It was a funny week in Portugal - up to Friday the weather was great and then the forecast for the weekend was terrible. It was so bad that there was talk that we wouldn't play any golf at the weekend. Because of this the European Tour made the great decision to play both the Saturday and Sunday rounds by way of a shotgun start, which hadn't been used on the tour since 1994 and when it was mooted there was a lot of people questioning it. However, given that we played 72 holes and the fact we managed to play in decent weather on both days, we can only commend the tournament director and officials. It was a great decision.
As far as my week is concerned it was average in terms of my finishing position. However I am going away from the week feeling good about things as I saw a lot of improvement on the course. I felt that my putting was good and the work I have done on making confident putts is paying off. I felt so much better over my putts than I have for a long time and I holed out from short range well all week, so it was so much less stressful. Whilst I didn't hole enough from the 10-20 foot range, the putts I hit ran at the hole.
My long game was solid bar my driving the first couple of days. I broke my driver last week in Woburn and so had to get a new one and I just wasn't quite as confident with it as my previous one. For the weekend I went back to the same model as my previous one and I was a lot happier. My experiment with the new grips went well too - the stitch on them felt like a rib and made the club feel much more comfortable in my hands.
All in all there were a lot of good things during the week for me. I only shot 5 under but I had a lot of chances and if I had held more putts from 15 feet and in I could have had a really good week. I probably suffered with the slow greens (they were slow due to the weather forecast) and I left a lot of putts a couple of feet short as a result.
I am off to Hong Kong now to try and qualify for the Final Series events. I'm looking forward to the week as I left Portugal confident in my game and going to a course that I like and have done well on before.
This week I am in The Algarve for the Portuguese Masters. It's been an event I have enjoyed playing over the years, the course is good, the weather is normally great and a few friends come down for the week. I stay in the Quinta area which is about 20 minutes from Vilamoura and means that when I leave the course I am getting away from the golf.
I travelled down on Monday as I stayed in Woburn to watch the Ireland teams playing rugby and the soccer. The rugby was brilliant, what a game - the lads were amazing. The loss of the big players will be hard to take, but having seen how the team performed without them last Sunday I think we will be fine.
On Tuesday I did some practice and then played nine holes with Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane and Paul Dunne. Peter and myself took the lads on and we managed to take the money! It's always good to get Damien's money. It was my first time playing with Paul, I had heard a lot about his game so it was good to see it first hand. I was very impressed with how he played and how he went about his business. He looks like a complete player and didn't seem to have any weakness in his game. He's had a very nice start to his pro career and I can only see it getting no better. On top of this he is a really nice fella and will fit right in with the Irish lads on tour.
I changed my grips this week to ones with a rib running down the back of them - I haven't used ribbed grips for about three years. I've been toying with the idea of changing back for a while and so I decided to give it a go. It was awkward getting them on the way I like them but once they were on they felt great. I used them in the pro-am and they went well, so much so that I was asking why I changed from them! I played nicely on Wednesday making a few birdies for the team. I could have been a bit better but, all in all, I was happy with how I played.
The course is playing tougher this year than other years as the rough is heavier. There has been quite a bit of rain down here in recent weeks and so the rough is quite lush, so it is best avoided. If you keep it out of the rough then there is a score to be made as the greens are receptive. It has been a very low scoring event over the years but this year I reckon it won't be as low.
I'm out late/early, the forecast is decent for the first couple of days, but the weekend is looking a bit rough at the moment. Hopefully they have the forecast wrong!