GEORGE, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 20: Padraig Harrington of Ireland walks off the 15th green during the second round of the Volvo Golf Champions at The Links at Fancourt on January 20, 2012 in George, South Africa. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Life is a lot easier when you play badly and then all of a sudden you get in contention and win one. No one gets on your back. When you finish runner-up seven times, everyone is asking, 'Why aren't you winning?' It's much more fun when you jump into a win out of the blue. It's a much tougher game when you play consistently well.

Volvo Golf Champions

Entry Date:
Jan 17, 2012

Volvo Golf Champions - Review
The first tournament of the year is always a bit of an unknown quantity in so much as you are never really sure what to expect. At least that’s how I always feel about my first week back after a long break and last week was no different. I went to the Volvo Golf Champions a little apprehensive after spending time off practicing and not playing much at all. It did feel a little funny being back on the course again but it was good - I enjoyed my practice rounds and was looking forward to the tournament starting.

By the time the tournament started I was looking forward to seeing how my game would stand up to the rigors of competition. Throughout the week I was happy with how I played - I felt that I struck the ball well, there were some shots that I wasn’t overly happy about but in general I was pleased with the state of my game. I noticed a few things in practice and during the tournament rounds that needed work and I spent some time on the range working on them. This is always the case at the first tournament of the year.

In the end I finished in a tie for tenth. I had mixed feelings about my finish - the fact that my birdie on the last got me a top ten cheered me up but I had a bad last day - it was my worst round of the week, which is always disappointing as it is the one that sticks in your mind the most. At least if you have a poor round early in the tournament you have the chance to recover from it but when it is your last round there is nothing more you can do. I shot rounds of 69, 73, 70 and 76 to finish on four under par for the week. As much as I am disappointed with my finish I am also coming away from the week with a lot of positives. I felt that I hit a lot of very good shots and the work that I was doing at the end of last year and during my break seems to have paid off. On top of how I hit the ball I thought my chipping was good which I was very happy about as this is usually an area where rustiness shows up. The area that I was least comfortable with was my putting - I struggled most of the week with the putter. A lot of it was trusting my reading of the greens, which again is not too unusual for me in the first week or two of the season.

In all my rounds I know I could have been a lot better - the first two days I finished badly and then in the next two I made a few mistakes in the middle of the rounds. Looking back on the rounds and the dropped shots I had I can see that a lot of it comes back to rustiness. My routines were not as good as they could have been and as a result I felt uncomfortable over shots and putts. I suppose I wasn’t too surprised by this, as the work I have done during my break has mainly been technical. The good thing is that I know what I have to work on - my routines. This is something that I am happy to work on and will be looking at next week with the arrival of Dave Alred. By their nature routines are routine and boring and the only way to master them is to continually do them over and over.

All in all I am coming away from the week with a lot of positives. Yes I am disappointed with my last round but then it showed up what I need to work. If it had gone well I wouldn’t have noticed the faults in my routines as easily. So it is up to me to spend time on them and ensure that they do become routine.

Padraig.

Volvo Golf Champions
Padraig got his season off to a good but slightly frustrating start finishing in a tie for 10th place on -4 after rounds of 69,73,70 and 76. Going into the final day Padraig was 3 shots off eventual winner Branden Grace but 3 dropped shots on the front nine ended any hope of a top 5 finish. Padraig now heads to Abu Dhabi for this weeks Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.



Padraig gets his season off to an early start as he makes a first appearance at the Links in Fancourt. He needs a quick start to the season to make it into the Accenture World Matchplay which is confined to the top 64 golfers in the World Rankings. He will be quietly confident and the world class course at Fancourt rewards good golf. He tees off at 12.20pm local time with fellow Major winner, Ernie Els.

Volvo Golf Champions - Review
It has been six weeks since I last played a tournament. In that time I took a two-week family holiday, when I barely picked up a club and during the last four weeks I have been practising at home, working on my game. During those six weeks I have played one game of golf and that was last Friday at Portmarnock. At the end of last season I was very happy with how I was swinging and the things I was working on. Over the winter I kept working on them and there were also a few other small things that I worked on as well, like my trigger to take the club away. I have done some work on this before but it is a hard to change.

When I leave home for the first trip of the year it is always with a bit of mixed feelings - I am looking forward to getting back to competing but I also find it hard to leave home. However, once I have left it is fine.

This year I am starting back in South Africa at the Volvo Golf Champions, which is being held at Fancourt Links. I got here on Sunday afternoon so as to give myself some time to see the course.

I am looking forward to the season ahead as I feel that I am in a good place with my game - at the end of last year I got a lot of things clear in my head which helped a lot. There is no doubt that I had a poor year last year but I have been in this game long enough to know that it can go that way and I try not to worry about it. As a result of my year I am not in the Accenture Matchplay as yet, but I have three tournaments to qualify for it; this week, Abu Dhabi next week and the AT&T National Pro-am in the US. I have to get myself into the top 64 in the world by the end of the AT&T.

I am here in Fancourt for the Volvo Golf Champions Tournament. The field of 36 players is made up of winners from last season and anyone that has won over ten times on the tour. There is no cut this week and I get to play four competitive rounds, which is a great way to start the season, as the first week out you are never quite sure what to expect and so having a cut can be a little intimidating. Don’t get me wrong, I came here to win the tournament but as it is my first event of the year there is a little bit of trepidation.

This is my first time playing the Fancourt Links and I have to say what a super job they have made of it. It really is a great course, very difficult but a great test. It is not actually by the sea but it is quite close to a real links - we play a number of inland links courses and I would say that Fancourt is probably the best of them. A lot of this is due to the weather; it gets so hot and windy here that the course dries out like a true links. I was told that the 36-hole cut for the South African Open a few years ago was eight over par. This shows how tough the course can be; hopefully this week they wont have the greens as firm.

I have played three practice rounds as much to see the course as to get myself back into playing. After four weeks of practice it felt a little funny to be on a course again. No matter how much time you spend on a range hitting balls you can't beat getting out onto a course to see where your game is. I can see small things in my game that I need to work on, in general it is only rustiness but it has to be ironed out. Like every year my first week is a case of feeling things out and in my practice rounds I have been looking at all areas of my game to see what needs work. I have spent a bit of time on the range working on a few things, mainly my mental side, as I haven’t done too much during my break.

I am really looking forward to playing this week so as to give myself a true view of my game. I think that the course is very good but a tough test and one where you need to keep your wits about you. This is a course where it pays to be patient and to remember that it is a case of sticking around till .

Talk soon,
Padraig.

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