Padraig's Tour Diary - Review
Missing the cut here at the Memorial was not exactly what I had hoped for. I shot eight over par for the two rounds which was four outside the cut mark in the end. While the scores seem quite bad they actually were not. I was very disappointed to have missed the cut as I felt that I did a lot of very good things in the two rounds I played. Of the last four tournaments I have played in I have missed three cuts; which sounds quite bad but I am in no way worried about my form. I have done a lot of good work over the last few months and I am confident that it will make a big difference to my game in the long run.
I hadn’t played here in Jack Nicklaus’ tournament for quite a while and in that time I had forgotten how good the course was. The thing is that as good as the course is, it still penalizes you when you hit a bad shot. Every hole has a place where you just can’t miss on, the fairways are wide but the main defense is the greens. Over the two rounds I put myself on the wrong side of a couple of holes and I was made to pay for it.
I got off to a bad start in the first round by bogeying two of the first four holes; the second and the fourth. My bogey on the second was a result of a bad drive and my bogey on the fourth was down to missing the green on the wrong side and so it was practically impossible to save par. I did get the shots back on the fifth and sixth after I hit it through the fifth in two and chipped and putted for birdie and then on the sixth I hit my second shot stiff. These were the only birdies that I made in the round! I parred my way to the 13th; I three putted the 13th and then took three to get down from the edge on the 14th. Both of these two dropped shots were very poor as I was no more than 30 feet from the hole both times. In the end I made another bogey on the 17th to put me three over par which I finished on. It was a disappointing round as I could so easily have shot level par which wouldn’t have been a bad score, but two silly mistakes cost me the chance of shooting a reasonable round.
Going out for the second round I new that I would make the cut if I shot one over par or better, but I wasn’t really thinking about the cut. I was thinking about shooting a good score and getting myself into the tournament. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do either! I ended up shooting five over par for the round; making five bogeys, one double bogey and two birdies. This round came down to a couple of shots as well; on the 14th I hit my hybrid into the water from the tee and then on the 3rd hole I hit my hybrid into the rough on the right which cost me a double bogey after I then hit my eight iron into the water. While it might seem that it was actually down to more than a couple of shots it really was just a couple of shots each day. The first day it was the 13th and 14th that cost me; my first putt on 13 and then my chip shot on the 14th. The second round came down to a couple of hybrids that I mishit from the tees. I put myself out of position with them and it cost me at least three shots in the second round. The thing was that I wasn’t able to make up any shots as I just didn’t hole anything in two rounds. I made four birdies and they were all tap ins. This also meant that every time I was out of position and was trying to recover I just couldn’t hole the putt to save myself. It was ultimately about four shots and the fact that I had 32 putts in both rounds that cost me.
Having missed the cut I stayed on at Muirfield to do some practice before heading to Memphis. I spent my time working on my routines and then my short game; I wasn’t doing any technical practice. When I sat down and thought about the week I actually wasn’t too disappointed as I felt that I did a lot of good things over the two rounds. My attitude on the course was much better and I felt that I hit a lot of good shots. I could see that my short game could have been better which would have saved me and that is why I spent the weekend working on it.
I have one more tournament before the US Open; the St. Jude Classic in Memphis. I did well in it the same event last year and I really like the course so hopefully I can get back on track. I know that if I stick to what I was doing last week then it will turn around quickly.
Padraig's Tour Diary - Preview
Most of my practice was done in my second week off. Bob came over to me for a few days and we worked on a number of things. He was very happy with how everything was looking although as ever he had a few small things for me to concentrate on. The two weeks away from tournaments was actually very enjoyable as it enabled me to get more work done as well as taking a break. One of the corporate outings that I did was for Wilson at Turnberry; I have never played at Turnberry either as an amateur or a professional so it was great to get over and see the course. It played very different to what I imagine it will play like come the Open, even so I felt that it was a very worthwhile outing as I now have a good picture of the course and a feel for the type of shots and parts of my game that will need to be sharp come the middle of July.
This week I am back in the States for Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament. It has been five years since I last played here. It is normally a week earlier and so hasn’t fit into my schedule but this year everything seems to be a week later and so it works. I played here two or three times before and loved the course and the way it was set up; the funny thing is that I had kind of forgotten how good it was until I arrived here on Tuesday. It wasn’t until I got out on the course that I began to remember how much I liked it.
My last three tournaments were not great as far as results go but I was happy with how my swing changes were progressing. After the two weeks off I am very happy with where everything is going but I am fully aware that I need to forget about what I am working on when I get to the course and, for the time being at least, at tournaments as well. I am here to get back into playing golf and not to work on my swing. Like every week I am here to try and win the tournament but I am also here to help get myself ready for the US Open in two weeks. This is the first of three events that ends with the US Open in Bethpage. Over the last few years my preparation for majors has been to try and play the two events before the major so as to make sure that I am fully ready to play by the time that I get there. With everything that I have been doing with my swing so far this year it means that I have to be very disciplined this week and next week so as to ensure that when I get to Bethpage that I am ready to play.
Coming back here wasn’t a hard decision when I saw that it would fit into my schedule as I really liked the course in previous years. As I was saying it wasn’t until I played it again this week that I realized how much I liked it. Jack always sets up the course in great condition and extremely fair; the fairways are wide and the greens are big but the key here is that you have to hit it to the right place. This is a great course from tee to green; it is well bunkered and has a number of great holes however for me the best thing about Murifield Village is the greens. Like Augusta it is not just about hitting the green it is about making sure that you hit it in the right spot and that you don’t miss it in the wrong spot. If you start missing greens on the wrong side here then you have no chance of making a score. The greens can get lightning quick and so anything on the short side is practically impossible to get up and down from. As a test of golf it is hard to find better than on this course, as every aspect of you game is tested.
I arrived here on Monday night, played 12 holes on Tuesday and then nine on Wednesday. This year there was no pro-am, instead there was a skins game between eight players, of which I was one. I played with Jim Furyk, Camillo Villeagas and Vijay Singh. It was played over the back nine and was to raise money for the First Tee charity. The weather was miserable, it was cold and wet pretty much like a miserable day at home and the course was playing really long and tough. Camillo and Vijay were leading our skins going up the last but there were three skins available on the last hole. Both Camillo and Jim parred the last which meant that we had a chip off to see who won the final three skins and the most money. I was last to play in the chip off which was a great advantage as the greens were very fast and they picked a tough chip for us to negotiate. Having seen the three guys go ahead of me I got a good feel for the chip; I played it with a lob wedge and hit it to about five feet which was the closest. I hadn’t really looked like winning a skin before this but I ended up winning the most - it was a great feeling!
The course played so different from Tuesday to Wednesday, as it was cold and wet on Wednesday and beautiful on Tuesday. On Wednesday the course was a real brut, it played real long and then the greens were really fast. It measures just under 7,300 yards but as I was saying it is not the length that is the real issue, but it is the greens. The length certainly adds to it but it is not it main defense. As ever Jack has the place in fantastic shape, set up great, tough but fair. It will reward the people that play well; if you hit a good shot here you are rewarded and conversely if you hit a poor one you are going to be penalized.
I am here to try and win the tournament and the best way of doing this is by staying patient and keeping my focus. The secret for me is to get myself into contention come Sunday afternoon and then let things go from there. I am committed to forgetting about the technical work I have been doing and getting back to concentrating on playing. If I can start this week well then I know that I will be in good shape come the US Open. I am playing early on Thursday and then late on Friday with Steve Stricker and Charley Hoffman.
Talk to you soon, Padraig