Friday, October 5, 2012

Back to Back

After qualifying for my first Web.Com event since the 2009 Children's Hospital Classic at Ohio State's course, I found myself on a stage I hadn't been on in a while at the Chiquita Classic.  Unfortunately, I was unable to play my best golf last week, leading to a 72-74 and a missed cut.  Good news though, as I'm back out here on the Web.Com Tour after another successful Monday qualifier.  I'm playing at the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farms.  And not just qualify this week, but I'm already off to a solid start with a 1-under par 69.  It's a very difficult course, and I'm currently sitting T-30 right now.  I have a 1:55 tee time today, Friday, and I'm looking to improve on my current position and get into contention.  The cut is to the top 60 and ties, but I'm looking to get near the top of the leaderboard, not just make cuts.  I'm playing great and just need a few more putts to drop today, stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Finally made one!

Yesterday was the Monday qualifier for the Chiquita Classic in Charlotte, a event, formerly the Nationwide tour.  It was a cool and blustery morning with swirling winds, which made it difficult to figure out where the wind was coming from.  But I was hitting it well and had some nice up and downs.  I birdied 3 & 7 on my front, but bogied the par 3 8th and turned at 1-under par.  That's when I really started to play solid golf. I birdied 10 & 13 to get to 3-under and then hit one bad drive on 14.  I found it but had to pitch it out to 155 yards.  Knowing par would really keep me in it, I took dead aim with a 9-iron and hit it 8-feet below the hole…pouring it in for par!  That was really the hole of the day right there.  I birdied 16 & 17 to close to get to 5-under, and since I was in the morning wave, spent the next 4 hours waiting to see if my 67 would hold up.  Not only did it hold up, but I finished T-2, one shot clear of a 6 for 3 playoff.

I'm really excited for this week, as I've been playing some good solid golf over the past month, even shooting a few course records.  I'm peaking at the right time of the year for sure.  I'm going to go get some breakfast now and then head over for a practice round at Longview CC where the tournament is being held.  More to come!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Course Record

I've been having a really good week on the course.  Unfortunately it's not in competition, but my game continues to peak at the right time this year, with Q-School only a month away.  On Wednesday, my dad and I played at Treesdale and played our usual two balls around the course.  I shot 62 & 66 on Lakes-Orchard from the tips.  I bogied 9 Orchard to finish on the ball that shot 62, a new course record by two shots, eclipsing my previous record of 64.  Had I parred the last, I would've shot 30 on both balls on Orchard, alas, I settled for a 31.  One of the highlights was pouring in back to back 25 foot eagle putts on 5 Orchard.  Always nice to play a hole in 4-under!  Again we played two balls on Thursday out at Treesdale, and I put up 65 & 67 on Orchard-Grove.  Disappointingly one shot shy of my course record on that alignment of courses.  But still, it's nice to finally be scoring as I've been hitting some really nice short game shots and stroking the ball beautifully.  I've spent some extra time practicing my alignment and stroke path at home and it seems to really be paying off.

My next tournament will either start on September 19 or September 26, both are eGolf events.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Short by 1 for Mylan…again

For the second straight year I missed playing in the Mylan classic by a single shot.  I fired a 68 at Green Oaks and finished T-8th of 156 players.  I'm hitting it great and just needed to score better on my final 6 holes.  A few better pitch shots coming down the stretch could have done the trick, or even a couple made putts.  I lipped out a 3-foot par putt on my 13th hole, had 30 yard pitches on my 14th and 15th holes, but made pars both times.  I had a 12 foot eagle putt spin out of the hole on my 16th and then drove it just over the back of the green on the 17th, but left my chip short and settled for par.  On 18, I had a 12 foot birdie putt, but put a crummy stroke on it and missed it left.  It's frustrating to be playing such good golf, and not get the opportunity to play in my hometown event, but I could have scored better.  The short game will continue to be the focus of the next month as I prepare for Q-school and a couple more qualifiers.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Great few Weeks...

Anyone who saw me play this week out at Nemacolin Woodlands in the PA Open will notice one thing… he's back.  The ball-striking, the driving especially, was second to none out there this week.  Ripping driver 300+ yards while hitting fairway after fairway.  The only thing to hold me back this week was a lack of made putts outside 10 feet and a few poorly played short game shots.  The end of the week saw me shoot 71-67-70 (8-under par) to come in 2nd, three shots behind this year's winner, Clayton Rotz, who really had a tremendous start, shooting 66 in the first two rounds.  Still, it was an extremely positive week at Nemacolin after a number of good weeks in a row, going back to my last few eGolf tour starts.

I had a great trip to the Rhode Island Open, the week prior to the PA Open, and the goal was to get practice playing in contention and use it as preparation for the PA Open.  Unfortunately I didn't find my way into contention as -15 would win the 3 round event and I would meander my way to a +1 finish, but I came in 22nd and got most of my entry back.  However, it was clear that there were good things on the horizon.  My first round saw a 63 turn into a 72 when 9 putts hit the hole and did not go in (all from outside 8 feet) which was reminiscent of my 3rd round of Q-school last year.  Just one of those weeks where I couldn't get it going.

My 2nd eGolf tour start in a row was at River Landing in Wallace, NC.  A tough start got me in trouble and I needed a special round to make the cut… I headed to the final hole 4-under on the day and needing a birdie to make the cut.  A couple good shots had me at 10-feet for birdie with a swinging right to left putt.  I drained it, which was huge and got me into the weekend.  But the key is finding yourself in a stressful situation and succeeding.  I shot 1-under the rest of the way after that 2nd round 67, but it was a great positive nonetheless.

Next up on my schedule is the Mylan Classic Monday qualifier on August 27th at Green Oaks.

My apologies for the lack of posts, as I had no internet in Wallace or Rhode Island…that happens with host housing sometimes though.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Solid finish

The third round was awfully frustrating.  I just didn't hit it great and I couldn't buy a putt to fall.  I wound up with 15 pars, 2 bogies, and a birdie to shoot a third round 72.  And it was much of the same to start the opening 9 holes in the final round.  I made 2 bogies and 1 birdie, and again, couldn't get anything to fall.  But finally, with 9 holes left, things started to even out.  I continued to give myself chances and stroke it well like I had all week, and low and behold, it paid off.  I hit a good shot on 1 about 18 feet behind the hole, put a really good stroke and watched it break right into the center, finally!  Then I hit a great 8-iron on the par-3 3rd hole to 6 feet and poured one in.  3 holes later I would make a 10 foot birdie try on the par-5 6th.  And two holes later I hit a spectacular iron shot to 7 feet on the dangerous 8th hole, par-3 and poured that one in as well.  I would finish with 4 birdies on that closing nine for a 31, which included a pair of lip-out birdie putts on 7 & 9.  Great momentum builder going into this week.  I finished with a final round 68 to climb into 43rd, but had one of the lower rounds on a difficult day.

I'm excited about my play and am gearing up for this week's eGolf event in Wallace, NC at River Landing.  I'll try to keep up with my results on here!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Made Cut

My first made cut in my third eGolf event of the year.  After getting off to a nice start, cruising to -2 thru 6, I bogied my 7th and 8th holes to drop back to 3-under for the tournament.  The problem with this was that I was en route to shooting a low score, and at -5, well clear of the cutline.  But when I fell back to the cutline number, I wasn't as free to take chances and get aggressive.  However, I played mistake free golf on my inward nine, which was highlighted with a 320 yard 3-wood that reached the green surface, followed by a 100 foot eagle putt that just burned the edge and stopped 6 inches away, leading to a tap in birdie and a 34 on my inward nine.  I finished with a 1-under par 70, 4-under for the tournament and made the cut right on the number.  No holds barred now, it's time to get aggressive, take it deep, and make a check.

I'm continuing to play well.  Really hitting it solidly, minus one drive and one second shot today.  Hit some really good putts that just wouldn't drop.  Had one of those days where the good shots just weren't quite the right distance and the good putts weren't quite the right line.  So close to a great round, feel one coming!  Tee it at 9:40 tomorrow

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Short on Monday, but great Wednesday

I just couldn't get it going in the Monday Qualifier.  I bogied my first hole and bogied my 12th hole to fall to +1.  I finished strong however, still managing to post a 69, but the real momentum swing/lost opportunities came at the turn, I missed an 8 footer for par on 8, after being -1 thru 7 and a 5-foot birdie chance on 9, and 6-foot birdie chance on 10, and another 5 foot effort for birdie on 11.  If I make those four putts, all inside 8 feet, I'm 4-under thru 11 and my 3 late birdies would have gotten me to -7 and into the John Deere.  From that perspective, I'm really close, just a few putts away from being in the mix.  I'm playing really well and am truly excited for the rest of this season.

So after coming up short Monday, I hopped in my car and drove 9 hours, to Lexington, KY where I spent the night.  I then got back in my car and drove another 7 hours and got to Kannapolis around 4 o'clock.  I played two balls around the Club at Irish Creek to get as much golf in as I could.  Really hit it great.  But my first round was at the Country Club of Salisbury, and I didn't get a practice round in there…

Hitting some putts to the pin locations could have been helpful today, but I got off to a solid start with a 3-under par, bogey-free, 68 to start the tournament.  Not bad after 16 hours in a car!  I made 16 pars, 1 birdie, and 1 eagle.  If that sounds familiar, it's because I made 16 pars and 2 birdies in the Thursday pre-qualifier a week ago.  I'm in 28th place of 161 guys after Round 1, with a cut to low 53 & ties tomorrow.

We had a 1-hour rain delay today and the greens were really soft and were bumpy and chewed up, so it was kind of difficult to make any putts of length, but I kept giving myself chances and finally poured in a birdie on 12 after 11 pars to open the day.  Then I stuffed a 6-iron on the par 5 15th to 5 feet and drained that to get to 3-under.  I play at Irish Creek tomorrow 9:54AM.  A course I know very well and have a good game plan for.  Gonna take it deep!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bogey free, the way to be!

Shot a bogey-free 69 in John Deere Pre-Qualifying yesterday.  Had a good game plan going into the day, as I started on the par 4 10th.  I knew a couple good drives on 10 & 11 could net me some early birdies, so I tried to be aggressive.  It paid off on 10 as I hit a good pitch to six feet and poured in the birdie.  Didn't hit a good enough drive on 11 to go for the par 5 green in two with water in front.  So I layed it up to 90 yards and hit a good wedge shot that spun a little bit too much.  Good thing I started the day straight ROLLING my Bettinardi putter.  Poured it in from 15 feet, then made a 5 footer and 8 footer for pars on the next two holes.  I knew 2-under would be more than enough on a day when the top 50 of 140 players make it into the Monday qualifier.  So I tossed it in cruise control, which was the plan if I could get those birdies early on.  I did have a couple disappointing pars on a few holes on the front nine.  Could have played those a little better.  But I made it easy on myself all day long.  Never in trouble of making any big numbers, or even bogies for that matter.  Really playing good solid golf.  Excited for the chance to get back into my favorite tour event, The John Deere Classic!

I'm headed to Chicago for the next two days to practice and play some golf with former MU teammate Sam Bettinardi, who recently shot a 67 in the Illinois State Match Play qualifying rounds.  Going to be a fun couple days of practice and then back for another practice round Sunday afternoon before the qualifier on Monday.  I'm also signed up for an eGolf event this next week at The Club at Irish Creek in Charlotte, but hopefully I won't be headed there.

Stay Cool this week!

Friday, June 29, 2012

2nd Place at Fuhrer

My third round saw me get off to a good start, even getting into the red briefly.  Unfortunately I hit a bad stretch on my back nine, making 4 bogies in a row that dropped me into 4th going in to the final round.  Three players were tied at +2 while I was at +4.  But not to worry, because I would pull even with them pretty quick in the Final Round.  After an unbelievable flop shot on one to set up a great par save, I continued my aggressive philosophy on number 2 (a 330 yd par 4) and hit driver all the way onto the front fringe of the green.  After reading it to break a little left, I hit the putt, apparently pretty hard, because it hit the back of the hole from 50-feet, popped up, and fell back into the cup for an eagle 2 to put me back in a tie for the lead at +2.  My playing competitor and I plodded along that front nine making all pars, until I missed a 4-footer for par on 9 to drop 1 behind him.  The other two players in contention at this point had fallen back, so it was a two-horse race.  I made up for the bogey on nine quickly as I hit a gap wedge to a foot on 10 for birdie and then got some more back with a 30-footer for birdie on 11 as well, which put me in the lead with 7 to play at +1.  My playing partner, David Bradshaw, was +2.  I had a really nice up and down at 12 and had a 3-footer at 13, while David had 25 feet for birdie.  He poured his in, while my delicate breaker caught a lot of hole, but spun out.  So instead of having a 2 shot lead like it looked like I might have, we were both tied at +1 instead.  Pars on 14.  15 was another good opportunity for me, but I caught my second shot a bit heavy, not hitting the par 5 green in two, rather having a 90 foot putt from the fringe.  My 8-foot birdie try slid past while David made his 6-footer for par.  He hit it to 3 feet on the downhill par 3 16th for birdie and did the same on 17.  It was over after his birdie on 17, because my mis-hit 3-wood took a hilacious bounce up a hill behind some trees, forcing me to punch out.  I made a double.  He was -1 while I was back at +3, but still in second by 1.  I made a really nice par on the par-3 18th to shoot 69 the final round and finish lone second to capture the $15,000 pay day.

It was a lot of fun to be in contention and feel the heat coming down the stretch.  It just would have been nice to take advantage of those opportunities on 13 & 15.  That's where I really feel like I let the the tournament slip away a bit.  Anyhow, a very positive week as I now go west to play in John Deere qualifying.  Hopefully I qualify and again play in the site of my first PGA event.  If not, I've got two eGolf tour events lined up at The Club at Irish Creek in Kannapolis, NC and Grand Harbor in Greenwood, SC.

That takes me through about July 20, stay tuned for updates!  Playing well!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Good Start at Fuhrer

Today was the start of the Frank Fuhrer Invitational, one of the best tournaments on my schedule, if not the best.  $150,000 purse with 30K going to the winner.  I got off to the least coveted of starts, bogeying my first hole and then hitting a drive OB on my 2nd hole, the 11th at the Pittsburgh Field Club.  Things took a while to get better as I found myself +6 thru 12 on a windy day with firm greens.  But I strung together some birdies to fight back for a 73, closing the final 9 with a 33.  Doug Stadler (who is caddying for me) and I grabbed some lunch between rounds and didn't let the break between rounds deter from our momentum.  I shot another 33 on my outward 9, which included a great up and down from the greenside bunker on the par 3 6th hole and made 2 more birdies and one bogey on the back to finish the day at 140 (Even Par) with an afternoon round of 67, the low of the tournament thus far.  I'm tied for the lead with two others heading into our third round tomorrow.  I tee off at 10:12, results should be posted on the Tri State PGA website


Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Qualifier Today

Today is another great opportunity for me to get my foot in the door this year.  I'm playing in the Nationwide Monday Qualifier today for the Raleigh event.  I played a practice round yesterday and made a good number of birdies.  It's maybe not your signature MVS course, as it forces some shorter clubs off the tee, but certainly a course I can definitely have some success at.  I tee off today at 1:05

This last week went pretty well, for a while at least.  I shot a 69 in the first round of the eGolf event in Lake Wylie.  The 69 included 7 birdies and 2 Doubles at the Palisades.  A great 16 holes of golf, too bad we play 18 holes…  I would go on to shoot 74 the next day, but with more incident.  I was on 12, sitting at 1-over par on the day, 2-under for the tournament.  Waiting to hit 8-iron in on my 2nd shot of a par-5 when I was almost struck with a tee shot from the group behind us.  This was the third time we had been driven into on the day, and the second time in 3 holes.  I was visably shaken and dumped my shot in a right bunker, made par, and was still rattled on the next tee when I sudo-shanked a 4-iron off the tee into a hazard, leading to a double.  There was no confrontation with the players behind us, as they were too slow in playing the hole.  But I had a long and frustrated discussion with eGolf officials after the round.  And basically received the response, "Sorry, that's too bad, nothing we can do."  Obviously a very frustrating day on the course, being in position to shoot a good score on a tough course and have that sort of thing happen, but I'm over it now and looking ahead.

In the unlikely event I don't qualify today, my plan is to head home and prepare for the US Open Sectional qualifier in Columbus.  I'm playing June 4th, here's my pairings…

7:00am off the 10th tee at Scioto with Scott Piercy and Nick O'Hern
12:00 off the 1st tee at the Scarlet Course, same pairing

Feeling good about the game, think these qualifiers are two great opportunities I'm about to take advantage of!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What's coming up...

I played in an Autism Benefit at Treesdale yesterday.  We played a scramble format and I had a really fun day, on top of playing really well.  The group is called Autism Speaks, it's a great cause.  Check it out!

I've got about a week here in Pittsburgh to continue to hone my game, and I've been making great progress.  I'm really hitting it well and I'm excited for my upcoming schedule.  I just signed up for an eGolf event at River Hills on May 23-26, then I'll be headed to Raleigh for a Nationwide Monday qualifier which is on May 28th.  With any luck I'll get in that event.  US Open sectionals begin on June 4th in Columbus at the Scarlet Course and Sciota.

That's what's coming up!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

On to Sectionals!

After some near misses in the Nationwide qualifiers the last few weeks, I finally broke through and qualified for something, US Open Sectionals that is.  I plodded along most of the day before getting hot on the back 9 at Quicksilver GC.  I birdied 5 of my last 7 holes to finish with a 5-under par 67 and medalist honors by two shots.  70 wound up in a 3 for 1 playoff.  It was an odd start to the day though to say the least…

We started in the pouring rain and after hitting the first green, I was faced with a putt through lots of casual water.  I was very fortunate to two putt and had an 8-footer for birdie on two when they blew the siren.  In a decision that goes down as one of the most puzzling in the history of golf, the West Penn decided to wipe out all 90 minutes of play and start ALL the rounds over, as opposed to just restarting where we left off.  No worries though, just needed to refocus and get ready for the new round.  I got off to a nice start with a made 15-footer on 2. Bogied 6, the par 3, and birdied nine.  I would go on to birdie 12, bogey 13 to drop back to 1-under par.  I would go on to birdie 14, 15, 16, and 17 to finish off the round.  I hit it great, but hit a couple mediocre chips and missed four putts inside 6 feet.  So it could have been even better, but it showed that it wouldn't hurt to spend some added time on the short game this week.  All in all, a very positive performance and I'm headed back to Columbus for my third try at US Open Sectionals.  The last time I was at the Olympic Club, this year's Open site, was for the US Junior Amateur.  Joe Zinsky was on my bag when I qualified for the Junior Am back then, and he was on the bag again yesterday.  He'll be looping in Columbus as well, hopefully we can continue this successful run en route to a tournament at the Olympic Club.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

US Open Qualifier Today

Today is the US Open Local qualifier at Quicksilver GC, a course I have made an effort of becoming more familiar with this spring.  I've probably played 10 or 12 rounds out there already this year.  It's fairly wide open off the tee which is always good for a longer hitter like me, but the greens are where the course can get you.  You need to place your ball well and try to stay under the whole as much as possible.  The forecast today is looking like rain all morning, but possibly thunderstorms, which could mean a delay.  I tee off at 8:49 off the 1st tee.  My dad and I played out there yesterday and I fired a bogey free 65 and feel really good about things.  The goal is to play the course and execute like I did yesterday.  Today is a new day though, and I'm going to play as good as I can.  I've made it through Local qualifying twice already in past years, now I'm going to go make it number 3!  I might be able to tweet during any rain delays, so be sure to follow me  @MVS_Golf

Stay dry today!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oh So Close!

I've been down south for almost 2 weeks now and I've had some bad play, some great play, and a fair share of disappointment.  My trip started with an eGolf event in Greensboro where my practice round went amazingly well.  I was extremely confident going into the tournament and unfortunately, things just didn't translate into the event.  My driver was not friendly, and all-in-all, I hit it poorly for the week.  Disappointing considering where I thought I was with my game.  Of course, after missing the cut, I went to Greensboro CC to have a little match with Chad Warmbein, a fellow Pittsburgh native who was also playing the eGolf event that week.  In fact, he came over to stay a couple nights with John Stratton who graciously hosted me again this year.  Great guy!  But out at GCC, the DAY after shooting a difficult 79, I fired an easy 68 and just hit it great…and GCC was easily twice as hard as Forest Oaks, the course used for the eGolf tour event.  Dumbfounding, but a positive as I looked forward to the Monday qualifier for the Nationwide Tour event at Kinderlou Forest, a course I know well and have shown I can dominate.

The Monday was played at Doublegate CC, or as Peter Malnati humorously, and accurately calls it, "DoubleDogLeg CC."  Because every single par 4 or 5, besides number 5, is a tree-lined dogleg.  It was a tremendously windy day and scores were going to be high.  But gosh, I was playing solid.  My lone bogey on the front 9 came on a 30-foot downhill, downwind putt that just wouldn't stop.  I turned at 2-under and continued to play solidly, in fact I had a great up and down on 15 to get to 5-under par.  Unfortunately, bogies at 16 & 18 would cost me dearly as 68 would be the score to safely earn a spot into the week's Nationwide event.  But I still had one last shot with my 69.  There was a 10 person playoff for the last spot, which meant one thing, I needed to go make a birdie to have a chance.  I hit a perfect hybrid, but followed it up with a crummy 100-yd wedge to 30-feet and I missed the putt, although I gave it a good effort.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit nervous during that playoff, but it was a good opportunity and a great experience.  Again, I found myself disappointed about not getting in, but upbeat and positive about where my game is right now.

I'm sticking around the Atlanta area for a few days while I get ready for the Nationwide qualifier in Athens, GA on Monday.  Hopefully I can save one more shot there and get into one of these events.  I just need a chance, because I'm playing well!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

No luck in Puerto Rico

Everything seemed to be moving in the right direction going into Puerto Rico, but I couldn't quite put it all together for either of the qualifiers.  I played pretty solidly on Friday, in the qualifier for 1 spot, but I had 3 bad holes on the front 9 that took me out of it.  Besides those three holes I made 3 birdies and all pars, which was solid.  I worked hard on the range the next couple of days to try to correct the troubles I had in the first round with some bad shots, and to some degree it worked.  I hit some really good shots in the Monday qualifier and birdied 3 of my last 5 in some serious wind.  Unfortunately, my miscues were really costly, leading to too many bogies and I just couldn't make enough birdies to make up for it.  I'm truly enthusiastic about the positives that are working their way into my game, but there is still work to do.  I've been working on some new things with Kevin Shields here in Pittsburgh, and it just didn't all quite stick with my 3 weeks on the road.  I'm back here now to continue working with him and Joe Boros.  I may be here for a while in the hopes of forming some good habits with my swing.  I worked with a hypnotist my senior year at Marquette, well, my whole team did, and he said it takes 21 days to make something habit.  So that is my goal, to work on my progress for 21 days to make it habit and to improve my consistency.

The wedge game still needs some improvement as well and now that the weather is getting better in Pittsburgh, I'll be able to take the practice outside.  The putting stroke was solid all week, and I hit alot of solid putts, so that's another positive.  I like where things are headed, now it's just about putting in the time.

Follow me on Twitter @MVS_golf

Monday, February 27, 2012

Good things on the Horizon

And that horizon is going to be in the Atlantic Standard Time Zone.  Puerto Rico is my next stop and I fly out on Wednesday.  I have one more day in Tampa tomorrow at Hunter's Green before I fly out.  Things are going VERY well.  I hit it the best I have today, including a 380 yard drive on the flat 18th hole at East Lake Woodlands today. No wind, simply crushed it.  Hitting great chips, giving putts good rolls, and I've really started to hit the ball solidly and consistently.  Super excited to get my competitive season underway in Puerto Rico.

I finally succumbed to the peer pressure and have joined the Twitter world.  Please follow me @MVS_Golf  and I promise to update that a little better than I do my blog.

It has been a solid couple weeks of practice here in Tampa.  I like where my luck is headed, in fact, I hit 5 straight races at Derby Lanes Grayhound track the other day.  I mean that's mostly skill in picking the dogs and understanding talent, but I suppose there's a little luck involved too.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Another Great Week, Schedule

Not much new this last week… I've mostly just been staying the course with my progress.  I'm continuing my 4-day a week workouts at ESI.  They are going really well and my strength has visably increased.  Not only that, but my back pains have decreased dramatically as well.  I was able to see the chiropractor there today.  He's been gone for over a week to tend to some of his players that were at the Pro Bowl…yeah, he's pretty good.  The body is feeling great.

I was also able to get out and play at Treesdale yesterday, and after 2 lessons over the last 2 weeks with Kevin Shields, down at the Neville Island dome, I'm absolutely hitting the ball on a string.  The greens were not in good shape, but when you hit almost every shot inside 10 feet, that's when you can score anywhere.  I made 4 birdies on 9 holes and shot 2-under.  The best of which being a 230-yd rescue club I hit, into the wind, over water at the par-5 6th hole on the Grove course.  I hit it right over the flag to 10 feet and lipped out the eagle putt.  So excited to get down to Florida to practice and play for a couple weeks before I try my hand at qualifying in Puerto Rico, here's my upcoming schedule (tenative)…

February 17-28, Tampa, FL for practice and play outdoors
February 29-March 5, Puerto Rico for 2 qualifiers for the PGA event that is there
March 6-11 (with any luck) Puerto Rico Open, PGA event
March 12-17, eGolf Tour event at Pine Needles, NC
March 18-19, Monday qualifier in Louisiana for Nationwide Tour event
March 20-25, Nationwide event in Louisiana OR eGolf Tour event at Club at Irish Creek
March 26-30, eGolf Tour event at River Run
April 1-8, home in Pittsburgh
April 9-14, eGolf at St James Plantation
April 16-20, eGolf at Forest Oaks
April 22-29, Nationwide Monday qualifer at Kinderlou Forest, Ga, and Tournament
April 30- May 5, Athens GA Nationwide Monday qualifier, and Tournament
May 1(6)-12, home in Pittsburgh

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Awesome Trip

My trip to Chicago and Milwaukee was a lot of fun, despite the 6 inches of snow that fell as soon as I got to Chicago.  It was an easy drive there, except for the last 30 minutes when the snow started to fall.  My girlfriend Kristine accompanied me on the trip and the first stop was lunch at Gino's East Pizza.  In response to an earlier post, Ghiradino's is probably better, but it was still good.  It was fun watching the snow deluge outside as we ate… the not so fun part was having to drive in it.  Fortunately, the hotel was only a couple blocks away and we made it there pretty easily, despite some of the street signs and One-Way signs being covered in snow.  We met up with my friend Kenny for dinner at the Metropolitan Club which is on the 67th floor of the Sears Tower.  It was pretty awesome, despite the fact that we were eating in clouds and couldn't see a whole lot.  We spent the next morning walking up and down Michigan Ave before we headed up to Milwaukee for dinner at the AMU.

We met up with my mom and headed over to the Former Marquette Players dinner, which my mother was invited to since she was the SID from 79 to 89 at MU.  It was cool to see so many former players come back for the dinner and for the acknowledgement they all received at halftime of the game the next day.  The oldest player at the banquet was from the 1945 team, and he received alot of applause.  Probably 150-200 players came back to be recognized and it was really neat to see so many players coming up to my mom and talking to her about their time at Marquette and how they appreciated what she did for them.  We met up with some of my MU friends, including my other former roommate Brendan, who flew in from DC for the weekend, and had some good times catching up.

The game the next day went well, even though Kristine, a Pitt alumni, wore her Pitt stuff to the game as we sat in the former players' section, haha.  We stopped at Kopp's (obviously) for lunch before the game.  Fortunately, Marquette pulled out a 5 point win.  I met up with Coach Bailey at halftime and some former golfers, along with current players, Matt Haase and Ryan Prickette.  I dropped off a caddy bib autographed by Ricky Barnes and myself for the MU Golf Outing this summer.  I'm sure it will be the hot ticket item at the auction…

We went to dinner that night with Kenny, Liz, Tony, and Alana at a cool place in the 3rd Ward called The Screaming Tuna.  We all got sushi which was fantastic, it was a much different view of the city than I was used to seeing, and it was really fun.  Monday was spent driving home, as Kristine had to get back for the night shift at Children's Hospital where she's a nurse.  

Since then I've been continuing my workouts at ESI, which are going great.  It already is paying off in my golf practice, as alot of the pain in my back has subsided, while I also feel in more control of the golf club due to my added strength.  Things are really going well and my game seems to be only getting better since Q-School.  This is going to be an exciting year.  I've been trying to contact TaylorMade to se if they are interested in signing me on again this year, but haven't had anyone call me back over the last week.  Regardless, it's going to be a great year.  Off to hit some balls at the Neville Island Dome!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Great Workout Today

I had a great first workout at Evolution Sports Institute (ESI) today.  I worked out with a guy named Cole who's super nice, but also super knowledgable.  We did a great 10 minute stretching routine which had me feeling really loose.  We also worked some lunge work with weights that had my quads on absolute fire.  We also worked the area around my scapula's as that is a spot that'd been pinpointed before I even went there.  Although it wasn't a terribly strenuous workout, it really had me going and I'm looking forward to strengthening there over the next month.  I'm headed back tomorrow for another 9AM workout.

They also team up with a chiropractor who was amazing.  According to him I had a rib out of place by my left scapula, which would certainly explain some of the difficulties I've had with that specific area over the last 2 years.  He popped it back into place and I'm hoping that is going to solve the issues I've been having there.

I'm actually going to be headed back to Milwaukee for the Marquette-Pitt basketball game.  I'm headed out Thursday and driving to Chicago.  Then getting into MKE on Friday afternoon and staying until Sunday.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Almost Course Record

We went back to Mountain Shadows this morning, the cool par 3 course, well it has two par-4s, but it's in really good condition.  When we checked in, I noticed that they had their course record scorecards sitting in the pro-shop.  Three guys had shot 48, or 8-under, in the course's history.  I thought, 8-under? That's doable.  And I got off to a great start, birdie-ing 3 of my first 4 holes.  I continued without a blemish and a couple more birdies until my 14th hole, where I was 6-under.  A tough par-3 with a very narrow green, and the toughest part was that the wind had picked up over the last hour and was blowing close to 15 or 20mph.  I hit it into a bunker that apparently had very little sand in it and I thinned it over into the next bunker, where I got it up and down.  Back to 5-under.  Four pars to finish saw me close with a 5-under par 51.  A great round in windy conditions, but I was hoping to get my card in the pro-shop.  The key on the day was making putts.  I rolled in a couple 20-footers which always helps.

Our friend Doug played with us, and again we went to De Falcos for lunch, a grocery store that has great subs.  Blue 32, a sports bar, would be our next stop to watch the Steelers-Broncos game.  It's called Blue 32, besides the obvious football reference, because it has 32 flat screen TVs.  It's mega sweet.  The game however, was not.  The bar was mostly Broncos fans, so we made sure to cheer extra loud when we could, which was mostly just the 2nd half.  The place erupted on that 80-yd TD pass to end the game in OT.  All I could do was drop my jaw in disbelief.

The evening ended with a great workout at 24-hour Fitness, a fitness club near our Fairfield Inn, which our front desk gives free passes for.  I'm going to begin working out with trainers back in Pittsburgh at a place called ESI.  I was told about it during a lunch I had with Neil Walker.  He said that's where he trained and highly recommended it.  So I'm scheduled for my first session Tuesday and we'll see how it goes.  They have their own chiropractors there and the trainers also have a PT background.  It seems like a really good setup and I'm excite to check it out.

My dad and I also went to Anthem yesterday where I played another really solid round, shooting a 3-under 69.  I just played solid golf, making 4 birdies and 1 bogey.  I missed a number of makable putts, but overall it was a good round, hitting 13 greens and making a few really nice up and downs.  It just seems like I've really solved some issues and made the appropriate corrections.  I'm really excited for the season to begin.  We fly home tomorrow at 4pm

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Coveted Blind Squirrel

And I got one!  That's what the closest to the pin contest on all par-3's during the Desert Marlin are called, but more importantly, they're worth a grand for the wallet.  I hit a great, high, soft 6-iron on the par-3 5th hole, after just eagling number 4, a 580 yard par-5.  It turned towards the pin and stuck pretty much right where it hit, a difficult task with how firm the greens were.  When we got up there it looked like it might have a chance, and fortunately, the previous leader was only 8'11'' and my ball was at 8'2".  A good shot to the tucked middle-left pin.

Anyhow, we played with John Adams, a former Tour pro who played at ASU back in the day.  My dad and I played solidly for 14 holes, but just didn't get very many putts too fall.  There is a good deal of Valley effect that you have to factor into the putts, and many times I had myself getting the general read of the putt correct, but not the exact read, which led to some lipouts and burned edges.  We were -4 thru 14 and then unraveled a bit on the last 4 to total a -1, 71.  I tossed a couple drives in the desert while pops made a couple bogies from the middle of the fairway.  There was a good possibility that my Eagle 3 on number 4 might get a skin, which would be about another grand, but unfortunately it didn't hold up, but two of the easier par-5 eagles did.  Oh well.

Our partners in the practice round, Ricky Barnes and brother Andy were the eventual champions at -25, a scant 17 shots ahead of us.  Phil Mickelson and brother Tim were surprisingly not in contention.  All in all it was a really fun week, and more importantly it was a good opportunity to test my game early in the year, and it's clear that I've made a lot of progress.  I'm looking forward to more competition this year!  And the way my game is headed I'm hopeful of Monday-ing into some early Nationwide events.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Opening 65 not enough

My dad and I combined in the 2-man scramble portion of the format for a 7-under par 65, which places us a little below the middle of the field.  We just plodded along on the front nine, birdie-ing just about every other hole.  One of my best shots of the day came on our second hole, where I hit a 3-wood from 255, needing to hit a baby fade, and hit it pin-high on the par-5 11th green.  Our big problem on the day was a lack of made putts.  My dad destroyed the back of the cup on a made 25-foot, downhill birdie putt on our fourth hole, as the ball popped up and dropped back in the hole.  On the next hole we had a 50-foot uphill putt, which my dad left short, to which Tom Pernice Jr joked, "If you had hit that putt as hard as the one on the last hole you probably would've got it there."  Unfortunately, that was my dad's only make outside 6 feet on the day.  I made a couple 15 footers for birdies on our back side, but we gave a couple shots away with missed birdie opportunities on the last 4 holes and had to settle for pars.

There are 5 groups that shot 59, so we are 6 shots back.  It will take a special round along with some ham and eggs tomorrow to catch the winners, but a few hot putters could do that.  We both hit it solidly today, and we tee it at 9:24 tomorrow as the format switches from the 2-man scramble to a straight Best-Ball

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Played with Ricky Barnes today

Today was the practice round of the Desert Marlin and my dad and I didn't quite score as well as we would have hoped.  Not a lot of putts dropped as we got used to the greens at Grayhawk and we didn't take care of the par-5s.  We put up a best ball 70.  But we did get to play with Ricky Barnes and his brother Andy, who is an assistant coach at Arizona.  It's always a great experience to play with guys that have made it to the Tour and have had success.  I picked his brain a bit about a few things, although most of the days conversation was just about tour life, family, and where he went on his honeymoon, haha.  We did have one thing in common that we realized pretty early though…we both won the All-American event in El Paso.  So we talked about that for a couple holes.

After the round was the Dry Heave, a 100 yard closest to the pin where everyone in the field gets one shot.  The highlight of which was when it was Phil Mickelson's turn to hit and Gary McCord is announcing him and says, "And now the highest ranked player here will hit in the Dry Heave(which you think is Phil)… MARTIN KAYMER, GET UP HERE!!"  And then, out of the crowd, to much laughter and applause, Martin Kaymer came out and hit a shot.  Kaymer's not in the field this week, but he lives in Scottsdale and came out for the evening's festivities.  Phil's playing with his brother Tim, who I was paired with in the final pairing at the Porter Cup one year.

I feel like I'm as prepared as I can be for tomorrow's first round, which is a 2-man scramble.  We are playing with Tom Pernice Jr and partner.  We tee it up at Grayhawk in the final group of the day at 1045 MST

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Seville again

Didn't quite play as well as the last couple days today, but Seville has great practice facilities and I had a really good practice session after we played today.  Figured out what was happening out there today and made a minor tweak and hit it great after that.  The putter is starting to feel really good in my hands as well.  Did a couple putting drill games with our buddy Doug who joined us again today.  Went well for me, not so well for Doug, haha.  We went to Grimaldi's for dinner afterwards, after Doug foolishly boasted, "This is the BEST pizza you'll ever have."  Really Doug?  Look at me, I obviously know my pizza.  He wasn't far off though, it's definitely worth a stop if you come out to the Phoenix/Scottsdale areas.  I wouldn't say BEST though, which got me thinking, what's the best pizza I've ever had…

1. Uncle Tony's in Milford, CT  -maybe I'm biased because I grew up with it.  But I remember it being the most amazing thing ever
2. Ballistreri's in Milwaukee, WI  -Not going there before a Kopp's stop, but it's next on my Milwaukee Must list
3. Gino's East/Giordano's  Chicago, IL  -Both have great deep dish, I'm sure Chicago residents have their opinions, but they're both really delicious and not really all that different
4. Oregano's in Scottsdale, AZ  -Chicago style in the desert, authentic all the way to the 45 minute wait. Probably would stop here before Grimaldi's, but it's close.
5. City Oven in Wexford, PA  -Best stop I've been to in Pittsburgh, granted I haven't made it to too many non-chains i.e. Lucianos, Monticellos, Sir's, Pizza Hut, but it is really good stuff and they have some great options. Plus it's owned by a PR family, the Matsons… Go Rams!

Honorable Mentions
Domenicos in Cranberry Twp, Grimaldi's in Scottsdale, Sal's at 2040 Wisconsin Ave Milwaukee, maybe Lou Malnati's in Chicago? Funny story about there…
We tried to go there 2 summers ago and it was myself, my friend Kenny and his lady Liz, Peter Malnati and his girlfriend.  They tell us it's an hour and a half wait.  Well forget that, but wait, Peter has an idea.  So he walks back up to the hostess and says, "Hey this is my Uncle's place, any chance you can find a table for us?"  And he hands her his ID.  She looks at it pauses and says, "Sure, can you just have him call down for you."  Rats!  Good try though Peter!  haha

Those are my favorite pizza stops, how bout you?  What am I missing and where do I need to go?

Monday, January 2, 2012

More great days in the desert

We've had a couple more great practice days out here in Arizona.  We played at Palm Valley, Athem, Mountain Shadows, and Gainey Ranch these last three days.  My game seems to be in great shape as I continue to shoot under par almost every round.  The biggest positive has to be the short game, as my chipping has been quite good thus far.  In my first two rounds, as I shot 67 and 69, I chipped in a total of 4 times.  A continuation from Q-School where I chipped solidly as well.  I holed out twice during that 65.  I suppose when you hit it not so great for 2 years, the short game is going to get a lot of practice, haha.  I've really been hitting it solid though and am really excited to play this week.  We met up with Doug Schwimmer, a friend of ours that lives out here and played at Mountain Shadows before grabbing lunch at a great little sandwich/grocery store called De Falcos.

We are sitting in our room now watching the Rose Bowl.  About to start the  4th quarter…wonder if they're playing Jump Around in the stadium?  38-35 right now, Badgers leading.  Good game thus far… oops nevermind, 42-38 now.  TD Oregon.