AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 08: Padraig Harrington of Ireland putts during the final round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The Masters - Review.
I have been saying for a good while now that I was playing very well and that I couldn’t be happier with my long game. Up to now I have been struggling with my putting and this has been impacting my results. At the Masters last week I continued to play very well and while I still missed a lot of chances during the week I felt much better about my putting. The work that I did with Bob Rotella at the start of the week helped me so much; at no stage during the week did I feel bad about a putt either before or after it. I was much more accepting of the result and this helped no end. It is hard to believe that something so simple could make such a difference. I suppose it is a bit like when I used to talk about ironing my hands and punishing myself. I had got so caught up in the result that I was eating myself up over it, but last week I was much more accepting of the outcome and tried not to let it affect me one way or the other.
I am leaving Augusta as I do every year, disappointed that I have to wait a full year before I can come back and attempt to win a Green Jacket. I love the course, together with the test it provides and the questions it asks of us pros and I look forward to returning every year. This year I am leaving disappointed that I missed so many chances on Sunday but happy about how I performed and particularly about my putting. All week I played well and gave myself plenty of chances but it wasn’t until the last six holes on Saturday that I holed a few putts. I finished with five birdies in the last six holes to get myself to four under par and in the fourth last group on Sunday, five shots behind the leader, Peter Hanson. The thing about the course and Sunday at the Masters is that you know there are going to be good scores and roars from everywhere around the course. It has been a few years since I was out so late on the Sunday at Augusta - I have to say that it is fantastic and there is nothing like the final round of the Masters. Everywhere you go you can hear the roars and you know what each one is for.
I knew going out on Sunday that I needed to shoot a low number if I was to win and so I had to be aggressive. I can't complain about how I hit the ball - right from the first hole I hit a really nice drive and continued to hit good shots all day after it. I got myself to 6 under for the tournament through six holes and had a 3 footer to go to seven under on the seventh but I missed and then I only made par on the eighth and bogeyed the ninth. With nine holes to play I was five under and four back. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to capitalise on my good approach play - I missed a good chance on 10, then very good chances on 11 and 12 and 14. In the end I birdied the 15th to be six under, until I double bogeyed the last, when I mis-hit my second shot, caught the bunker and then three putted from 15 feet. It was a disappointing way to finish but the good thing was that it didn’t make a huge deal of difference. There will be other times where a double on the last will be far more painful.
I was very happy with how I played all week, but particularly on Sunday. I managed to get myself into the mix on the final day and it felt great. I really enjoyed it; I would have liked to have holed a few more putts but that's the way it is. I have to wait till next April to have another chance! Congratulations to Bubba on a great win.
I am off to Hilton Head for one more tournament before a three-week break.
Level par final round of 72 for Padraig at Augusta was a case of so near and yet so far. What looked like a fine start as he cruised to two under par after seven holes was cloaked by three missed short putts for birdies as he peppered the flags in this opening stretch. After a dropped shot at nine where he found the trees off his tee shot, his fine play continued with birdie chances at his 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th holes! With no conversions, his lone birdie on the par five 15th was scant reward for some stellar play. To add insult to injury, his first three putt green for the week happened on the 18th to see him finish in a tie for 8th. Bubba Watson won the 2012 Masters in a play off with a miracle recovery shot on the second tie hole against former Open champion, Louis Oosthuizen. Padraig though can take great confidence going forward for the rest of the season as he played so well while in contention for a major since his wins in 2008.
Padraig equals his lowest round at Augusta National as he shoots a four under par 68 to lie in tied sixth place and only five behind going into Sundays final round. After threading water for the front nine which he covered in level par, his tournament seemed to be over as he bogied the tough par four eleventh hole to leave himself adrift of the leaders. A stunning finish ensued where he thrilled the crowds with five birdies in his last six holes. A repeat is needed Sunday but could this be his year to finally don the green jacket? Padraig tees of at 2.10pm local time with fellow European, Henrik Stenson.
Another solid round of 73 by Padraig leaves him at level par for the tournament and in a tie for 24th place going into the weekend. In a bunched field, this leaves him only five behind the leaders. A nice start was ruined by a poor run around the latter half of the front nine where he dropped three shots in four holes but to his credit, he played solid golf coming home with eight pars and a birdie four on the par five 15th. Again, he played the par 5's well, in one under par and they may well be the key to his chances at the weekend. He tees off at 12.25pm local time with the ever popular and highest ranked American player in the world, Hunter Mahan.
Padraig opens his 2012 major campaign with a solid one under par 71 which leaves him a tie for 14th place and only four behind the leader. On a course that played very long because of rain and with tricky pin placements, most of the field struggled and even though Padraig only hit nine greens his short game and scrambling were top class. The highlight of his round was an eagle three at the par five second which he holed from twelve feet and he played the par 5's in four under par. He tees off at 12.14pm local time (+5GMT), again with Stewart Cink and Steve Stricker.
The Masters - Preview.
Since the PGA Championship finished last August all of us professionals have been thinking about this week, the first major of the year, The Masters. It seems like an age for it to come around and then like everything else, it flies by. I love the Masters because it is the ultimate test of your game; every element is tested and if you have a weakness it will be found out around Augusta National. I would have to say that this course more than any other has contributed to how I play the game now. Augusta asks so many questions of you and at times the answers are not what you would like.
It feels like I have been playing in The Masters forever, but having said that I can still remember my first visit vividly. It was great coming here for the first time but when I look back at how I prepared it shocks me. I tried to hit every shot, every putt and every chip in practice - by the time the tournament started I was wrecked. Thankfully I no longer have to do all of this, as I know the course well by now. This year I have stuck to my normal routine of playing nine holes each day and doing a small bit of practice. The main thing that I wanted to get from my preparation this year was rest so that I am feeling good come Thursday morning.
I am coming into this year's Masters the happiest I have ever been with my game. For the last number of months I have been playing very well from tee to green, probably the best I have ever played. The only thing holding me back has been my putting - I haven’t been comfortable over a lot of my putts as a result of not trusting my reads. I have spent a bit of time on this area in practice this week and have also had a good chat with Bob Rotella about it. As a result I am feeling a lot better about it than I have for a while - the more I talked about it and looked at it the more I came to the conclusion that I was trying too hard and ending up being far too hard on myself for missing a putt. This week I am going to be much more easy going and taking things in my stride.
One of the final areas of my preparation every year is the annual par three contest. I always try to do my best in this which is probably why I have won it twice before. This year I had a friend's Dad caddying for me, Noel Fox, and my two sons. As always it was great fun and very relaxing. I find the pitches that you hit in this event great practice for the main tournament. There is supposedly a jinx on you if you win the par three event as no one has ever won both tournaments, which is another reason that I try so hard to win it - I want to be the first person to win both in the same year and after shooting five under in the par three event I have another chance to do so this year. I was out early and posted five under which was matched by Jonathan Byrd. We were declared joint champions as a storm came in at about 3.30pm which ended play for the day. I am delighted to have the chance to prove the jinx wrong and will be doing my best to add a green jacket to my wardrobe.
I am off early on Thursday with Stewart Cink and Steve Stricker. It a nice draw as there is a chance of a thunderstorm in the afternoon - the hope is that we get finished before it comes in. I am feeling good about my game and my putting - I feel that there is no reason why I cannot add another major to my collection.