This week I have moved onto Washington D.C. for the Booz Allen Classic, which is being held on the TPC Avenel course. My only appearance here was in 2003 when Rory Sabbatini won. I did play last year but it was held at the Congressional course just across the road. Last year I missed the cut when it was the week before the US Open, whereas when I played here at Avenel in 2003 I finished 13th on 8 under par. I am playing here for a number of reasons: I liked the course when I played here in 2003, I won this week last year in Westchester and because I like to come over here to the U.S. for three weeks at a time.
There is no doubt that on Monday I would have liked to be heading home after a long week at Winged Foot. It was the first time that I contended a major for all four rounds and I have to say it really takes it out of you. I have really been struggling this week, as I am really tired and my practice has been severely curtailed, I just haven’t been able to do what I normally do. I remember this course as being a course that you have to hit your wedges well on, because of this I would like to have spent some time practicing them but I just haven’t been able to. I played 9 holes on Tuesday and then the Pro-am on Wednesday. Tuesday was very tough as the media were only interested in talking about the US Open and I found it very hard to get into it again.
This is a course that I have played before and played reasonably well on, and that is one of the reasons that I came here. The course is a funky type of course; there are a number of holes that have large altitude changes on them. The par three ninth plays twenty yards downhill and the seventeenth hole plays 10 yards downhill. I remember that most of the players didn’t particularly like this course too much, which is always nice as it means that it rules out a lot of the competition.
As far as my chances go this week, I certainly wouldn’t be backing myself as I have struggled to get myself back to normal after last week. I didn’t realize how much a major can take out of you. I have won events before and finished well in them but I have never felt like this after them. Normally when I get to the next event I am able to get right into it and move on, but it’s not the case this week. As ever I will be trying my best and hopefully adrenalin will carry me through the week, but we will have to see.
Padraigs Tour Diary...
I finally got to finish my final round of the Booz Allen Classic. For me it was Monday when I finished but the tournament didn’t actually finish until Tuesday. When I got here last Monday I was really struggling as I was mentally drained from the US Open. There were certainly times that I wished that I wasn’t playing as a week off would have been very nice but I had committed to playing the event and I don’t like to go back on my word. Certainly during the early rounds I felt particularly tired but as the week went on I felt myself getting back to normal. In the end I finished on 15 under par for a share of second place and five shots behind Ben Curtis. If I had been offered second place on Thursday morning I would have jumped at it!
I was very happy with how I played during the week; my long game was in very good shape. The first couple of days I suffered a bit from tiredness and this showed in the end of my rounds. On the first day I was playing very nicely giving myself chances on most holes for birdies and with three holes to play I was three under. It was a fairly comfortable three under as well, but over the last three holes I hit some very sloppy shots which were purely down to tiredness. On my 16th hole I hit my drive way right into the trees, it caught the cart path which made it look worse, and then I missed the green left from there. I failed to get it up and down, then on the 17th I hit the green in regulation and three putted it for another bogey. Then my last hole, the par three ninth, was playing an 8 iron which I pulled into the back left trap. It plugged in the back of it, leaving me a very nasty shot towards the water, however I played it well and saved my par to end up shooting 1 under. It was disappointing as I had played better than that but I knew myself that it was purely tiredness that had caused it as it was sloppy shots as opposed to bad shots. In the second round I played well again and this time I holed more putts, but again the last few holes I felt myself getting tired and hitting some more sloppy shots. In the end I finished with a 65 for a total of 7 under for the two rounds and a tie for 9th place.
The third round was my best ball striking round of the week; I had chances on every hole. On the first I missed from about 7 feet for birdie and this seemed to set the tone for me for the rest of the day. I made three birdies in the round and ended up shooting three under, one of the birdies was a two putt on a par 5. For some reason I just couldn’t see the breaks, it wasn’t that I was hitting bad putts I just wasn’t able to read the greens. In the end my 68 dropped me back to a share for 10th spot but I kept my place in the fourth last group for the final round.
All week we had been playing with the threat of thunder storms but had managed to get through without anything happening. We were hoping for the same on Sunday, they even decided to start the final round at 7.30 in the morning and have a two tee start. However we weren’t that lucky as the weather came in overnight and it lashed with rain. The tee times were eventually delayed by 7 hours meaning that I eventually got out at 2.30pm. When we eventually got out they were hopeful of getting finished and things were going well, I was 4 under for the front nine after holing a long putt on the third and fourth and then making an eight footer for eagle on the 6th. Another birdie on the 10th got me to 15 under and in second place on my own. I then missed a good chance of making a birdie on the par 5 13th and then after I hit my tee shot on the 14th the hooter went to suspend play for the day as there was lightning around. This obviously caused me problems as I was supposed to be flying to France on Sunday night. However I wasn’t too worried about it as I just wanted to get the round finished. We were to start at 8 o’clock on Monday morning but again it was delayed a number of times, we eventually got out at 11.15 am, but five minutes after play resumed we were called in again as one of the greens had flooded. I managed to hit my pitch to the 14th and then 2 putts for par. We sat around for another hour before we got going again, when we did get back out I birdied my first hole to get to 16 under then parred the 16th. The 17th is a tricky par 3, downhill, with water. I hit a 6 iron and it went a little long and ended in the trap on the left and I failed to get it up and down. I parred the last to finish on 15 under and just after I finished the hooter went again to call off play for the day. I was lucky enough to get finished but it meant that I wouldn’t know where I would finish until Tuesday.
I arrived safely in Paris after getting a flight out on Monday evening, when I arrived they still hadn’t finished the tournament. In the end I finished tied second with three others. I was a bit disappointed as I had dropped the shot on the 17th and that cost me second on my own. However it was still a good week and I was glad I finished and able to get to Paris. It was definitely a marathon event with all the rain and lightning. Lets hope for some better weather in Paris.