It’s back to normal this week, the regular tour. The majors definitely have more hype about them and so when you come to the event after a major it always feels a little subdued. However it is not to say that players are not trying any less to win, everyone will be giving it their all to win this weeks Travelers Tournament. For me I have had some of my best weeks after a major; two years ago I won the Barclays Classic after the US Open and last year I finished in a tie for second at the Booz Allen. This is the reasoning for me playing here in Hartford this week.
The last two weeks have been disappointing for me but I am not down about them. I am happy with where my game is even though it has just been a couple of bad weeks as regards results. I am certainly not panicking about the fact that I have missed two cuts in a row. I am here doing my thing again this week, keeping faith in what I have been doing all season.
I arrived here on Sunday from Oakmont; Monday was spent practicing at the course. I wasn’t able to play the course as there is always a pro-am on a Monday and so the course is not available to those not playing in it. I spent the day hitting a few long shots but mainly practicing my short game; plenty of chipping and putting. You can never spend enough time on your short game, however even though us pro’s know this we still don’t spend enough time practicing it ourselves. I am making a concerted effort to put more work in my short game. Tuesday was the first day that I could play the course; I had seen it on television and thought that it look very good but having played it I now know that it is extremely good. I played the course in the morning and then spent some time in the afternoon practicing my chipping and putting again. It is always difficult to come to a new venue as you feel that you have to learn so much in so little time. In previous years I would have tried to spend as much time on the course trying to learn everything but I have learned that this is not always the best approach. It only tires you out and means that in the long run it works against you, so I have changed over time and now I don’t get so stressed out about not fully knowing a new venue. I know that I will get to know it well enough with two practice rounds. Wednesday, I played the pro-am as normal; I enjoy playing these as it means that you get to finish out putts and try and shoot a good score and also it lets you see how other players shots react on and around the greens.
This is a short course by modern standards, it measures less than 7,000 yards and is a par 70. I have seen this course on television over the years and it has always looked good to me. Having played it I think it is a very good test; it is not long but there are plenty of tough holes on it. It is definitely a course that you feel you should be shooting a very good score on but invariably you never shoot as good as you think you should. There are plenty of trees on the course and a lot of elevation changes which make it play a little longer than the yardage. There are two par fives, one is easily reachable but has water short of the green which makes you think twice about going for it in two, the other one is in reach with two big hits but it will play more of a three shotter. The really interesting holes on this course are the 15th, 16th and 17th. The 15th is a great par four. It is only 280 yards to the front of the green, there is water left of the green and the green is heavily undulating. There are bunkers down the left and right of the fairway to make a lay up difficult and has been playing a three wood in practice. This is a hole that is easily reachable and you feel that you should birdie every time but with the water and the green it is not a foregone conclusion.
The 16th is a par three that measure 185 yards; it is over water and again has a funky green. A par here is a good score but as it is near the end of the round and as such you can be chasing a birdie. Trying to make birdie here could end up in a bogey or worse.
The 17th is a very exciting hole with water all down the right. The hole doglegs around the water, there are two bunkers on the fairway; one at 230 yards to carry to get to the fairway and one at 265 yards which is exactly where you want to hit your tee shot to. This hole will have a big bearing on the outcome of the tournament; a par is a great score here.
It is an interesting finish, one where anything can happen on. I am coming in to this event after missing the last two cuts; it’s never great for the confidence to miss cuts. However I haven’t let them affect me. I am here to try and play my usual game and try and get into contention come Sunday. I am looking forward to getting going as I feel that I haven’t played that much in the last couple of weeks due to the missed cuts.
I am home after three unsuccessful weeks in the US; it was a disappointing trip as I missed two cuts and then finished well down the field in the Travelers Event. I came into this week feeling confident even tough I had missed the cuts in the St. Jude and the US Open. I had played well this week in previous years, winning and finishing second; so I felt that there was a good chance that I could perform well again. However that was not the case, I never really got anything going and struggled for most of the week, I had nine good holes in the week and they helped me make the cut.
I shot rounds of 71, 68, 74 and 69 to finish on two over par for the tournament. I just never got things going, from the start I felt sluggish and was still struggling with a few swing faults from the US Open. Even though I liked the course and it should have suited my game I just wasn’t able to get myself moving in the right direction. I drove the ball very well all week but I just wasn’t able to take advantage of the good positions that I was putting myself in. My iron play just wasn’t up to scratch, particularly my wedge play; this course is made for a good wedge game. There were several holes that required some sort of wedge shot after a reasonable drive, but I never got any of my wedges close enough. In fact for the whole three weeks my wedge play was poor, it is definitely something that I will have to put a lot more time into to ensue that it improves and gets back to the standard that I am used to.
My performance this week was really flat, I struggled to get myself up for the week, it was definitely a hang over from the fact that I had missed the previous two cuts. I was probably trying too hard to do well this week, to make up for the previous weeks and as a result I never got into my normal frame of mind for a tournament. The only time that I managed to get something going was on the back nine on Friday when I was three over and in danger of missing the cut, at the prospect of missing another cut I was spurred on to play the back nine in four under. I was three over for the tournament after 10 holes and missing the cut until I birdied the 11th, 14th, 15th and 16th to get me well inside the cut mark. I even missed from four feet on the par five 13th for a birdie! I did get a big break when I was standing on the 15th tee though, the 15th is drivable but when I was getting ready to play it started to blow very hard into us and also rain heavily but luckily the hooter went for a suspension of play. After twenty minutes we started back and the weather was gone, it meant that I was able to hit a three wood onto the edge of the green. It was a big break to get as the last few holes would have been very hard had we played them in the bad weather.
After getting myself back from the brink of missing the cut I wasn’t able to move myself up the leader board over the weekend. I knew that I had gotten myself back into the tournament after my back nine on Friday but my play over the weekend did nothing for me. I went backwards after rounds of 74 and 69, with the way the scoring went on Saturday it was particularly disappointing as I could have really given myself a chance for a good finish had I shot a decent score on Saturday.
All in all it was a disappointing week to end a disappointing trip, I came away three weeks ago with great expectations and I come home deflated. It is the great thing about this game, just when you think that you have got the upper hand it comes back at you. I am back for a week off and then I play a run of three events, ending with the British Open. I am focusing on the Open now; I have a week off and then two events to get ready for it. I will be seeing Bob before the European Open to sort out my few problems; from next week on it is back to tournament mode and trying to get myself back into contention again!
Talk to you all soon.