ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 04: Padraig Harrington of Ireland drives off the third tee during the third round of the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at The Old Course on October 4, 2014 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
My week started off very well and had great potential after day one. In the end I finished up in a tie for 18th which was a little disappointing as I has set myself up well on Thursday only to fizzle out a bit as the week went on. That said I was happy with how a lot of things went during the week. I felt in Amsterdam a few weeks ago that I had made some really good progress on my putting and so I was looking forward to seeing how it was and I am coming away from the week very happy with it as it had improved further and I am confident in my putting again.
I didn't practice in Carnoustie this year, so when I got there for my first round and a few people welcomed me it felt good to be back at the scene of my first Open win in 2007. When I was on the first tee and during the round there were a lot of good memories going through my mind and I have to say it was great. It obviously helped that I played very well and had the time to enjoy the feeling. Things went well right from the start, I hit a good tee shot and then a nine iron stiff on the first. From there I kept going - I made four in row from the third, got it to eight under through 14 after playing great and was feeling good. I bogeyed the last two holes to shot six under, but I wasn't that disappointed as it was still a good score.
During the rest of the week I didn't play quite as well as I had the first day. I struggled on the greens during the second round in Kingsbarns as they hadn't cut them due to the potential for strong winds. I ended up shooting two under par but left a good score behind me. I could have shot a low one but for three putts. The two rounds at St. Andrews of 71 could also have been much better, but I missed a few chances and made a couple of sloppy bogeys. I finished up on ten under for the week and I feel that I could have only have been better than that.
I am happy with how things went during the week, while I missed a few putts I am happy that it is moving in the right direction. I felt so much better over my putts that I am confident I have made good progress. It was great to make the cut with JP as well, we have played together for years but we still get excited about it and want to make the cut and win. While we didn't win the team event this year I am confident that we will get another one. However, the fact that Kieran McManus won made up for the fact that we didn't contend. Peter Lawrie and Kieran played well all week and then had to shot a low one on Sunday to finish it off which they did. We certainly enjoyed celebrating on Sunday night!
After a week playing a very different and new role at the Ryder Cup I am back in action at the Dunhill Links. This is one of my favourite tournaments of the year and goes in my schedule straight away. I have always enjoyed coming to St Andrews right back to when I first came as an amateur. As a pro it has been equally enjoyable as I have won the Dunhill twice.
Last week was a totally different but great experience for me. To be involved as a vice captain was great and gave me a super insight into what happens behind the scenes that you don't get as a player. To see how Paul went about things and what he brought to the Captains role was brilliant. I have known him for years and always knew that he would do a great job as captain, but he surpassed my high expectations. There was no stone left unturned and his attention to detail was amazing. I was only happy I could be there to support and learn from him.
It's back to normal for me now and after a week of no play I am looking forward to getting going. At my last tournament in Amsterdam I was very happy with how things went, particularly with my putting. I did some practice during my week at home but nothing last week in Gleneagles. At home I also worked on my swing a bit and did quite a lot of work on my short game.
This week I have spent a bit of time with Pete working on my swing. I have been peeling out of my shots a bit and so we have been trying to stop that. I have played two rounds in practice, one at St Andrews and the other at Kingsbarns. Both of them I played with a mixture of JP, Kieran, Gerry McManus, Dermot Desmond and John Heggarty. As always they were competitive games and no quarter was given. I played ok in practice and with the work I have done with Pete I can see an improvement, but it is just hard to get it right on all shots.
JP and myself are starting in Carnousite, it's nice starting there as we then get the long trip out of the way early. Also the weather is to be pretty good on Thursday and then get worse for the rest of the week so to get a Carnoustie on a good day is ideal. I am looking forward to getting playing again after watching so much golf last week. Both JP and I are looking to make it three wins each in this tournament. Hopefully this will be the week.