It's easy to talk about being in a better place mentally on the golf course, but for Kyle Reifers it's been a big key to his success this season on the Nationwide Tour.
Reifers is comfortably ranked No. 7 on the Tour's money list with a little more than $200,000 and can afford to take this week off to recharge his batteries. The Nationwide Tour moves to Overland Park, Kansas for the Midwest Classic Presented by Time Warner Cable.
Reifers played five-straight weeks and basically turned around his season to where now he can look ahead to a second crack at the PGA TOUR in 2012.
"It's really been pretty smooth for the last month or so," said Reifers, who during one stretch was a cumulative 48 under par as he got into the spirit making a lot of birdies. "I'm not really worried about throwing shots away as much as I used to be and I'm just trying to look at the overall picture. Playing golf, as crazy as it sounds, is more mental than anything and I think when you are playing well things don't bother you as much."
Reifers started his hot streak after two missed cuts in late June. He finished tied for 22nd at the Chiquita Classic, then caught a break in the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational when he finished tied for second. Amateur Harris English won the tournament and since Reifers tied with another amateur, John Peterson, for second Reifers took home the first-place check of $144,000.
That Reifers won the first-place money, one of the largest of the season on the Nationwide Tour, was a break but Reifers isn't about to apologize for it.
"I still had to hit the shots and get in position and I was proud of that," Reifers said about his near-win.
Reifers, a 2006 graduate of Wake Forest, is 27 and is a veteran of the Nationwide Tour after playing one season on the PGA TOUR in 2007. He came out of Wake Forest and won his first Nationwide Tour tournament in his first start at the 2006 Chattanooga Classic.
When he reached the PGA TOUR in 2007 he admits now to being somewhat unprepared, but wouldn't trade that season for anything.
"I played a few Nationwide events, then got my PGA TOUR card and was out there pretty quick after college," Reifers said. "Then I'm out there warming up next to Tiger and Vijay and Phil and you kind of feel like you have to work on stuff you see them doing when in reality you have to do what you need to do."
Reifers said he would watch Singh practice for hours and think that's what he should be doing.
"Nobody can practice that much except Vijay so I think I kind of fell into that a little bit," Reifers said.
Even though Reifers had that experience on the PGA TOUR he says getting more experience these last four years on the Nationwide Tour have been beneficial.
During that full season on the PGA TOUR, Reifers made just nine cuts in 27 events and had two top-25 showings. He finished a distant 181st on the FedExCup points list that season.
To help Reifers regain his confidence he turned to his father, Randy, an accomplished senior amateur from Ohio, who is in the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame, his college coach, Jerry Haas, and he's also received help from Billy Harmon.
"I've kind of pieced everything together and I've got a great support group," Reifers said.
One of Reifers' teammates at Wake Forest was Bill Haas, who is having one of his best seasons on the PGA TOUR. Haas, who was one of just 11 players this season to make the cut in all four majors, says that there's no question that Reifers will fare much better in his second try on the PGA TOUR.
Haas, 29, also needed a season on the Nationwide Tour before he turned into a consistent performer on the PGA TOUR.
"Absolutely, Kyle's a good enough player to stay out here," Haas said. "He's earned it and he's a good enough player. I think what translates well on the PGA TOUR is his ability to get into the top 20 or top 10 and he seems to be doing that a lot better these days."
Haas also said Reifers will know the courses a little better having gone through a full season on the PGA TOUR.
"I think when you are a little older you have more patience and things come a little easier and Kyle will find that out next season," Haas said. "I'm excited that there'll be another former Deacon on the PGA TOUR."
Reifers kept pushing after his tie for second and wound up tied for 18th in Utah, then slipped a little to tie for 49th at the Cox Classic before finishing tied for 25th on Sunday at the Price Cutter Charity Championship.
While Reifers credits his mental game for his turnaround he also admitted over the last two years he's experimented with equipment to find the right fit. And once he found the right combination his confidence grew.
"It's kind of a double whammy when you are comfortable with your equipment and your confidence level is high it makes things easier," Reifers said.
As for looking ahead to 2012 Reifers is more focused on continuing to do well on the Nationwide Tour.
"I just know that I'll be better prepared for the PGA TOUR this time around," Reifers said.
John Dell has covered golf for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina for the last 18 years. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.