Life is a lot easier when you play badly and then all of a sudden you get in contention and win one. No one gets on your back. When you finish runner-up seven times, everyone is asking, 'Why aren't you winning?' It's much more fun when you jump into a win out of the blue. It's a much tougher game when you play consistently well.

Telephonica Open de Madrid

Entry Date:
Oct 28, 2003

Spanish stint...

I’ve got four weeks in a row, a busy stint but I’m looking forward to it. I start off with the Telefonica Open de Madrid on Thursday before heading to Valderrama for the Volvo Masters. Then there’s two team events on the immediate agenda – the Seve Trophy, also in Spain, and last of the four, the World Golf Championship World Cup event at Kiawah Island. The next month should be a lot of fun.


Great memories

Club de Campo, venue for this week’s Telefonica Open de Madrid, holds some very good memories for me. For starters, I had my first European Tour win there in 1996, taking the Spanish Open. I’d only been on the circuit for 10 weeks, so the victory came out of the blue, really, it was unbelievable. And then I enjoyed another success there in 2000 at what was the BBVA Open Turespana Masters. They’d remodelled all the greens in between the two wins, so it was nice to go and triumph again. It just goes to show that if you feel comfortable on a course – or like a place – you tend to play well on it.

 

General course thoughts

It’s a tree-lined, very old and established golf course. It’s got a lot of character. There are more than a few changes in elevation – in terms of uphill and downhill holes. And it is a little bit at altitude. There’s a good deal of thinking gone into the design of the golf course and I like that about it. You’ve got options off the tees and then you have to think your way up onto the greens.

 

Stand-out holes...

There are plenty of interesting holes, starting with the first where you face one of the tougher tee-shots on the course. It’s a dog-leg right to left where you’ve got to pick your point and hit it there. If you hit it too far, you’re through the dog-leg or if you don’t strike it then you won’t reach the corner of the dog-leg. It was one of the scariest holes for me in 1996 and when I got my tee-shot away in the final round it gave me quite a buzz; sort of, ‘If I can do that, then I can do the rest!’
If there’s a key stretch difficulty-wise on the golf course, you’re looking at 11 to 13. On the par-3 11th, you need to hit a precision 4-iron to a difficult green that you can’t afford to miss to the right. It’s a hole that you’re really happy to walk away from with a par. The 12th is the toughest par-4 there with a very awkward tee-shot. It’s very long and you are confronted by a tight drive. If you get it away, you should be okay, though. Just don’t go left; if you do, the ball tends to bounce down into trees. The 13th, a par-4 dog-leg right, is also tricky before you get to the 14th, which is a reachable par-5 and you can start thinking seriously about birdies again. I remember when I won two years ago, I made a magnificent chip-and-putt at 14 to help me on my way. You get further birdie chances at 17 and 18.

 

Pre-tournament thoughts...

I’ve spent a couple of weeks working on my game, but realistically I’m going into this event aiming to just get back into the good strong, mental mode that I had at the WGC AMEX event and to really concentrate on my scoring. Swing-wise, I’m very close, so I’m happy enough with that. It’s just a question of getting my head together on the golf course, making sure I’m sharp and not throwing away the odd shot here and there. So, summing up my mind-set before the event starts, I’m hoping to win but I’m not putting that burden of expectation on myself.

I’ll let you know how I faired after the weekend. Thanks for reading…

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