Travelers Championship - Review
After leaving the US Open very disappointed with my performance I left the Travelers Championship very happy. It wasn’t so much the fact that I finished in a tie for fifth place or the fact that as it turned out I had an outside chance of winning. The reason that I left happy was that I managed to improve my wedge play significantly from the US Open and that I was back into my old routine at tournaments.
After the US Open I looked back at my performances to see what I was doing differently and what I wanted to work on before the Open. I realized that I was trying to do too much during a tournament week - I was spending too long on the range and trying to get things done in gym in the evenings. Over the years I have definitely played my best golf when I am fresh and not tired and looking back at a lot of my tournaments this year I have been doing too much and wearing myself out slowly during the week. The fresher I am the better the decisions I make and the easier I find it to read the greens. The week just gone at the Travelers is a good example, I played my best on Wednesday and Sunday having done very little the evenings before both and then on Friday and Saturday I struggled a bit with my putter having spent some time on the range both evenings before.
This week has definitely been a good reminder to me that I have to make sure to manage my weeks better and not get caught up in doing too much work. In terms of this weeks tournament I do feel that I should have got myself into contention here having started so well but my middle rounds let me down. I know now what happened which is great and because of this I am really looking forward to the Open. The other thing that I am delighted about from this week was my wedge play, I spent some time hitting wedges during the week but the most important thing I did was to hit them using my launch monitor which gives me the exact yardage where each shot pitches. I did this a few times during the week and it made a huge difference to my confidence on the course when I had a wedge in my hands and as a result I hit my wedges much closer than I have for a while.
I started the week very well and struggled in the middle, which left me on six under going out in the final round; which was ten shots behind Justin Rose. I played very nicely on Sunday and gave myself plenty of chances early on but I only managed to make two birdies on the front nine. It wasn’t until the back nine that I really got going, making birdies on the 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th to get me to seven under par for the day and thirteen under for the week with three holes to play. At this stage I felt that I needed to birdie my last three holes so as to try and put some pressure on the leaders but even at that I wouldn’t have been hopeful. I went at the pin on the 16th and missed it left and long and ended up taking a bogey and then parred my way in, missing good chances on both 17 and 18. Little did I know at the time how close I would end up to the winning score. If I had managed to hole my twelve footer on 17 and my seven footer on the 18th I would have been in the play-off! I would never have thought that 14 under would be the winning score as I really felt that there were too many people up there. In the end it was a very good week as I finished in a tie for fifth and I made some good improvements with my wedge play.
The only tournament that I am playing between now and the Open Championship is the J.P. McManus Pro-am. The rest of my time will be spent getting ready for links golf and working on my short game and wedge play. I am really looking forward to the Open as there is nothing quite like an Open at St. Andrews.
Travelers Championship - Preview
This is my last week on the road until The Open. As the Irish PGA is not being played the week before the Open this year I decided to add this week’s event, the Travelers Championship, to my schedule. I played here at the Travelers tournament back in 2007, so it was easy to add this event, as I know the course. After playing a major it can be nice to go home and take it easy for a week but seeing as I had a couple of weeks off before Memphis I am very happy to be playing this week. It is also a week that has been good to me before. I won the Barclays at Westchester in 2005, the week after the US Open.
I got to Connecticut on Tuesday morning, as I had a corporate outing for FTI on Monday. The hardest thing about coming here is the jet lag, the time difference is only three hours but its enough to affect you. I didn’t play any on Tuesday; I just practiced for a few hours; nothing too stressful as I was a little tired. On Wednesday I played the pro-am as normal and got to the see the course again - there hasn't been any changes since I was here last which is very nice seeing as I only had one practice round. After the pro-am I spent a bit of time working on my wedge play and my short game, as it was this part of my game that really let me down last week. This week’s course has plenty of wedge holes as well as plenty of holes with run-offs from the greens so it really is a week that you want to hit your wedges close and chip and putt well. That said I don’t think there is a week that you wouldn’t want to do that!
I was very happy with how I hit the ball in the pro-am; so much so that I didn’t hit any shots other than wedges afterwards. Normally I would go and hit some longer shots but I felt that there was no need to and that if I did I would only be looking for something to be fixed. The practice that I did with my wedge play I actually really enjoyed it - I hit them on my launch monitor so as to check the yardages and as a result it really helped me to forget about any technical thoughts and get into the shot.
I remember playing here in 2007 and liking the course but not really performing that well; I finished 54th and down the field. Having played it again in the pro-am I can see why I liked it; there are a lot of very good holes. It has a good mix of long and short holes and also risk reward ones. The best example of this is the 15th, which is driveable par four (it is only 285 yards to the front of the green) but it has water down the left. It is definitely a chance to make an eagle but also a chance of making a bogey. It is a course that you have to take on a bit; there are a lot of holes that have out of bounds and trouble around them but to do well here you have to take them on so as to give yourself a chance of making birdies.
After the tough mental week at the US Open it is nice to come here and look forward to playing a course that is not set up to make par look like a good score. I am looking forward to playing this week, as it is a great tournament and a very good course. The fact that I won the Barclays the same week a few years ago is a nice thought to have in the back of my mind for the week.
Talk soon, Padraig.