It doesn't feel like nine weeks since my last tournament, the Williams Challenge. I finished last season with back to back second places in both the Hong Kong Open and the Williams Challenge. It has been a great break with lots of rest. I've done a lot of good work on my swing and fitness and am fully prepared for the season ahead.
Like the last number of years I am starting my Season at the Carlsberg Malaysian Open. It a tournament that I like playing and have performed well at in previous years. Not only do I like the tournament but I always look forward to coming to Kuala Lumpur. It's probably the city that I see the most of during the year. It is an easy place to get around and the people are exceptionally friendly. Following this tournament I fly to La Costa for the WGC Accenture Match Play and then to Florida for 2 more events, the Ford Doral Open and the Honda Classic. It is a slight change from my start last year when I played the Dubai Desert Classic after the Match Play. The inclusion of these two events in my schedule is intended to make me feel more competitive and prepared for the early season majors.
Carlsberg Malaysian Open
As I was saying this is tournament that I enjoy playing and as a result I have performed well here. While I have never won here I have finished second twice, I was beaten in a playoff by Vijay Singh in 2001 and was second to Weh Wei-tze at Templer Park in 2000. The tournament is being held at Saujana Country Club as it was last year, and the year that I lost to Vijay. It is a tough course with a lot of elevation changes from tees to fairways and to greens. For example there is a 13 yard elevation change from the 14th fairway to the green. As a result of this it can make clubbing and shot selection very difficult. Another tricky area of the course are the greens, they can be hard to read as they have some severe slopes and grain. This makes it a tough week both physically, due to the heat, and mentally as there will be times that things will go against you. In situations like that I have to ensure that I stay focused on my own game and continue to do my own thing. This is probably why I like to start here as it is a tough week that tests all areas of my game.
I have played 45 holes over the 3 practise days. I am happy with my game but just a little rusty. I am looking forward to getting back competing again; the buzz of a tournament is the best way to gauge where my game is at. The hope for the first few days is to get myself into contention on the Sunday afternoon so that I will get to see how my "rusty" game will stand up under pressure.
The practise has been going well this week; the only incident to date has been the theft of my laser binoculars by the monkeys that inhabit the course. On Monday while playing a practise round with Stephen Browne a monkey made off with my Binoculars from the 8th tee and straight up a 50ft tree! We could see him trying to eat them and taunting us with them. My caddy's caddy (its so hot here that the caddy's get caddy's for the practise days) went into jungle after them. An hour later he caught up with us with the binoculars in his hands. The monkey had done more damage to them with his teeth than anyone could have done with a knife. Buttons were ripped off and chunks taken out of them, but luckily enough they still work!
Hopefully the rest of the week will go by without any further incidents like that.....talk to you all soon and thanks for stopping by!
An enjoyable but a somewhat disappointing week. My report card would read “could have done better but has potential”.
Day one was going along very well, it seemed like I hadn't taken a break at all. I was playing wonderfully and through 13 holes I was 4 under. It was the worst I could have been as I hadn't missed a green. I was in contention, on the leader board and 4 behind the leader, Jaidee. The hooter went when we were on the 14th to suspend play and we were delayed for 2 hours. When we resumed I played play the last 4 and 1/2 holes in 3 over. I bogeyed the 15, 16 and the 18 to finish the round at 1 under and 7 shots behind Jaidee. A disappointing end to a promising day…
After a disappointing first day, it was back to the early mornings. I hadn't missed these too much during my winter break! I didn't play as well as Thursday but scored much better. A 66 put me back into the thick of things, although it didn't seem that way when I finished as Thomas Bjorn had shot 64 for 12 under, as did Henrik Stenson at 11 under. By the end of the round I was still 7 shots behind Jaidee and in a tie for 9th place.
On Saturday I played with Simon Dyson and Pelle Edberg. It was the hottest day of the week and one of the hottest of their year. In these conditions it is important to ensure that you take in lots of liquids. I played solid throughout the day and had 6 birdies and 1 bogey, the latter due to a three putt on the ninth. Two of my birdies came on the 17th and 18th which were important as they got me to 12 under and in a tie for 3rd place. When I finished Jaidee was 20 under playing the last, Joti Randawha was finished at 13 under and Stenson was 12 under playing the last. As it turned out Stenson missed a putt on the last to allow me to be in the last group on the final day. I was seven behind Jaidee, but still with a chance of winning, albeit a distant chance, which is what I had hoped for at the start of the week.
Sunday was a warm day again, but not as warm as Saturday. It started well with a par at the first. A 7 iron to 15 feet at the par 3 second for a birdie 2 was to follow. The par 5 third, over 600 yards, was playing downwind and so was reachable in two shots. However, there was a delay of about 10 minutes and after waiting I then snap hooked my tee shot out of bounds - I had lost my concentration. I parred with my second ball for a double bogey seven. Then over the next 3 holes I struggled to regain my focus. I hit a poor tee shot on the 4th but made par, a good 5 iron to the par 3 5th just fell off the green and into a poor lie, from which I played a bad chip and took another bogey. Then another bogey on the 6th was caused by a bad 6 iron approach that missed the green right. At this stage I was 4 over for the day, but I then played well from the 7th onwards. I had 3 birdies and 1 bogey, the bogey resulting from a 3 putt on the 16th, for a 74. The bright spot of the day was my birdie on the last to lift my to a tie for 8th.
Overall it was a good start to the season. I played very well in patches, got myself into contention, but didn’t finish it off as I would have liked. I suppose due to my lack of competitive practise my rustiness came out. I lost my focus at key moments, dropping shots that I perhaps normally wouldn't have. But all in all it was a good opening week, it gave me something to work on and a lot to look forward to. It was Jaidee's week, he played well all week and thoroughly deserved to win.
It's on to La Costa now for the WGC Accenture Championship and a return to matchplay - it reminds me of my amateur days!