It wasn't the return to Akron that I had hoped for. I was looking forward to going back and was feeling good about my game. My only worry going over was that I had injured my knee; I thought it would get better by the time we started but in the end it seemed to get worse. It wasn't affecting me hitting shots only walking, but by the end of the second round it did affect me whilst hitting shots. Not that it was sore, but I was struggling to get my weight onto my right leg. That, coupled with the difficulty in walking around the course, helped my decision to get an injection to numb the pain. It made a huge difference and on Saturday I was able to walk pretty much unencumbered.
I was worried that my knee was going to affect me for the PGA, so the injection was the best option. Other than that it was suggested I rest it for a few weeks, which wasn't an option.
My knee definitely had an affect on my performance last week but it wasn't the full story. I struggled with my putting and I missed a number of them during the week. By the end of the week I established that I wasn't committing to my putts and was still thinking of things while standing over the ball instead of just putting it. I noticed this on Saturday and on Sunday I made more of an effort to have my preparation done and to be fully settled before I got over the ball. It definitely made a difference, not every putt was good but it was a lot better and definitely the answer.
My long game showed a lot of good signs; I hit a lot of good shots and felt that I was hitting it quite strong. The area that I can see that needs more work is my wedge play as I played all the holes that I hit wedge to in over par figures, which is just not good enough at any level let alone this level, so I will be focusing on this for the next few days.
Enough about me though, because it was Shane's week. What a great performance, I don't think I have ever been so nervous watching golf. I got to see the last six holes as I was flying up to Whistling Straights. It is definitely easier to be playing rather than watching!! He was the deserved winner and an extremely popular one. We have become good friends over the last few years and I am thrilled for him. We got to have a little celebration here in Sheboygan last night and it was great to be able to congratulate him. I have found that too often when you win out here there is no one around. It was a quiet affair but still great fun. Well done again Shane, I'm absolutely thrilled for you.
This week I am in Akron for the Bridgestone Invitational. It's been a few years since I was here last; having dropped out of the top 50 in the world I haven't qualified since 2011, but his year I am in the field as a result of my win in the Honda. I've been off for the last two weeks and done quite a bit of practice and hanging out with Paddy and Ciaran. I played some golf with Paddy and tennis with both of the lads, but during one of our tennis games I tweaked my right knee. I've had it looked at and it is a small tear in a ligament, nothing to worry about but it can give me quite a bit of pain at times. It's not sore hitting shots but it can be sore whilst walking.
My knee was sore on Monday so I decided to take it easy and just chip and putt. I had planned on playing a few holes but I decided against risking my knee walking around the course when I know it so well. On Tuesday I did a lot of practice with Pete Cowen and then played a few holes, only a few as again I wanted to give my knee a break. I had to get Ron Graham of Wilson to caddy for me as Ronan got a bout of food poisoning and wasn't able to get out of bed.
On Wednesday I played the back nine with Shane Lowry and Mark Warren; my knee held up well, I got a couple twinges but all in all it was fine. After our round Shane and myself had a couple of chipping and putting competitions and let's just say that he made a contribution to my dinner! After that I hit balls for about 45 minutes and then called it a day.
The course is in great shape as always, the greens are firm already and with little rain forecast they will only get firmer. Firestone is one of the better courses on tour and is always in good shape. The key to playing well around here is good driving off the tee - if you are coming off the fairway it is very playable but it is very tough to play this course from the rough.
I've purposely kept my walking to a minimum so as not to annoy my knee before the tournament. I'm not too worried about it but I felt it was best to take it easy with a couple of big weeks coming up. I'm out late on Thursday and then early Friday with Charley Hoffman and looking forward to it as it's been a few years since I played here.