Padraig's Tour Diary - BMW Championship - Review
The first leg of the play-offs is complete, the points are re-ranked and we head to the Tour Championship with everything to play for. The BMW was the last chance to move up the leaderboard before the final event and it was also the last chance for thirty guys to get into the Tour Championship. I was already assured a place in the final event coming into this one but I was chasing a spot in the top five on the rankings. If you are in the top five going into the final event then your destiny is in your own hands; anything outside of that means that you need results to go for you if you are to win the FedEx Cup.
Coming into this week I was quite tired after the last couple of weeks; being in contention in tournaments drains you much more than when you are finishing middle of the pack. If it wasn’t the Playoffs I would probably not have played last week but it was important to try and improve my position and at worst not to lose my current position. I came into the week happy with my game and knowing that I still needed a very good week to break into the top five. The fact that I needed to have a good week kept me going as it would have been easy for me to turn up and have a reasonable week and never get myself into contention.
My scores for the week definitely flattered me. From the first day I found it a struggle but I managed to keep myself in the tournament by chipping and putting well. I opened up with a three under par 68, which was a great achievement considering some of the shots that I hit. The most impressive thing about it though was the fact that I managed to keep a bogey off my card. I holed some good putts for par and hit some very good chip shots which were really enjoyable. I had hoped that I would do better on Friday but unfortunately not; I was probably a little worse. I hit some terrible drives and should have been out of bounds on the eleventh, but was out of bounds on the eighteenth. However, like the first round I kept myself in the mix with my short game. I managed to make four birdies and no bogeys in the first 17 holes to get me to seven under par for the tournament. But then another bad drive finally caught up with me on the last; I blocked it out of bounds right but I managed to make a birdie with my second ball to save a bogey. It is rare that you walk off a hole thinking how good a bogey that was but this was the case. I actually walked off the course thinking to myself that I had actually got away with murder as I felt terrible on the course and hit some awful shots but yet I shot another three under par, to be on six under for the tournament and in the second last group on Saturday.
The weekend was no different in terms of how I felt on the course; I struggled with my focus and routines which is a sign that I was tired. Saturday started very well; I made three birdies in a row from the second to get me to nine under but then it went downhill. From the fifth tee I began to struggle; it was like I was dehydrated but I knew that I wasn’t. I just wasn’t able to settle myself no matter how much I tried. I dropped shots at the sixth and seventh and then the tenth and twelfth, with a birdie on the eleventh. After the twelfth I got myself back to normal and managed to make a couple of birdies coming in to end up shooting two under for the day. I came off the course feeling good about myself for shooting two under as I knew that I could have shot anything. I hit a few shots after the round to try and sort out what was wrong. It felt better on the range once I thought about holding my finish. I then spent Saturday evening in Solider Field, the home of the Chicago Bears, for the opening concert of U2’s American tour. I had seen them in Croke Park a few weeks ago but it was still fantastic to see them again. It was dark when they started so the stage looked amazing and the whole concert was brilliant. It is always great to get away to something like this at a tournament because as I am there as a fan I have nothing to do but enjoy myself.
Sunday was a funny day; it started oddly in that there was a fog delay for the morning starters so they had to rearrange the tee times and my tee time was brought forward an hour, which I had never seen done before. I only found out when I met Phil Mickelson in the gym. Luckily for me I get three hours before my tee time so it meant that I had time but it wasn’t ideal. I got off to a good start again with a birdie on the first hole but that was where it ended. I played very similar to the first three days but this time I wasn’t able to chip and putt as well as I had done. I ended up shooting two over par to finish on six under for the week and thirteen shots behind Tiger in a share of sixth spot. It wasn’t good enough for me to move into the top five as both Sean O’Hair and Jim Furyk had good days to pass me and leave me in sixth position overall. I was very happy with my sixth place finish as I had played badly for the week and somehow managed to get the ball around in a decent number.
It has been a good three weeks for me - second at Barclays, fourth at Deutsche and sixth here at the BMW. It would have been nice to get a win under my belt in one of them; I had my chances in the first two but not here as Tiger ran away with it. I have a week off before the final playoff event; I can still win the Fed Ex Cup but now I need some results to go my way in Atlanta. I am looking forward to a few days at home to relax and take it easy before I come back for the Tour Championship.
Padraig's Tour Diary - BMW Championshio- Preview
This is the last of three tournaments in a row for me; after this week the top thirty get in to the Tour Championship in Atlanta for the final of the playoffs. This week in Chicago there are seventy players, everyone has a chance of getting into the final event and winning the Fed Ex cup. I am currently lying seventh so I am assured of being in the Tour Championship but the key for the final event is being in the top five of the standings going into the Tour Championship so that you can win the Fed Ex cup if you win the Tour Championship. If you are outside of the top five then you have to rely on what the top guys do even if you win. So this week’s event has a lot of bearing on the final outcome.
It is the BMW Championship at Cog Hill; previously the Western Open was held here. I have never played here before which is a big disadvantage however they have redone the golf course over the last year so it is kind of new to everyone. All the greens and bunkers have been completely redone and some length has been added. The fact that the greens have been re-laid is a big advantage to me as it means that they are all pretty much new to everyone.
I flew up straight from Boston on Monday night as we are back to normal with our Thursday start this week. As we lost a day with last weeks tournament finishing on Monday it meant that I only had two days to practice the course. I got up and played the course on Tuesday so that I would get a good look, most of the field weren’t arriving until Tuesday afternoon. As I hit my second shot down the 11th I tweaked my neck, it had been a little tight during the front nine so when it went on me I went straight in for some treatment, just as a precaution. I would have liked to have played the course in full but I wanted to make sure that there was nothing wrong with my neck. I got treatment and then took it easy for the rest of the day so not to aggravate it. I knew that I was playing the pro am on Wednesday and would get a good look at the course then so I wasn’t too worried about it.
This is my first time seeing the course and I have to say it really is a very good tough course. It has a real US Open feel to it - long, tough with heavy rough as well as having a lot of mature trees. It’s the sort of course that you would never tire of playing. It measures over 7,600 yards but actually feels longer as a lot of the second shots are up hill and the fairways are soft so there is no run. The way it is playing there is definitely a premium on hitting the fairway as it will be hard to make some of the greens from the rough.
My neck has cleared up nicely and I am feeling good about my game. Like the last two weeks this one is a big week as there are a lot of points up for grabs before the rerank on Sunday evening. I am here to concentrate on this week’s tournament; I have to make sure not to get sucked into the hype of the Fed Ex cup. To win the Fed Ex cup you have to play well in the play-offs, so far I have had two good weeks but to have a chance of winning it I have to keep that run going. As always with me I am here to try and give myself a chance of winning the tournament come Sunday afternoon. If I can get into contention again then I know that I am doing the right things and if I keep doing them I will win one. The key is to keep my mind on this week and forget about the last event and what could or couldn’t happen.