SCOTTSDALE, AZ - JANUARY 29: Padraig Harrington of Ireland with his tee shot on the 16th hole during the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on January 29, 2015 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
My first week back after my winter break didn't go as planned. Having not been on a golf course for seven weeks I wasn't quite sure what to expect from my game. In round one I shot even par, which was nothing special other than the fact that I played very poorly, but got up and down from everywhere to shoot a decent score. It was interesting being back in competitive action, because no matter how much you play nothing compares to tournament golf - I struggled with my game and battled hard, but thankfully my short game was in good shape and in particular my bunker play. The highlight of my round came as the hooter went for the suspension of play due to darkness. I had pulled my drive left on the 8th, my seventeenth hole, but my swing was impeded by a tree and I was only able to whip it inside and hit a big hook. I had 163 yards to the back right pin and I was hitting a wedge. Striking it just as the hooter went, I caught it great, it pitched just short, skipped up and spun to the left and into the hole for an unlikely eagle, which got me back to level par - what a way to finish!!
Friday was a bad day all round, with the weather and my golf both poor. I got off to a bad start by dropping shots at the first two holes by not getting up and down from straight forward positions. I kept battling all day but when I drove it out of bounds on the 14th that effectively condemned me to missing the cut. Even though I didn't give up it left me with too big a task over the last four holes. In the end I ran up a big number on the last to make it look even worse. I pulled my drive but it managed to stay up on the edge of the water, but I was only able to play it left handed. While I was deciding what to do, I accidentally grounded my club in the hazard and then to add insult to injury, when I did go to play left handed I had a "fresh air" shot. After all my messing around I finished the hole with an 8!
I was very disappointed to miss the cut as I had battled well on the first day only to throw it all away on Friday. I would have liked to have got another couple of rounds under my belt as I can see that it is play that I need. However I came away knowing that my routines and preparation were not good enough and will be working on both before next week.
That said and whilst I never like to miss cuts, this was probably the best week ever to miss one as the Super Bowl was in town. Thanks to one of my sponsors, Barracuda, Ronan and I were able to go along to it. I have to say it was an amazing experience and one of the best sporting occasion I have been at. We were cheering for the Patriots so it made it even more exciting for us. What a game!
I am heading to San Diego knowing that I need to do some work on a few areas of my game, but the important thing for me now is not to overdo it and to trust that a lot of it will come around after a couple of rounds.
After seven weeks at home relaxing, I am back in action at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour. I have to say it was great been home for so long, so good in fact that it was hard to leave. I did quite a bit of practice and swinging up to the end of December but after that I took it quite easy - I took a few days off and when I did practice I didn't go overboard. I knew that I needed to be in good shape for my charity golf shows, not so much to do them but so that they wouldn't take too much out of me. They were a great way to finish off my break as they went very well and we raised over ?165,000 for my Charitable Foundation and the ISPCC.
I arrived in Phoenix on Saturday evening and whilst it was hard to leave home it was great to arrive in a place with such good weather. On Sunday I played Whisper Rock, which is a course that Phil Mickelson designed. It was most enjoyable as I took Ronan's money, even though it was my first time on a golf course since Indonesia seven weeks ago. We had a great day there, but it would be hard not to as it?s a great place. On Monday I played the pro-am on the tournament course - I hit the ball nicely, as I had also on Sunday. The course was much tougher than last year as there were several changes made during the year. Most holes were lengthened and all the greens were relaid. The added length makes it much tougher from tee to green and the greens are very firm, so all in all I would say that it is substantially harder. Whilst we didn't do any good in the pro-am, we did have fun. For me I was happy to get out and play golf again and also to see the course.
On Tuesday I took it very easy as I have decided to try my best to have a rest day each week. I was wondering what I would do for the day, but in the end I managed to fill it very easily - I went to the gym, then for a long lunch and afterwards I had a haircut. By the time I had finished it was getting late, but I went up to the course for about 90 minutes to practice my chipping and putting. All in all, it was a very relaxing day.
On Wednesday I played the main pro-am and again we didn't do particularly well as a team but enjoyed ourselves. It rained overnight so the greens were substantially softer but then so were the fairways, so the course played quite tough again.
I am quite happy with what I have seen in my game so far. There are a few things that I am not so sure about but I am not worrying about anything yet. I am waiting to see how everything is at the end of the week, because I find that I never really know what's what until I have played a tournament. Seeing as this is my first week out I am not sure what to expect and so I am not stressing about anything in practice. At the end of the week I will sit down and see how everything was, then see what I need to work on next week.
I am playing late Thursday and early Friday. It's hard to know if it's a good or bad draw as Friday is to be a bad day weather wise, so I am not sure if it's best to be out early or late.
After seven weeks off at home I am excited about getting a new season going. I am feeling good about things and have taken a lot of positives from my win in Indonesia. I am continuing to work on the things that I was doing at the end of last season which is to get back to enjoying my golf and seeing the good in things.
This is one of my favourite tournaments which makes it even better for it to be my season opener. What they have done with this tournament over the years is great and the highlight for me is the 16th hole - the atmosphere is great and it is like nothing we experience in golf. I am really looking forward to getting going.