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.

Irish Open

Entry Date:
Jul 21, 2003

This week's Nissan Irish Open is next to the majors in terms of importance and in career achievement terms every golfer wants to win the open of their own country and I am no different.

You want to taste success with your national title and that's why this week is very important to me.

The British Open is over for another year and congratulations to Ben Curtis on his victory. But whilst I am delighted for Ben, I felt particularly sorry for Thomas Bjorn. I wanted Thomas to win for Thomas. He and I are good friends and it would have been great if he had won, but from a selfish point of view, I feel that if he can win a major, I can also win one. He and I are competing so regularly against each other, as we saw recently in Hamburg, that if Thomas can win a major, there's every reason too that I can also win one. I really wanted Thomas to win and having played the best golf all week, he deserved to win. Maybe he relaxed towards the end thinking he had it won, but then paid the price.

Significantly, we've all noticed Thomas' attitude has changed tremendously in recent months and the way he accepted finishing second has won him an enormous amount of respect and I am sure he will have taken a lot out of last week.

I was pleased with my own performance at Royal St. George's. I have been swinging the club well all year technically but I 'm just not taking the right mental focus to the golf course, one that I feel I have brought to the Open in past years.

It was a good week in the fact that I was able to identify that I got slightly off track with what I am trying to do and the only worry is that it had to be a British Open for that to come to the fore.

Hopefully, now that I have identified that it will put me in good stead for the rest of the year.

Now my attention turns to Portmarnock. I had a practice round in the week before heading across to Royal St.George's and it was a twofold reward because it not only helped my British Open preparation but also will help in my Nissan Irish Open build up.

The Nissan Irish Open is a very important week for myself and all the Irish born competitors.

And having worked so hard last week getting my game to peak for the majors, like the Open Championship, it could really put me in good stead for Portmarnock.

But then if, for some reason, you don't peak in the majors, it can be the following week when the form turns for the better, and that goes for all four Irish players who competed at Royal St. George's.

That's why I believe the Irish have the best chance this year of winning the Nissan Irish Open because all the guys have been concentrating on the British Open so much that there has been hardly any stress or distractions in terms of expectations for the Nissan Irish Open. Therefore I believe players will perform better this week because of that.

I know Portmarnock well having grown up playing on the course. But I also have to confess my memories of competition at Portmarnock are not all that enjoyable.

I was proud to represent Great Britain and Ireland in the 1991 Walker Cup and played against David Eager in the final singles, but he defeated me 3 & 2.

I then lost to David Higgins at the 20th hole in the 1994 Irish Amateur Closed Championship, the year before I won the event.

But with the Nissan Irish Open coming on the back of the British Open it's been the ideal preparation. All the talk in recent weeks has been about the British Open. I ' m heading to Portmarnock with a better outlook and I feel I have a better chance this week of performing.

And I should mention in conclusion that Caroline and I were both very pleased on Monday to move into our new house. There's still some work to do but we're looking forward to settling in.