Another missed cut was not what I was looking for when I decided to go to Italy. The annoying thing about missing this cut was that I really liked the venue. Whilst I wasn't keen on the tournament set-up of the course, I really liked the golf course itself. I would like to play on this type of course every week, just with less rough. In my opinion, a course like this only needs a small amount of rough so that you lose control if you are in it, rather than been over penal.
My first round started poorly after driving it in the rough off the first tee and I wasn't able to reach the green. I made a bogey and followed it up by taking three from the edge of the green on the next hole for another bogey. I managed to make two birdies on my front nine but I made another three bogeys to be out in three over. My back nine was better, I made no bogeys and three birdies to shoot level par for the day. I birdied the fifth after hitting a seven iron stiff, then the sixth after another seven iron to about 10 feet and then I stiffed a wedge on the seventh. In the end I was disappointed not to shoot one under as I didn't birdie my last hole, the par five ninth. Level par wasn't a good score on the day but it was a decent return for me after my start.
On Friday I knew going out that I needed to shoot two under if I was to make the cut as the scoring was very good in the morning. I got off to a good start by making a two putt birdie on the first but then on the second hole I hit a really nice approach shot that came up short in the bunker and I failed to get up and down. Then on the third I was in the rough from the tee hitting an eight iron for my second. I got a flyer and it pitched on the green but it went through into the hazard. I had to drop it short of the front hazard and when I was hitting my chip I got distracted and duffed it into the water. I dropped another one and ended up taking three from there for a quadruple bogey eight. That effectively put paid to my chances of qualifying. However I didn't give up and after an eagle on the ninth and a birdie on the tenth I had a glimmer of hope but a pulled drive on the 12th caught a tree and we never found it. A double bogey seven was the end of my chances and in the end I shot five over to miss the cut.
Over the 36 holes I made eight birdies and an eagle which wasn't too bad. The problem was that I made eight bogeys, a double and a quadruple bogey. I need to eliminate the bad holes and the bogeys. You expect to make one or two bogeys but I am making too many; when I miss a green at the moment it is nearly always costing me a shot so I have to tighten up my short game. I have been practicing it and it is getting a lot better on the range, I just have to take it to the course.
I am playing next week in Switzerland so I stayed out in Italy and did some practice, a lot of putting and chipping. By the time I get to Thursday next week I am hopeful that my short game will be showing good progress.
This week I am back in Europe for the Italian Open, which is being played on the same Cicolo Golf Torino course that I finished second on in 1999. I have to admit that I can't remember much of the course from my last visit here, only one or two holes. I'm told that the lay out hasn't changed but the greens have been remodelled.
Having missed out on the FedEx Cup Playoffs I had a week off last week and, unlike myself, I didn't do much practice. When I got home I was tired and looking forward to a week off so I kept the practice to a minimum. The majority of my practice was spent on my putting green working on my putting. I changed my set-up at the Wyndham and it felt very uncomfortable, I went from being a little open to being a little closed. I am happier to be square to a little closed but the first week out it felt awkward, but after working on it last week it feels a lot better. I am also putting a new Wilson putter in play this week; I used it at home all last week and really liked the feel of it so it is getting a run this week.
I have played 36 holes in practice, 18 on Tuesday and then the pro-am on Wednesday. The golf course really is fantastic. It is a tree lined old style course and the new greens are a great design. There is a great mix of birdie holes and also holes where you are happy to make par on. The only negative thing I would have to say is that the rough is perhaps a little too high. It's hard to find your ball in it and I lost four in the pro-am!
It is nice to be back in Europe again. Obviously I would prefer to be involved in the FedEx Cup but now that I am here I am looking forward to playing. I am happy with how I am hitting the ball, but it is mainly my short game that has let me down. I have spent a good bit of time chipping and putting this week and have also put a new lob wedge in play. I find it much easier to hit lob shots with it and it comes out of the bunkers better too.
I know that if I can get my chipping and putting back to my old standard then I will have no problem scoring well again. For a while I have been struggling in both these areas and so when I miss a green it has tended to be a bogey. This makes shooting a good score very tough, because if you are not scrambling well you have to generate a lot of birdies to make up for it. It also puts a lot of pressure on the rest of your game, but I know that if I can start to hole a few putts again then everything will free up and the game will seem easier.
I am off early Thursday and late Friday with David Howell and Joost Luiten, two nice guys to play with. I am looking forward to getting going and seeing how the work I have done on my putting goes.