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August 26, 2019

If you know me at all, you’d know that I am a passionate golfer. Ive had a modicum of success as a tournament player in my later years, winning club championships, senior club championships, and senior tournaments at the local level. Ive had a few decent finishes in state level events as well.

It hasn’t been a good year for me on the course as a hip injury has affected both my physical ability to play and my mental state. Having retired from full-time work at the end of winter, I had all kinds of plans to increase my tournament load and play better than ever. It didn’t work out for me as my game regressed.

But that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy watching the success of others,

In January of this year, my work took me to Orlando for a conference and training event. On the first night, we had the pleasure of listening to Rory McIlroy. I have always been a big fan of his but became a bigger fan that evening as I listened to him talk about his life as a golfer. After he talked for a bit, he took questions from the audience.

One of the early questions asked him to talk about his goals for 2019.

Rory answered the question in great detail.

He talked some about individual areas of play and where he needed to improve. The stat he talked about was Strokes Gained Putting and he believed that if he improved his Strokes Gained Putting by .3 shots overall that would allow for him to increase his ability to win.

He talked about putting himself into contention to win more often. His path towards winning would be defined by how many times he would be able to play in the final group of Sunday or even in the final three groups. That would mean he had done what it took the first three rounds to put himself into contention.

And finally he talked about the Fed Ex Cup playoffs.

He had a disappointing finish in 2018 as he was paired with Tiger Woods in the final group. His Sunday of being up close watching Tiger make history by winning was overshadowed by his own failure. He behaved like a gentleman but his disappointment was strong.

And so he talked on that January commitment to the season-long Fed Ex Cup. His normal schedule of playing would take him around the world for tournaments in January and February while skipping PGA Tour events in California and Arizona. His PGA Tour season wouldn’t start until the tour headed to Florida which put him in catch-up mode in the Fed Ex points.

His 2019 schedule was significantly different from anything he had ever done. He would no longer participate on the European Tour, he would no longer serve as host of the Irish Open. He would commit fully to the PGA Tour and the Fed Ex Cup and play events on the West Coast.

So how did Rory do relative to his goals for 2019?

First, he improved his Strokes Gained Putting by .365 strokes. He had switched putters to a new one which TaylorMade had designed for him and his hard work had manifested itself on the course.

Second, he regularly played in the final three groups of tournaments and had put himself in contention to win repeatedly. He finished the year with three wins (including the Players) and led the tour in Top 10 finishes with a final tally of 14 out of 20 tournaments.

And finally, there was the Fed Ex Cup. There he was down the stretch playing alongside world #1 Brooks Koepka and there was no way Rory would be stopped. I was thrilled for him as he hoisted the trophy and you could feel how proud his sense of accomplishment was. He had made major changes in his life and they had led to him achieving the highest of goals. I’m sure the $15M was a big deal but so I was that complete sense of fulfillment.

Today I applaud him.

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