Life is a lot easier when you play badly and then all of a sudden you get in contention and win one. No one gets on your back. When you finish runner-up seven times, everyone is asking, 'Why aren't you winning?' It's much more fun when you jump into a win out of the blue. It's a much tougher game when you play consistently well.

Buick Invitational

Entry Date:
Feb 4, 2009

A fine final round of four under par 68 sees Padraig finish in a tie for 24th place in his first tournament of the year on the USPGA Tour. He recorded only one bogie on the day at the par five 6th hole and the highlight of the day was an eagle three on the par five 18th (his 9th) hole. He now heads for a favourite course of his, Riviera Golf club, which has in his opinion one of the best short par fours on Tour, the 10th at Riviera.

Third round of two over par 74 leaves Padraig in a tie for 50th place after three round of the Buick Invitational. Out in level par after mixing an early bogie with a birdie on the par five 18th hole, he had a disasterous double bogie six on the tough par four 4th hole so he will be hoping for a low round Sunday to help him climb the leaderboard. He tees off in the final round at 9.25am local time (5.25pm GMT).

A second round of two over par 74 on the tougher South course sees Padraig finish at one over par but playing at the weekend by just one shot. Two over par after his first four holes and three over after thirteen holes, he rallied well to birdie the next two holes to give himself the chance to iron out any problems in his game. He tees off at 7.55am local time (3.55pm GMT) and is looking for a solid round to kickstart his season.

Par 3 woes contributed to a disappointing start to the Buick International for Padraig as a three and four putt scuppered his chances of a low opening round. He eventually signed off for a one under par 71 and is in a tie for 33rd place. A fantatstic start saw him three under par after four holes and crusing on the easier North course but he failed to take advantage as his playing partner, Camilo Villegas, shot the lights out with a nine under par total to lead the field. He now tackles the harder South course todayat 8.50am local time (4.50pm GMT).

Padraig is back Stateside for the start of a four week run on the USPGA Tour. Having arrived last Sunday, he has been hard at practice as he gears up for the first major of the year at his favourite course on the USPGA Tour, Augusta National. He tees off this week at another of his favourite courses, Torrey Pines, a public course that memorably held last years US Open. He tees off in round one on the North course at 10am local time (6pm GMT) with Marc Turnesa and Camilo Villegas.

Padraigs Tour Diary

I am in San Diego for my first US Tour event of the year, the Buick Invitational. It is my first time playing this event, although last year's US Open was my first time playing Torrey Pines. I thought it was a great course and so when I was looking at my schedule I was delighted to be able to come back here for another try at the course. This week we play the two courses, the North and the South; the US Open was played on the South last year. While I really enjoyed the course I didn’t really perform that well here, finishing in a tie for 36th. I left here very disappointed with my performance as I played quite well for the week but struggled on and around the greens. Hopefully the will be kinder to me this week.

Since Abu Dhabi I have been at home practicing on a number of things, mainly the same things that I had been working on since last year and then a couple of areas that I felt needed some work after I analysed my first tournament of the year. I am here in the States for a run of four events and I have to try and get away from all the practice that I have been doing and get myself back into playing mode. This is always the hardest thing for me at the start of a year. No matter how much I try to get myself ready before I come to an event I always seem to be struggling to be ready. Historically it has taken me a number of events to get back into the swing of things and to feel comfortable with my game. This week seems to be no different - I have been trying to get my head around being here to play a tournament but, as ever, I find it very hard to switch from practice mode to playing mode.

I arrived here in California on Sunday, with Monday spent at the Titelist Performance Institute which was founded by Dr. Greg Rose and Dave Phillips. Whenever I am on this side of the States I go to TPI - this fantastic facility provides a biomechanical analysis of your swing which breaks it down into the smallest of details. As I am very technical with my swing, I always look forward to meeting Greg and Dave to see how everything is working and see how all my winter work is progressing as the feedback is so detailed. It lets me see how much every part of my body is moving during my swing. Not only how it is moving but also by how much and when too; it puts almost a mathematical spin to it. As ever with my trips to TPI, Greg and Dave leave me with plenty to think about!

This weeks tournament is played over two courses, one I have played and the other I have never seen before. I played the South course on Tuesday and the North course on Wednesday in the Pro-am. The funniest thing about coming back here to play a regular event has been the difference in the set up for the tournament. When I stood on the 1st tee on Tuesday I was amazed to see another hole to the right of the fairway, which I hadn’t seen last June. It turns out that it is the 1st hole of the North course and the reason that I hadn’t seen it was because of the marquee that was down the right hand side. Playing on Tuesday was exactly what I needed; my brain is still quite scrambled after all my weeks practicing. I tried to get myself back into the mental side of the game to get away from the technical thoughts, but it didn’t work very well. The best thing about the day was the weather; it was a glorious sunny day with practically no wind, totally unlike what home is like as I believe that it was snowing on Tuesday. Wednesday I played the pro-am on the course that I hadn’t seen before. Again it was a struggle as I still found myself thinking about what I was working on over the winter as I was standing over the ball. I did get to have a good look around the course but not quite a much as I would have liked. I will definitely be at a disadvantage to the majority of the field as they will all know it very well.

Historically at this event the low scoring is done on the North course and I can see how people shoot low scores around it but it is certainly no push over. It is shorter than the South course and definitely lets you get your hands on more wedges but the greens are very tricky, if you put yourself on the wrong side of the hole then you can be in real trouble. After two days of practicing the courses I am still struggling with swing thoughts and wondering how I am going to hit it. I am a little unsure of what my game will be like come the first tee on Thursday; my practice hasn’t gone well and I would really like to have a few more days to get ready. I have been hitting a number of shots left during practice; normally I don’t mind this but this week even shots that felt good to me have gone left. This is the real problem; when your good shots are not coming out how you feel they should be it is a little disconcerting. I have spent a lot of time on the range trying to figure out what is going on but I think I have only confused myself even more. I am hopping that when I get on the tee on Thursday that it will all be ok. This can often be the case, as soon as you get going in the tournament and you totally forget about swing thoughts, it all comes good. At least that’s what I am hoping for.

I definitely don’t feel ready to play a tournament this week but its no surprise. I am here because I really liked the course in the US Open and wanted to come and play it again. The North course is a great test as well - it is easier but there is plenty of trouble out there if you are not careful. I am not sure what to expect come Thursday morning, it could be anything. I know that the key for me is to try and get myself in the right frame of mind and try not to be affected by any bad shots that I may hit. I would like to give myself a chance to win here but with the way my practice went that may be tough. Hopefully I got all my poor shots out of the way on Tuesday and Wednesday.

For my first three days here in San Diego the weather was fantastic and then once the tournament started it turned. It was like weather we would get at home, there were heavy rain showers and it got quite cold. However it wasn’t a big deal to me as I was too busy worrying about how I was playing to be concerned about the weather. By the time I got to the first tee on Thursday I was pretty much confused; I was struggling with a big hook in practice and I wasn’t able to do anything about it. I tried everything during the week to figure it out but to no avail. The only thing that I could do that helped was to weaken my grip.

My warm up on Thursday morning was no different to the previous few days, I was still hooking it. When I got to the first tee I was really struggling, not sure where the ball was going; even when I hit a decent shot it was tough going as I had so much fear in me. It was my driver that I was struggling with mostly; with the rest of the clubs it wasn’t as bad. They were still hooking but just not as much, but by weakening my grip I was able to get it around but the only problem with this was that it made me feel weak. However it was working fine as I birdied the first, third and fourth; every shot still felt like hard work but at least they were going in the general direction I wanted. I hit a poor tee shot on the par three sixth which cost me a bogey and dropped me back to two under. On the ninth I felt that I needed a good tee shot to be within range in two, but I went for a big drive and pulled it left which left me out of range. However I still made a birdie after a good pitch. My back nine was not good, I three putted the par three twelfth for a bogey and then four putted the par three seventeenth for a double bogey. A birdie on the last hole after I hit the green in two meant that I ended up shooting one under par for the day; I would definitely have taken it before I went out but in the end I was disappointed with my round. What a funny game golf is! When I finished up and looked at my round it wasn’t how I hit the ball that affected me, it was my short game, mainly my putting. A three putt and a four putt were disastrous especially as it meant that I only shot one under on the easier of the two courses.

Friday was another tough day for me on the course as I was still struggling. The weather was a lot worse than Thursday and I knew that I could be in danger of missing the cut if I wasn’t careful. I started on the 10th on the South course and nothing was happening for me; I made two bogeys on my front nine, the 11th and 13th. After a bogey on the 4th (my 13th hole) I was three over for the day and two over for the tournament and on the cut mark. This spurred me on to eventually hole a putt for birdie on my 14th hole and then I followed it up with another birdie on the par five 6th (my 15th). This got me back to level par for the tournament with three holes to play; now I was thinking if I could make a birdie or two I could get myself into the tournament. How quickly things change; going out I was thinking of the cut and now I am thinking about getting myself into the tournament. In the end I three putted the 8th hole, my 17th, for a bogey and then missed a six footer for birdie on the 9th; I finished with a two over par 74 and a one over total. Again I was disappointed with my finish but considering the way I played it was an achievement to make the cut.

The weekend was more of the same; Saturday I made two birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey. My double bogey came on the fourth hole, my 14th ; I hit my second shot onto the green but it ended up leaving me blocked out to putt so I decided to try and chip it. However I ended up duffing my chip shot and then three putting for a double bogey six. In the end I shot another round of two over par which by the end of the day actually moved me up a couple of places. After my round I spent a couple of hours on the range trying to work out what was wrong. In the end it felt as if my swing had gotten a bit short making me snatch at the ball.

I played on Sunday trying to think about making a longer swing; it definitely seemed to help. I wouldn’t say that it solved the problem but it definitely made it a little better. Again I started on the back nine, I got off to a flier of a start by birdying my first hole after a poor tee shot. Another birdie on my 4th hole (the 13th) put me 2 under and then an eagle on my 9th hole (the 18th) got me to the turn in four under. I parred everything to the 6th hole (my 15th) where I had a 15 footer for birdie; I caught the ground before the ball and ended up moving it only six feet and then missed the next putt to cost me a bogey. A birdie on my last hole meant that I shot four under which left me in 24th position.

If you had said to me on Wednesday that I would finish in a tie for 24th this week I would have taken your hand off. The way I was playing I really shouldn’t have made the cut, yet having made the cut I am disappointed that I didn’t do better. Looking back on the week I can pick out seven shots that I could easily have made up and they were all on the greens. I had a few three putts and on two greens I took four to get down. This is the ironic thing about the week, because I spent so long practicing my long game and trying to work out the problems there I ended up costing myself shots in my short game. All in all I am happy with my performance as I know I should never have made the cut yet I am not happy with how I am playing. Before next Thursday I need to figure out what I am doing wrong so that I can regain confidence on the course.

Talk to you all soon and thanks for calling by!

Padraig

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