Scores: 75-76-80-71 (+22)
Team Finish: 7th
<photo id=”1″ />
Southern Hills was a real, real challenge this week. With almost no wind for four rounds, Scottie Sheffler’s winning score of 280 (even par) shows the difficulty of the course. The greens were rolling 13 on the stimp meter (VERY FAST for you guys that are not familiar with the stimp meter). In addition, every green has significant breaks and runoffs. This meant being on the wrong side of the hole was basically death all week. When the greens play that way, they challenge your entire game: Obviously your putting had to be good to score because the greens were fast and tricky – speed control was therefore essential. However, it also challenged your ball-striking because you needed to have good distance control coming into the greens. And because iron play was essential, fairways turned out to be a premium to play from. Oh, and your short-game better be on when you did miss greens. Ergo, your entire game.
I had a very disappointing week personally. I got off to a terrible start by hitting my first tee shot of the tournament out of bounds. I couldn’t get much momentum during that first day when we played 36 holes. Despite my scrappy play, there were some positives to build on from that first day. Mainly thanks to a bunch of excellent short-irons, I recorded 7 birdies that first day, which were second most in the field.
For the third round, I started off in good spirits with the mindset of continuing the good aspects of my game and clean up the costly mistakes from the first day. I did a good job of not giving away any silly shots during the first holes. When I came to my ninth hole, hole 18, I got extremely frustrated when I hit my approach to a back pin. My eight iron pitch seven feet from the hole, but due to the severe break around the hole and the general speed of the greens, the ball had trickled towards me all the way off the green, down the false front, and down the fairway. I now was facing an uphill, 70 yard pitch shot into the grain. I did a very poor job of getting over that bad break. I took a bogey there, and got into a negative spiral that I wasn’t strong enough to get out of. It was a very frustrating day because I knew that I gave away a bunch of shots by not being in the correct state on that back-nine.
I had a much better day the last day, where I kept my round together quite nicely. My attitude was much more patient, especially when I had some adversity early in the round. I found myself two over par after double-bogeying the third. Even though birdies are hard to make out there, I managed to stay patient and play the rest of the round very nicely. I was in particular very pleased with my four sand saves in four tries out of the green-side bunkers. A 71 around that track is a solid score.
There’s a lot of stuff to work on before our regional tournament. Our team was obviously disappointed with our performance in the Big 12, but it doesn’t define us as a team. It’s just one tournament. Personally, in preparing for Regionals, I need to work on my tee-shots and short-game. I was not close to as sharp as I need to be this week. However, the more important preparation that I can do is to learn from this week’s experience and apply it at the next tournament. I want to be more patient and confident when adversity hits. I also need to play the aggressive and free golf that I am capable of. It is easy to give the course too much respect sometimes because you know the greens are tricky. I obviously need to play smart golf, but this week I played too conservatively and tentatively.