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#STINGDAILY: Complete Abandonment

Oct. 9, 2013

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Seth Reeves is fighting the same fight that he and all golfers always do, but he’s winning now more than ever and that’s not even a reference to his back-to-back tournament titles.

The fifth-year senior has relaxed like never before, and it showed over the weekend when he shot 70-68-69 to share medalist honors at the Brickyard Collegiate at nine-under par 207.

“I’m playing without fear. Physically, I don’t think my swing has changed. I’m just calmer,” he said Monday. “I’m not necessarily playing to win. I’m just playing a shot at a time, just enjoying it. I kind of had an up and down start, but I knew if I just kept swinging freely things would be OK. If I play poorly, I can live with it.”

This can be chalked up in the category of often-easier-said-than-done.

Reeves began the fall season with back-to-back rounds of 74 at the Carpet Capital Collegiate near Dalton, and then closed with a 67 to finish tied for 11th place.

That was the first of seven straight rounds he’s fired at 70 or lower, and he hasn’t lost since. After taking medalist honors at the Tar Heel Intercollegiate with rounds of 69-69-70=208 and then sharing honors at the Brickyard, his record this fall is 227-10.

Not bad for a guy who at times has been brutally hard on himself.

“I’ve had people tell me that I’m swinging afraid. I just kind of got to a point where I was like, ‘You know what? Let’s try it.’ I have complete abandonment when I’m over the ball,” Reeves explained. “Once you get used to it, it’s not scary anymore.”

There may be more to this than the Duluth native simply calming himself. Reeves has practiced less, a lot less, this fall than in the past.

A thumb injury limited him dramatically between the Carpet Capital and UNC tournaments. Then, between the Tar Heel and the Brickyard his heavy academics left practice opportunities scarce.

That in turn prompted Reeves to fine tune his practice times so that his work was very specific each time out.

“I used to practice as hard as I could and grind and wear myself out even before a tournament. Now, I do what’s necessary and just leave,” he said. “If you’re out there long enough, you can start to question yourself and tweak. I’ll go for two hours, and have a plan rather than four and just mess around. I really make every minute count.

“Plus, I think it’s good to be fresh coming into a tournament. We had so much school between UNC and this tournament, it was like exams week. The only thing I can take away from that is that it didn’t allow me to tweak anything.”

Actually, Reeves tweaked his approach a bit during the Tar Heel Intercollegiate, and it didn’t work.

“I had a bad stretch and that was because I was nursing it. I tried to go back to protect mode. It was second round . . . I was in a fairway on a par 5, my 12th hole. The wind was blowing a certain way, and I wanted to guide it up there. I wanted to protect, and I went bogey, bogey, double. 

“I was really upset with myself because I was letting myself do that, and I said, ‘Screw it, you’ve got to play with abandonment,’ and I went par, birdie, birdie. That was a big lesson. It proved that I need to play that way.”

The relaxed Reeves is the real deal, and his teammates have noticed.

“I think I’m hitting a little further. I’m not holding on, not protecting, just letting it go,” he said. “Ollie told me at the last tournament, ‘Man, your swing looks really good, really fluid.’ Those guys would know the best because they’re with me every day.”

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