Disappointing final round of five over par 77 sees Padraig slip down the leaderboard at the Shell Houston Open. Having started with a birdie three on his first hole he recorded five bogies and an ugly double bogie on his last hole. He now heads for Augusta in good form having made 21 birdies throughout the week, if he can eradicate the mistakes.
With a score of four under par 68 Padraig goes into the final round just 2 off the leaders and in tied 7th. Because of the weather delays throughout the week play will resume early on Sunday, with the field immediately continuing on to their fourth rounds.
Padraig continues to to make good progress up the leaderboard after a fine second round of 67 leaves him just 3 shots off the lead. Padraig added: "Being three off the lead is okay, and with 36 holes to go, I think a lot of people will have a chance to win. "My swing's improving. There were a few mistakes here and there, but a lot of good signs."
A day that started 2 ½ hours late when a pair of rainy storm fronts moved through the area came to an end around 3 p.m. when the round was suspended for the day due to high winds. When the players got back on the course Padraig completed his first round even with a par 72. This was made up of six birdies, four bogies and a double bogie on a rollar coaster day for scoring!
Padraig tees off at 8:10am local time with K.J. Choi and Charley Hoffman. Looking for a good week ahead of Augusta, Padraig said, “I’m obviously working on trying to peak for next week and I’ve got to show some signs of it this week. I’m totally focused on my mental game at the moment, I’m not trying to fix anything. I’m totally focused on getting my head in the right place.”
I am in Houston for my last tournament before the Masters; this has been my last warm up for the last two years. Over the last couple of years the Shell Houston Open has prepared the course to the highest level so as to give all players in the field that are playing in Augusta a good warm up. This year is no different; they have the course in absolutely fantastic condition this week. There is no doubt that this course is nothing like Augusta but they have set it up as close to it as they can. Last week was definitely a better week in terms of my game and focus but it could still have been a lot better. I am here this week in two minds; I am looking ahead to the Masters and also trying to get myself into contention this week so as to give myself the chance to hit shots under pressure.
There is no practice that you can do that is like having to hit shots under pressure, when you are coming down the back nine of any tournament and in contention it is totally different from practice. This is why I am always so keen to get myself into contention in the weeks before any big tournament as it is the best practice; while I am looking to get into contention I am definitely trying to win the tournament as well. I would be more than happy to go to Augusta on Sunday night having won this week, some people feel that winning the week before a Major is a negative but I would be delighted to have that negative going into next week!
There is a lot of distraction this week seeing as it is the last week before the first major of the year, the press are all looking for a story. For me that means that I am getting a lot of questions about the so called “Paddy Slam” they all want to know how I am feeling and what my thoughts are regarding it. The thing that I keep saying is that I am not getting caught up in the fact that I have a chance to win three majors in a row. The fact that I am holding the last two is of no relevance to next week; I will be going to Augusta in the same frame of mind and with the same routine as the last couple of years. It would be easy for me to get caught up in the hype, particularly this week!
I arrived here on Sunday night from Orlando; Monday was a pretty easy day. I took the morning off and then did some practice in the afternoon. On Tuesday I spent most of the day practicing, I mixed it up between my long game and my short game. I only played six holes on Tuesday as I have played this course for the last three years; I was more interested in working on my game and focus. I played the pro-am on Wednesday morning, this doubled up as my practice round as well; the course hadn’t changed from last year so I actually could have got away without a practice round if I wanted. I have done some good work on my mental game during the week and I am looking forward to getting going to see how it is in competition.
This is another very long course, it measures 7,457 yards; but it is firm this year and so isn’t playing its full length. Since it moved to the week before the Masters they have set the course up with very little rough to make it like Augusta and they have tried to firm up the greens and get them as fast as they possibly can.
The signature hole of the course is the 18th, it measures 486 yards and plays as a par four. There is water all down the left, from the tee to the green, and a big fairway bunker on the right. It is a daunting tee shot as you need to be on the fairway to give yourself the best chance of making a par. Even after a good drive it is not easy as the water looms for the second shot as well; on top of this you have a big undulating green to contend with!
It is a long course but because they set it up so well and get the greens in such great condition the scoring is usually quite good. Generally there are a few players that tend to play very well and the rest of the field tends to lag behind a bit.
I am here to try and win the tournament but also with a mind on next week, for instance I have changed my lob wedge to one with less bounce because it is more suited to Augusta. It is not necessarily best suited to this week but I want to use it this week to get used to it. The main thing for me is to make sure that I do not try to win the tournament from the first round, while the scoring is usually good here the key is to be patient for the first three rounds and to have a chance come Sunday. If I can get into contention come Sunday then it will be great preparation for next week as well as having a chance to win this week.