TROON, SCOTLAND - JULY 14: Padraig Harrington of Ireland lines up a putt on the 18th green during the first round on day one of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon on July 14, 2016 in Troon, Scotland. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
I left Troon with mixed emotions. I know that I played a lot better than my finishing position of tied 36th would suggest, but I also know that it bodes well for the rest of the season. I have no doubt that my draw cost me. I played early on Thursday and late Friday, which experienced the worst of the weather over the first two days; unfortunately it didn?t get any better for me over the weekend. You take the good with the bad, as over the course of a year it evens itself out, but last week I definitely got the worst of the weather, but then so did a lot of other players.
I went to Troon feeling good about my game and I remained confident throughout the week. I hit the ball well all week, but my problem was that I didn?t make up enough ground on the outward nine. I played the back nine well (I was 1 under par for the week on the back nine), which was the tough nine. Everyone will tell you that at Troon you have to make your score on the front nine and then hang on coming home, but I just never managed to make enough birdies going out. I found the back nine tough but playable, there were a few holes where you needed to hit good shots, like the tee shot on 11, but once you did that you were okay.
My putting was good for the most part, I holed out well when I had to but I definitely missed quite a few good chances. None more so than the final round - I gave myself good chances on the first three holes but missed them all. I could easily have been three under after three holes and then you are motoring, but instead I was level par and then I bogeyed the fourth. It?s amazing what a putt or two does for your momentum - that said I wasn?t unhappy with my putting, I hit a lot of good putts during the week that didn?t go in.
I did a lot of work during the week with Bob Rotella. He always stays with me for The Open and so we get to spend quite a bit of time talking. I was telling him that my physical game has been good for a while now, but that my mental game has been holding me back. After a lot of chatting we eventually figured out that I was trying to be too perfect with my mental game. It was amazing how I felt after figuring this out and it was a great relief to me. I went out on the course knowing that I didn?t have to be perfect in my head and it freed me up. I came to this conclusion a long time ago with my physical game and would have thought that I had it with my mental game too, but obviously I hadn?t. I felt much better on the course knowing this and I am excited about the rest of my season.
All in all, it wasn?t the week I had hoped for going there but I am very happy with how I played and what I discovered with my mental game, so I am really looking forward to the coming weeks. After a week off I have the PGA Championship, followed by the Travelers Championship and then the Olympics. Three big weeks and what a great time to be coming into form.
I finished early enough on Sunday to sit down to watch the back nine of the leaders and I have to say that it was enthralling. I really don?t think I have seen two guys play as well as that coming down the stretch in a major. It was an amazing finish to the Open Championship and I was delighted for Henrik, as he has been knocking on the door for some time, but I also felt for Phil as he had played his heart out and thrown everything at Henrik only to be beaten. What a great exhibition they both put on. Well done Henrik and well deserved.
My favourite tournament of the year is here, The Open Championship. We all grew up watching this event on television and dreaming of holing a putt to win it. I have been lucky enough to win twice and what a feeling it is. This year we are at Royal Troon, but it's been 12 years since we last played here when Todd Hamilton won. It will be my third Open here. I have to say I couldn't remember much of my previous ones until I got here and was out on the course. It all starts to come back to you when you are in the midst of playing the holes.
I got here on Sunday night from Inverness but I haven't been killing myself in practice. On Monday I only got to the course around lunchtime and played 10 holes at 3 pm with Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne. On Tuesday I played 13 holes and then got a buggy in. I had planned in playing more but we had an incident in the 8th green - I was playing with Marco Dawson and when we were on the 8th green his caddy was hit with a drive from the 7th tee. It split his head open and he was knocked out for a while. It was all very scary as there was nothing that we could do but wait for the medics to come. Thankfully when they got to us they were able to revive him with some oxygen and bandage him up. He spent the night in hospital and I believe he has the all clear to caddy on Thursday.
On Wednesday I played 9 holes with Shane, again in the late afternoon. The important thing for me coming here was not to do too much in practice as this is always a long week and being fresh is more important. I will say that it is easier to do this when you are happy with your game as I am. I have only spoken to Pete this week and we haven't done any work as I am feeling good about things and ready to play.
I have spent some time talking to Bob Rotella, who is staying with me this week. As always they have been very good and insightful chats. It all makes such sense when you hear it from somebody else.
The course is in great condition, it's a little softer than you would like but then there has been a lot of rain over the last month or so. It is a very fair course and the holes that really scare us are the 10th and 11th, as they are blind tee shots. Outside of these two the rest is pretty much in front of you. It is a course where you need to do your scoring on the way out and then try and hold onto it coming home, especially if we get the usual wind.
I am feeling good and excited about getting started. I feel that I can do no more in terms of preparation and have given myself a good chance of playing well. My long game is where I want it and my putting has come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of weeks. I am out early on Thursday with Louis Oosthuizen and Jamie Donaldson, two good guys to play with.