Missing the cut was disappointing as I played well here last year. I went with good memories from 2013 and was looking for a good week. My first round really was the problem - four over was a poor score but what was annoying was that it was only a few holes that killed me. I three putted my second hole, doubled the eighth, then bogeyed the ninth and the tenth to put me four over par. However I got it back to three over after "stiffing" a sand wedge on the 11th, but then gave the shot back on the 15th. I was three over par with two to play and both the 17th and the 18th are birdie holes. I managed to make a birdie on the 17th after a good pitch with lob wedge and then on the 18th I was hitting sand wedge for my third shot. I was thinking to myself that I was going to hit it close as I had hit some really good pitches in the round. However, it pitched just left of he green, about 15 feet from the hole and kicked into the bunker. From there it took me three to get down and meant that I signed for four over par. The difference a good pitch would have made on the last hole was huge. If I had shot two over I wouldn't have felt too bad as it would have been a good two over and it would have meant I didn't have to do too much to make he cut.
On Friday I felt that I had to shoot two or three under par to make the cut. I got off to a good start with birdies on the 11th and 14th, having started on the tenth. I then gave one shot back on the 15th and only parred my way through the 18th. I made a great par on the 1st - my second shot off a rock to the right of the green and I then made a good chip and putt. A birdie on the second after hitting the green in two got me to two over par and on the cut mark. On the third hole Ronan and myself were thinking it was a seven iron but my playing partner hit a six and landed short and hit the rocks, so we decided to hit a three-quarter six iron. It pitched by the hole and ran over the back and I didn't get it up and down. Then on the fifth I took four to get down from 60 yards which meant another bogey. A final bogey on the seventh meant that I finished on five over for the tournament and missed the cut by two shots.
For my last 13 holes I missed a lot of greens and then didn't scramble well enough. Overall, for the two rounds I just didn't chip or putt well enough. My putting while it doesn't feel too bad is not good and I am languishing in the statistics. I spent the weekend mainly working on this and my chipping; I did hit some shots but not too many as my long game is fine, there is not much to do on this, but the main area that I have to sort out is my putting. I will be spending a lot of time on the he putting green next week.
I am in Texas this week, San Antonio to be exact, for the Valero Texas Open. I played here last year for the first time and finished in the top ten. I liked the course and the set up of having the hotel on site, so I am happy to be coming back this year. I took Monday off and relaxed in Orlando for the day and then flew here in the evening. After a couple of weeks on the road I was happy to take a day off and relax.
On Tuesday I spent a few hours practising, working on my long game for a while and then spent a a couple of hours on my short game. After lunch I played nine holes; I wanted to get out on the course, not only to see it but also to get away from the range. By getting out on the course I got a better feel for how the work I had done in the morning had gone. On Wednesday I played in the morning pro-am and then practised after the round. I hit a couple of bags of balls and then spent a couple of hours putting and chipping. We had good fun in the pro-am but didn't challenge the leaders. The course played long as it was really cold and windy, totally different to what the forecast is for the rest of the week.
The course is the same as last year, quite tough around the greens and pretty tight off the tee. If you miss the fairways there is a lot of scrub land around and you can end up with some terrible lies. Keeping it out of the scrub is key and another area that is very penal is the bunkering. The way Greg Norman has designed the bunkers you never really get a level stance; they are quite a penalty and best to be avoided where possible. However, the main defense of this course is the greens, which are heavily sloped with a lot of run-offs. Throughout the week you will see a lot of shots hitting the green and then ending up off rolling off as they are also quite firm, which then puts a premium on chipping.
Even though I had a bad day last Sunday I am happy with the progress I am making with my game. My short game is getting better everyday and I haven't been doing too much work on my long game as there isn't much to do with it. It is really a case of being patient and not trying to force things. I know that I am very close to playing well and I saw a lot of good things in the first three rounds last week. The hardest thing about being patient is that I only have two weeks left to qualify for the Masters and so you naturally want to try and force things to try and get a win. However I am reminding myself that it is patience that is needed. I am playing early thursday and late Friday.