Last Updated Jan 10, 2011 1:35 PM EST
Twenty-eight days. That's all I had between the end of last season and the beginning of my first season on the PGA Tour. On Thursday I play my first tournament at the Sony Open in Honolulu. (And for those of you who are wondering, the purse is $5.5 million.)
So how do you prepare to go from the minor leagues of golf to the major leagues in less than a month?
Here's a look at what I've been doing.
I have such a short off season that once I finished up at Q-school, I literally hit the ground running. Every day for seven days I woke up at 6 a.m. I ran like I've never run before. And then I got a bad case of tendinitis in my knee. And couldn't run for the next three weeks. Even though I warned myself not to overdo it, I did it again.
So running was out. It didn't stop me from going to the gym most days.
But the most brutal part of the whole preparation process happened last week. The weather wasn't great in my home town of Knoxville, so my swing coach and I headed to West Palm Beach for five straight days of playing at the Floridian. (OK, that part wasn't so bad -- for the first two days we were the only ones on the course.)
When I came back to Knoxville, however, it was time for some mental training before I headed out. My sports psychologist likes to help me "ride the edge," as he likes to say. Translation: He likes to try to put me over the edge to see how well I can handle the pressure. The basic idea is to drill me like crazy on my putting and chipping, all the while doing things to make me less than comfortable.
So he'll have me do redundant putting drills. This may not sound all that tough, but it means doing 100 three-foot putts in a row. If I messed up even one, I had to start all over again.
Then it was five 20-foot putts in a row. Again, same drill -- except this time he made his cell phone ring precisely as I pulled back my club on the fifth one. I sunk it. This went on for days.
And finally we headed out to play a full round. But on every hole he'd pull a couple of clubs at random out of my bag that were off limits. "Get creative," he'd say. We played holes with only irons, then we played holes without wedges, all sorts of weird little things to see I could adapt to the situation and still compete.
All in the name of staying sharp when it comes time to play on Thursday. Will it work? Stay tuned.
(Photo courtesy of the Waialae Country Club.)