March Update

The West Coast Swing is over and I can’t say I’m sad to see it go. While it’s always a wonderful time playing courses such as Pebble Beach and Riviera, and the tournaments are run so well, my game wasn’t sharp during that stretch and I paid the price in missed cuts.

Obviously it’s disappointing to play poorly, especially on courses where I’ve done well in the past. But I know I’m on the right track to getting my game back and while I’ve been playing poorly, I’m still optimistic about where I’m headed. Overall, I know I’m moving in the right direction with the swing changes I’m making. Some days it feels really good and other times not so much. But I know that I’m improving. And I feel like I’m really close to a breakthrough.
That’s what happened last year at the Byron Nelson. It can happen out on the PGA TOUR where one day you get up on the tee and find that trigger and fall into your balance and aiming properly and putting well. I’m trying to find that stress-free golf where I’m not standing over eight- and 10-footers for par all day.

I’m using a lot of technology available to me to help out my swing, things like Trackman. But when I get on the course, I want to forget that. I want to be more artist than scientist when I’m playing.

One of the most frustrating parts right now is that I can stand on the range and hit great shots – on my target with the right trajectory and everything. But I can’t seem to take that to the course. When I step on to the first tee, some of my bad habits come back. I think Tiger Woods calls that Ranger Rick – I guess I’m Ranger Mike right now.

I also know that there are no short cuts to getting things going properly. It’s simply going to take a lot of work. That’s something I’ve never shied away from although I do know I have to work smart and not necessarily overdo it. I think that may have been what caused my most recent elbow stiffness. While I was playing the Northern Trust Open, I felt my elbow get tight – it wasn’t really a pain, but when I gripped the club, I could really feel my elbow. Although I was gripping the club lightly, it felt as if I had a stranglehold on it. I tried to play on with that feeling but I just couldn’t do it; it didn’t make much sense to keep playing and risk a more serious injury.

I had some acupuncture and massage therapy on it and it’s feeling much better. Thankfully the doctors told me that it wasn’t another serious injury to the ligament where I had my surgery a few years ago. I have a feeling that this week I’m going to need my Aleve!

I’ve been asked a few times about what’s new in my bag this year and I’m excited that I’m using the new TaylorMade AeroBurner, which I love. I really feel as if I can hit it long and straight, and it just jumps off the face. It’s been a great addition. I’ve been playing a lot recently so I haven’t had time to implement the fairways and rescues yet, but when I get a week off and I can get them dialed in, they’ll go in the bag too. TaylorMade really has the smartest engineers in the business and it’s nice to know I can get the best equipment for my game.

This week it was announced that I will be the captain of Team Canada at the second RBC Canada Cup, part of the Nova Scotia Open on the Web.com Tour being held in Halifax. I’ll be joining up with Graham DeLaet and David Hearn to take on Team World. It was announced that Fred Couples will be the playing captain of that side which is just great. Freddy is one of my good friends out on tour. He really helped me along in my early days and also showed me a lot of Augusta National when I first started playing there.

It was out in another Maritime province where Freddy and I really became friends. We were playing in the Skins Game at Crowbush Cove in PEI and we hit it off. That was my rookie year on the PGA Tour and he made a point of playing lots of practice rounds with me after that event. We’ve been good friends ever since.

Team Canada will be looking for a little redemption this time around as we got beat up pretty good last year in this event at New Ashburn. I’m hoping Graham and David are as hungry as I am for a win.

My schedule leading up to The Masters will be a little on and off. Hopefully I’ll be playing this week at Honda, then Valspar and finally the Valero Texas Open.

Speaking of The Masters, I’m hoping to arrange a practice round with Corey Conners, the young amateur from Listowell, Ont., who is in the field by virtue of his runner-up finish as last year’s U.S. Amateur. I’m excited to see his game and to show him around Augusta National – I can only imagine how exciting it will be for him to play here for the first time.

As always, thanks for your support.
Mike