No matter how many times I play the Waste Management Phoenix Open, I'm still blown away. It really is one of the best tournaments of the year, in fact, it is one big party that happens to have a golf tournament going on in the middle of it. Unfortunately for me I missed the cut and didn't get to enjoy and savior the full atmosphere.
My first round was the one that really cost me - I shot three over and it really put me under a lot of pressure in the second round. I had been working on some technical stuff the last couple of weeks and my head wasn't quite where it should have been in the first round as I had too many thoughts. In the second round I managed to simplify things and it was a lot better. The only problem was I left it too late.
I stayed and practiced for the weekend so as to clear things up in my mind - it definitely helped a lot and by the end of the session I was much better. It was certainly worth staying around rather than heading to Pebble early. Even though I missed the cut I am happy to have got the work done that I did at the weekend. I am leaving Phoenix feeling a lot better about things than if I had gone on Friday. I also spent a lot of time working on my chipping and putting. The practice facilities were great so it was easy to get some good work done.
It's Monterey for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am next week and I'm really looking forward to it.
This week I am in Scottsdale, Arizona for one of my favorite tournaments of the year, the Waste Management Phoenix Open. I've been a regular here since 2013 and now wouldn't miss it. This is the tournament that has the 16th hole fully surrounded like a football stadium and one that attracts over 500,000 spectators for the week. It's not like any other tournament you will play, it is more like a party that happens to have a golf tournament going on in the middle of it. The buzz when you walk into the arena at the 16th is fantastic and I would put it down as one of the most nerve racking shots you will hit.
I was home for the last two weeks, the weather wasn't great but I still managed to get plenty of practice in. I did a bit of technical work on my swing and also hit a lot of wedges.
On Tuesday I played nine holes with Shane Lowry, Paul Dunne and Ricky Barnes. Ricky and myself, as the seasoned pros, took on the young bucks and we managed to sneak a win - it was nice to get my first few dollars of the year from Shane. With Shane and Paul here this week it has a feel of a European Tour event and reminds me of my early days on Tour when all the paddys hung out together. We all went out for dinner on Wednesday night to celebrate Nic Mullen?s (one of the managers on Tour) birthday. We had great craic with plenty of slagging and, all in all, had a great night.
The course is in very good condition as always. The fairways are softer than normal and the greens are substantially firmer than in previous years, so as a result the course is playing longer and tougher. It has been cold as well so the ball isn't traveling like it normally does. On Wednesday I played the pro-am, whilst we didn't have a great score we did enjoy ourselves. I didn't play my best but thankfully it was only Wednesday - no point going out on a Wednesday and playing great?.. I am playing late/early with Hideki Matsuyama and Scott Stallings. I really like this tournament and the course and so am looking forward to getting started.