Byron Nelson Championship

To say last week was a lot of fun is an understatement. The HP Byron Nelson Classic was a great experience. It was amazing to finally see some results from all the hard work I’ve been putting in. It was really satisfying.

Going into the tournament, I didn’t really sense anything special was going to happen or that my game was suddenly going to click. I feel as though I’ve been hitting the ball really well the last few months but haven’t been able to get my putter working. A lot of times I would walk off the course having shot 72 or 73 and feeling as though it could have easily been a 67.

In all those cases it was just putting that seemed to be the difference. But last week, they finally started to drop. I was making more putts and getting some confidence in my putter. I made some nice 10 to 15 footers, which I haven’t been making. I really didn’t make any bombs all week and I didn’t have any chip-ins, but overall it was a great feeling to putt well.

One of the changes I made before last week was with my putter grip. I replaced my oversized grip with an older, thinner one I had on a putter at home. I just felt that I wanted a little more feel in my hands with my putter and I had a good sensation of the blade with that grip. In a lot of ways, it was really just a change for change’s sake. I don’t mind the oversized grips as they tend to give me more stability, but I had to change something and obviously this was a good move.

Another thing I changed last week was my mental approach. I went out with the goal of not grinding so much and not being so hard on myself. I wanted to just enjoy myself on the links and it worked. It’s amazing what that kind of an outlook can do for your game.

Being in the hunt at the tournament was a lot of fun. In some ways, it was like riding a bike – the sensation was familiar. But I was also nervous, not having been in that position for some time. To hit good shots right out of the gate was huge for me. It showed me I was ready to play. For most of the day, I hit my shots the way I wanted to. It was tough out there with a lot of difficult crosswinds, but my swing and my game held up under the pressure, which was a great feeling.
I was also pretty loose out there for most of the day. My caddie, Danny Sahl, did a good job of keeping me relaxed and that let me play well.

And for sure, I wanted to win. I went out there trying to win the tournament. I felt like I played really well but Brendan just played better. Congratulations to him on a great week and the victory.

Right after the tournament, I had a beer with Graham, who was in the group ahead of me. We congratulated each other on a good week. I can tell you that he is going to win very soon. He’s just too good not to get a victory.

And I heard from a lot of close friends – my cell phone had about 100 text messages on it – who were all happy for me. I also heard there was a lot of interest from fans on social media, which is great and I’m thankful for. I think I might just have to get on that one of these days!

The second-place finish does a lot of things for me obviously, but one of the biggest is securing things for next year. It means I can take a little time off this summer and spend some time with my family. We have some trips planned and I can’t wait to get away with Bricia and the girls.

It also means my schedule will be a little different. It looks as if my next start will be the Memorial as I understand anyone inside the top 100 at the end of the Byron Nelson usually gets in. I’ll do the U.S. Open qualifying in Ohio right after that and then play in Memphis. I hope that if I can keep playing well, I can get into the British Open and the PGA.

Getting back into contention is great. While I really want to look forward and not back, it’s hard not to think of the struggles of the past four years. Certainly it would have been easy to stop playing and focus on my course design and wine business, but that’s just not who I am. Nothing in my golf career has come easy to me. I’ve always had to grind and struggle and work hard. From my mini-tour days and up to the PGA Tour, it’s been hard work. Even when I’ve won, I’ve had to fight it out. The only time I can remember winning by a wide margin was at a Canadian Tour event at Heron Point where I won by eight shots, I think.

For me, the satisfaction that comes after the hard work is what makes it all worthwhile. I know this is just one finish, one tournament. There’s still more hard work ahead. I’m ready for it.

I would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support I have received through my website!
Mike