CORK, IRELAND - JUNE 19: Padraig Harrington of Ireland in action during the first round of the Irish Open at the Fota Island Resort on June 19, 2014 in Cork, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
It was great been back home playing in front of the Irish golf fans. When you are travelling around the world you forget how good it is to play in front of your own crowds. Last week over 100,000 fans turned out to watch the golf and at times when they roared it seemed like they were all in one place. The Irish Open is always a special event for me but even more so this year as it was in my Dads home town, Cork. I spent many summer holidays in Cork, so to play there was great. I would have liked to be more in the mix but then you can't have everything!
I finished in a tie for 14th after shooting rounds of 69, 67, 71, and 69 for a four round total of eight under par. It was certainly a week where I am walking away thinking that I could have been a lot better. After my opening two rounds I was looking for a couple of better days over the weekend - whilst I shot two under in total it could well have been a lot better as I dropped a few sloppy shots and then missed a few chances. That said it was still a solid week and there were a lot of good signs in my play. I could see a few things that I have to work on but I was happy to see that the work I have been doing over the last few weeks is starting to pay off. Coming into this week I was feeling that my game was in good shape. I have been showing good signs over the last few weeks but I just haven't been finishing off tournaments. I haven't been putting four rounds together so shooting the scores I did this week was good progress. I am happy that my worst score for a round was level par as earlier in the year it would have been a few over.
In my third round, I got off to a bad start by hitting a poor iron shot into the water on the third that cost me a double bogey and then on the ninth I hit a really nice second shot that flew just a few yards too far and cost me a bogey, which was a good bogey in the end. However I finished well with two birdies in the last three holes to end up shooting level par. I lost a few spots but it was still a good battling round. Things weren't really going for me and I could easily have shot three or four over par. My final round was something similar, I three putted the second and third for bogeys. What looked like could be another one of those days where you get off to a bad start and it doesn't get any better, turned out to be a decent day in the end. I battled back well and made five birdies to end up shooting two under par.
I have been struggling with my grip for a few weeks now, it just hasn't felt comfortable. On Tuesday I changed the grips on my clubs to see if that would help and after two holes I had to go back and change them again. I was a little better during the week but still not great and a little distracting at times, as I just couldn't get my hands comfortable. When I look back at some of the poor shots that I hit I can see that I was distracted by my grip, which I will be working on this coming week while I am at home. It generally means that my left hand is a little strong. Considering how I was feeling with this I am very happy with how I performed and for the most part I did a good job of ignoring the distraction.
I was very happy to shoot 69 on Sunday. Not only was my grip annoying me, I also injured my neck before I went out. I was doing my warm up stretches and jarred it; it locked up and made any movement sore. I got plenty of treatment on it before hand and it helped but it still wasn't 100%. I could feel in my swing that I was opening up on all my shots, but whilst it felt bad it wasn't terrible in terms of results. I can see looking through the round where I bailed out of a few shots to protect it. However it held up well and I managed to get around in two under which I was very happy with. However, the sad thing about it was that my three dropped shots were nothing to do with my neck.
All in all it was decent week in terms of my performance. I am coming away happy, with a few things to work on in my week off. Firstly will be my grip and then I will be spending time on my routines and preparation, which was another area that I could see wasn't quite where it should be.
I really enjoyed the week in Cork; it's a pity that I couldn't give the crowds a bit more to shout about. My tee shot on the third hole on Saturday took a lot out of everyone. That said the crowds were great throughout the week, the reception I got when I walked onto the final green on Sunday was brilliant. It's just a pity I have to wait another year for it again.
It's Irish Open week again, although it doesn't seem like a year since we were at Carton House. This year we are back at Fota Island, which produced great tournaments when we played here in 2001 and 2002. Anyone who played here then is really looking forward to the week, especially with the weather we are having. The European Tour players don't know what to think, as they are used to having bad weather when they come to Ireland.
This is a huge week for myself and all the Irish players, as it's our fifth major. There is always great expectation on us to do well and we all want to perform for the crowds that turn out to support us. Having won the Irish Open in 2007, I definitely feel more relaxed at it now. Prior to winning I was trying too hard to win it, but now I know that I have one and I can take a more relaxed approach.
I spent last week watching the US Open on the television wishing I was there playing. It's tough to watch tournaments that you are used to playing in but not qualified for. The good thing about it is that is reminds me how much I enjoy them and how much I want to get back to playing them.
I am looking forward to playing this week and have great memories of Fota Island. I won an Amateur Strokeplay event here in 1995 and also finished 2nd and 6th in the and 2002 Irish Opens ,respectively. On top of this it is like a home coming for me as my Father was from Cork and played for them. I have always received great support all over Ireland but probably none as good as Cork. I haven't been down here for a while and haven't played the course since 2002. I got here on Monday evening and played nine holes on Tuesday. It was great to get out and see the course and I could remember a lot of the holes. Some had changed slightly with new tees and a few minor changes to the greens but, all in all, the course is as I remember it. It is in fantastic condition and the greens are immaculate - if you hit a good putt it should go in.
On Wednesday I played the morning pro-am - we gave it a good run but in the end we were a few shots shy of the winning total. It was an amazing day to play golf, very little wind with the sun splitting the skies. I played fine, nothing amazing, which is what you actually want in the Wednesday pro-am. There is nothing worse than shooting six or seven under on a Wednesday. I am happy with how my game is progressing, over the last few weeks I have been putting in some good rounds but I just haven't been finishing off tournaments. In Dallas I had three good rounds, then in Memphis I had a couple of good rounds and one bad one. I can see the progress, I just have to get four solid rounds together.
After I finished the pro-am I called it a day - it was a long day in theto heat and there were a lot of photos and autographs to be signed. In years gone by I would have gone to the range after all this and worn myself out, but I am now realizing that the most important thing is to be fresh and ready to play. I am still sticking with my reduced practice schedule, which is hard at times but I know that it is the right thing to do
I have enjoyed the course, there are plenty of holes that give you birdie chances and there are also plenty of good tough ones where pars are good scores. If the weather remains as it is supposed then I think the scoring will be pretty low as the greens are good. I am looking forward to playing, especially after watching so much golf last week. I am drawn with Rory and Stephen Gallagher at 7.50am on Thursday and 12.pm on Friday.