Hello from the scorching desert! Time to catch up on the last two months of golf-
To put it very gently, I have had a slow start to the season. Most of you have probably seen the results- in eight events, my best finish is a T-43rd in Boston two weeks ago. I have already missed as many cuts this season as I have the last two seasons combined, and my scoring average is currently the highest it has been since my junior year of college. You could say I hit a rough patch.
So what gives? I mentioned in my last blog I was having trouble scoring. I accomplished my goal of cleaning up my distance control, but my touch around the greens took a turn for the worse. My chipping was very, very off. Poor mechanics led to poor shots. Poor shots led to very negative emotional reactions on my part. Negative emotion led to negative memories of these mistakes being burned into memory. Negative memories led to me feeling intense anxiety over even the most basic of chip shots out of fear of how I might screw up again. This feeling is so miserable that I will not elaborate - if you’ve been there, you know what I am talking about. If you haven't been there, re-watch Ernie Els six-putting at Augusta.
I prefer to talk about the solution instead. In between the first and second stretches of events, my coach Mike Pinkey helped straighten out my misaligned address position that was setting me up for disaster. With that and just a few basic tweaks to shot strategy, I was back to making solid contact… during practice rounds. I had stored so much fear and anxiety around chipping that mechanical fixes weren’t enough to make me feel comfortable in tournaments again. Vision54 coaches Tiffany Yager and Kristine Reese helped me get over this hurdle. They taught me to be aware of (and how to practice) my balance, tempo, and tension. These are what change under pressure, not my mechanics. They also taught me to neutralize my reactions to bad shots and emphasize positive reactions to good shots. In this way, I am purposefully taping over my lowlight reel of mistakes with fresh, happy memories every single day. Lesson learned: all those seemingly small, isolated outbursts of anger, frustration, or embarrassment after bad shots add up over time. If I don’t learn to control my emotion, the emotion will eventually control me.
There lies the micro explanation of my struggles. Here’s the macro explanation: I chose to play an unbelievably fickle game for a living. When you decide to play professional golf, you’re signing up for the valleys just as much as the peaks. It is an inescapable part of the game. As devastating as missing cut after cut by one or two shots has felt, I cannot let that change my self-perception. PGA Tour player James Hahn recently missed eight (!!) consecutive cuts then won the Wells Fargo Championship. There is nothing stopping me from doing the same. I am positive that everything I am learning from these lows is only going to make me that much better down the road.
The great news is I feel like I have recently turned a corner. On May 23rd, I shot 69-71 in my US Open Qualifier, tying for 2nd out of 80 women. I lost in a playoff for the second guaranteed spot into the Championship, but I did not let that dampen the excitement of my first great tournament of the year. I showed more signs of promising golf a few days later at the Symetra Tour event in Boston. Boston was the ninth city I had visited in eight weeks, so I was more than ready to skip the Albany event in favor of an extra week back in Arizona. I have now had two glorious weeks in my own home. After some well-balanced time off and practice, I am recharged and ready to go.
Tomorrow I travel to South Bend, IN, which begins a three-week stretch of Symetra Tour events in the Midwest. The US Open will be played July 7-11 at Cordevalle in San Martin, CA, and I am waiting to hear if I will get in as an alternate. I could find out next week or maybe not until the night before the tournament- there is no way to tell. You can be sure you will hear about it if I do get the call.
A little bad golf hasn't stopped me from having fun on the journey around the country. I've had fun side-trips, enjoyed being with tour friends, and never tire of spending my days outside on beautiful courses. I have had a blast revisiting host families that I have stayed with for two, three, or even four years now. I am so grateful to these people for taking me in and making my week about more than just bogeys and birdies. Especially during the tough weeks, the comfort and welcomed distraction my host families provide has been a saving grace. Thank you to each and every one of you!
As usual, I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking-