I played my first round at the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open yesterday and shot 76. My goal was to enjoy this experience, and I can honestly say that I learned a lot and am looking forward to taking what I have learned into Round 2.
When I was warming up on the range, I was feeling pretty good and went through my regular warm-up routine. I got on the first tee and felt surprisingly calm. But I think I may have been a bit tense without even realizing it. With all my mental training at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, I know that self awareness and being able to manage my tendencies is the key to being able to just go out and play my best golf, but it isn’t always that easy.
A bogey on No. 1 was not a great start, but I knew there was a lot of golf left to play. I hit a good drive on No. 3 and made a birdie putt to take it back to even. Some errors off the tee – probably due to tension in my swing from the pressure of my first PGA event – and a few missed putts caused me to have four more bogeys on the front nine.
So I made the turn at 4 over. At this point, I could have started feeling negative, but I tried to turn the emotion into positive energy.
When I made the turn, I refocused and made two birdies on the next four holes to get back to 2 over. It was amazing to be playing with two other PGA pros, and I felt like I had some momentum going on the back nine. Then we got to No. 14.
I was on the green in two. My playing partners had both hit it left off the green. I do not know what happened – whether I started to get ahead of myself and think about score – but I four-putted. It was my first four-putt in a long time and putting is one of the strengths of my game. I walked off that hole and felt awful, just when I thought things were turning around.
I played the next three holes trying to get 14 out of my mind. I know how important it is to control negative emotions and leave a bad hole behind, but I couldn’t believe what had happened. With a bogey on 16, I got to the 18th tee at 5 over. I hit a good drive and a good second shot to lay up. There was a crowd in the grandstands, and I was happy to hit a good shot into the green to about 8 feet and even happier to make the putt for birdie.
I definitely made a few mistakes, but I am focusing on the four birdies and the great opportunity that this is for me. I also think that the more experience I have playing at this level, the easier it will be to be relaxed and comfortable.
I tee off at 1:10pm Thursday and plan to just go out and give 100 percent and do my best.
Stay tuned for GGGA student Jason’s last blog as he reflects on his experience playing the PGA Tour Puerto Rico Open.