While most players spent time practicing, playing and working on their golf game during the offseason, I was in a brace that extended from my left ankle to hip, learning how to walk all over again, while also gaining strength back in my quadricep that had turned into the size of my bicep. I decided to undergo knee surgery to fix extensive cartilage damage, not just for golf, but to improve my quality of life. While I decided to have the surgery in December 2017, there was no donor cartilage available until January of this year. I anxiously waited until then to have the surgery, knowing that I could potentially miss the first half of the Symetra Tour season.
I was worried that I was getting too far behind the other players. While everyone was making strides in their game, I was losing muscle in my leg everyday, making it harder to get back to playing golf and starting my Symetra Tour season. After constantly worrying about losing more muscle in my leg and taking too much time away from golf, I realized that I could only live in the present and make an active change in regards to what was happening now.
After that realization, my perspective on improving my golf changed. Before surgery, shooting an under par round or having a quality practice would make for a good day. But in January, being able to simply lift my leg, or even leg press five pounds, would be a significant accomplishment. I focused on the seemingly little accomplishments that I made, knowing that they would lead to a healthy knee and full recovery. I decided to do everything I could for my knee each and every day.
I was able to get back to golf several months sooner than the doctors anticipated. Once I returned to golf, I realized how helpful staying in the present truly is. Instead of worrying about scores at the end of the tournament, the money list at the end of the year, or what other players were doing, I was finally able to focus on one shot, and one hole, at a time.
At the IOA Invitational, I was so happy to be practicing, to be playing and to be surrounded by my fellow competitors again. I made sure to take all of those moments in and just enjoy being out there. I realized how much I missed playing golf and practicing everyday. I think I enjoyed the game more than I ever have. Golf was taken away from me and I would have done anything to get it back. Once I finally had it back, all I could do was enjoy every minute of being out there, whether it was good or bad.
On the 14th hole this past Sunday, I saw the scoreboard. I was at 3-under par, only two shots behind the leader. If I was worried about the outcome of the event, I could have tried to make birdies on the next few holes, knowing I would need them to potentially win. But instead, I focused on my tee shot on No. 15, knowing that I couldn’t predict the future. I went on to make par, then scrambled for par on Nos. 16 and 17. Walking up to the 18th tee box understanding it was a reachable par-5, I turned my focus to the task at hand of first hitting the fairway. I did just that, setting myself up with a birdie opportunity from my tee shot. That was all I needed. I could reach the green in two because of the drive. In the end, I was able to get up and down from the bunker to convert birdie.
I couldn’t spend hours each day hitting golf balls and practicing during the offseason due to my knee surgery, but I trained myself every day to focus on the present task. I had to let all of my wandering thoughts about the future go and simply focus on my knee exercise at that exact moment in time. I was able to do this same thing during the final round of the IOA Invitational, not allowing my thoughts to wander to possibly winning the golf tournament, or how many birdies I might need to win. I simply focused on that one single tee shot, and just played golf.