PACIFIC PALISADES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Padraig Harrington of Ireland follows through on his tee shot on the second hole in the first round of the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club on February 13, 2014 in Pacific Palisades, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Unfortunately I missed the cut last week, on a course that I really enjoy playing and in perfect conditions. The damage was done in my first round when I shot four over par, meaning that I had a lot to do on Friday to make the weekend, which wasn't impossible, just tough. When I finished on Friday I was very disappointed as I had made a good run at getting to the weekend. With three holes to play I was on the cut mark but ended up dropping a couple of shots in the last three holes.
My first round of 75 was where the trouble occurred and the annoying thing about the round was that it started so well. I was two under after three holes and feeling good. I bogeyed the fourth hole, the long par three and followed it up with a couple of pars. However it was the seventh hole where my trouble began. I miss-hit my wedge second shot and it spun off the front of the green and from there I three putted it. Then on the eighth I had a first for me - I had hit the fairway and was talking to my playing partner Matt Jones as we were walking up to our balls and without even thinking I bent over, marked my ball and picked it up. We were "placing" the week before in Pebble and I just forgot that we were not doing the same in LA, which was a one shot penalty and cost me a bogey. Another bogey on the ninth, after a poor second shot, meant that even after my good start I was out in two over par. Bogeys on the 12th, 13th and 17th, with a birdie on the last, all added up to four over par. While it was nice to birdie the last it was also quite annoying as I had three putted the 17th from nine feet, which was all I could think about after the round - if I had holed the first putt then I would have shot 2 over par which wouldn't have been that bad.
Going out on Friday, I knew that I needed to shoot three or four under par to be playing on Saturday and also that we would be tight on finishing as we were the second last group off. I started on the 10th and made a really nice chip and putt birdie. I the parred all the rest on the back nine to be out in one under par. I made two more birdies, the third and fifth, after holing from about 15 feet on both holes. With four holes to play I was on the cut line. On the sixth I miss-hit my six iron tee shot and ended up short, but I got up and down. The seventh hole cost me again - from the middle of the fairway I hit my eight iron a fraction right of where I was aiming and it finished just up in the fringe, which left me a very awkward putt. It was a "half moon" putt, whereas if it had stayed on the green it would have left me a straight putt up the green. I hit my first putt too hard and it ran eight feet past and then I missed the one back. I gave myself a good chance for birdie on the eighth from about eight feet but missed. Then on the last hole, as it was getting dark, I pulled my drive and then going for the pin I caught the fringe with my approach and it went through the green. I had to chip it in to make the cut, but missed, knocking it well past and ended up making a bogey. In the end I shot one under par on Friday to be three over for the tournament.
I stayed for the weekend and practised, mostly on my putting, which is what cost me making the cut. I had five three putts and a penalty shot, finishing three over, but by two putting these holes I would have comfortably made the cut.
The work I did on my putting over the weekend helped a lot - I found a couple of things that may have been causing some of the problems, which I'll continue to work on during my week off and then get to see them in tournament conditions at the Honda next week.
I am off this week as I am not in the WGC Accenture World Matchplay, but I'm certainly looking forward to a few days at home with Paddy and Ciaran.
This week I am at one of my favourite stops on the PGA Tour, the Northern Trust Championship at Rivieria Country Club in Los Angeles. It is one of the best courses of the year and one of the nicest places too; I stay in Santa Monica, right on the beach. I have been coming here for a number of years now and every year I enjoy it more and more. I have had mixed results, with finishes in the top ten but last year I missed the cut.
On Monday afternoon I spent an hour or so working with Bob Rotella; I hadn't seen him for a few months so it was good to spend some time working with him. We had a good chat and then went to hit some shots. We spent time talking about my game and about not trying too hard. It made a lot of sense; it wasn't anything new but it always helps to hear it again. On Tuesday I had a corporate outing with Golf Swing Shirt, playing with three people who won a competition to play a round with me. This took up the whole day as we played 18 holes, did some filming and then had lunch. On Wednesday I played the morning pro-am, which was my first look at the course this year and it was in great condition. The weather has been fantastic here for the last few weeks and as a result it may be the best condition I have ever seen the course in. I did some more work with Bob after the pro-am and some putting practice. Last week I was pulling a lot of my irons so I have been working on swinging them more in front of me, which has worked. In the pro-am I was cutting all my iron shots, now I am trying to get them going left again! It's amazing what you can do in a few days.
I am looking forward to playing here this week as it's one of my favourite courses of the year, with my ultimate par four in golf - the 10th hole, a driveable par four where you can take a bogey just as easily as a birdie. I'm a little unsure what to expect on Thursday as I have managed to turn my pull into a cut and now I am struggling to turn it over. The good thing is that my short game is in good shape. I am out early on Thursday and late Friday, with the weather forecast we have for the week we are in for a great tournament.