"Bridgestone Invitational - Review"
Coming to Akron for the Bridgestone Invitational after a good week at the Irish Open was actually quite tough, as the Irish is such a big event in my schedule. The week in Killarney took a lot more out of me than I actually realised and it took me a few days to get over it. I found it tough to get going in the Bridgestone until the weekend, which showed in my game. The first couple of days I struggled a bit with my game, but over the weekend I actually played some lovely golf and I feel that I could have shot any score if I could have holed a few putts. Considering how I felt at the start of the week to finish ninth was a good result and even though I never got into contention in the tournament it was still a good week. Certainly a good final round can make up for a lot in this game.
This tournament comes at a great time in the calendar in one sense and a bad time in another. The reason I say this is because it falls the week before the PGA - having a tournament with no cut and with a great field is a great warm up for next week's major championship. However it tends to take away from the tournament itself because we all have an eye on the PGA. I know I would love to have won here this week but not as much as I would want to win the PGA.
I am very happy with my finishing position here - the way I played over the weekend gives me a lot of confidence going into next week. Finishing up with a good final round is nearly as good as getting into contention - shooting four under got me into the top ten without having too much stress. The good thing about the week was that my short game was good, as it was last week in Ireland. The first couple of days when I didn’t quite play at my best my short game kept me in it. In the end I shot rounds of 69,70,70 and 66 to finish on five under par, which were solid rounds on a tough golf course - this course has beaten me up many times over the years so any time that you break par for the week you have played solidly. This year it was a little softer than normal so it did play a little easier but even still it was a good test.
Overall I am happy with my performance and it was a good warm up for the final major of the year. It pushes me closer to the automatic qualifying places for the Ryder cup - I still need a big week at the PGA but at least I have narrowed the gap. All in all it was a good week and sets me up for the PGA - I got a lot of very good practice in so I feel that I don’t have too much to do next week.
Bridgestone Invitational - Preview
This time last year I came to Akron after having a very poor first half of the season, I was lost in my swing and my short game was suffering as a result of it. It all turned around here at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational - I played well and finished in a tie for second. While second was a good performance it was the fact that I had a chance to win the tournament until I hit it in the water on the 16th in the final round. I was battling it out with Tiger all day on Sunday until that hole.
This year I am here feeling a lot better about my game - I have been happy with how I have been playing for most of the year. I have been in contention a few times this year and managed a few top tens, my best week so far this year was last week at the 3 Irish Open as I managed to chip and putt very well and then play well on the Sunday as well.
I have played here at firestone since the first World Golf championship that was held here and up to last year I never really contended, I had a few top twenty finishes but that was about it. I have always liked the course but definitely found it tough, the rough is usually quite high. Over the years it has been set up like a US Open but in the last couple of years they have shortened the rough a little so that you can get to the green if you miss a fairway. There is enough of a penalty in not having much control over the ball if you miss the fairway rather than having to chip it out. I much prefer a course that lets you hit it from the rough and puts more emphasis on your short game. As most of the field have been coming here every year for probably ten years now it tends to be quiet on Monday and Tuesday. The course doesn’t really change from year to year so there is no need to be here grinding in the practice rounds. It is actually one of the few courses that we could turn up and play without a practice round. That said it is a little like Augusta in that it suits the players that have played it a number of times, the more you play here the more you get to know it and know where to miss and not to miss. It is a lot tougher for someone that is playing the course for the first time.
I arrived here on Monday afternoon but I didn’t get to the course until Tuesday, I spent Tuesday on the range working on my long game for a while and a lot of time working on my short game. I have been spending more time working on my short game of late and it definitely paid off last week. I am happy with how I am hitting it; the key for me is to trust it now and not to worry about how I am swinging it or where it is going. I played a practice round on Wednesday and as expected the course was unchanged; it played a little longer than usual, as it was a little soft. The good thing about this is that the fairways are easier to hit as there isn’t much run.
I’ve been drawn with Graeme McDowell for the first two rounds; we played together last week for the first two rounds as well. We are playing at 7pm Irish time on Thursday and 3pm Irish time on Friday.