Padraig's Tour Diary - USPGA Championship
The majors are over for the 2009 and I have handed back the last of my trophies. In the end it was a disappointing finish to my defense; going out in the second last group and only two shots behind I would have thought that I would be in contention for the whole round as opposed to the seven holes that it lasted. It was not how I had hoped the final round would go and I was disappointed to not be in contention on the back nine but the positive from it all was that I was only out of position on one hole all day and it cost me five shots! I felt very comfortable out there all day and I am coming away from this and last week knowing that my game is getting better.
Playing with Tiger for the first two rounds got me right back into the right frame of mind. After the way it ended in Akron it would have been easy to come here, play solid, not get myself into contention and feel like I had a good week. However the fact that I was drawn to play with Tiger in the first two rounds gave the first two rounds more a edge as there is always a bigger crowd, both inside and outside the ropes. It definitely feels more like a final round when you are playing with him.
The first round was a very enjoyable round in that I played solidly, making five birdies and one bogey for a four under par 68. It was a fairly stress free round as I was rarely out of position. At the end of the day I was one behind the lead, which was held by Tiger.
The second round was a tougher day but I was hanging in there nicely through nine holes; I was one under for the day playing the eleventh. It was the eleventh that started my bad run of the round, as I bogied it after hitting a bad lay up. I followed up this bogey with two more on the 12th and 13th which put me back to two under for the tournament. I got one of the shots back on the 14th after hitting my three wood into the greenside trap and then got it up and down. It was the next hole that hit my best shot of the week to set up another birdie. I pulled my drive into a fairway bunker, leaving me just over 300 yards from the pin; it was sitting well and I felt that I needed to give myself a chance of making a birdie so I hit a three wood. I caught it perfect and it pitched just short of the green and finished up 20 feet away from the pin. It was a risky shot but one that I felt was worth taking on as it could have paid off handsomely. I made birdie to get back to four under, but in the end I missed a four footer on the last to drop me back to three under par, four behind Tiger. The other thing about missing the putt was that it meant that I dropped out of the last group on Saturday.
I started the third day four behind Tiger; everyone was talking about how he had never lost a lead like this before. However I wasn’t getting caught up in it as I felt that I was capable of producing good enough golf to give myself a chance of winning. My third round was a funny round in that it started off a little scrappy but after about four holes I got myself together and started giving myself chances. I made four birdies by the fourteenth to get myself to seven under par for the tournament, which had me in second place. I was still seven under playing the last and in solo second place but I wasn’t able to get into the clubhouse on the same score. I got a flier from the semi rough with my second and it cost me my only bogey of the day. Again this had a couple of consequences, firstly it put me two shots back from Tiger instead of one and secondly it cost me the chance of playing with him in the last group again, which would have made it easier to keep an eye on him. I would be in the second last group with Henrik Stenson and Y.E. Yang would play in the last group with Tiger.
My final round was far from what I had hoped for; I shot six over par on Sunday to drop from tied second to tied 10th. Normally if I have shot a round of six over par or anything like it I have generally played very poorly; however not this time. I actually played very solid. I felt totally comfortable on the course all day but one shot put paid to my title hopes. I got to the eighth after making seven pars; I could have been a few under but I didn’t hole any putts. Eight was a tough hole all week as there is water on the right and the wind was coming from the left. I hit a three-quarter six iron, which was a club that would put me past the flag but as I stood up to it the wind died a little and so I hit it a little easier than I wanted and I also pushed it. It ended up in the water and the rest is history. I finished the hole with an eight and dropped back to one under par and pretty much out of the tournament. I didn’t give up; I kept going trying to make birdies to get back into it but just couldn’t make anything happen.
To shoot six over par in the final round of a major when you are in contention is extremely disappointing but this time I am not too disheartened as I know that I felt good all day and I know that my game is getting better. I would have loved to have been in contention on the back nine as you can’t beat the buzz of contending a major, but it was not to be. I only got to see Yang and Tiger play the last hole, but from what I heard Yang played very well all day and was the deserved winner. Certainly from the hole I saw he deserved to win his first major. The biggest disappointment for me is the fact that I have to wait eight months for the next major; especially as I feel that I am getting myself back into good shape. That said I am happy that I went through what I did during the year as I know that it will make me a better player.
I have a week off before I am back for the start of the Fed Ex Cup at the Barclays in New York. I want to thank you all for the support you have shown me in the last few weeks, it is deeply appreciated.
The less said about this final round the better! For the second tournamnet in a row, Padraig suffered an eight on his card, this time on a par three to leave his dreams of defending his PGA Championhsip in tatters. He wasn't the only player to suffer as Tiger Woods also shot a 75 to leave Y E Yang as the three shot winner. Disappointing to say the least!
A fine third round of three under par 69 leaves Padarig in a tie for second place, two shots behind the leader, Tiger Woods. Playing controlled and steady golf, Padraig now has the chance of a forth major title. He plays with Henrik Stenson in the final round.
Second round of one over par 73 leaves Padraig with work to do going into the weekend at Hazeltine. On a tough scoring day, he didn't play that well and will have to sharpen up iif he is to become only the third person to defend his PGA Championship.
Padraig started where he left off last week with a superb round of four under par 68 to trail Tiger Woods by one shot going into Fridays play. Five birdies and just one bogie made up his card with 26 putts for the day. The defending champion was in great form and would relish last Sundays showdown yet again! He tees off late on day two at 1.45pm.
Padraig is at Hazeltine National Golf Club to defend his USPGA Championship title. The last major of the year sees Padraig paired with Tiger Woods iin a repeat of last weeks drama at Firestone. On a very long but fair course, fans will be hoping for more of the same as Padraig defends his title and Tiger bids to win a major in 2009. Padraig tees off in round one at 8.35am local time with Tiger Woods and Rich Beem.