Posts Tagged ‘believe’

news-golf_tournament_bannerGot back into the swing of things this week with a range practice session on Tuesday night and then a round with some friends on Wednesday at the Vineyard.  Didn’t touch a club since last Wednesday, so I came back feeling fresh, but with an understanding that I’d be a little rusty so I had low expectation.  I shouldn’t keep doubting myself as I hit the ball well at the range on Tuesday and actually felt really confident in my ball striking heading into the round the following day.  I was most concerned about how the couple week layoff would affect my short game, chipping in particular, as that depends mostly on feel and takes constant practice to keep it sharp. 

The round yesterday went great and I shot a solid round of 74(+4).  I made a couple of really bad course management mistakes that cost me in what coulda, woulda, shoulda been my 3rd under par round! I made 2 double bogeys on the day, both on short par 3’s and both because I tried to play a cut into flags that really didn’t even call for it.  My go to natural shot is a slight draw, but I’ve also been working hard on developing a cut, to give me options, which I can use to take out the right side when needed.  I can hit it well a lot of the time, but it’s not as consistent as my normal shots yet.  Anyway, both of the par 3’s have hazards in front of the greens and I tried to hit cut shots into both and hit them both heavy and they came up short in the hazards.  I ended up taking double bogey 5’s on both the par 3’s.  So some bad course management on my part, followed by poor execution and if I had just parred those 2 holes I shoot even on the day…bogeyed the par 5 9th also after being only 65 yards out for my 3rd shot.  It’s these little mistakes that I need to work on eliminating. 

I’m proud of the way that I bounced back though mentally after my two mistakes on the par 3’s, I had a birdie the next hole after the first par 3 double and then on the back after the second, I rattled off 6 straight pars to end the round.  I feel like I’ve made some great strides in the mental aspect of my game, I’ve been able to move on quickly from disappointing shots and stay focus on the next shot at hand.  I lost track of my score again during the round and didn’t know my final score till after the final putt on 18, which is something I love doing.  It’s not always the easiest thing to achieve, but I’ve been able to do it a lot in recent rounds, it really keeps you focused when you get in that zone.  My chipping and putting surprisingly were solid despite the couple week break, zero 3 putts and had a lot of close chips, even chipped in for birdie on the 5th hole.  Will most likely have to wait till next Monday to play again, but in the next few days I’ll be practicing short and long game.

Total stats for the round were as follows:

The Vineyard Escondido Par 70 71.0/126 6,531 Yards

Score: 74 (+4) FW: 9/14 GIR: 12/18 Putts: 32 Up/Down: 2/6 Sand Save: 0/0 Penalties: 1

Just a quick update for you guys…I haven’t been playing much golf in these past two weeks following my tournament win.  I felt it necessary to take a week or two off after I got home from Palm Springs because I’ve been so intensely focused on playing well in the tournament for many months now that I felt I needed to take some time to just enjoy the win.  I also needed to clear my mind and reset before going full speed again with playing and practice.  Also, they haven’t posted many of the pictures from the tournament still, only ones I can find are from day 1 at the Norman course and the final day banquet. So the couple pictures you see are of our day 1 group at the Norman course and the one of me being announced as champion.

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I haven’t completely left golf alone over these past 2 week(I’m too obsessed for that), I have been to the range a couple times and did play once this past Tuesday.  I actually played real solid, played at the Vineyard with a couple friends and shot a 74(+4).  My putting, as usual is what cost me, definitely a little rusty after not putting for a week and a half…I had three 3 putts and missed a birdie putt inside of 3ft…so that’s is 4 strokes right there that I gave away.  My tee to green game was fantastic and I’m excited that I can take a week or 2 off and still have my ball striking remain solid.  For the round I hit 10/14 FW’s and 15/18 greens, but had 37 freaking putts!!  Anyway, like I said, I’m not focused on anything these past 2 weeks, still a solid score and I know what I need to work on heading back into full time practice and playing mode here again next week.

I have the idea of playing in some Golf Channel Am Tour events here in San Diego starting next year, so over the next few months I’ll be working hard to improve with that goal of playing well in those events in mind.  Have any of you guys ever played in a Golf Channel Am tour even before?? I’m curious to know what your experiences were with them, please let me know in the comments!

Got home from the annual Palm Springs tournament on Sunday night and I am so happy to report to you all that I have won the tournament for the 2nd consecutive year!  Back to back championships now and I’m so thrilled!  Unfortunately, I didn’t shoot that under par round that I was hoping for and I did make some uncharacteristic mistakes (I’ll get into that later), but overall, I played some real solid golf and in the end I accomplished the main goal of winning the tournament. 

For those of you who didn’t follow me or read my posts from last year’s Palm Springs tournament, it is a 3 day event where we play courses at both PGA West and La Quinta.  This year we had a field of about 90 golfers and although most of the field was just hacking it around, there are some really solid players that play in this event.  On the final round, the top 4 leading golfers in the tournament all play together and this year’s final group found me playing against some extremely good players.  It consisted of one who played at a division 1 college team, another who qualified for the Buick Invitational PGA Tour Event here in San Diego at Torrey Pines a few years ago (it’s now called the Farmers Insurance Open) and another a scratch golfer, who plays in many USGA events and was leading me by 3 strokes…not to mention it was about 110 degrees every single day.  This was now my 4th year attending this annual tournament in the desert and I had won it the year before so I also had that little added pressure of being defending champ!    

Day 1 – PGA West – Greg Norman Course

7340_10202274327331556_5856104486717021029_nThe first day we played at the Greg Norman, a course I had never played at before and it was extremely challenging.  I’ve never played a true “desert” course like that before…it was basically only fairways and desert.  Not much rough at all, but the fairways were narrow and you had to be deadly accurate both off the tee and on your 2nd shots or you were playing from the rock hard desert or losing your ball in the shrubs.  Playing any course for the first time is always difficult, obviously why pros play practice rounds, but I played some solid golf.  I ended up shooting a 78 (+6) with only 1 birdie, but was still only 2 shots off the lead after day 1.  My ball striking was really solid, but I was disappointed in my score, I just could not figure out the Bermuda greens and putted terrible.  My lag putting was horrid!  Left countless putts 3-4 ft short, but was making most of the 2nd putts, but I did end up 3-putting twice.  I’ve never played on Bermuda greens before and it’s something totally different than what I’m used to…so slow!!  I also bogeyed two par 5’s, something I almost never do, both as a result of tee shots that found the hazards.  So that is 4 shots right there that I should have the skills to avoid, so I left a possible low score on the course, but was still right there at the top of the leader board in 3rd place.

Day 2 – PGA West – Jack Nicklaus Tournament Coursenicklaus1a

I’ve played this course each of the previous 3 years, so I have some course knowledge built up by now.  I absolutely love this course; it’s challenging yet fun, beautiful and well maintained.  This only problem this year was that the greens had been aerated, must have been a few weeks prior, they weren’t sandy, but the punched holes still slightly remained, certainly enough to affect putts.  Nonetheless, I was most confident to play this course of all the 3 because I like the layout, my scores have improved every year here and I looked forward to trying to go low on a real difficult course.  My ball striking remained solid, but I just could not take advantage of ANYTHING all day and didn’t have a single birdie, yet was still able to shoot only a 75(+3).  15 pars and 3 bogeys, one of the bogies was another 3 putt and I again bogeyed two par 5’s!! What?!? I seriously never bogey par 5’s and I had now done it 4 times in 2 rounds, was frustrating beyond belief.  With my length, I expect to be making birdie on a lot of them and certainly never making worse than par.  As I had talked about in my previous post before I left, my wedge game from 100 yards and in was my main concern and it came into play big time during this round.  I had 5 shots from the range of 90-70 yards during the round and I only hit the green once!!  That is really really bad and I was left having to scramble for par (which I did successfully) rather than having a solid look at birdie and a par almost guaranteed with an easy 2 putt.  If I want to shoot under par, I must improve that part of my game, I’ll be sure to dedicate a lot more time to that area going forward.  The low round of the day was a 73(+1) from a guy who shot 77 the first day.  The person who was leading after a first round 76 ended up dropping back quite a bit and I jumped into 2nd place heading into the final round trailing by 3 strokes.  

**Here is a video of my tee shot on the par 3 17th hole.  You can’t really see the ball flight from the video, but I hit a 9iron that I tried to draw back to the flag…it finished about 15 ft pin high left.  2 putt par.**

Day 3 Final Round – La Quinta Dunes Course

This was a big day for me, all the work I’ve been doing on my mental game was going to come into play today.  I’ve never been in a tournament final round pairing before, last year I played in a pre set up group, so this year I had some nerves cooking.  I’ve never been in that type of situation before and I knew it was going to be great experience for later on when I play in bigger tournaments going forward, like Golf Channel Am Tour Events.  I studied my yardage book the night before, devised a game plan and visualized playing the course in my mind.  I even visualized them calling my name as champion at the banquet because I believe in the theory that if the mind can see it and truly believe it, then you can achieve it!  I went in with the mindset of keeping my emotions in check and trying to just focus on playing one single shot at a time.  I wanted to get lost in the game and try to go unconscious…I wanted to be in the “zone.”  I knew which player it was that I was 3 shots behind and I knew at some point if I looked like I was gaining ground or in the lead that I would be watching his shots thinking “ok, now I must make this putt to stay 1 down or 1 up” so I tried to make sure I didn’t fall into that trap.  In a sense I didn’t want to score board watch, I wanted to come down to the 18th hole not knowing if I was leading or not.  I just wanted to stick to my game plan I set up the night before and play my game, that’s all I can do and in the end if it’s not enough to be the winner so be it. 

I’m so proud of myself, I honestly kept focused on one shot at a time, when my mind did wander a few times, I recognized it and snapped back out of it immediately.  I let go of any bad shots, maintained a positive attitude and neutral emotions and got into that elusive “zone” that golfers strive for.  I honestly had no idea of my individual score I was so much in the zone, let alone where I was in relation to the lead. I could sense that I was probably in the lead, but wasn’t sure by how much if at all.  They set it up so that our 18th hole was the 17th hole(pictured below)laquinta which is the #1 handicapped hole and I have heard the 1st or 2nd hardest hole in all of California!  It is a long dog leg left holes with water all down the left side, extremely intimidating, but I didn’t think twice and stuck to my game plan of hitting a 4 iron off the tee.  I hit it right down the middle of the fairway, where as the person I was battling the lead with took driver and hit it through the fairway into a bunker.  He had an almost impossible 2nd shot and hit it into the water.  He later told me that he was thinking in his head as he saw me pull 4 iron “wow he’s going conservative and playing it smart”  He talked himself out of doing the same, it was nice of him to tell me how impressed he was with my mental attitude, my game and how I went about playing the course.  I ended up winning by 4 strokes after being down 3 strokes going into the final round and accomplished my goal of back to back championships!!  Now my mind is already set on that 3-peat next year and shooting an under par round.  I want that under par round at that tourney, it didn’t happen this year, but I will have it!

I know this is a really long post, thanks for sticking around and taking the time to read it, thanks for all your support guys!  You are all helping me make my dreams become reality one day at a time and I hope that I can help you all go after and accomplish your dreams as well…we are in this together, you all motivate me to be better and live a life which I have imagined.  Thank you, hope you enjoyed this tournament recap!  They haven’t posted any pictures from the tournament yet, so I’ll post a few when they get released.

Alright well I’m leaving tomorrow for the 3 day tournament in Palm Springs and I’m both excited and little nervous.  I’m more excited than nervous really, but there is a part of me that has added some unneeded pressure on my performance this year because of the unexpected success I experienced last year.  I want to go into this years tournament just like last year with no expectations of results, just purely with the mindset of sticking to my routine and focusing on trying to execute one shot at a time…if i can do that, the score will take care of itself.  Don’t get me wrong, I have my goals for this tournament (shoot an under par round), but I know it’s going to be extremely difficult and that the only way I’m going to actually accomplish that is if I stick to my routine and stay positive.  Can’t get too up or too down and I must tag the same amount of low importance on every shot, from the first tee shot to the last putt and everything in between. A lot can happen in 54 holes…I know I have the ability to shoot under par now, I know that it’s possible, so lets have a positive mind set and give it my best shot!

I’m planning on taking some videos of my swing during the tournament and some pictures of the overall event that’ll be able to share when I get back.  That is if the camera on my phone doesn’t bug out on me again like it has been for the past week or so.  It’s been freezing up lately, but I got it working last night and had a friend record my last swing at the range.  I haven’t shown you guys the progress of my swing in many months, so I thought I’d show you guys a quick down the line video of my driver.  I’m really happy that I have figured out my driver in advance of the tournament, finally found a set up that is allowing me consistent solid strikes and the ball is jumping off the face with accuracy.  Any feedback on the swing would be nice, I haven’t looked at my swing on video in awhile, It looks like I get pretty steep, but I’ve always done that naturally and right now I’m sticking with it because I’ve learned how to hit the ball well with it…I guess it doesn’t matter if the ball goes straight.

PGA-West-Nicklaus-Tournament-e1300984704835I’m a far better player than I was this time last year heading into the Palm Springs tournament.  My goal last year was just to break 80 all 3 days (which I accomplished), but this year my goal has been to shoot an under par round on at least one of the 3 days.  It is going to be an incredibly difficult task, but since I’ve been able to shoot under par a few times now recently, I know truly that it’s possible and I have the ability to do it. My game seems to be peaking at exactly the perfect time…I’ve never been so confident in my short game as I am right now, especially in my putting and the results are starting to show.  I had 11 1-putts yesterday and 7 birdies in route to a (-4) 56 at the Oaks North executive course.  The changes I made in my putting last week have turned my game around 180 degrees, the ball rolling off the face perfectly, tracking and staying on line so nicely and mentally I’ve never been so confident.  My ball striking is exponentially better right now than this time last year and I have added a cut shot into my arsenal that I can hit consistently.  I’m also hitting my driver consistently well again and with my improved accuracy with my 3 and 5 woods, I’m keeping the ball in or right near the fairway on every tee shot.  The one area I would say I haven’t improved as much as I would like is my wedge game.  I’m still not consistently putting the ball on the green or close to the flag from about 120 yards and in.  That’s the one thing that scares me right now heading into this tournament as something that will stop me from shooting under par…I have to take advantage of good drives and at least give myself a realistic opportunity for birdie.  My distance control hasn’t been consistent and my miss seems to be a block.  These courses at PGA West are very difficult (same courses they play at PGA Tour Q-School) so when you get a chance with a wedge in your hand to put it close you must take advantage to score low.  That is something I’ll be working on this next week both on the course and at the range and hopefully I’ll be more confident in it heading into next weekend.

Here are my scores for this past week:

8/4/14

The Vineyard Escondido Par 70 71.0/126 6,531 Yards

Score: 72 (+2) FW: 7/14 GIR: 12/18 Putts: 31 Up/Down: 4/5 Sand Save: 1/1 Penalties: 1

8/6/14

The Vineyard Escondido Par 70 71.0/126 6,531 Yards

Score: 74 (+4) FW: 11/14 GIR: 11/18 Putts: 32 Up/Down: 5/8 Sand Save: 0/1 Penalties: 0

8/7/14

Oaks North Executive Par 60 South/North 56.8/89 3,608 Yards

Score: 56(-4) FW: 3/6 GIR: 11/18 Putts: 25 Up/Down: 4/7 Sand Saves: 1/1 Penalties: 0

7/14/14

The Vineyard Golf Course 6,531 Yards Par 70 (Blue: 71.0/126)

Score: 70(E) FW: 12/14 GIR: 13/18 Putts: 33 Up/Down: 3/6 Sand Save: 0/1 Penalties: 0

One of my best ball striking rounds of my life today and it should have been my 2nd under par round, but I blew it by 3 putting the par 5 15th for par after sticking it about 15 ft for eagle…ridiculous!!!  I drove it great all day, 12 out of 14 fairways is the most I’ve ever had.  Gave me some great opportunities to hit it close, finished with 13GIR, should have been a bit better, but missed a couple wedges.  Was only 3 of 6 on up and downs because I missed a bunch of putts again.  Hit two of my best shots ever on the 551 yard Par 5 15th…I’ve never gotten to that green in two before as it always plays into the wind and it’s slightly uphill, but today I absolutely bombed a drive down the middle, 316.  Had 235 uphill and into the wind, took a 5 wood and hit a perfect shot, landed high and soft right at the flag and stopped 15ft for eagle!  A pretty straight putt also, little left to the right slightly uphill, I don’t know what happened mentally, but I botched it and left it a good 5ft short! Obviously I lipped out my next putt to 3 putt for par after having hit back to back great shots.  I was proud of myself for what I did on the next hole however, hardest hole on the course and I hit a 300 yard 3 wood down the middle and then an 8iron to about 6 inches!  A great bounce back tap-in birdie, but I still finished at Even for the round.  Should have been at least 1-under, but because I 3 putted the par 5, I have to live with my sadness.     

7/15/14

Oaks North Executive Par 60 South/North 56.8/89 3,608 Yards

Score: 60(E) FW: 4/6 GIR: 13/18 Putts: 32 Up/Down: 2/5 Sand Saves: 0/1 Penalties: 0

They were having the Junior Worlds over at Oaks North today for the 7-8 age group.  Saw some very talented youngsters, but I decided to play a little too so I didn’t watch much.  Ended up shooting an even par 60, ball striking continued to be very solid, but my putting continues to be a struggle.  I missed so many 6-12 foot birdie putts, just having zero confidence in my stroke right now…I need to fix this, I’m letting so many opportunities go to waste.  On a good note, I hit another awesome 5 wood to about 12ft for eagle on one of the par 4s, but lipped out the eagle.  At least I didn’t 3 putt it like the day before!  I’ll figure out this putting soon, I’m going to keep working on it.

7/16/14

The Vineyard Golf Course 6,531 Yards Par 70 (Blue: 71.0/126)

Score: 75(+5) FW: 9/14 GIR: 11/18 Putts: 31 Up/Down: 2/5 Sand Save: 0/1 Penalties: 1

A putting struggle on the front 9 missed three consecutive 4ft or less putts on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th holes…not a fun way to start out.  Hit it into the hazard on the par 3 6th and took a double bogey.  Was (+5) after 6 holes today, but played well the rest of the way to finish at only +5 for the round.  Not my best ball striking round, but still had overall solid numbers.  Started to figure out my putting near the end, so I decided to keep going and play another 9 holes before dark.

9 Holes

Score: 33(-2) FW: 5/7 GIR: 9/9 Putts: 16 Up/Down: 0/0 Sand Save: 0/0 Penalties: 0

A great way to end the night, was playing quick and maybe that actually helped me, shot a (-2) over this quick front 9 holes!  Was hitting driver actually on most holes and drove it real well and hit all 9 greens.  Found a little something in my putting setup that seemed to work and I made a couple nice birdie putts and some good par putts.  Feels good to get this under par score in to end the day, feeling good going into tomorrow.

golf-course11I’ve been playing alright in the few weeks following my first under par round…not as great as I would like, but still solid golf.  My ball striking has been close to the same, but my putting and chipping has been spotty.  If I’m making the 3-6 footers that day then I will score low, but even when I’m not, I’m still breaking 80.  I had a close call for another under par round the other day, but finished with a +1 total round. (-1) on the front, (+2) on the back.  Had another 9 holes under par at the carmel highlands shooting a back 9 of (-1), but a front 9 of (+5)!  So yea, I’ve still got the game to shoot another under par round, maybe I’m putting a little bit of added pressure on myself to do it again to prove to myself that it wasn’t a fluke.  I want to get at least one more under par round before the palm springs tournament in 6 weeks, just going to keep trying to get a little better each day and the scores will take care of themselves.

Here are my stats for my last 6 rounds since my last post:

6/30/14

The Vineyard Golf Course 6,531 Yards Par 70 (Blue: 71.0/126)

Score: 77 (+7) FW: 7/14 GIR: 9/18 Putts: 32 Up/Down: 2/6 Sand Save: 0/3 Penalties: 1

My first round since my under par on this same course and I shot a disappointing +7.  I was just a little bit off from the tee on this day and I found a total of 5 fairway bunkers!  Never hit it in that many fairway bunkers before in a single round and I found 3 green side bunkers as well (0/3 in saves).  Still hit 50% of FW’s and Green’s, but it was a struggle of a day.

7/2/14

 The Vineyard Golf Course 6,531 Yards Par 70 (Blue: 71.0/126)

Score: 71 (+1) FW: 9/14 GIR: 10/18 Putts: 30 Up/Down: 5/7 Sand Save: 0/1 Penalties: 0

I thought that this might be my 2nd under par round, but it was not to be.  Shot a solid -1 on the front 9, but 2 over on the back.  Couldn’t convert a lot of makeable birdie opportunities down the stretch.  Had an eagle on the par 5 9th hole, which was cool, but actually had a bogey on the drivable par 4 7th, which I almost never do anymore.  I did throw a 3 putt in there as well, but either way, a very solid round that I was happy with.

7/3/14

The Crossings at Carlsbad 6,835 Yards Par 72 (Black: 72.6/132)

Score: 79 (+7) FW: 8/14 GIR: 11/18 Putts: 36 Up/Down: 1/5 Sand Save: 0/1 Penalties: 3

My friend had a couple free rounds at the Crossings in Carlsbad, a beautiful semi private club and gave me an invite.  It was so much fun, I’ve always wanted to play this course, but it is so expensive.  An extremely challenging track with multiple undulations on just about every green and with no course knowledge, it’s difficult to know where to hit it into a lot of blind greens.  I actually played much better than my score would indicate, was only +2 going into the final 5 holes, but then I fell apart.  Had 3 penalties, and a 3 putt, very disappointing ending to the round, as I played really well all day.  Played from the tips as I always do and at 6,835yards it’s one of the longest courses around this area.  Also couldn’t make any putts, I hit it really well, but 2 putted every hole except one 3 putt and one 1 putt…not good.

7/5/14

Carmel Highlands Golf Resort 6,428 Yards Par 72 (Blue: 71.4/129)

Score: 76 (+4) FW: 9/14 GIR: 9/18 Putts: 31 Up/Down: 3/9 Sand Save: 0/0 Penalties: 1

Honestly, I hit the ball well enough on this day, that I should have shot about +1 at the worst!  Missed two less than 3 footers on the first and 3rd holes, was green side in 2 on the par 5 6th, before sculling it out of a bunker that was basically concrete into a hazard and making bogey.  Had about 3 or 4 other putts that decided to lip out or die across the hole…a very frustrating round.  On a positive note after a horrible +5 41 on the front 9, I shot a (-1) on the back with a streak of birdies on 15, 16 and 17, before a bogey on 18 from only 70 yards out.

7/7/14

The Vineyard Golf Course 6,531 Yards Par 70 (Blue: 71.0/126)

Score: 75 (+5) FW: 8/14 GIR: 11/18 Putts: 33 Up/Down: 3/5 Sand Save: 0/1 Penalties: 0

Started off playing well, birding the difficult #1 hole and shooting even par 35 on the front 9, but the back 9 was a different story however.  Always difficult, the back 9 at Vineyard got the best of me…shot a disappointing +5 40, with a lot of not so good shots.  Sculled one out of the green side bunker at #13 and ended up taking a double bogey 6.  I’ve done that 2 rounds in a row because of tightly compacted sand, I keep trying to play it like a normal bunker shot, but the bounce of the club just skips off the hard dirt and sculls it.  I know now that I need to play it with a lot steeper angle of attack and a more square face…cost me the last 2 rounds.

7/9/14

The Vineyard Golf Course 6,531 Yards Par 70 (Blue: 71.0/126)

Score: 73(+3) FW: 9/14 GIR: 9/18 Putts: 28 Up/Down: 4/6 Sand Save: 0/3 Penalties: 1

A solid round of golf today, missed a few birdies coming down the stretch that I thought for sure were in when they were rolling toward the cup, but nothing wanted to drop.  I only had 28 putts today, was making a lot of putts for par, but continued to struggle out of the sand.  Had one that was buried in the lip, so I don’t expect to get that up and down, but I hit another one to about 2 and a half feet on #14 and missed the putt!  I hit a lot of solid golf shots over my last 6 holes today, so I’m feeling good for the rest of the week going forward.

I had my ups and downs over my last 6 rounds, but I feel overall I continued to strike the ball really well.  I’m now consistently hitting about 50% or more of the fairways each round now and that feels great because I have been working hard in that area of my game.  On these last 6 rounds, I was 50/84 in FW’s, just about 60%!  Just about 3 or 4 months ago, I was only hitting about 30-40% of FW’s on average, so it feels good to see this progress.  It’s giving me a lot more opportunities and my scores reflect that.  The one negative I take from these past 6 rounds is my sand game. I was 0 for 9 on sand saves, but I’d say about 5 of the 9 I hit within 10ft, but missed every putt.  It’s frustrating to not convert a couple saves from the sand and it’s getting to the point where I can’t remember the last time I did…so that’s not good!