a couple greens. A number of really good putts lipped out or slipped past. And some misplayed wedge shots led me to an extremely disappointing 77. It was a relatively easy day, and shooting 77 was alot like driving 55 mph during the Indy 500... you're going to get lapped. I dropped back to the middle of the field, but all-in-all it was a positive week. I got back into contention in a tournament, and I'm feeling good about the game. It might have been a little pressure that caused the swing to unravel slightly during the final round, but I'm soooo close to breaking out. Heck, I almost broke out this week!

I'll be home for 2 weeks now. Week One is an off week, where I will be getting some good practice in with Joe B, and continuing to groove my swing so that no amount of pressure will cause any revertigo to bad habits. Week Two has me playing a US Open Local qualifier at Quicksilver GC on Tuesday May 17. Joseph Zinsky will be on the bag. One of the last times he carried the bag, we successfully qualified for the US Junior Amateur... so I'm expecting good things.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mike Van Sickle Golf

Finally playing it! After a somewhat disappointing 73 in Monday qualifying down in Athens, I drove up to Greensboro for the eGolf event and played 36 holes worth of practice rounds on Tuesday with Peter Malnati. We both played well and had a couple good matches, and he commented on my attitude about my game being much different from last year. He seemed to think I was back, and my scores this week are backing up that realization as well.

I fired a 3-under 68 the first day in cool, blustery conditions. Scoring wasn't exactly stellar that first round and I was actually T-15 by the time everyone finished. Day 2 would go even better, as I played Willow Creek, the main course being used, and managed my game superbly. I missed a three footer for par on the 2nd hole, and that would wind up being my only bogey. 6 birdies on top of that would lead to a 5-under 67 in round two and put me at 8-under overall... which gave me the morning lead. After the afternoon waves finished I had dropped to T-4, but I'm right in the mix, only 2 shots off the lead.

My swing continues to feel good, and I've been solid with the putter, despite that missed putt on two. I might have hit a career low today... drivers that is. I hit only 4 drivers all day long, and actually hit 3-iron off of the first 4 non-par 3's. I can't think of a time I hit that few number of drivers in a round. Maybe that one time I only took my 6 iron to the course, but besides that...
For the second day in a row, I birdied my first hole of the day, while making birdies on my final two holes of the day.
I'll be teeing it tomorrow morning in the 2nd to last group at 9:50AM

Results from the Tournament: Click Here


Friday, April 29, 2011

Talkin' 'Bout PRACTICE Man!

Not a game... Not a game... we talkin' 'bout PRACTICE man, how silly is that?

Not silly at all AI... how do you plan on getting better then? I've been in Hilton Head, SC for the last few days, following my 69 that came up short in Albany, GA. I've put together 3 really good practice days, getting a lot of practice in, especially the short game. I completed my "Circle Drill" in shockingly quick fashion yesterday. It's my favorite putting drill, and I've been doing it for probably 7 or 8 years now. I put 5 tees in a circle around the hole at 3 feet. The goal is making 10 out of 10 from that distance. I go around twice, and can't move on until I make 10 out of 10. When I do, I move the tees back to 6 feet and have to make 9 out of 10. Then I move the tees back to 9 feet and have to make 8 out of 10. If you can make it through the drill consistently, you'll be amazed at how easy 10 footers start to look. My favorite thing about the drill, is that you're practicing "making putts" but also doing it under pressure (Because I don't leave the putting green until I finish the drill). I've been there for over an hour before... trust me when I tell you that having a 9 footer to complete the drill after an hour's worth of practice has just as much pressure on it as a putt in competition... if not more.

I've been staying down here with Daryl Shippos, former Treesdale great, who's now one of the pros out at Colleton River. The facilities there are amazing and the entire place is in immaculate condition. I played yesterday at the Country Club of Hilton Head and was paired up with an awesome guy named Lou. We talked a lot during the round as play was slow. Super nice guy. When we got done, the guy who came out to clean my clubs told me that Lou ran an advertising company and Lou was the person responsible for the phrase "Got Milk?" So how about that?

Looking forward to the upcoming Monday qualifier at Achaste, where last year I made 8 birdies, but came up a shot short. Not coming up short this year! I'm also signed up for an eGolf event in High Pointe, NC, but I'll probably have to WD from that once I qualify for the Nationwide event.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Almost, not quite

Played a good solid round of golf today. Hit the ball really good and hit 16 greens en route to a 3-under par 69 today. Unfortunately, 69's don't get it done in Nationwide monday qualifiers. However, it was an extremely positive day today, and another step in the right direction. The swing feels as good as it has in well over a year. I got off to an OK start, parring my first 4 holes. A bad bounce in the fairway led to a bogey on the 5th, as my ball bounced hard right, directly behind a tree. I almost chipped in on 6, the par 3, but put an awful stroke on a 3 footer and threw a shot away there. I was then +2 thru 6 and in trouble. But if there's one thing I never do, its give up. I almost flew my 2nd shot into the par 5 7th in the hole, and it went about 12 feet past. A perfect putt on the line I chose simply failed to break, caught a piece of the edge and lipped out. A tap in birdie, yet a momentum reverser. Good shots and better putts on the next two holes got me to 1-under after making a turkey. I turned at 35, but still needed to make some noise on the back.

The greens were fast today, rolling at about 11 or 12, along with being firm. I hit a great rescue shot on 10 and even had a decent birdie look. 11 saw me hit another perfect putt for birdie from 15 feet lip out. Then on 12 I hit an awesome 8-iron from in some trees after a poor club selection off the tee put me through the fairway. I hit the 115 yard shot to 4-feet and made birdie. A birdie on a par 5 coming in got me to 3-under, but I just couldn't get enough putts to fall from 20+ feet coming in and settled with a 69.

Although I missed out on the Kinderlou tournament, I'm really excited about the direction my game is headed. 2008 Mike Van Sickle is back and here to stay. A couple of good putting drill days will get me some more added confidence with the putter, and then LOOK OUT! I'm on my way to Hilton Head to spend the week practicing before next Monday's Nationwide qualifier. I also signed up for next week's eGolf event at High Point in North Carolina as a fall back option. I'm playing pretty good though, so expect to see me making it through next week! I'll be playing at Achaste in Georgia, where I played last year and shot a 68 with 8 birdies, 2 bogies and a double. I missed a playoff by a shot. Super excited for the upcoming events!

Results from today: Click here

Monday, April 18, 2011

Great two weeks

I'm down to my last week back home in Pittsburgh here, and I'm really feeling great about where my game is at. I'm hitting it as good as ever, thanks to some sessions with Joe Boros and a lot of practice. Played two balls out at Treesdale today and shot 67 and 65, so I'm pumped to get back into the competitive atmosphere. I'm also smashing the new R11 driver I got while I was down in Louisiana. After missing the qualifier down there, I stopped at the tournament the next day and went to the Taylormade van, where Marquette Alum Eddie Erkmanis hooked me up with an R11 driver. Love it.

It's also been good to be home. I've been able to blow off a lot of steam at Oxford by working out and been able to relax a bit with the family and some friends I hadn't seen in a while. Went to a Pirates game sporting my Neil Walker jersey (he went to high school with me and is now the Pirates star second baseman.) It's been fun watching him have success, and it's given my dad and I a reason to watch Pirates games. They're actually not too bad this year! Although they got creamed the day I went to the game.

I'm hitting the road on Friday and I'll be driving to Callaway Gardens in Georgia to spend a night at the Shaver household, who have been gracious enough to let me stay with them on numerous occasions. Then I take off on Saturday for Albany, GA, where I'll be playing in a Nationwide Monday qualifier. This is the Valdosta tournament at Kinderlou Forest. A tournament I really would like to get in, as the course sets up beautifully for my game. My plan is to get off the practice tee now and play as much as I can the next couple days to continue to prepare for my upcoming events.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Colder Than I Thought

I got back from Newark on Saturday and it's been 3 straight days of highs in the mid to high 30's, which isn't quite golf weather. I've spent the last few days working out hard and hitting some balls at the dome. Not quite what I was expecting in the last week of March. Typically it's starting to get alright by now, but another week of this and I'll have to head south for some better weather in order to properly prepare for my upcoming Nationwide qualifiers. The first of which is on April 25th and is for the Kinderlou Forest tournament. I'd really like to play in that event, especially since the 7700 yard course sets up perfectly for me. You may recall KF being the site of my successful first run at 1st Stage in 2009. I fired a bogey free 67 in the final round on a blustery day and secured a spot to 2nd Stage. I love that place and hopefully I'll be able to earn a spot there at the end of April. Off for the Neville Island Dome right now to go pound some balls.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sweet trip to Newark

After spending two days in my Toyota Camry, I figured why not spend a couple more? I was able to procure 4 tickets to Marquette's Sweet 16 game against UNC and was going to meet a few friends in Newark for the game. My buddy Adam Reed drove from Milwaukee and stayed at my house in Pittsburgh. We took off for Newark the next morning and after a 6 hour drive, got into Newark around 2:30. Never have I seen a more ridiculously complex and chaotic freeway system than there. Our hotel could only be accessed from the freeway, and only from the Southbound side, and exiting and turning around was no bargain either. Luckily we made some good guesses and got to the hotel without too much incident. Former roommate Brendan Lowd and friend Kate met up with us an hour later. We then took off for a pre-game Marquette event at the Brick City Bar and Grille next to the Prudential Center. There we joined a couple hundred fellow fans and alums in getting psyched up for the game. I ran into Tim Vetscher, who I watched all the Big East Tournament games with out in Phoenix, at the party and talked with him a little bit. Everyone was definitely optimistically hopeful about the day's game, and why wouldn't we be after how hard and masterfully the team played in the first two rounds?

We got to the arena and to our seats right before the tip. Kate and I received numerous comments on our jerseys (I had brought a pair of jerseys from 1984 that my mom had gotten from some team managers when they were getting rid of them. Herbert Harrison-43 and Donald Smolinski-4), along with some "Go Warriors!" comments. We won the opening tip and played tough for the first 5 minutes, even snagging an early 10-8 lead. The Marquette faithful were loud and proud. Yet, UNC's athleticism was apparent and their stifling man to man D was tough to break. It was difficult for our guys to even make numerous successful passes without difficulty. But they never gave up and played hard the whole game, even cutting the deficit in the 2nd half and giving us all something to cheer about, but UNC was just too much.

We then stayed for the second game as well, Ohio St vs Kentucky, and what a game that was. Definitely worth the ticket price just for that game alone. It was an exciting atmosphere though, and definitely worth the trip even though we lost. Adam and I would drive back to Pittsburgh the next morning, making it 4 straight days of 6+ driving hours for me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Good, but not good enough...

Played well on Monday, but not great. Shot a two-under par 70 in blustery conditions and missed by three. I got off to a good start and was -3 thru 6, which included a pair of twenty foot birdie putts. I really rolled it well all day long, and hit it really well on the front nine as well. Unfortunately, as is the case with Monday qualifiers, you can't afford to let a couple shot slip because you need to get everything you can out of your round. 11 and 12 is where I ultimately lost in the qualifying. I was pin-high 60 feet on 11, about two yards off the green chipping. I hit a crummy chip to 10 feet and lipped out the putt. Wasted shot. On the next hole I blew my 25 footer by and missed the 6 foot comebacker. Wasted shot. I bogeyed 18 to finish the round as I was going for the pin trying to make birdie/hole out, a shot I wouldn't have tried if I was already at -5. That's three shots. That's 67. That puts me in a playoff. Dang.

It was a definite step in the right direction however, as I walk out of here knowing my game is headed in the right direction. Unlike last year when we left here thinking, "What the hell happened there, and where did some of those shots come from?" I'm stopping at the Taylormade van at the tournament today to meet up with Eddie Erkmanis, and if he's got time, get fit for an R11 driver.

I'll be headed home to Pittsburgh Wednesday morning, and possibly off to Newark to watch Marquette take down those Tar Heels, just like in '77

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In Louisiana

Just reached Lafayette, LA last night after two long days in the car driving through Texas. Fortunately my mother flew out to Arizona to help with the drive. We stopped in El Paso for lunch the first day with Mike McQueen, my host from my two trips to the Western Refining All-American Tournament. We didn't go to El Paso CC this year, but we did last year when we drove through so that we could see my plaque on the wall with all the other champions.

Anyhow, I've had a good couple weeks of practice and I'm hitting the ball solidly. My parents flew out two weeks ago to get out of the Pittsburgh weather. I spent alot of time golfing with my dad, and we even took a day off to go to Sedona to admire the amazing rock formations. Shot a few ho-hum 60's rounds and now I'm looking forward to my first Nationwide Monday qualifier of the year on March 21st here in Louisiana.

The way I'm playing right now I feel it will all come down to putting. If the putter gets rolling and I make some putts, I'll feel pretty confident about my chances. You never know with an 18 hole tournament, really anything can happen, but I like where my game is headed. Last year I got the bad end of the tee times out here. It was mid-40s for my front nine and blowing 25mph. On 17, the clouds dispersed, the sun came out, and the wind died down. So you never know, but I'm going to play as best I can and tally it up when I'm done. Off to play a practice round at The Wetlands GC, where I played last year as well.

Nice win by Marquette last night!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

All-American Tour Championship next

So I'm officially in the All-American Tour Championship, which starts on Monday. It's a 64-man match play event with a Nationwide Tour exemption going to the winner. I think it's a great opportunity to get into a Nationwide spot. Instead of playing for 7 spots in a 100 man field, I'll just have to beat 6 guys in 6 matches. And I'm really excited after a great practice day today. I spent a lot of time on the putting green and was really stroking it well. On top of that, I continued to hit it great on the range. Although I haven't played many match play events, I have had some success in the events that I have played. It's always been a format that seems to suit me, as I usually make a lot of birdies.

My tee-time is 12:06 on Monday. Assuming I continue to win my matches, I'll play 1 match Monday, 2 matches Tuesday, 2 matches Wednesday, and the Championship match on Thursday.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

70-70-70

Made 40 pars in 54 holes. Just didn't get much to go in all week long. Made some solid par putts at times, but on a whole, I just didn't stroke it great. Really striking the ball well though, and I'm really excited about where my game is headed. The short game will be the area of focus going forward as I hit some so-so chips this week and didn't roll the ball confidently enough. Looks like I'll finish T-33 this week. Made 3 birdies and 1 bogey again today. Bogeyed the first hole of the day, birdied the 2nd hole to get back to even after knocking it on in two, and birdied number 5 with a good up and down. I then proceeded to make 12 straight pars, the worst of which being on number 9 when my 2nd shot hit the pin and went to 5 feet. I lipped out the putt. Reached the difficult par 5 18th in two and two-putted for my third and final birdie.

I might be playing in the All-American Tour- Tour Championship next week. It's a 64 man matchplay event, with the winner receiving a Nationwide Tour exemption. The Gateway Tour is off next week. To date I've made 4 of 5 cuts this year, a vast improvement over last year, but what wouldn't have been?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another 70, another made cut

Shot 70 again today. A little bit windier conditions, but again it could've been better. And again it was mostly missed opportunities with the putter, or just not hitting some 120 yard shots as close as I should. Made 3 birdies and 1 bogey. Definitely a positive that I've only made 3 bogeys in 36 holes. That's what you need to do in order to shoot low scores. Unfortunately, the birdies haven't been there yet this week... must be saving them all for tomorrow. I drove it fantastically today, and really had the 15 foot high low bullet driver working today. A shot that I owned for much of my time at Marquette, and it's a great sign that I was really feeling comfortable with it today. Missed a pair of up-and-downs on the front nine on the par 5's. Should've birdied both of those holes. My only bogey came when I gunned a 20 footer past the hole by 4 feet and missed the comebacker on number 4. Made a clutch birdie on 16, rolling in a 10 footer for birdie that got me to 4-under, after birdies on 6 and 11. Had a 7 footer for birdie on 18, but was cautious with the speed, knowing that 4-under was the cutline in all-likelihood. It broke off on me. A successful day from a ball-striking standpoint. Worked on the putting afterwards, although it was by no means BAD today, just very average. Got the stroke feeling good on the putting green after and I'm ready to go low tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Solid start in Round 1

This week's Gateway event got off to a decent start today. I fired a 2-under 70 that was led by good ball-striking. The swing is really starting to feel better and better. I hit a couple iffy drives, but I hit a bunch of really good iron shots. I made a couple solid par putts, but didn't make much on the day, making 4 birdies and 2 bogeys. I started on the back 9 and two-putted 11 for birdie. I hit a great pitching wedge from the right rough on 15 and sank a solid 12-footer. A 3-putt on 17 from 40-feet down a big slope dropped me back to 1-under. Had to lay up on the par-5 18th after a mediocre drive. I had 247 to the front edge, the pin was 34 on, and the left side of the green dropped off into water... yeah, not feeling that on day 1. Had a really good up and down on the par-5 2nd hole. Hit a flop shot from 30 yards to 8-feet and sank it. Just missed a green with a wedge on 4 and hit a crummy chip to make the second bogey and drop back to 1 down again. Reached the next par-5 in two and parred my way in. Made a real nice 8-footer for par on 9 to finish the day. T-32 of 118, as scores were pretty good today. 39 and ties make the cut. I tee off just after noon tomorrow.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Back on Track

I've spent the last few days resting, getting work done on my arm/wrist by Dr. Jason Loth, and ultimately healing up. Both Carson and Jason were pretty shocked at how tight and locked up my left forearm and wrist were, however, with just a few sessions it seems to be getting better. The sharp pain that I was getting is gone, and I'm only experiencing some achey, fatigued, soreness if anything. I practiced yesterday for the first time since Saturday and hit balls with very limited discomfort. Today I had a full practice session and played 9 holes out at Moon Valley before dark. I hit it great and shot a 5-under 31. Glad to see that the hard work I've been putting in, and the progress I made, wasn't lost in my few days off. In the grand scheme of things this was probably a positive, as it brought to light areas that need to be strengthened due to overuse/fatigue, and it gave me a nice little break to recharge my batteries a bit. It was my first extended break (4 days) in a long time. I usually take a month or maybe two off during the winter, but with my struggles last year I decided to press through the winter and really work on tweaking my swing to get it back to where it's been in the past, which Joe B and I seem to have done, or are close to doing. Anyhow, I really enjoyed being out on the course today playing, maybe even more than I have lately, and I would attribute that to a couple days off. I'm excited for next week's Gateway event, as I'm going to try and play. It starts on Tuesday.

I've also made some progress on the book I bought last week, Dante's Divine Comedy. It's a bit of a slow read, as I'm trying to pick up on as much symbolism as possible, plus the vernacular can be dated at times. If I were trying to read it quickly, I'd surely get lost or miss some things, and that would be absolute hell...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Withdrawal

Although my wrist felt slightly better today, there was definitely still some pain. I called and emailed the Gateway Tour and withdrew from this week's event. I've spent most of today resting the wrist and icing it. I'm meeting up with Carson Kemp tomorrow, my personal trainer, and he had some good thoughts on what might be causing it, and he may set me up with his chiropractor as well. So I'll be meeting up with him at 830 tomorrow morn.

Went to Borders and picked up my first recreational reading since High School. College put a bit of a sour taste for reading in my mouth with all the required readings, but I think I'm finally over it. haha. Picked up Dante's Divine Comedy, which I've always wanted to read. I know, probably sounds like an English Lit required reading to most, but the subject matter has always intrigued me. And I'll most likely have a day or two to dive into it as I'll continue to rest the wrist and ice it.




Saturday, February 12, 2011

Concerning Day

I was out at Moon Valley this morning and was hitting balls on the range. I probably had hit 20 PWs and 20 9-irons, and was starting to hit a few 8-irons as I was working my way up through my bag. On about my 3rd 8-iron I got a sudden sharp pain in my left wrist. I had some problems last year with that wrist, and it even caused me to WD from the West Penn Open last summer. The pain comes as I'm trying to release the club and it's located on the outside of my left wrist. I immediately stopped hitting balls and spent two hours putting and chipping. I could definitely feel a tightness as I even tried to putt though. So I spent the rest of the day icing it and resting it. I also put my brace on as well. I've got a Gateway event that starts Tuesday and I have to give a 48-hour notice if I need to withdraw and still want a refund, which gives me until tomorrow morning at 8AM. I'll be getting up early to test it out, but if there's any pain tomorrow morning I don't see any sense in trying to play through anything. The purpose of playing the Gateway Tour now is to prepare myself and get my game in gear for summer and Nationwide qualifiers. Not to press through any injuries and cause a setback going forward. Anyhow, the pain is a different spot in the wrist, which I don't like. Hoping it's just a strain from overuse or something. We'll see in the morning.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rounds 2 and 3

After making birdie on the first hole of the day in Round 2, I hit a rough stretch and turned in 41. I sat at +6. I figured the cut would most likely be +3, so I knew I needed to make a move. My biggest problem was that I really wasn't stroking the ball very well. I reached the par-5 3rd hole in two and was able to two putt for birdie, getting me to +5. The wind began to pick up as I entered my last 5 holes. I had a few more opportunities, but couldn't get any putts to fall. I headed to 9, my last hole of the day, at +5, needing a birdie to have any chance of making the cut. It was blowing 25mph dead into my face and I hit a 3-wood down the middle, following it up with a knock down gap wedge to 7 feet pin high. It was a must make, and I hadn't really made anything all day long. I focused on the line and not mechanics and put some speed on it, pouring it into the right center of the cup. It would wind up being a thousand dollar putt, as +4 snuck in due to high winds at the end of the day.

Today's round was postponed an hour due to winds blowing between 40-50 mph. The balls were rolling all over the putting green. It was pretty ridiculous. An hour later, conditions were basically the same, but they started play anyway. I was in the first group of the day, a two-some. I hit some great shots on the first few holes, but was 4 over through five. On the first hole I had a 30-footer for birdie. It was downhill and downwind, and I thought I might not even be able to stop it. Wrong, it somehow stopped 10 feet short. With a 40 mph wind, the most difficult thing isn't hitting shots sometimes, it's trying to judge the speed of putts as you putt downwind or into the wind. Had some trouble with that today, but made some mid-round birdies to help me tread water for a bit. One bad drive on the back nine cost me a couple shots, but for the day I really hit it well. Laughably, as my playing competitor and I stood in the 18th fairway, the wind switched and then died. Unreal. We played in 3 hours, and as we left the scoring area, the group 3 behind us was just making the turn, now in calm conditions. Unreal. haha. I shot 78, but played the par-3's at 2-under on the day. So that was a positive.

As a whole, I didn't have the best of putting weeks and that's where I'll spend the majority of my focus this weekend as I get ready for another Gateway event next week. My ball-striking is really feeling better, and I'm looking forward to next week after some good shortgame work in the next few days.

Oh, and how about the Marquette win over USF yesterday? Down 16 in the the second half and to come back and win... studly.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Continued Improvement, Round 1

My parents were in town this last week during the Waste Management Open. My dad covered the event, and due to the frost delays, wound up being alot busier in the afternoons than we thought he'd be. We were planning on playing a bit more golf together, but we were still able to play Monday and practice a couple time together. My mom enjoyed the complimentary items from the tournament, and I won't be running out of bottles of soda, yogurt covered raisins, or Waste Management playing cards anytime soon.

It was a good week of practice, which I spent mostly out at Moon Valley. I didn't play as much as I normally would because it was such a busy week here, and the frost delays all week really bunched up the course, but I spent some quality time practicing and continue to feel better about the status of my game. Today was the first round of the Gateway Tour event at the Ironwood course at Anthem, and I hit it well all day long. I didn't have one of my better putting days, but limited my mistakes and birdied 2 of my last 4 holes to fire a 1-over par 73. The course is difficult, with seriously sloped greens and tough pin locations. A strong wind blew for the majority of the round, and that 73 puts me at T-25 of 100 players after round 1. I've got a 12:39 tee time tomorrow and feel poised to make a move.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Not the best week thus far...

Wasn't my most successful week this year. First, Dustin Schwab and myself lost our best ball match in the Phoenix Fourball. It was a mega windy day, blowing a minimum of 30 all morning. We didn't play all that well, and I specifically really played awful. Just couldn't get the drives onto grass with all that wind. Next on the schedule was the Gateway Tour event at Whirlwind where I missed the cut. I shot 72 the first round with 3 balls that found water. 75 the second round was due to some pretty poor putting. Lastly was the Phoenix Open Pre-qualifier yesterday, where I failed to finish T-9 or better and make it through. It took 66 at my qualifying site, and after starting out 2 under through 5, I couldn't keep it going. Again, not one of my better putting days, despite dropping a 60-foot bomb on the 3rd hole.

In summation, a lost match, a missed cut, and a failed qualifier. Strangely enough, it's the best I've felt about my swing yet this year. And with a week off from the Gateway Tour, some solid days of practice on the range to continue to improve the swing will go a long way. Now that I'm feeling good about the swing, I'll be putting a lot more emphasis on the short game, so that I won't be writing about how poorly I putted in future weeks.

Seriously though, I'm close!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Practice Rounds and more


You know it's an early start to a round, when the range is lit by moonlight... The last day of the Gateway at the Raven didn't go so well. Hit a couple tee shots into trouble and made another double and a quad. Fought back with some birdies, but the damage was done. It was an extremely windy day and I played OK, just a couple bad shots that I let turn into big numbers. Maybe the coolest thing about the Raven at Verrado was that there was an Air Force base nearby and there were constantly F-15's buzzing over the course. Maybe I'm just a kid at heart, but I'll never grow out of my 'thinking that fighter jets are totally cool' stage.

I've signed up with a personal trainer who I met at the Desert Marlin and works with some golfers. I went and worked out with him after the round. It was our 3rd session and we're doing some really good stuff. It's hard to stay motivated and workout by yourself on the road, which has been my main problem, but he's great and he's got me working hard. Love it.

Played a practice round yesterday at Whirlwind GC, the site of the next Gateway Tour event. Ran into a kid I've played with a couple of times, Sam Cyr. Really nice kid and he finished second in the first Gateway event, only to have to WD after Rd 1 in the second event last week due to food poisoning. We played a practice round together and grabbed some dinner afterwards. The next Gateway event starts Monday and goes through Wednesday.

I'm playing a practice round today at Aguila Golf Club, the pre-qualifying site for the Phoenix Open, which is scheduled for Thursday. Then on Sunday, former teammate, Dustin Schwab and myself are teaming up to play in the Phoenix Fourball Championship. A two-man team tournament that is a best-ball format. We're teeing it up at 8:20 out at Quintero. I would've tried to get a later tee-time, but Dustin wants to be back in time for the Packer game, haha, can't say I blame him. This is the same event that Ted Gray and I played in together last year.

All-in-All a busy week ahead as I'm playing in something everyday from today through Thursday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2 for 2


I've been playing this week in my second Gateway Event of the year, and today made my second cut of the year. More than I made all of last year, which is sickening, but also a good sign. I'm really playing well. My ball-striking was the real issue last year, and Joe B. pinpointed some good things this last time out. Anyhow, I've hit it great the last two days, with the exception of one awful swing each day. Both were tee shots, one with a rescue and the other a 3-iron. I blocked them both WAY right and they both led to doubles. Besides those two holes though, I've made 13 birdies and just 3 bogeys. I fired 68-70 and sit at 6-under and tied for 22nd. The leader is at 11-under. I've come from 5 back before, it's going to take a special round tomorrow, but the key is staying focused on my own game, and just try to make as many birdies as possible. I've really been rolling it fantastically this week and have been very solid inside of 6 feet, and have made a few 20-30 footers.
A fairy somewhere just lost it's wings. Why? There is a 310 yard par 4 out at the Raven. It's uphill and has a severe false front. The green is not very deep either. There is some room just off the green, but not much, mostly desert. Mike Van Sickle from a few years back would have just grabbed the driver and tried to hit the green every round. I've hit 5-iron/Lob Wedge both rounds. The first day to 4 feet and today to 7 feet. Both led to birdies. Really? Me? Laying up? And what's worse is that I birdied it twice. Who am I? hahaha. Both my playing competitors hit driver yesterday, both into the desert. Both hit irons today. Guess I'm a trendsetter. Results from the tourny... Gateway Results

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Swing from today, 6-iron


Joe Boros left today after two great days of instruction, play, and practice. We really pinpointed some good things to work on. I really started hitting it consistently solid by the time he left. Here is one of my last swings before we left the course today.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

First Gateway Event in the Books

What took me 11 months last year, I was able to accomplish in my first event this year. In my first Gateway Tour event of the year, I shot 73-71 in some windy, cool conditions to make the cut right on the number. I was playing solidly in the opening round and tallied 3 birdies in a row to get to 2-under with 2 to play. Playing in the final group of the day, darkness was closing fast and we tried to hurry to finish. In retrospect that was a bad decision, as I went doublebogey-bogey to finish and shoot a 1-over 73. Day 2 saw some of my best ball striking of the year, but as was the case all week long, the greens confounded me and I only read about half of my putts correctly, leading to 15 pars, 2 birdies, and one bogey. Even par was on the cut line and I made it. Last year my first mini-tour cut made came in late November on the Hooters Tour. The ball-striking wasn't quite there today in Round 3, again in breezy conditions, and a triple and a double led to a 4-over 76 and a 29th place finish. However, cuts made is an improvement, and Joe Boros is landing in 45 minutes. He'll be in town for a couple days as we continue to enhance my swing and make sure that I'm practicing the correct things. I'm sure we'll take some videos of the swing this weekend and I'll post a couple of those here on the site. My next Gateway event starts Tuesday.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Desert Marlin

It's been a few days as my father and I enjoy the somewhat warm Scottsdale weather. My dad flew in about a week ago to prepare for our week at the Desert Marlin at Greyhawk. It's a two man team event, one pro and one am. A number of Tour players stop by to play in it, and we got our foot in the door last year as a last minute fill in for Peter Kostas and his son. Somehow we were invited back. We played our practice round with Stan Utley and our friend Mike Petty. It was good to pick Stan's brain a little bit, as there's not too many better putters than him. That evening was the Dry Heave, where Gary McCord harasses you via microphone while you try to hit a 110 yd shot over water. Top 3 closest to the pin win some money. They had an MC there too, to switch songs for each player, as Gary had songs picked out for certain guys. The MC got me good in my down swing, but I still managed to hit it about 10 feet pin high, no good though. McCord had a song picked out for my dad, and made fun of him for being media, but my dad hit a pretty good shot, and kind of spun the wrong way and was a little bit past. Probably 7 or 8 feet. No good either.

The first day is a 2-man scramble and our putters where cold as ice. We played with Ted Purdy, who is probably one of the absolute nicest guys on tour. My dad and I shot 68, which placed us near the bottom. We left a solid 5 shots out there with our putters alone. Afterwards we had lunch with Ted and were talking about my current situation and how I'm looking for somewhere to practice and play, now that my membership at Golf Club Scottsdale ran up and then more than doubled the price out there for me. Ted immediately got on the phone and called a couple courses to help me out. Hey, did I mention he's probably the nicest guy on tour? Yeah.

Day 2 saw us play a bit better. It was a best-ball format and I got us off to a solid start and played the first 14 holes in 3 or 4 under. We ran into a 20 minutes backup on 15 and I was pretty useless after that. My dad picked us up though with back to back birdies on our 15 and 16th holes. We shot a 66 and moved up about 20 spots, but still fell short of the money. We played with Frank Conner, who has the distinction of being the only man on the planet to play in both a Tennis US Open and a Golf US Open. He's older, but he's still got game. We had an absolute blast and now I'm gearing up for my first Gateway Tour event in a few days out at Anthem Golf Club.