Disappointing missed cut for Padraig at the US Open. On the wrong side of the draw, he still played poorly to shoot two rounds of 76 to leave himself at twelve over par. The cut line is expected to be five over par. A first round that took two days to complete because of the terrible wet weather left Padraig with a mountain to climb as he played his first six holes in five over par in truly horrible conditions before the round was abandoned for the day as the course became waterlogged. He completed the round Friday in one over to post a six over par round of 76. Starting his second round on the back nine Saturday he again played poorly but gave a masterclass in the short game to be two under par after five holes but thereafter it all went awry on a very difficult course that punishes any stray shots. Back to the drawing board!
It's the second major of the year as Padraig gets ready for one of golfs toughest tests, Bethpage Black. It is a course that Padraig likes and he played well here the last time the US Open was staged here in 2002. The course is playing softer and longer this time and will be a stern test. He tees off early in round one at 8.05am with Tiger Woods and Angel Cabrerra. He will be hoping to rediscover some good form as he attempts to hold three major championships at once!
US Open - Preview
I am in New York for the US Open; it is being played at Bethpage Black for the second time. The first time it was held here was in 2002 and I finished 8th. I remember it well as it was also the first time that I played with Tiger in a tournament, we were in the last group on the Saturday. I remember the course being long and the greens being exceptionally fast - the fastest greens that I have ever putted on. One of the hardest things about the greens here in 2002 was trying to figure out if your putt was uphill or downhill; they are so flat in some areas that I couldn’t figure out which way the putt moved. The other thing that I remember and really enjoyed about the last US Open here was the crowds; the New York crowds are brilliant. They are much more boisterous than any other state in America; they can be great to you if they like you or terrible if they don’t like you. If they get on your back then it can be a long week! Luckily for me the last time and infact any other time I have played golf in the New York area the crowds have been great to me.
After missing the cut in Memphis last week I decided to come to New York straight away; I wanted to get settled in early and play the course over the weekend. There is a lot going on at any major but this one in particular is busy and there are big crowds out watching the practice rounds. By getting here on Saturday I was able to play two practice rounds over the weekend with very little stress. There were very few people watching and hardly anyone playing the course so I was able to take my time and have a good look at the course. The other big advantage of having played it over the weekend was that I could take it easy for the first half of the week. I decided to only play two nine holes spread out over Monday to Wednesday and to do as little as possible so as to be mentally fresh come Thursday. With everything that is going on at a Major there is a lot of stress, just being at the course is stressful.
This is the second major of the year; for the first one I went into it with a lot of hype from the media as I was trying to win my third in a row. This time I am coming in with no hype; I have missed my last three cuts and have not performed that well so far this year. However as far as I am concerned I am turning up here to try and win the Championship, I know that media and the public base their opinions on how I have performed but thankfully I don’t. I know that I have prepared well for this week and that I am in a good frame of mind; I am not denying that I would prefer to be teeing it up this week with some good results under my belt but that said I am still very confident in how I have prepared. It is the same way as I have prepared for the last number of years and it has brought me some success; I take confidence from this and not from how I have performed this year.
In 2002 when we last played here this was one of the longest golf courses in Major history, if not the longest. It measured 7,214 yards in 2002; for this years US Open it measures 7,426 yards; over two hundred yards has been added. This year it is playing very long as it is very wet; it has been raining here in New York for the last few weeks. When we played here in 2002 the rough was treacherous; if you were in it you had to just chip out whereas this year you can actually get the ball to the green. Over the last few years the USGA have made a concerted effort to set the course up so as not to penalize those that are only just missing the fairways. The set up of the course here this year is fantastic; it is definitely one of the fairest US Opens that I have ever played in. I was asked in my press conference which holes were key to a good round; I told them that I couldn’t pick out any one or two holes as there were so many holes that were important. There are probably eight or nine holes that it is important to hit the fairways on; it is always important to hit fairways in a US Open but this year there are some holes that it is not as crucial as other. The long par fours are ones that you feel that you have to hit as it is just not possible to get to the green from the rough as you are so far out. Normally at a US Open it is the man that hit the fairway that is King, he doesn’t have to be long but this year it a huge advantage to be a good long driver. It definitely sets up for someone that hits it long and straight and can putt.
I am paired with Tiger and Cabrera for the first two rounds; it was not a surprise as we hold the four majors between us. It is always good to be in the feature groups but the drawback to this group is the fact that there is going to be so much going on. Any group with Tiger in it always has a lot more attention and crowds. There are always more people moving around and getting settled before you play; the main thing is to be aware of this and not to get stressed about it. The crowd will be boisterous this week anyway so it is not actually a bad week to be paired with him. I enjoy playing with him as it actually helps me get focused; there is so much going on that I have to be into my preparations and focus so as not to get distracted. It definitely helps being with Tiger; it is more like being in contention as there is so much more buzz from the crowd.
As far as this week is concerned I am happy with my preparation; I feel that I have done everything right this week and that I have made sure not to do too much. I have kept myself fresh so that I am mentally ready come Thursday. I could bore you about how I am happy with how I am hitting the ball but I have been saying that for the last few weeks. I am not at all distressed about the fact that I haven’t performed great in my last few events; I am looking forward to getting started on Thursday and hopefully getting myself into contention come Sunday evening.
Talk to you soon, Padraig.