Rookie diary: Missed opportunity at Torrey Pines

Nate Smith during the 2011 Sony Open.

Nate Smith during the 2011 Sony Open.

Wow, what a great finish to the Farmers Insurance Open! Congratulations to Bubba Watson for a very gutsy performance and a well-deserved win. Even though I had missed the cut, I went out to watch Bubba’s group play the last couple of holes. I was very impressed with the mental fortitude he demonstrated. The putt he made on 17 was enormous, and then to seal it with the birdie on 18 to stay out of Phil Mickelson’s reach was an extremely clutch performance.

Despite the fact that I didn’t get to play on the weekend, my time in San Diego was awesome. This tournament seemed to have a different and “bigger” feel than the previous two events. The crowds were awesome out there, and the course conditions were very challenging, calling for very precise shot-making. This was my first time playing at Torrey Pines, and I believe it’s one of those courses where some experience can really be of benefit. This is especially true on the greens, where the breaks can be very deceiving. It is also interesting to see the golf holes you have watched on TV before and see how the experience is different in person.





About Nate Smith

PGA Tour rookie Nate Smith will write a diary for Golfweek.com throughout the 2011 PGA Tour season. Smith will give you a detailed account of life both inside and outside the ropes on golf's grandest stage. Smith, a Duke grad from Soquel, Calif., is a unique player, having competed in more than 35 countries before earning his PGA Tour card.

I had a few friends in town this week visiting, so the overall experience was a good one, despite the disappointment in my golf game. I stayed with a close friend and sponsor in Del Mar. A few other friends from Duke made the trip out to enjoy the golf and the nice weather. It is really cool having some fans in the crowd and I enjoy the encouragement I get from them.

One of the most frustrating things for a golfer is to play well and score poorly. That was the case with me this past week, and it simply leaves a poor taste in your mouth. One week you may hit the ball well and putt poorly, and another week you might do the opposite. I can’t wait until I can put it all together.

This week my main focus is to improve my putting, so I headed back over the mountains to La Quinta to spend a morning with Dr. Craig Farnsworth. He does a really good job of working on my stroke without actually making it a contrived motion. We worked on my sight lines and setup positions and it is amazing how much better I was rolling the ball. Hats off to the Doc.

With the current advancements in technology, it has gotten a lot easier to work with your instructor. My coach, Alasdair Dyer, lives in Myrtle Beach, so visiting him is tough sometimes. I will send him videos through e-mail and then he will tell me what he thinks I need to work on … sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

My ranking isn’t high enough to get me into the Phoenix event, so I am going to head up to Northern California and get ready for the AT&T. It is frustrating not to be able to play the Waste Management event, but that is the way it goes for some rookies. You just have to play a little better during the opportunities you have!

I was looking at the weather this morning, and it looks pretty chilly over there. Being 10th alternate, the chances of me getting in the event at this late moment are very slim. The higher-ranked players will sit around and hope someone decides they are better off out of the cold and in a warm, friendly environment with their family.

I am looking forward to spending some time this week at home with my family in Santa Cruz and charging up the batteries for Pebble Beach. I’m going to do some serious work on my short game, and I am sure after the week off I’ll be itching to get back into the action!

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