The Open Championship - Review
I went to Sandwich feeling good about my game and really looking forward to playing in the Open Championship, but in the end it was a disappointing week. I didn’t play my best and my short game let me down, costing me making the cut and in fact contending the tournament. Having played nicely in Scotland the week before it was quite disappointing to miss the cut. My preparation was good and I felt that I knew the course well but in the end I just didn’t play good enough. It was an unusual cut in the sense that I missed it but was only eight shots behind the leaders, which over two days in a major championship is not really that many shots.
Looking back on my two rounds there were a couple of areas that let me down. I missed too many fairways, which meant that I was coming out of the rough too often. It was hard to control the ball from the rough and therefore difficult to keep it on the greens, which led to the second area that cost me. I dropped too many shots from around the greens - in my first round I dropped shots on the first, second, fifth, eighth and fifteenth holes. All these shots were from within ten yards of the green and if you are to contend tournaments you just cant do this. They were not terribly hard or easy up-and-downs but they were ones that I would expect to get down in two from more often than not. On Friday I three putted the first, fifth and tenth greens, so over the two days that is eight shots that I dropped around the greens - if I had gotten these up-and-down I would have been tied for the lead after two rounds. So as much as I know I didn’t play my best it was my short game that let me down more. I have been spending a lot of time on my short game recently so I can only put last week down to a bad week, which anyone can have.
When I finished on Friday I didn’t think I was making the cut but as the day went on four over par was getting closer and closer and for a while it actually looked like it would just make it inside the mark. However too many guys parred the last hole to finish on three over and keep all of us on four over out for the weekend.
I spent the weekend in Sandwich as I wanted to do some work with both Bob Torrance and Bob Rotella. It actually ended up being a very worthwhile decision as I got some really good work done with Bob Torrance. We worked on a couple of things that had been bugging me for a while and should help me narrow my misses. I spent a couple of hours each day working on it and by then of the weekend it was feeling quite good. I also spent a lot of time with Bob Rotella working on my putting; I have been struggling with my putting for the last few weeks and just couldn’t put my finger on the problem. We worked on it before the tournament started and I thought we had figured it out but it still wasn’t working. On Saturday evening we talked about it again, did some work and I believe that we hit the nail on the head. Ultimately it came down to the fact that I hadn’t fully committed to my preparation and so I was still trying to figure out what I was doing over the ball. I wasn’t trusting my reads and so when I stood over the ball I was still trying to figure out where I was going to hit it. Once I got this clear in my head it felt so much better. It was very disappointing to miss the cut but I feel that the work I got done over the weekend will pay big dividends in the coming weeks.
Even though I did some practice over the weekend I did get to watch pretty much all of Darren’s last two rounds. He played superb and was the deserved winner. It is great to see him back in the winner’s circle; I don’t think there is anyone that is not delighted to see him join the major club. I was delighted for him and I know one thing for sure, he will really enjoy the celebrations.
The Open Championship - Preview
It is hard to believe that we are already in the middle of July and at the Open Championship - it doesn’t seem that long since I was out in Abu Dhabi starting my season. The Open is my favourite major of the four for a lot of reasons; it was the one I grew up watching and is a form of golf that I played a lot of as an amateur. On top of these reasons it is great to be able to say that I have won two of them so far in my career. I really enjoy links golf and the challenges that it throws up; in fact over the course of a four round tournament it can feel like you are playing four different courses. This year we are back in the south of England at Royal St. George's, where Ben Curtis won his Open in 2003. I played and finished in the middle of the field and can remember the course quite well. It was set up very tough with heavy rough and narrow fairways. This year it is very different as the rough is nowhere near what it was then and therefore there is much more room off the tee.
I have played between nine and eleven holes each day in practice; I haven’t played a full eighteen, as it would have taken far too long. I was here about seven weeks ago and played two rounds on the course and got a good look at it. The good thing about coming to play the course at the Open venue well before the tournament is that there are usually very few people around and so you can have a good look at the course without worrying about who is behind you. The practice days at all majors and most tour events take so long now that it can actually do you more harm being out on the course as you can be worn out when you finish. This week, I have done my best to take it easy and not get sucked into hitting too many shots or spending too much time at the course. This can be a long week when you are in contention, as it is mentally draining playing a links course in the wind.
I was happy with my game last week in Scotland and equally happy with my practice this week. Last week it was my putting that let me down - I just didn’t hole enough putts in the ten to fifteen feet range and so it felt as if I wasn’t putting well. Since getting here I have done some good work on it and also spent quite a bit of time with Bob Rotella, talking and working with him on it. The work we have done has definitely helped; the funny thing is that I know there is nothing wrong with my putting, it really is just a case of trusting myself more. When I played here on Monday I felt that I was already in a links frame of mind after playing the Scottish Open and so I didn’t have to spend a couple of days getting used to playing it again. Overall I am happy with where my game is and how my preparation has gone.
I feel that I have prepared well for this week and I am looking forward to playing. I have done my best not to over-do things and made sure to get away from the course as soon as I finished practising. I am drawn to play with Mat Kuchar and Brydan MacPherson, the current British Amateur Champion, late on Thursday (1.21pm) and early on Friday (8.20am).