Lumber Yard

By on January 31, 2016
Brooks Koepka reacts to making par and winning the Phoenix Open on the eighteenth hole during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Mandatory Credit: (photo Patrick Breen / Arizona Republic / USA TODAY Sports)

Brooks Koepka reacts to making par and winning the 2015 Phoenix Open on the eighteenth hole during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Mandatory Credit: (photo Patrick Breen / Arizona Republic / USA TODAY Sports)

Trial and Tribulations of an aspiring golfer trying to make it out of the woods

I had a good night sleep and woke up earlier than expected feeling very rested, which did seem very peculiar in this current situation. Today I was playing in my first Official Event in over two years, The Waste Management Phoenix Open Qualifier. I had spent the last four months diligently practicing and working extremely hard at being better. Not only better at golf but also physically and mentally. Normally, before a Tournament, I have trouble sleeping at night and most typically I have a weird dream that causes the non- sleep/ panic attack. I remember in one dream I was apparently moving the day of a Tournament and was forced to drag my belongings; couch, bed, boxes, clothes etc. while still trying to golf. I can only assume it was because I hadn’t found a place to put my stuff yet. HA! It is hard to hit a golf ball with those items strapped to your back. Surprised how strong I was to be able to do that. For some reason this night I didn’t have any devastating golf Nightmare’s and slept well through the night.

I went through my normal routine in the morning, by normal I mean 60lbs of puppy who feels she needs to be in constant contact with you and takes putting on your socks and getting dressed as a signal to fully attack and want to wrestle mode. After World War III and 2 Rock Bottoms we headed down stairs for breakfast and outside dog time.

I like to get to the golf course early to set my pace. My tee time is set for 10:09am so I figured I should arrive at 8am. My whole golf career I have been fighting tempo during “go time”. For some reason as soon as I hit the golf course the heart beat increases, the pace gets faster with my moments, my thoughts then my process and eventually my swing. This is also one thing that I have really been working on coming into this Event. The last two rounds of golf proved the importance of slowing down and better contact = higher confidence and better scores. I was ready to translate this to today. Obvious goal is to qualify, but that wasn’t really my goal. My goal for the day was to forget about what had recently happened in the real World life and have complete focus in the moment keeping my pace and tempo slow. I knew that if I could accomplish these 3 things the score and qualifying would take care of itself.

Driving to the course and unloading my bag in the parking lot I was surprised that I wasn’t nervous or feeling any high emotions. The weeks leading up to today were very high of emotions and on the last few days I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility. Things were looking brighter as opposed to last week when I spiraled into a deep darkness and I was now finally seeing the light!!

I slowly walked to the putting green and set my bag down. I didn’t make any small talk but did see a friend teeing off as I was walking up. We exchanged thumbs up. I did my tape job, you know like a boxer but less tape (a lot less really). Greens were quick and I was getting a good pace for them. Once my caddie arrived we went over to the driving range to get lose and evaluate our game plan again.

The warm up was going surprisingly well. I wasn’t surprised to see a few spectators come over and admire some shots and have small talk with my caddie. Still, I felt zero nerves and was carrying a light calmness with everything I’ve done thus far and was still in a numb state of mind.

We arrive at the first tee and exchange our greetings, scorecards and good luck gestures with the other players in the group. Standing over the first tee ball of the day I still felt very calm and no butterflies were present. I have to say this might be a first for me. I can’t even remember feeling like this over an Opening round tee ball. In fact, it would be safe to say that I also couldn’t tell you where my 1st tee ball goes usually. I typically rely on my caddie to hopefully give me the safe news. I have never seen my first tee shot with my own eyes.

One or Two good slow controlled practice swings and I addressed the ball. I took a deep breath and everything seemed to stop. It was like I was in a movie where the world goes into slow motion all around me “Clear the Mechanism.” I uncoiled like a tight spring and became a witness of “Sky Rockets in Flight, afternoon delight” (at least mid-morning delight). That ball shot out like a cannon and sailed right down the middle with a beautiful fade. HERE WE GO!

I Hit the ball well on the front nine and hit 7 greens in regulation. Left 5 putts dead center of the hole only 2 inches away. Which in most other circumstances could probably be a frustrating thing but the fact is I had too many bombs to make. I am not a mathematician but the odds of making a 40 foot putt are not high on the percentage scale. I played it pretty conservative off the tee box and left a few mid irons into the green where we just didn’t hit it close enough. Missing the putts that were close enough didn’t help out the cause either. Headed to the back 9 still carrying a lot of confidence and hope on pace to make the cut number. Get a few shots closer to the hole on the back and get these “close but no cigar” putts to fall in and we will be on our way.

I stood on the 10th tee staring into a slight dog leg right 394yd Par 4. I had just come off the hardest hole on the course, (in my caddie and I’s opinion) and made a great par. Even before the day started we concurred that when we get to 9, make Par and get on to the next hole. Mission accomplished!! The Back nine has 2 reachable Par 5’s and a few short par fours to attack. Game plan was on pace and we are ready to charge! In the weeks prior my favorite shot to hit was from 110-120 yards. I could say with confidence that when playing on the course this shot was at worst 10ft and even more magical then that a lot. I mean it should be! I didn’t spend hours a day hitting this shot on the range for nothing. Unlike the front nine holes, the back nine was going to open up this yardage opportunity for us.

I ripped a 3 wood right down the middle with slight fade keeping the ball what appeared to be the right side of the fairway 115yds away. We walked up to our shot to find my ball in a bald spot on the right side of the fairway 112yds to a middle pin. This was it, I was in my scoring yardage and ready to make my back nine run for the Waste Mgt Open Monday Qualifier. Lie was thin but over not too bad. We hadn’t had any rain in a few days and the ground felt pretty firm all day. Strike the golf ball first, hit the big ball second. I’ve hit this shot a thousand times and could hit with my eyes closed right now. Pretty sure I did hit it with my eyes closed. At first I thought it had a chance to go in the hole, up until the point I made contact an inch behind the ball and the ball came crashing down out of the sky like it had been shot by a sniper and died 20yds short of the green. It felt like 1000lbs of pressure at 100mph per second came crashing down on me. This was it! Was this the shot that would determine the rest of the day? Even though I felt completely deflated I managed to regroup over the upcoming pitch shot. I damn near chipped it in as the ball raced along the lip of the cup 3ft past the hole. Knock in this downhill 3 footer and walk away with a Par. We still have 8 holes left and plenty of opportunities available. What I didn’t take into consideration was blowing the next putt 3 feet past the hole again and frustratingly wrapping the next one around the hole for a 3 putt double.

Would you believe me that number 11 was a complete and mind numbing Déjà vu?! From the tee shot on the 11th hole to 100yds for my approach to leaving the 2nd shot short in the bunker to almost making the shot to finally missing back to back 3 footers for another 3 putt double. UGHH!

I didn’t end up making birdies on the last 7 holes. The rest of the round turned more into a Steer-ocricy as I tried to force and “will” the ball around the golf course which actually turned into an absolute bogey train wreck after the caboose got de-railed on holes 10 and 11.

Maybe next time! So, guess I know what we are working on at the Range today!! Lol Along with staying mentally strong for more than 9 1/2 holes.

First event in a while so not too mad, just wish I would have swung with more trust and confidence.

Don’t worry, I still see the light!!! On to the next one!

Foo Golf

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