Padraig's Tour Diary - WGC HSBC Champions - Review
My trip to Shanghai for the HSBC Champions was a disappointing one as I never got myself into contention. In fact I struggled right from the first round, was on the back foot and wasn’t able to make up the ground. I have had a number of good finishes there before and so was looking forward to this year’s event, especially as it had been upgraded to World Golf Championship status. In the end I shot a good last round to finish in a tie for 25th, but even that was only an average round on the day. I shot five under par on Sunday and only moved up seven places - normally if you shoot five under on a Sunday you would move up a lot more than just seven spots. It just goes to show what pros can shoot if you give us good greens.
I never got myself into the tournament at all - it all stemmed from the first round where I played fine from tee to green but I had as bad a day on the greens as I have ever had. I missed six putts from inside six feet and ended up shooting two over par which was a very poor score on the day. On top of the missed putts I also took two shots to get out of a bunker on the second hole; it was an easy bunker shot and I made a complete mess of it, which was probably the turning point in my round (I started on the tenth). I was two under par, in the back bunker in two, looking like going to three under, but instead, as a result of the poor bunker shot, ended up taking a six. I then missed a five footer for birdie on the next and another one on the 4th for par. Two three putts on the 6th and 7th added insult to injury and I finished with a 74, but it could so easily have been a 68 or 67.
After my first round I was always struggling to get into the tournament and unfortunately I never did. My second round was another round where I shot pretty much the worst score I could have; my 69 should have been a 66 or 65. My third round was no different, a poor level par to leave me on one under for the tournament. It wasn’t until the last round that I made some headway - I went out with a much better attitude and decided that I was going to enjoy myself and smile. It was amazing the difference it made - I shot five under and never got annoyed with myself. Looking back at the first three rounds I was probably trying a bit too hard and so getting a little annoyed with myself when I didn’t hit the perfect shot. It was actually a little like the first half of my season - I think I had got a little caught up in technique again and as a result I was analysing every shot I hit and then judging whether I had executed it correctly. Whereas in the final round I got back to just playing golf, trying to score and not worrying about how I did it. The last round was definitely much more refreshing as it felt like a weight had been lifted off me.
To finish 25th was a disappointment as I really needed to win to give myself a chance of winning the Race to Dubai. In the end I was trying too hard and I ended up reverting to where I was at the start of the year. I can see exactly what happened now as my short game was poor for the week and I was very hard on myself, which is exactly what I was like early in the year. I got caught up with technique, so my chipping and putting suffered and therefore my scoring was poor as a result. When I realised it and I went out in the last round with a better attitude I played nicely and managed to keep a bogey off my card.
I am off for a family holiday for the week; I won’t be thinking too much about golf for the next few days, just relaxing and having some fun with my family. It will be a week where I am thinking very little about golf before playing the Dubai World Championship next week.
Talk Soon, Padraig
Padraig's Tour Diary - WGC HSBC Champions - Preview
I am now in Shanghai for the WGC HSBC Champions tournament; this event has grown tremendously over the last five years. This year it has joined the ranks of the World Golf Championship events which has brought a stronger field than any other year. I have played here since its first staging five years ago and is an event that I look forward to coming too. It is very well run and the fact that it is in Shanghai is also a big attraction for me as it is great to come and see a city like this. It is a massive city with lots to offer, in some areas it is very westernized and then other areas it is very traditional Chinese.
I have had reasonable finishes in this tournament over the years but I have never managed to get myself into contention. The fact that it comes so late in the year has always hindered my performance; as it is one of my last tournaments of my season as a result I am always fighting with myself not to get into technical work. I have come here over the years facing my long winter break and looking forward to getting into working on my swing. This has been distraction to me as it takes away from my performance; this year I am in a similar boat but I am not quite as distracted by it. I am looking forward to my winter break so that I can spend some time on perfecting the swing changes that I was working on in the early part of my year. However I know that I have too wait till my season is over before I get stuck into it. I am here to try and get my first win on the European and PGA Tours this year and to do that I have to stay focused on my mental approach.
I played nine holes with Shane Lowry on Tuesday; it was great to play with Shane as I haven’t had a chance to play with him or spend anytime talking to him during the year as we play such different schedules. It was a very relaxed game; we just played away and chatted about lots of different things. I wasn’t overly happy with my game as I was still cutting the ball and so I spent a bit of time on the range afterwards to try and cure it. I didn’t feel the need to play eighteen holes as I have played here a number of times. Wednesday as always is pro-am day and I played in the afternoon pro-am; again I wasn’t quite happy with how I was hitting it. It is unusual for me to struggle to draw the ball but I am certainly suffering from it at the moment. I have to try to hook it just to get it to move with a little draw. I spent a bit of time before and after the round working on it on the range. It is feeling a bit better but I could certainly do with more time to sort it out before the tournament starts.
We are playing at the Sheshan Golf Course again this year, as we have since the tournament’s inception. It is a very good course with plenty of exciting holes; there is a great mix between reachable par fours and fives and then tough long par fours. The course is probably in the best shape that I have seen it in; the greens are particularly good this year. The rough is lighter than last year but it is still penal, there is definitely a premium for coming off the fairway. I like the course and the set up; I really like the fact that there are reachable par fours like the 16th and that the par fives are also reachable. This adds so much excitement to the tournament; the finish here epitomizes this. The last three holes anything can happen; the 16th is a reachable par four, but you can also end up dropping shots if you try and force it too much. The 17th is tough par three over the quarry and then the 18th is a reachable par five with water all down the right and in front of the green. With a finish like this you want to have plenty of shots in the bag to feel like you have it won otherwise you are grinding your way right to the last green.
So far this year I have won only one tournament, the Irish PGA; I would like to pick up another win before the end of my season which is only three more tournaments. I am here to try and get my first win on the Tour this year; however the problem with this for me is that I tend to try too hard when I am thinking about winning from the start. I have to ensure that I stay patient and ensure that I remember it is a 72 hole tournament.