Padraig's Tour Diary - Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - Review
Every year I look forward to playing in the Dunhill Links as it is one of the most enjoyable tournaments on the schedule and this year was no exception. I really enjoyed the week. I would have liked to perform a little better but that did not take away from my overall enjoyment. I finished in a tie for 26th which was a poor return considering how I played; J.P. and I also missed the cut which was very disappointing as we are normally contending the team event, not worrying about making the cut.
This is a tournament that I have a very good record in over the years; I have won it twice and finished in the top ten a number of times. So every year I come here with high hopes of contending for the title on Sunday. This year didn’t go as I hoped as I only made the cut on the mark which meant that I started my last round from the tenth tee. It was funny playing the last round like this as it felt like we were out on the course on our own as the crowds were on the other nine watching the leaders.
In practise on Wednesday I hit the ball exceptionally well and couldn’t ask to hit any better. When I got on the course on Thursday I was struggling with my focus a bit as I was actually put off by how well I hit it the day before. I played poorly for most of my round in Carnoustie; it was only on the last five or six holes that I actually started to hit the ball well. However I did scramble very well all day and then when I started to hit the ball better I holed a couple of putts for birdies. In the end I was three under playing my last hole, the ninth, which was a great return considering how I played. On the ninth I purposely hit my drive down the left side as it was the safest line but when I got down to my ball the rough in the area was growing into us and I had no lie. I had to wedge it out and ended up taking a bogey. It was very disappointing to finish with a bogey as I had managed to keep it together all day.
My second and third rounds were quite similar in a lot of respects. I played very well from tee to green and gave myself a lot of chances, but didn’t really hole enough putts. On Friday I played at St. Andrews and I probably had 15 good birdie chances but could only manage to hole a few. I ended up shooting two under par for the round which felt very average as it was a great day for scoring given there was very little wind. I even three putted the last hole for a par to add insult to injury!
The weather forecast that we had got on Friday meant that it was always unlikely that we would play on Saturday due to the winds and it was spot on. We had a day off which I spent resting, catching up on some sleep and generally just taking it easy.
Our third round was played on Sunday and we were in Kingsbarns; again I played lovely golf most of the day but missed a lot of chances. I made three birdies on the front nine to be seven under and then another birdie on the eleventh and at this stage I felt that I was getting myself into the tournament. I missed a seven footer on the 12th to go to nine under and then from here the wheels came off! On the 13th I pushed my tee shot a fraction and it came up a yard short and ran down the hill, from where my chip was just short, ended up in the bunker and I took a double bogey. I then followed it up with another double bogey on the 14th to put me back to four under par. I managed to par my way in to finish on four under which ended up being the cut mark; it was looking dodgy for a while! In the team event we had to count the double bogey on the 13th and then a bogey on the 14th which ended up knocking us out of the tournament. It was a very disappointing end to my third round as I was looking like getting into contention at one stage and then I was sweating on making the cut.
My final round was again a story of many chances and several missed putts, although I did manage to hole more in this round than previously. I ended up shooting six under for the final round and still feeling like I left a lot of shots out there. Bar one hole, the 4,th where I hit a bad second shot that cost me a bogey it was nearly a perfect round from tee to green. The only problem with hitting the ball as I did in the final round is that you can get frustrated because you are not holing all the putts. Even though I shot six under I felt that I should have scored better.
My final round was a little funny for a couple of reasons, firstly because I started on the 10th and secondly because I have never looked at leader boards so much in a round of golf before. I wasn’t looking at them to see my name but to watch the progress of Kieran McManus in the team event. He went out in the final round leading by one shot; myself and Ronan were hoping he would win but we were also nervous for him. On every hole we were looking to see how he was getting on and how the guy in second place was doing. In the end he won by five shots! He played great for the week and deserved to win.
I am off for a week now and then I head to Portugal for the Portuguese Masters. However I don’t really get a rest as I am off to Copenhagen on Thursday to speak to the International Olympic Committee to attempt to have Golf included in the 2016 Olympics. Fingers crossed, as it would be great to compete in an Olympics.
Padraig's Tour Diary - Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - Preview
It has been a while since I played a regular European tour event, being the French Open two weeks before the Open. It feels good to be back in St. Andrews for the Dunhill Links, which is one of my favourite tournaments of the year on courses I enjoy. As ever I am playing with J.P. and we are looking to take the title for the third time. On top that it is great to be back in Europe and catching up with everyone.
I flew straight home on Sunday night from Atlanta and then onto St. Andrews on the Monday evening. I played two practice rounds, one on Kingsbarns and the other on the Old Course, which is my usual routine, I leave Carnoustie out as it is a long way to go for a practice round and I know the course well. I played on Tuesday with J.P, Gerry McManus and Dermot Desmond and then on Wednesday I played with Kieran, John and Gerry McManus. We have a regular match on the Wednesday of this event, but unfortunately for John and I we were on the losing end this year. The only good thing about this is that next year I get to set the handicaps!
I am happy with my form from the last few weeks. Whilst it would have been nice to get a win under my belt in one of the last few tournaments, I can’t complain. I am back now to finish off my season in Europe which means trying win the Race to Dubai. I have a lot of ground to make up before the final event in Dubai which means that I am in need of winning an event or two. I am happy with how everything has gone in practice and am looking forward to getting started.
The three courses that we play this week are well known, two due to the fact that the Open is held on them and the other because we have been playing this tournament here for a number of year now. Of the three courses the toughest is definitely Carnoustie, although it is generally set up a little easier than it would be for an Open. However it is still a course that you are happy to get through with a reasonable score and then try and score on the other courses.
Kingsbarns is a really good test, normally it can be one of the easier ones but that is because the par 5’s are normally reachable. The course plays much shorter than its yardage as the fairways run quite fast. If you get to play it in decent weather then you feel you have a good chance to shoot a score.
St. Andrews is a course that everybody is familiar with. The key around this course is to try and miss the bunkers and to hit your pace putts well as you are guaranteed to have several long putts given that there are quite a few double greens. This is the course that we play again on Sunday and one that all the pros know very well.
As always I look forward to playing this week and for a number of reasons. I like the courses and the format, but more importantly I enjoy playing with J.P. This year we start on Carnoustie and then play St. Andrews and finally Kingsbarns. It nice to get the toughest course out of the way early whilst the other thing we hope for is that we get some decent weather.