After the Ryder Cup last week it is now back to normal. We are at The Grove, which is just outside London for the American Express World Golf Championship. It will be hard to get into regular tournament mode again after the team element of last week; the Ryder Cup is a totally different week than normal and as a result it is very hard to come straight into a big event like this one and perform well.
Due to the week that we had before this and the celebrations that followed I decided that I wouldn’t come over to London until Tuesday evening. I stayed at home to try and get some rest, so that I would be ready for this week. I got to the course on Wednesday morning, still very tired and wishing that I was still at home. One of the things that I felt a little uncomfortable with last week was my putting, I was pulling a few of my putts and wasn’t sure why. Because of this I got my putting coach to come to down on Wednesday so we could do some work, and figure out why I was starting them left. We spent about one and half hours working on it and eventually came to the conclusion that the problem was that I was hitting my putts as opposed to trying to roll them. For me when I try to roll my putts I tend to putt my best, my stroke had become a bit short and as a result I ended up hitting them and this caused me to hit them left and meant that I felt very uncomfortable.
After this I headed out to play the course, I have never played here before. Normally I would have at least two practice rounds on a new course to try and get to know it but due to my tiredness I have opted for just one this week. I am happy with how I’m hitting the ball, during my practice round I spent most of my time around the greens hitting a few chip shots and working on my putting.
In an ideal world I would have played this course a couple of times and be fully refreshed coming here but that’s not the case. I am here in the state that I am and have to work with what I have. I won’t be over doing it practice wise this week so as to conserve energy, hopefully this will help.
This is both the first time that the American Express has been played in England and the first time we have played, The Grove. It is outside London near Watford, only twenty minutes from the city centre. It is a relatively new course but it has matured nicely; they have got the course in great condition for the week. It plays as a par 71 for us as the eight hole has been reduced to a par four for the tournament, measuring 7,152 yards. There is a great mix of long and short holes, some drivable par fours and then some long ones. The one thing about this course is that it is key to hit the fairways as the rough is very penalizing. The eighth hole is a particularly tough hole as this is the one that was made into a par four, it measures just under 500 yards and plays uphill. The most important thing about this hole is to hit the fairway as you can’t reach the green in if you are in the rough. The key holes this week will be the final four holes as they include two par 5’s; the 15th and the 18th. Both are reachable in the right conditions but when I played them they were playing into the wind so they weren’t. However because they come at the end of the round everyone will feel that if they can keep it together for the first 15 holes then they have a chance of shooting a good score if they can play the 15th and 18th well. The 16th is a short par three that plays uphill and the 17th is a shortish par four that plays downhill from the tee and then a little uphill to the green, both of these holes are good chances for birdies.
Overall it is a good course that is in very good condition and will produce a top class winner. The key is definitely to hit fairways and set yourself up for your iron shot to the green. The greens are in great condition so if you can give yourself a chance on these greens then you will feel that you can hole it.
I will do my best to get myself into contention for Sunday afternoon so as to give me a chance to gain my first win of 2006. I have got myself into contention a few times this year but I haven’t managed to pull off a win yet. It would be nice to get my first win this week!