My second week of the year didn't go to plan in terms of result. I came to Abu Dhabi after a good first week out and looking forward to another week. The course in practice was very tough, the rough was like a US Open. I was out early on Thursday and I played nicely, I drove the ball quite well and any fairways that I missed tended to be by a couple of yards. My chipping was good and short distance putts were solid but I didn't really hole anything of significance. That said I was going along nicely at two under for my round right up until my last hole, the ninth. I hit a good drive that just ran through the fairway and left me an awkward second ? I took my four iron and got stuck in heavy rough around the green and my chip left me with a five footer for par which I missed. This was my only bogey of the round, and the most annoying place to make a bogey! One under was still a good score in the morning but two under would have made a big difference, and I would have been in much better form and feeling good about my score. The other thing about my round that was very annoying was that my good shots were not going as far as they should. All my shots, from drives to irons were short. I found this the week before also but just thought that it was early season timing issues.
After the round I spent a lot of time working with Pete to get to the bottom of where my speed had gone. I ended up hitting a lot of balls trying different things, from my happy Gilmore to regular swings. We established that I need to get more through the ball, it definitely helped when I got it right. I was a lot happier to have got to the bottom of the problem as now I can work on it and correct it.
Friday was another frustrating day, my game was solid again, I just never hit it close enough. I hit a lot of shots to 15-20 feet and just couldn't hole any of them. I bogeyed my third hole and then my fourteenth and the rest I parred. I made a couple of good saves but just wasn't able to make a birdie. On my last hole I had another 15 footer which was to make the cut and it hit the hole and spun out. I hit it too hard as I had struggled to get the ball to the hole all day. Missing the cut was very disappointing as I played well enough to make it, I was also surprised by the scoring, after the first round I would have put a lot of money on one over par making the cut.
While you never like to miss cuts in the end it wasn't a bad thing as I got to spend two days with Pete and Dave working on my speed and swing. We got a lot of work done which I wouldn't have got done had I played the weekend. Not that I would have chosen to miss the cut but the work I got done was a good second. Looking back I'd say the work I did on Thursday evening didn't help me in terms of performing on Friday, I hit a lot of balls, so I would have been a little tired.
I am off this coming week and then I head to the states for three weeks, hopefully four if I can manage to get myself back into the top 50 in the world by the end of the AT&T. I'll spend the week working on what I was doing with Pete and hopefully it will be ingrained by the time I get to Phoenix.
I arrived in Abu Dhabi on early Monday morning from Durban. After a few hours in bed I came out to the course to see Pete Cowen for a once over and spent a couple of hours going through a few things. Dave Alred was with us but the day was spent with Pete as I hadn't seen him for a few weeks. We got some good work done and overall he was happy with what he saw.
I have played here in Abu Dhabi since the first staging of the event and have had mixed results. I have had a handful of top tens and then some poor weeks too. I like the course but over the last few years they have grown the rough up and narrowed the fairways. This makes it a tough course and this year the rough is at its heaviest. It is pretty much a wedge out when you hit it in the rough and with narrow fairways that can be quite frequent. It is a totally different prospect to last week and will test my game in a different way. There will be a lot of scrambling and wedges for third shots to par fours; normally this week is a birdie fest but I struggle to see it this year. It is feeling like it will be a war of attrition and we haven't even started.
I am happy with the work I have done with Pete but the one thing I am struggling with is that I am lacking speed. I'm not hitting the ball very strongly at the moment and on a big course like this one that is a disadvantage. Dave is here putting me through my paces and is helping to get me ready for the tournament. After my winter work its good to have him around to help me get in the right frame of mind.
Last week there was no cut and a small field and that brought with it quite a relaxed feeling. This week we have a full field and a cut and so our mindset changes. It is back to normal now.
I am looking to build on last week and get myself into contention here on Sunday; the more I can get myself into contention, I know that a win will come. The course is playing very tough this year so it is important to be patient and not get carried away thinking about the scoring of the last few years.
I'm out early/late this week, which by the forecast is a nice draw as it get windy in the afternoons so I get my morning round in first. I'm playing with Branden Grace and Joost Luiten.