I think my form last year was the combination of a few things. The biggest was working with a new instructor; he’s based back in Florida where I’m from and I started working with him in April. I had about a month of working on changes, got my fundamentals sorted and my first event was the Open de Portugal. I came second there and won two weeks later on the Challenge Tour in the Czech Republic. I was able to make the changes initially and continue with getting my tournament play more consistent, which was ultimately the biggest factor.
I think I’ve always been good at letting go, regrouping after every round and tournament and starting fresh the next week. If you have a good week, it’s easy to expect more good things, and if you have a bad week, it’s easy to expect more bad. I’ve always been good at getting back to square one on a Monday and thinking ‘what needs to improve this week.’ It’s very mindset based. The mental side of the game is a huge part of it. That’s what drives me. You win one week and there’s still stuff that needs to be worked on whether it’s mentally, physically or a combination of the two. It’s that which brings consistency, which is what I want to do.
My dad is over here this week and he was here the last time I played in India. He doesn’t get to see me play so often anymore now that I’m not in college, so it’s always special to have him out with me. It’s cool to be over here in India. I’m enjoying the food, I always do. It’s nice to switch it up a little bit. Once I’m on the course, it’s all quite similar.
He’ll tell you he was somewhat of a sports star! My Dad was a very good tennis player. He went to the United States with his twin brother when he was 17 and played college tennis. He’s been over there ever since. He played a little professionally and has taught for a long time. He brought me up playing and watching tennis and golf, so there are definitely some athletic genes in the family. Even at my parent’s house now there are clubs, balls, tees everywhere and I think my mom just puts up with it. Inevitably there’s a big mirror in the lounge, and that turns into a swing mirror to check how everything looks. Putting contests when it’s raining outside too!
I love to play tennis with my dad. He’s getting a bit older, so I can outrun him, but he still knows how to play the game properly, which ultimately wins out most of the time. Placement usually trumps any kind of power!
I didn’t get too much pressure from my dad to pick tennis. I was at a good level in tennis from a young age, but it was around the time the Tiger Woods phenomenon caught on and it was the cool thing to do. I still love to play tennis; my roomie in college was a tennis player and I hit with him, which was very humbling as I go my butt whooped a few times! It was good to see what the next level was like and cool to compare similar pursuits in different endeavours.
Tiger made golf cool, exciting and charismatic. Even now, at least once a week, I go on YouTube and look up some highlight clips. There are hundreds out there, some of them on the Majors he won or just some of the shots he played. When I was a kid, he was like a superhero. He never missed a putt when it mattered and always hit a great shot. It was awesome.
My first Challenge Tour event was in Denmark, and when I went back there last year it was third time a charm! A buddy of mine had contended a few years back and I can remember watching on TV and seeing pictures of that 16TH at Himmerland, but I didn’t really get to appreciate all the fans and the support. It was so cool and I couldn’t believe the amount of people. I had no idea Denmark was that golf-crazy, so it was really special. It was something I’ll never forget, especially on the 16th when I putted out and everyone went crazy. I was in the lead at that stage, so really cool.
Outside of golf, I love playing ping-pong with my buddies back home. I like socialising with new people too, going to the gym and singing when I’m by myself! I get really jazzed up by Michael Jackson and Whitney Huston, but I like anything really! I listen to a lot of Kayne, Kendrick, Biggie and older hip-hop. I also like to watch movies, often comedies. I’m that guy laughing hysterically to myself on the airplane and people think there’s something wrong with me. I just bought a new place in Florida and I’m now delving into decorating, which is a whole new thing. It’s definitely like something out of Entourage at the minute, but I need to get some chairs - I have couches, TVs, but no chairs!
I love the travel on the European Tour. It’s always really cool. I‘ve told people that the way you have states in the U.S. is similar to countries in Europe – they’re so close to each other and they’re all so different. You can say Florida and Georgia are different, but not in the way France and Germany are. You know, languages, religions, food, everything is completely different. It’s been really cool and I’ve enjoyed it so far, especially being young; a lot of people my age don’t get to travel as much as I do.