KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 21: Padraig Harrington of Ireland in action during the first round of the Maybank Malaysian Open at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club on March 21, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
After a long and hot week I ended up in a tie for sixth. Even though we only played 54 holes it seemed like the full 72 as we spent a lot of time sitting around the clubhouse watching the storms. I have been going out to Malaysia for as long as I have been a pro and the thing about there is that you know there are going to be storms and you just have to accept it; I have got well used to it over the years and now when we are called in I just find somewhere to lie down and get a bit of sleep. The important thing about all these delays is to make sure that you get as much rest as you can, as the restarts in the morning tend to be quite early.
I struggled with my game in practice and then added to this, I was using a new driver. Heading into the first round I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I was reasonably happy with my opening round of three under par; it could have been a lot better but considering how I was feeling about my game it was a solid start. I played early on Thursday and so when the storm came in during the afternoon it meant that my second round would be delayed. On Friday I started two hours and ten minutes after my scheduled tee time and again we had more storms and I only got as far as the seventh green. On Saturday I finished my second round and returned a four under par 68. The third round started at 1.15pm and I teed off at 2.45pm, with everyone knowing when teeing off that it was possible that it could be the final round if another storm came in. I started well making a birdie on the second and then another on the fourth. I had just hit my tee shot on the par five fifth when the hooter went. We sat around for a few hours and when it was evident that the storm wasn’t moving away it was decided that we would come back on Sunday to finish the round, which would be the final round. However I would have preferred to play 72 holes as it would have given me more of an opportunity to catch the leader rather than trying to catch him over 18 holes.
When we came back on Sunday morning I started great by hitting my second shot onto the green and holing my putt for an eagle to get to eleven under par. A birdie on the next got me to twelve under and right into the mix. I narrowly missed a birdie on the seventh and then parred my way to the twelfth, which was the start of my bad run. I missed the fairway and played for a flyer that I didn’t get and ended up making a bogey. I wasn’t too unhappy with this bogey, but it was the next hole that was very annoying - I pulled my drive again but got lucky and had a shot to the green, from where I hit a seven iron to fifteen feet, which was a good birdie chance. I almost holed the putt but it slipped by three feet and then I missed the three foot return for a second bogey, then bogied the next hole because I was annoyed about missing the short putt. These bogeys put me back to nine under and three behind at that stage. I parred the 15th and 16th and after hitting my tee shot on the 17th we were called in again. We sat around for a couple of hours before getting out to finish. I ended up making two pars to finish on nine under and a share of sixth place. It was a disappointing finish, as I had got to 12 under par early in my final round.
There are weeks when finishing sixth is a good week and then others when it feels like a bad week and this was one of the latter as I had given myself a chance to win, but a poor back nine cost me my chance to finally claim the Malaysian Open. After the round I was quite disappointed as I know I could have got to the winning score and then on top of that I should have birdied at least one of the last three holes which would have pushed me further up the leaderboard.
I left Malaysia disappointed to have finished sixth but happy that I got myself into contention and looking forward to playing again after a week of practice and driver testing at home.
This week I am in Kuala Lumpur for the Maybank Malaysian Open. KL used to be a regular stop on my schedule before I took my card in the US, but I haven't been here for probably eight years, so when I saw that it fitted into my schedule this year I put it down straight away. I have always enjoyed playing out here and have had quite a bit of success in Asia, but have never won the Malaysian Open. It is a tournament that I have come close to winning a couple of times and would love to add to my collection.
Last week in Thailand I thought my driver was acting a little funny, like the face had gone a bit flat. I had it checked out by the technicians on site and they confirmed that it had in fact cracked, which can happen to the drivers as we hit so many balls with them. Unfortunately the spare I brought with me wasn't quite the same as my old one and it has meant that I have spent most of my time during the practice days working on drivers, trying to get one that reacts the same as my old one. I have hit lots of shots with many different lofted heads, but like everyone when they have a club they really like it is very hard to find a replacement. The way I had my old driver set up helped me hit the shape I wanted, but as it turns out I am probably better off with a more neutral set up as makes it easier to hit all shapes, which I wouldn't have found out without all the testing here this week, so I suppose the driver cracking has a silver lining.
I have played 24 holes in practice this week as I have been preoccupied with finding a replacement driver. The course set up is tough, there is heavy rough off the fairways and the greens are quite firm. The lay out of the course is such that you are always taking on fairway bunkers from the tee. It is hard to take them out of play and you have to decide which ones you want to take on.
I am told that eighteen under par won here last year but having played the course I find it hard to believe. I can see where there are birdies to be made but there is a lot of trouble on the course, probably two thirds of the holes have water and the rough is quite penal. All in all I find this a tough course.
My preparation has been hampered by my driver search and therefore I have not been able to spend as much time on my short game and wedge play as I would have liked. I would really like it if there was another day of practice in order to get myself ready for the tournament, as I am definitely feeling a little under prepared.
No matter how I am feeling, the tournament is starting tomorrow and I am teeing off at 8.20am. I am here to try and register my first win in the Malaysian Open and I will be giving it my all. With the way I am feeling the key for the first few days will be to remain patient and not get too aggressive.