The Irish Open - Review
It was very disappointing to miss the cut at the Irish Open in front of a home crowd. I was looking forward to playing in Killarney as I had a good week there last year, but in the end it was a case of trying too hard to play well. I know from experience over the years that when I am trying extra hard I generally end up performing worse. The most difficult thing about it is getting yourself to be more easy going and not to get caught up in the outcome. However, missing the cut was quite frustrating as I drove the ball well and put myself in good positions to score but I never hit my irons well enough. I felt a lot better on the greens and was actually very happy with how I putted - even though I didn’t hole many, I felt that I hit a lot of very good putts. The work that I did at the British Open definitely made a difference.
Missing the cut was tough but nowhere near as tough as having to sit down with Bob and explain that I wanted to take a break. We have worked together for a long time, fourteen years or so, and have built up a great relationship over those years so it wasn’t an easy conversation to have. As I thought about things on Friday evening it became clear to me that we needed to take a break. A lot of it comes down to the fact that I don’t want to spend as much time on the range as I used to; I feel that I should spend more time on my short game and my mental approach.
No matter what happens, whether I win a tournament next week, in six months or in ten years time, it will be with the swing Bob has taught me. He has shaped my golf swing and I will continue to work on the things that we have always worked on. For the moment though I will be doing it on my own. I will see Bob at tournaments during the year and we will always be friends.
It was an eventful week, certainly not what I had planned before I went down to Killarney. That said I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks in the States and to getting down to playing golf.
The Irish Open - Preview
Since missing the cut at The Open Championship I have done quite a bit of work on a couple of areas of my game. I had a number of sponsor commitments during last week but I managed to get a lot of work done too. It was disappointing to miss the cut in Sandwich but I have put that behind me and I’m looking forward to the coming weeks. This week I start a run of three tournaments starting at the Irish Open, then the WGC-Bridgestone, finishing up at the USPGA. This week in Killarney is like a fifth major to all the Irish players - it is a big week every year for us and this year is no different. Darren and Rory are here as major champions and will be playing in front of the Irish crowds for the first time since they won their majors. I remember after winning my first Open, the reception I got when I played the Irish Open the following year was a great feeling. With everything that is going on this week there will be a tremendous atmosphere and most importantly a great tournament.
Last year I came close to claiming my second Irish Open but was piped by Ross Fisher by two shots. I played very well on Sunday and made a lot of birdies and eagled the sixteenth, which at that stage looked like I really had a chance to win, but Ross played well and made some birdies coming in to win. What I remember most about the Sunday though was the crowd and the roars. With this in mind it is really great to be coming back to Killarney again this year.
My form has been mixed so far this season; I have had some decent results and also some poor ones. However, I don’t get caught up worrying about results, as I know that as long as I keep doing the right things the results will look after themselves. The only time that I think about results is when I am doing my press conferences and I am asked about them.
For the last few weeks I have struggled with my putting - I have found it hard to read the greens and then struggled to trust my lines. I end up not believing in the line I am trying to hit my putt on and end up hitting a poor putt as a result. The good thing is that I have identified the problem and have spent a lot of time working on correcting it. It has felt good in practice this week but I really need to see how it feels in a tournament situation.
I have played 36 holes in practice and my putting has felt a lot better. The course is in great shape - there is more rough this week than last year but it is still very playable. The only change to the course from last year is a new tee on the first, adding 30 yards, which substantially changes how we will play the hole.
I am looking forward to playing at Killarney again, the crowds will be fantastic and the course equally as good. I have done a lot of work since the Open and this will give me an idea of how it is going. However, the main thing on my mind is going one better than last year and taking home the trophy.