I am reading a book at the moment called Golf's Sacred Journey 2 - Johnny's US Open by David L. Cook. It is a brilliant read on the back of his first book Golf's Sacred Journey. They are golf orientated books but really are teaching me so much about life and the journey. This week reading through there have been some incredibly well timed words of wisdom come from the book.
As many of you know I am a Christian and I believe that God has a purpose for my life. I believe that I am to be a professional golfer but have always thought there was more to it than that. Last Sunday in church I felt God give me a word that said I would be in a position to win next week at the Masters but when asked about the final round my response should be that Matt Guyatt is not defined by the score I shoot tomorrow, Matt Guyatt is defined by the man that I am and how I act and react to what every day brings. I haven't always been good at that, in fact i have failed at it many many times but have made real progress in the past few months at it. I believe God told me to splash some of the joy he gives me onto those around me. On Sat after my round I was interviewed by a reporter for the Herald Sun. My response was exactly what God had told me I would say before the final round. It made it to print!
So back to the book, here is a passage that truly jumped out at me this week. "Golf is not your vocation, it is your platform. It is a place for sowing seeds of light, hope and life especially inside the ropes on tournament day where most players check out, allowing the selfishness of the moment and pressure of the day to close the door to true adventure and revelation. Don't be afraid of your new swing. It is part of your platform and it will set you apart. It will inspire seekers of truth in all walks of life to open the locked vault of false traditions stronghold. You will speak greatness into many as I flood you with insight. You will live as a noticer as you listen to me. You will bring life where there is death, light where there is darkness, hope where there is pain and freedom to those trapped in fear. Our fear is that if you do this you will miss out and you will not play well, that you will be a wasting career and that you will look like a fool. But I say, when you choose this path you will find life, you will be filled to overflowing with what victory can't deliver. When you forget about yourself and focus on those with whom I cross your path, your performance will soar and you will play fearlessly, knowing neither failure or victory has any hold on you. You will be relentlessly competitive yet full of grace, tenacious yet full of peace."
Wow what a passage on the back of the message I got in church last Sunday. Affirmation for sure. So that is what we did this week and was certainly both Brad, my caddy, and my focus for the final round. The day wasn't about us, it was about freeing myself from the pressure of the day by engaging in people's lives, of those that came across my path today. Two years ago I was in the second last group and didn't have an awesome final day. I started poorly and never recovered and felt the strain all day. Today was different and I knew it would be before we even went out there.
I had a couple of minutes spare on the first tee today and as I now always do I chose someone to chat to. A gentleman standing behind the tee was the person of choice today. The usual response I get when I chat to a spectator is initial shock followed by a big smile and clear enjoyment that one of the pros is chatting to them. It isn't something many of the guys do but I see the impact it has and I think it can only build your own profile as well as the sport as well as give people an extra bonus for their day at the golf! For the record the gentleman I met owns the best organic produce store in Melbourne called Passionfoods, ask for Steven!
After a solid start to my round with pars at 1 and 2 I hit a poor drive down the 3rd and ended up making a pretty good bogey. The par five 4th hole saw me hit a great drive and despite missing the green with my 5 iron I hit a great bunker shot to set up a 6 ft birdie chance. I hit a really solid putt but a slight misread meant it lipped out instead of in! I followed that with a poor 3 putt on the 5th and quickly my round was going backwards at 2 over through 5. Last year I had great starting positions to the final rounds in a couple of big ones before imploding early in the rounds...this wasn't the start I was looking for today!
One of the best things about my week this week has been my patience, and today was no different. I stayed very patient and positive that my game was in great order and the birdies would come. A great birdie on the par give 6th started to turn the round in the right direction which was important before the very tough 7th hole. The 7th was a 204m par three that I saw claim victims in every group I have played in this week. I however was under par on this hole for the week and was determined to finish that way. I hit a 4 iron which was the shortest club all week about despite hitting a quality shot I misjudged the wind a little and my ball found the right bunker. My bunker play this week was outstanding and there was no exception to that rule here meaning a par and keeping my under record intact for the week on this hole.
The downwind par five 8th was also a good hole for me, in fact with my birdie here on the final day it capped off the previous 3 birdies on the hole for the week. So that was that, it had erased the two bogies, now time to get going. I played a really good ninth hole but just had too much speed on the putt for birdie having to settle for par. It was off to the back nine where I had struggled all week, but this time was the final nine on Sunday and I was still in contention, every golfers desire on that first tee Thursday.
Momentum that I had built over the last four holes stalled when I hit a poor six iron into the tenth finding the greenside bunker and then an uncharacteristic bunker shot that left too much to do on the putt, bogey! Despite hitting a good shot into the par 3 eleventh I couldn't jag the putt although a perfect drive on 12 and an even better wedge shot left me only 4 ft foot birdie that I converted.
I was back to -4 again and with 6 to go and the leaders stumbling I was still alive but needed a special finish. The wind strength was increasing but as always it was it was gusty making it tricky to read accurately. My tee shot on 13 and second shot into 14 both copped strong down wind gusts meaning both shots going long of the greens.....a massive no no! A miracle save on 13 for par couldn't be matched on 14 and despite being long of the par five in two I had to settle for par there too.
A regulation par on 15 left me -4 with three to play. I needed to finish with 3 straight birdies which on those holes was tough but not impossible. After a great drive down the 16th I hit a sublime approach to the top shelf of the green flirting with the disaster of the bunker to the left of the pin. I turned to the crowd and gave a massive sigh of relief which was met with a few laughs and words of encouragement. Particularly from three lads with beers, they yelled out "c'mon mate, get up there and make the birdie!" I did make it and as I picked the ball out of tee hole and turned towards them I tossed the ball to them....instantly creating three new fans! Those three walked with me to the last hole cheering all the way as I hit a great drive and solid approach to 17 before holing the biggest putt of the tournament for me to somehow find myself at -6 and with a chance of posting 7 under and the clubhouse lead. With the leaders on -9 at the time we still thought, you never know!
I ripped it down 18 and stood there looking at the tight back right pin with a 9 iron in my hand and two options in front of me. Play conservatively to the left centre of the green and have an outside chance at birdie but a more likely safe par or go for the flag and have a crack at taking the clubhouse lead and waiting to see what happens. In a pretty quick deliberation I decided that this chance didn't come along often, so pin hunting it was! I hit a solid shot, perfect for distance but right on the edge of the green on the right side. It was either going to hang on and be close or oh right and find the bunker! Sadly it chose the bunker which left me with an impossible up and down. Despite the bogey I don't regret "living" in that moment and chasing the childhood dream of winning the Masters!
After a warm ovation I sought out a couple of kids near the bunker to pass them some souvenirs and was then met by a massive group of them at the exit point. More giveaways and signatures before they finally made a path for me to get through. As the sea of kids parted who would be standing there but my three beer drinking buddies, ready to congratulate me and promise to be there from the first hole next year!! To finish it off after signing my card and then some autographs I walked out of the scoring area to be greeted by a gentleman named Steven.....the guy from the first tee who had found me to congratulate me on my week, what a kind gesture. To add to that when I landed in Brisbane later on that night I had a contact form filled out from my website from Steven congratulating me again and welcoming me to his shop next time I was in town! All from a 2 minute chat on the first tee!
So tied 11th, a great week seeing smiles on many many faces, very solid golf, in with a chance on Sunday and built on my friendship with Brad and his wife Shelley! Above all that though was the realisation that we all have dreams and it's important in life to not let those dreams be shut down. There are dream killers out there and lies that we all by into in this world. I have come some way to coming out the other side of all that and I encourage you all to dig deep inside and find those dreams and take a good look at what is stopping you fulfilling your dreams! Be aware of it and try to live out your dreams and help fulfil the dreams of those around you. The joy will be unending!
So until next week, thanks for following along and watching as I live out my dream, using golf to help me put smiles on faces and make a difference in this world in some small way. Be awesome, find your dreams and dust of the cobwebs they have been gathering!!!!