SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 24: Padraig Harrington of Ireland in action during the first round of the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren Golf Club on October 24, 2013 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
It was a disappointing end to my week, I finished in a tie for 27th which was probably as bad as I could have finished. I came here looking for a big week to get me into the top sixty on the Race to Dubai standings. My 27th place finish moved me up a little but not enough to get into the Race to Dubai.
The first two days were totally different to the practice days; the wind was gusting up to 25 mph which meant the officials had to move a lot of the tees forward to make the course playable. I actually didn't play great for my first round but I scored well, I shot level par which was a good score in the conditions. I missed a couple of chances but I holed plenty of good putts for par so I wasn't unhappy with my score. It really was a tough day so anything around par was good - there were plenty of scores in the high seventies. Friday was windy and cold, not quite as windy as Thursday but it was still a tough day. I played a lot better but threw away a couple of shots, in particular on the 13th, a reachable par five. I hit my second shot in the water and took a six; this is a hole that you expect to make four on. I finished the day on level par again, although this time it was a disappointing level par.
Saturday was much nicer than the previous two days - it was still blowing a little but very playable. I got off to a good start by birdying the 2nd and 3rd. Another two birdies got me out in four under par, I was cruising along. On 10 I hit it to two feet for another birdie and at this stage I was five under for the day and the tournament in a tie for third place. On the 11th I had a six footer for birdie which I just missed, the wind kept it out. Then from the 12th it started to go wrong. I plugged my tee shot in the bunker and made bogey. On the 13th I was hitting a five wood for my second at the green and again I hit it in the water and made another bogey. Another bogey on the last meant I ended up shooting two under. It was a very disappointing round as I had a great chance to be within a shot or two of the lead going into the final round.
My final round of 73 was another poor day. I was playing with Rory and it was bedlam, there were cameras going off all day. Right from the first tee shot I was distracted; someone took a picture of me right at the top of my back swing. I got away with it and made a solid par. I made a birdie on the 2nd, followed it up with two pars and then hit my wedge dead on the 5th to get to four under for the week. On the 6th another camera went off and I ended up hitting my tee shot in the water and taking a double bogey. From here on it was a real battle, I hit it in the water on the 9th and again on the 13th. In the end I made two doubles, one bogey and four birdies. It was very annoying because when I was four under I was in a good position to move forward and make my way into the Top 60 but I let the cameras and the hustle and bustle affect me.
I played the majority of my week nicely, hitting the ball strong off the tee which I haven?t done for a while. I hit a lot of good iron shots but the thing that I got the most enjoyment out of was my chipping and putting. I felt good chipping - the tip that Brett Rumford gave me at Crans has worked great and I am getting my confidence back. My putting is also feeling good again. Considering the way I played it was very disappointing to only finish in a tie for 27. I could have locked up the Race to Dubai this week but not only that I should have given myself a chance to win. However it just wasn't to be.
I am not in next week so I have to wait and see if anyone passes me in the rankings as it could mean that I am a knocked out of the Turkish tournament. I am probably safe but I still have to wait and see. Then I have to go there and have a big week to make it to the season finale. I know that I am playing well enough to do it but it would have been nice to sew it up this week.
This week I am in Shanghai for the BMW Masters. I left Bermuda on Friday evening and arrived here on Sunday morning, stopping off in London for a few hours. It was two overnight flights back to back but I still managed to get some good sleep in. I missed this event last year as it clashed with the Grand Slam of Golf but I played it two years ago when it was an invitational event. I enjoyed the tournament and the venue then, so it is nice to be back again.
Since getting here on Sunday morning I have taken it quite easy to allow myself get onto the time zone. I did some practice on Sunday afternoon, mainly on my chipping and putting. I also hit a bucket of balls just to blow the cobwebs away from all the travel but I wasn't too interested in beating balls. My short game practice is more important at the moment. After a couple of hours practice I went to bed for a few hours and then went into Shanghai for dinner with Paul McLaughlin and Ronan. Paul is the golf director here at Lake Malaren and was actually taught economics by Ronan's uncle. We met two years ago when I was last here so it was good to catch up.
On Monday and Tuesday I played nine holes each day and spent some time on my short game after playing. I have noticed an improvement in my chipping and putting and so I am making sure to keep on top of it and put in some time practising. Pete Cowen is here this week so I spent some time with him on Tuesday as I haven't seen him for a while. He was happy with pretty much everything, the only thing he had to say was about my takeaway and how my hips move, which is something that I have done all my life and have found very tough to correct. I can get it for a few shots but then I go back to my normal takeaway. Basically my hips move too early in my takeaway and Pete would like to see them being less active. I worked on this for a good while on Tuesday but it was quite difficult to do. I know that it would make me hit the ball better in the long term but worse in the short term, so I am going to leave it until my winter break.
I played the pro-am on Wednesday afternoon and before I started I got a couple of hours practice in again mainly on my short game. For the 36 holes that I have played this week, I am happy with how I have hit the ball, I would like to have a bit more speed but it just isn't there at the moment. I am hitting the ball solidly enough to do well this week, but like every week it will come down to chipping and putting and if I hole putts then I know I will have a good week.
When I played here two years ago the course was very new and still bedding in. It has really improved over the two years and is a fine test now. It is a big golf course and definitely suits someone that flys it 300 in the air off the tee. There are a number of holes that you can make quite short if you are able to cut the corner of the dog leg, which can be a three or four club difference between doing so and not. However, the biggest difference from two years ago is the greens - they are really in great condition now, receptive to a good shot, fast and rolling very well. If you are in the wrong position it can be very difficult to get up and down. The greens are designed in such a way that there are little sections on each one, if you hit it into the right section then you are quite close but if you miss it you have a tough two putt. It means that if you are hitting your irons well you can make birdies and if not you are going to struggle.
I really like the course, it is a great test with plenty of risk/reward holes. It does suit a long hitter but they are likely to move the tees which will take away some of that advantage. At the moment I am not in the season ending event, the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, but a good performance this week would sort that out. I am feeling good about my long game and my short game is beginning to show signs of my old ways. I know that I am hitting the ball well enough to win, it is just a matter of holing a few putts.