St Jude Classic - Review
My build up for the US Open didn’t go as I planned, as I finished in a tie for 52nd. When I was coming over to Memphis I was hoping to be in the shake up for the tournament come Sunday afternoon, not to be finished with my round an hour before the leaders teed off. In terms of my result it was a disappointing week. However, I am not actually leaving Memphis too disappointed as it was a good week in terms of getting ready for the US Open, which I appreciate is hard to believe considering how I scored and where I finished.
I spent Friday evening sweating the cut - I was watching the scores on my phone all afternoon. It was amazing how much it moved around; one minute I was well inside the cut mark and then the next I was outside it. In the end I made it right on the mark, tied 70th; I would always prefer to make the cut even if I was a long way back.
The funny thing about the week was that I came over to get ready for next week and to do this I was intending on not spending too much time on the range. Whilst that was my plan, it went out the window on Wednesday evening - I figured out something in my swing which was one of the reasons I was pulling the ball and also a problem I have had on and off over the years. Due to the fact that the US Open is my next tournament I wanted to get it sorted out before I got there and this meant that I spent a lot more time on the range than I had planned. Each day after playing I hit quite a few balls, working on a couple of the old reliables that Bob and I have worked on over the years. The difference was that this week it kind of clicked as to what it meant for the different areas of my swing - I essentially worked on breaking my wrist a little earlier, which helped sort out a couple of other things. So while it wasn’t my intended way to prepare for the second major of the year, it was necessary and as a result I am travelling to Congressional a lot happier and feeling very good about my swing.
My weekend play was definitely better than my first two rounds, which I was very happy with as I could see the hard work paying off. I felt that I hit the ball the best on Sunday and in particular I drove the ball well, which is something that you have to do if you want to do well in a US Open. However, as much as it felt that I played better, my scoring never really improved - it really is a funny game at times. On Saturday I had to hole a four footer to make the final round (there was a second cut on Saturday due to the number of players that made the cut).
During my final round I felt that I struck the ball well and gave myself a number of birdie chances - it would have been nice to see a few drop but unfortunately they didn't. The funniest thing about my week was that it took me until my last hole of the tournament to make a birdie on par four!
As a standalone tournament it was a disappointing week, but in terms of the US Open and the rest of my year I feel that it was a very good week. I managed to iron out a few creases and got a couple of things clear in my head. I am travelling to Washington feeling good about my game and the week ahead.
St Jude Classic - Preview
It’s been three weeks since my last tournament, the Players Championship, which is probably the longest break I have had in the middle of a season for a number of years. I was due to play the BMW PGA Championship, which would have meant that I had two weeks off in three, but as much as it was disappointing to miss the PGA, the break was badly needed to give my knee injury time to recover. I took it very easy for the three weeks - I even went away for a holiday in the middle and didn’t take my golf clubs! Towards the end of the three week period I got back to hitting some shots and testing my knee, which is now fine.
I am now in Memphis for the St. Jude Classic, which I have played ever since they moved it to the week before the US Open. The course here is always in good shape and even though it is not set up like the US Open, it is still a great warm up for it. The scoring is not usually too good as it gets quite windy and the greens can get very firm; because of this it is a generally a really good short game test which is very good preparation for the US Open.
Seeing as I have had three weeks off I am a little unsure as to what to expect. I am happy with how I am playing, especially my short game, which I have put a lot of time into over the last couple of months. That said, I am always a little apprehensive after a break, but as long as I have been playing golf I have always been this way.
This week, I played nine holes on Tuesday and then the pro-am on Wednesday; as I have been here a number of times I know the course well and didn’t want to over-do it. It is especially important not get sucked into spending too much time on the range as it is almost 100 degrees.
In practice I have been pulling a few shots, which seems to be coming from my swing path being too much to the left. I have had this a few times during my career - the funny thing about it is that I actually strike the ball very well but it just starts left. It is something that I know how to fix, I just wish I had another few days to sort it out. That said when I think back to the times over my career when I have hit the ball like this, I have sometimes actually done quite well.
First and foremost I am here to try and win here this week, which would also be the best preparation for the US Open, as there is nothing like getting yourself into contention and finishing it off. However, I am also looking forward to getting back into action on a course that I have had some good results on over the years.