Monday, May 11, 2009

Joey D: PLAYERS Recap, Back in West Palm

Coach Joey D here. Another PLAYERS Championship has come and gone. A very exciting week for both the pros and the fans. Great energy out there and another finish where it was anybody's tournament.

I arrived in Jacksonville last Monday and had to hit the ground running, preparing for my annual Tuesday night players party that I co-host at my place with Coach Chris Noss. I went from Charlotte to West Palm to JAX and had a day to pull everything together and make things happen.

I made it out to the course for a bit on Monday and chatted a bit with Todd Jones, the head teaching pro at TPC. We discussed some new teaching techniques that we'll delve into down the road in another blog. Some really interesting stuff going on that you'll want to check out.

Regarding the party, thankfully it was another success. A great turnout of Tour pros and friends. We brought in catering from a few local restaurants. Rented pool tables, pinball machines and video games. Had some good tunes pumping. It's always a great way to kick off the PLAYERS week and we always get great feedback from the guys. We do this annually as our way to thank the pros for all they do for us and as long as they're into it, Coach Noss and I will keep hosting it. Come Wednesday morning it was back to business and all the guys were ready to go.

TPC Sawgrass sets up very challenging and as the week goes on, the course dries up. The only rain we had last week was on Tuesday night, so the course conditions changed quite a bit as the week rolled on. Pin placement got tougher, to the point where you're seeing a guy like Tiger Woods incapable of making his standard come-from-behind Sunday run.

All the credit in the world to Henrik Stenson for his commanding win, as well as "friend of the Joey D Blog" Ian Poulter and his strong second place showing.

As for the team, again it was Jason Dufner with another strong outing. 67-70 in the first two rounds had him in contention before a third round 77 set him back and a final round 73 earned him a respectable T32nd finish. I'd have loved to see him hang onto that seven-under, but the course just didn't set up like that.

It's been four straight weeks out here for Duf, with two top ten finishes to his credit. A hell of a run and it's moved him up to 39th in the FedExCup standings.

Ryuji Imada gave it another go this week, reeling in a T45th finish. Ryuji is still struggling with a nagging wrist injury, so he's been tentative hitting out of the rough or the sand lately. He's going to take this week off and get the wrist looked at again, in an effort to get right. In the end, not his best finish but he made another cut and he gave it his all under the circumstances.

Not the greatest week for Pat Perez. A respectable 72-72 out the gate, but entering the weekend his putter failed him a bit. His ball-striking was solid and his work with coach Mike Abbott has his swing back on track. There are just a few things he'll need to work out putting-wise.

Strength-wise, Pat is on top of his game and again, is doing everything I ask of him in the fitness trailer. I even got him in the pool a few times this week for an aquatic workout, which he said had him feeling better than every. Everything is "on" right now but the putter and as soon as he gets that re-dialed in, watch out.

Charlie Wi got a little emotional out on the course on Thursday. This something I really want to focus on this week for the reader. Whether you're a Touring pro or a weekend warrior, emotions can often get the better of us on the golf course.

Charlie and I had breakfast Friday morning after a good session in the trailer and we talked about what wore him down mentally. We spoke about getting emotions getting under control and realizing that once you've hit the shot, you have to let it go. Believe in the process.

After going 74-74, Charlie didn't make the cut and he called me from the airport Saturday morning on his way out. After some self-evaluating, he knew what he did wrong, he knew that emotions got the better of him and that he let the tournament get away from him. Charlie knows what he needs to change going into his next event and I believe he'll find the strength to do that.

In this game - and especially at this level - when you hit a bad shot, you absolutely have to let go. I know that's easier said than done, but it doesn't make it any less true. You have to recognize your mistake and absolutely can't let your emotions get the better of you. If you hit a bad shot, take a couple deep breaths and learn how to shrug it off. If it happens to the best in the world, guarantee it's going to happen to those outside the ropes when they tee it up.

Last but never least, Tom Pernice Jr., who also missed the cut. I spoke with Tom after Friday's round and he simply said he just wasn't hitting it well. Tom's played five of the past six events and he is definitely looking forward to a week of active rest. He's worn down and being on the road is getting to him. Give him some time to recuperate and we'll see him rested and ready for the Byron Nelson.

That's it for last week. Coming up this week we'll announce the winner of the PowerSwing Trainer, we'll offer up another fitness tip and we'll address a recent critic from across the pond who questioned the methods of Joey D and the other strength & conditioning coaches out here on Tour. Stay tuned.

Joey D.


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