NEWCASTLE, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 30 : Padraig Harrington of Ireland meeting members of Irelands special Olympic team at the driving range during the third round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Royal County Down Golf Club on May 30, 2015 in Newcastle, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
What started out as a very promising week turned into an extremely disappointing one. Having opened with a round of four under I had put myself into position to move forward and contend the tournament over the weekend, so to end up finishing my final just before the leaders teed off was not what I was hoping for.
My first round of four under par seemed easy. I played and putted well and actually felt like I had left some birdies on the course. I was leading when I finished and by the end of the day there were two of us on four under. Going out on Friday I was really feeling good and looking to keep playing as I had the day before so as to move further under par. I started my second round on the back nine and after nine holes I was two under for the day and six under total. On the 1st , my 10th for the day, I had a 12 footer to go eight under which I just missed. I was cruising along and well clear but then a poor iron shot from the middle of the fairway on the 2nd cost me a bogey and then a bad drive on the next was followed by a poor second shot and I then three putted for a double bogey, which was especially bad as I had received a good break not to be in a gorse bush after my second shot. When you get a break like that it is very annoying not to take advantage of it. Then my tee shot on the fourth just fell off the green and I took three more to get down again. In the space of 20 minutes I had gone from leading by four or five shots and cruising, to struggling to make pars!
I made another birdie on the tough short par three 7th hole, having hit a three quarter eight iron to a foot. At this point I would have been very happy to get in at four under but after playing the last two holes badly I finished on two under par for the tournament, which really felt like a bad day. I had a chance to move well clear of the field but instead I came back to them and brought everyone else back into it. To get my mind off the poor round I went to see Paddy Kielty on Friday evening; I hadn't seen him perform for a long time and I have to say he was as funny as ever.
The weekend turned out to be a terrible one for me - I shot rounds of 78 and 76 which were poor. The third round was particularly bad as I went out only a shot off the lead but never got anything going. I struggled from the start, after my finish the day before I was probably trying too hard to commit and as a result I was doing the opposite. Over the weekend what really disappointed me was that I struggled on the greens. It was tough in the windy conditions but even still, I missed too many. On Sunday I hit a lot of good shots, but when I hit a poor one I was penalized and then, like Saturday, I putted badly. I had a number of three putts over the weekend which you just can't afford to have out there.
It turned into a very disappointing Irish Open, especially when you look and see that 2 under par was the winning score. Having been 7 under at one stage in the tournament it is hard to believe that I didn't manage to have a chance to win.
It shows the toughness of Royal County Down - we played it with a lot of tees forward and the scoring still wasn't good. It was a really good venue, unfortunately we didn't get some better weather.
I am off for a week now before I go to Memphis for my last chance to qualify for the U.S. Open.
This week is our fifth major championship, The Irish Open, and we are in County Down in Northern Ireland for what promises to be a great week. I haven't played Royal County Down much over the years, in fact probably only twice in Hilary Outings during the winter when I was an amateur. As we all know it is a great links course.
After missing out in the US Open play-off on Monday I missed my flight that evening and so only got to Royal County Down on Tuesday afternoon. I had some media commitments including my press conference so I only did a small bit of chipping and putting. I had originally planned on playing a few holes but I have to say that after the 38 holes the day before I was happy not to play.
I played the pro am on Wednesday morning with Des Smyth!! It was great playing with Him as it has been so long since we have actually played golf together and he is still as good as he was when he was on the main tour. I spent the day checking out the course and trying to figure it all out but I don't think it's actually possible to manage that. When I played it a few weeks ago with Shane, Dermot and Ronan it didn't seem too bad but this week it will be a far sterner test and with the tournament set up it has became a much tougher animal. While it is a tough test I believe that it suits me as I am comfortable playing links golf and also on difficult courses. I know as well that lot of the field don't like these sort of tests. With the weather forecast there will be bouts of rain and cold weather throughout the week so it is important to keep your head and accept what comes at you.
I wouldn't say that I played great in the pro-am but I hit enough good shots to feel happy with my game. It was more of a look around and getting a feel for links golf again than actually looking to play well. Also I was happy that there wasn't much pain from my shoulder. With some more physio and another nights rest I am sure that it will be fine for Thursday.
There is a great atmosphere already and the tournament hasn't even started. All credit to Rory for all the work he has put into it. People don't realize that he has called in a lot of favours to get people here. It's a big commitment on his part and he has to be commended for doing it.
I am looking forward to playing this week, I like the course and the test it provides. It's been a while since I played on links, which I always enjoy. Having won an Irish Open already it only makes me want to win another one even more and it would be great to win on such a great course as Royal County Down. I am happy with my game and feel good about getting myself into contention this week, from there I will take my chances.
I am playing late/early this week with Sergio Garcia and Mikko Ilonen. Hopefully the weather holds up for us but if not, I am happy to get take whatever is thrown at me.