It was a good week for me in Italy. I know it's hard to see that from a finishing position of 33rd but there is a lot more to consider than just the result. I went there feeling good about my long game and my attitude after the previous tournament, but it was my putting that I was most concerned about. However, now I feel that I have turned the corner with my putting too. A combination of a new routine and being more confident has made all the difference. I felt much better over my putts and, more importantly, after I hit them. I am coming away from the week with a lot of positives. It's funny how an average performance in the sense of finishing position can actually be so different to where you are at. I think the best example of this was in L.A. at the Northern Trust Open earlier this year. Whilst I didn't contend I played very well on the Sunday of L.A. and left the course feeling very positive about the following week, which was the Honda Classic. I'd love to think that leaving Italy in a positive frame of mind will mean the same result in my next tournament as it did at the Honda, but even if it doesn't I know I am on the right track.
I shot 12 under for the week and finished with my best round of the week on Sunday, which is always nice. My final round of five under could have been better as I hit the ball very well and ran my putts at the hole all day. In fact one of my bogeys came from a three putt as a result of being too aggressive with the first one. I was happy with how I played throughout the week, the only complaint I have was that I just wasn't hitting my scoring clubs close enough. I managed to get a few in close on Sunday, but during my week off I will be focusing on my wedge play. This will be crucial in St Andrews, because invariably you end up with a lot of wedge shots there and as the greens are so big and firm you have to be right on your game to get them close.
These last two weeks have been great. I accept that my finishing positions haven't matched my thoughts on the events but the progress I have made is significant. I am off for a week before I play three events in a row and whilst I'm home I will be continuing to work on what I have been doing for the last two weeks. The main areas I will focus on will be my wedge play and putting, having turned the corner with my putting I am keen to bed it in. There is no doubt that I will work away on my swing but it is stuff that I am always doing. I'm actually quite excited about my week off in order to prepare for the Dunhill Links Championship and the rest of my season.
This week I am in Milan for the Italian Open at the GolfClub Milano. It was last here in 1990 when Richard Boxall won - I met him in the bar of my hotel earlier in the week and he was joking that he is actually the defending champion!
I have played 30 holes this week, 12 on Tuesday with Paul McGinley and then 18 holes in the Wednesday pro-am. On Tuesday the course played quite short, as it was warm and the ball was traveling. But on Wednesday it was raining heavy and so the ball was going nowhere - what is a short course for us played long and I hit more long irons than I would in a normal week. It's like a long short course. With the rain coming on top of the heavy rain they had here last week, the course is very soft. Even with it playing longer than normal, it was still there for a good score as the par fives are reachable and there are plenty of wedge holes. The par threes play long (I hit two four irons, a five and six iron on Wednesday), so because of these you feel that the course has some length. The real defense of this course is the small greens but seeing as they are so soft it is not a big issue.
I have continued to work on playing with more confidence and I have to say it that I like it. It is something that over time I have lost, but now that I have realized it and aware of it, I can change it. I am working on it on the range and the golf course and making sure that I see the good in my shots rather than the negative. I feel so much better about myself and my golf when I do it.
I am out late Thursday and early Friday with Eduardo Molinari and Soren Kjeldsen, which is a nice draw as the two lads are great to play with. I am feeling good about what I am doing both mentally and physically with my swing and have spent a bit of time working on my putting and changed my routine to give me a better feel for lining up. I used it in the pro-am and it was good, but until it is tested in a tournament I can't be sure how it will go.