It never rains in sunny California or so they say! It has barely stopped since I arrived. On Monday it looked more like a venue that was hosting a fishing championship rather than a WGC event. The course was closed all day Monday, the range opened up about 2.30pm. It was long morning. I practiced my putting in my hotel room for a while and then watched a movie. After lunch I went to the rain soaked range. All the players that were waiting turned out for a couple of hours and I worked on the things I noticed in Malaysia. After a long trip here it was probably a blessing in disguise to have an enforced rest.
Tuesday morning, no rain! The flooding on the course had abated a bit, enough to open it. I played a practise round with Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood, they had both come from the rain shortened Nissan Open in L.A. On the 5 tee box we got word that the championship was being put back until Thursday. It's getting more like an amateur championship at home, affected by the weather!
The course was exceptionally wet, a few of the fairways were completely water logged and it would be hard to find anywhere to take relief. In situations like this it is important not to hit the ball to hard, it is hard to compress the ball and easy to catch it fat, as I found out a few times. To counter act this I worked on hitting some three-quarter shots so as not to fall into this trap.
After hearing that we have been put back to Thursday I decided to play only 9 holes and go and practice my three-quarter shots and do some chipping and putting. I think that the short game will be key this week, even more so than usual.
In round one (whenever it gets started) I play a past champion, Jeff Maggart. It's a tough draw but then every match is tough, 64 of the top 65 players in the world are here this week - the only player not here is Ernie Els. It will be a tough week for anyone that goes well this week as it has now been condensed into 4 days. There will be a lot to get your head around as conditions are unusual. Conditions will suit long straight hitters as it is playing every bit of its 7,247 Yards.
I am playing in this tournament since its inception and my best performance so far was last year when I to the quarter finals. I was beaten by the eventual winner, Tiger. This year I am in the same quarter as Thomas Bjorn, Stuart Appleby, Ian Poulter and Tiger, all these on top of Jeff Maggart in the first round!!!!
I am looking forward to getting started, it will be tough physically, mentally and very competitive, but hopefully I can conquer the conditions and have my best performance here yet.
In my preview I mentioned that this has not been my best tournament in previous years. To date my best performance is the last eight. Well this year has seen no improvement - I made it to the last 32 this year. I played nicely in both matches, but just not good enough in the second round.
The first round started a day late due to the heavy rain. It was nice to finally get going, it had been a long few days waiting around. When we did start the course had dried out somewhat and preferred lies were in play on the fairways - the course wouldn't have been playable without it.
My first match against Jeff Maggert was as tough as I predicted and there was never more than 1 hole in it. I was 1up through 7 holes, having made a couple of birdies. I then missed a shortish putt for birdie on the 569 yard par 5 8th to go 2 up and then missed another good chance on the 9th, which played as a 165 yard par 3 rather than the original 467 yard par 4 because of the wet conditions. Both were good putts but just didn't go in. It meant going to the turn 1up rather than 3up. We halved the 10th to the 13th and then I lost the 14th to a par - we were both bunkered and I failed to get up and down. However I got my lead straight back on the 15th when Jeff failed to chip and putt for par. I was 1 up with 2 to play and we both hit the 17th in regulation – I then three putted and Jeff two putted. Level going down the par 5 last, we both laid up, Jeff hit his 3rd first, to 20 feet. I had 108 yards left, which is normally a “three-quarter” wedge. However, due to the soft fairways I hit a “half” 9 iron to 3 feet. Jeff missed and I holed. It was a tough match and one I was glad to win.
I played Rory Sabbatini in the second round. He had beaten Thomas Bjorn on the 13th in the first round. It was an early start as we had a potential two rounds to play in the day. I opened up with a birdie on the 1st and two more in the next 6 holes to be 2up. I then lost the 8th to a birdie 4 - I hit a very good putt that just missed from 15 feet and Rory holed from 4 feet. We then halved the 9th in par 3's. On the 10th Rory hit it close - I had been in trouble but held the longest putt of the week, 55 feet for a half. We then halved the 11 in birdies and I lost the par 3 12th with a 4 to his 2. I then lost the 14th after another bad second shot - I chipped to 8 feet but missed to go 1 down. Rory birdied the 16th to go 2up and then hit it close on 17th. I missed the green and when I didn't hole the chip I conceded the match.
I could have no complaints, Rory had played great and I had played only “Ok”.
Overall, I was happy enough with my game, I just came up against a guy playing very well, although he was beaten by Ian Poulter in the next round. All the seeds struggled, the only top ten player making the last 4 was Reteif Goosen. Looking back on the week it definitely seemed to be David Toms' week. He was playing great and holing putts every round.
Well from here I head to the Ford Championship at Doral, on a course known as the “Blue Monster”.
Talk to you all soon