Life is a lot easier when you play badly and then all of a sudden you get in contention and win one. No one gets on your back. When you finish runner-up seven times, everyone is asking, 'Why aren't you winning?' It's much more fun when you jump into a win out of the blue. It's a much tougher game when you play consistently well.

The Players Championship

Entry Date:
Mar 29, 2005

Past Performance

Like an insurance product or investment, past performance is not a guarantee of future performance, however it can certainly help. I've finished 2nd here for the past two years. Last year I made a charge on the final 9 holes, shooting 30 coming home and playing the last 5 in 5 under. Good memories!


It's always nice to come back to the same venue year after year, especially when the course is as good as this. It adds to the excitement of the tournament when you have performed well there in the past. In practice I asked myself why I have done so well here. It's tough to say as the course is a great test and it has very heavy rough. I think it has something to do with the way it firms up and the greens get so fast, which I like to play on. The greens on Sundays are definitely some of the fastest greens of the year.


The Course

This is one of the most famous golf courses in the world. Every golfer knows the infamous 17th with the island green. In total the course measures 7093 yards and following heavy rain on Tuesday evening and during the night, it will be playing every inch of it. This combined with the US Open style rough will make for an interesting tournament. In practice I have attempted to hit some shots from the rough and on some of them I have been lucky to progress the ball more than 100 yards. Hitting fairways will be key this week. 


This course has 18 great holes however like most years nothing will be decided until the last three have been negotiated.


16 - A 507 yard par 5 - reachable in 2 with water down the right . It's as easy to a double bogey here as eagle.


17 - 137 yard par 3 - the island green, swirling winds. I'd take 4 pars and run. The most daunting short shot you'll ever hit!


18 - 447 yard par 4 - water all down the left, heavy rough right. As tough a finishing hole as you'll find anywhere.


These three holes could tell some stories, and no doubt they will have many more by the end of the week.


My Practice

I have played the course and worked with Dr. Bob Rotella again. My play has been hampered by the inclement weather but it does help that I know the course.


The first half of the week has gone by quickly. I have been inundated with congratulations from everyone after my win. It's always great to win and to get praise from your peers but the unfortunate thing is that everything moves on. Now I have to focus on this weeks tournament which is the Players Championship, the Honda is history. 


The key thought for this week is patience; it is a tough course that requires a lot of respect. This is not a course that can be over powered, like all the big events it is about hanging in there and taking your chances when they come. Hopefully I can do that and maybe then go one better than the last two years.


TPC Review

This years TPC was possibly the longest tournament week of my life. It seemed for a while that we might never get finished! It was stop and start throughout the week, but we finally managed to get 72 holes played; it may have taken us until Monday but we managed it. 


As it is considered the "Fifth" major it was right that we played the full tournament. From my perspective it was a very disappointing week - like the weather it started well and went downhill over the course of the week.


Round 1

I was drawn with Jay Haas and Rod Pampling for the first 2 rounds (as it turns out it took us 4 days to play both rounds). During my first second place here 2 years ago, I was tied with Jay and I played with him in the final round. This was a nice draw as both guys are great to play with.


We played early in the morning on Thursday. The course was playing the easiest I have ever seen it. The greens were soft and there was no wind. As a result the scoring was exceptional. I started on the back 9 and shot 67 (five under). It felt terrible as I thought I had left some shots out on the course, although I did make 2 good putts for par on the 4th and 5th holes (my 13th and 14th). However, I was 3 shots behind Steve Jones.


Round 2

I was supposed to play at 1pm on Friday, but as we all know this is when the thunderstorms started. I waited around all day to hear what was happening. It wasn't until about 4pm that play was cancelled for the day. Play resumed on Saturday morning but only for a short while. The second round (which some players had started) was then cancelled and restarted on Saturday afternoon. I began at approximately 4pm, but we new we would only get 9 holes played. When we were called in I was 2 under for the day and 7 under in total. But when we came back on Sunday morning, I played the back 9 in 3 over to finish with a 73 for 4 under overall. It was a disappointing end to a promising round. To top it all off I hit it in the water on the 17th for first time since I have been coming here. My dry record is gone! Still at 4 under I knew that I was still in the tourament.


Round 3 and 4

Rounds 3 and 4 were played over Sunday and Monday in heavy wind, with round 3 interrupted again. These two rounds are a blur - I shot 2 of my worst rounds of my career, 77 and 78 and finished on 7 over in a tie for 63rd. It was extremely disappointing, especially as I actually played well and hit a lot of good shots. The problem was I was in a daze all week – I struggled with my focus and shot selection; no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't get it right. I managed to pick the wrong shot most of the time, making simple shots hard and the hard shots even harder!


All in all it was a tough week and I was mentally wasted. I am still very happy with my game and played some good golf, but just wasn't able to sustain it mentally throughout and unfortunately this game is 99% mental. I am not playing this week, missing the BellSouth Classic, so that I can go home before the Masters to see my father.

 

I watched the end of the TPC on TV. It was a particularly exciting finish and a number of people had chances to win. In the end Fred Funk prevailed and I have to say I was delighted for him. Fred is one of the nicest guys you will meet. I don't think there is anyone on Tour who wouldn't be delighted for Fred.


week to forget for me, but the great thing about being a professional golfer is that there is always next week. For me next week is the Masters, the first major of the year. Hopefully a better week awaits!

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