With the current PGA Tour schedule, there really is no down time. Even when I’m not playing on tour, like last week, I was in Australia playing the World Cup with fellow Canadian David Hearn. The golf year for pros never really ends.
It is tough when you go from finishing mid-September and only have about five weeks off before the wraparound season starts up again. There’s no solid down time between seasons, which leads into Thanksgiving and starts again in January.
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At the same time, you want to improve your game and make changes—and that’s difficult. I’ve been out here since the fall of 2014 and I count on one hand the rounds where I’ve felt comfortable over a ball, and that’s a challenge when you’re playing the best in the world. One week away from tour golf isn’t enough to make changes to your golf swing.
With that in mind, you sort of just try to make the smallest of incremental changes while playing. You don’t want to make big changes that you don’t feel comfortable with because you have to go and play. That’s the position I’ve found myself in for most of the last year — making small changes with my coach, Ralph Bauer, and hoping they make a difference.
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Despite that circumstance I’ve had significant success at points over the last year playing through my struggles. When I came to the PGA Tour in 2014, I knew my short game — my putting and chipping basically — wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I needed to make changes to be competitive on tour, and worked hard at that goal. The statistics prove that worked — I’m often ranked as one of the best putters on tour now. At the same time, my ball striking suffered.
I try to keep positive about that. My putting now keeps me in events and has kept me consistent, even if I haven’t had the finishes I’d often like to see. However, I think it might be starting to trend in the direction I was hoping. Only two weeks ago I had my first Top 10 of the year in Mexico, and that followed a tournament in Las Vegas where I had good stretches.
Truthfully my putter is now giving me a lot of chances for good rounds, and I know there are going to be days where my ball striking comes together with my putting and I’m able to fire at pins and make lots of birdies.
I’ve also learned that playing in stretches can help my game. I had a six-week stretch earlier this year where I played incrementally better, finishing at the Memorial in 11th place. There’s a bit of me right now that likes to play through it because my short game is so good and my ball striking hasn’t been awful. I’ve hung in there and even the cuts I’ve missed have been close.
I know I can get it done, but it is finding the rhythm. It isn’t being in the perfect position on the course.
Finally, it is great to see six Canadians out on the PGA Tour this year. The additions of Brad Fritsch, who I’ve spent time with when I was playing the Web.com Tour, and Mackenzie Hughes, who had a tremendous start to the year, and now has added a win, are great for the game in Canada.