Padraig's Tour Diary - The Open Championship Review
This time last year when I was writing this I was The Champion Golfer of the Year; this year I finished far from the Champion Golfer. It was a disappointing end to my year as the Open Champion; I would have liked to have got into contention to have a chance of defending my title.
Even though I came into this year’s Open with very little form I was still hopeful after my win at the Irish PGA. I always felt that I could still win here if I gave myself the chance. My opening round gave me more confidence that I was getting closer to where I wanted to be, I hit the ball well and my short game was very good. I had a lot of chances for birdie in the round but mostly from distances that you are hoping to hole but not expecting to. Over the four rounds I was very happy with how I hit the ball, I felt that I hit a lot of shots out of the middle of the club, probably more than I have ever hit. However as well as I hit the ball I just wasn’t trusting it enough, I was still being conservative and not taking on enough. Rounds of 69, 74, 76 and 73 left me on plus twelve for the tournament; fourteen shots away from the play-off. After my first round I felt that I had a good position to get myself into the tournament but my second round was not what I was looking for. Conditions were tough all day and I made a few mistakes that cost me shots; it was mainly mental mistakes. In the end I was thinking about making the cut rather than getting myself into contention; but I knew that anyone that made the cut could still win the tournament so I hadn’t given up. My third round started with great promise as I birdied the first and then had ten footer for another birdie on the second; which I missed. But that was the end of it really, I bogeyed the third and then it was a struggle from there in.
I could go through the rounds and talk about the shots I was happy with and the ones that I was unhappy with but in the end of the day I know that a lot of problems this week were down to bad preparation. As much as my form during the year adds to it, I know that if I was properly prepared for this week I would have done a lot better. I am not saying that I would have won or anything like that; all I am saying is that I would have had a better chance of getting into contention on Sunday with the proper preparation. I can see that clearly now but I can also see that the reason my preparation was not right was because of the work I have been doing all year. That said I was happy with the way I struck the ball during the week; I still struggled with some shots on the course, mainly in the left right winds but I am aware now of the problem and what I have to do to fix it.
I am writing this with disappointment that I didn’t give my defence a better run but also happy that I have made very good progress with regard to where I want to go with my swing and what I need to do to get there. I am aware that most of my season to date has been a washout but I am still confident that the short term pain will lead to long term gain. It would be great if I had a magic wand that I could wave and all the work that I have done and have to do was over and fully bedded in but that is just not possible.
I came away from this week more convinced than ever before that I am on the right track but more importantly that I doesn’t matter unless you get your mind right. If I can turn up to events and my mental approach and preparation is right then I will be in a good position to perform in any tournament. While I have known this for a long time I had forgotten it over the last few months due to all the technical work that I have done. The good news is that I have remembered it again!
Having failed to get myself into contention for this years Claret Jug I sat back and watched it all unfold like everyone else. It was great viewing, there were so many people that could have won it and in the end Stewart Cink prevailed. He played very well all week and crept up there quietly, I actually picked him out as the dark horse after my round on Sunday. As much as this years Open now belongs to Stewart I think the real story is going to be Tom Watson. Tom played great for four days and in the end was a little unlucky not to win. He hit a very good shot into the last that was unlucky to run through the green to leave him in an awkward position. He certainly had the crowd behind him all week but in the end it wasn’t to be number six for him. It did give me a lot of hope though as I have another 28 years competing in the Open and there was Tom at 59 contending for his sixth title.
In the end I had to give up the Claret Jug, and I am very disappointed that I didn’t give it a better run this year but as I was saying at least I have another 28 attempt to get it back.