The final major of the year is upon us. Over the last number of years I have been coming to this major in search of my first win, trying desperately to find a way to notch a win in one of the Grand Slam events. This year I am here as the Open champion and as such I have the pleasure of playing with this year’s other two major winners for the first two rounds. It definitely feels a lot better being here as a major winner and I am probably a bit more relaxed than normal. It is not to say that I am taking this tournament lightly, that is certainly not the case, but there is definitely less of the desperation that I would normally have as there are no majors for eight months after this one. I am here to try and add to my major tally, knowing that I have one but I want to win more. Yes; I suppose it is greedy, but I now know what it is like to win one and I want more of that feeling.
This year’s PGA is at Southern Hills, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The last time we were here was for the US Open in 2001. I think everyone can remember the finish to that tournament which was won by Retief Goosen in a play-off from Mark Brooks. However it was the way that the last hole panned out that everyone remembers. Both Retief and Mark three putted the last to end up in a play-off and Stewart Cink also three putted it to finish one shot outside the play-off. It was amazing to watch as it looked like Retief had it wrapped up, then he missed his putt, but then came back on Monday to win in an 18 hole play-off. I remember that the 18th green was so undulating that they couldn’t get it up to the speed of the rest of the greens. They had to leave it a little longer and then because everyone was walking around the hole it was like glass. Thankfully they have rebuilt the both the 9th and 18th greens for this event, although I don’t remember the ninth as being that bad previously.
In previous years I have come to this tournament after a two week break, but thankfully this year I am coming in after playing the Bridgestone last week. I definitely prefer to play at least one event before a major and so when the schedule was changed this year I was delighted. I went into last week probably as under prepared as I have ever been, however it is back to normal for me this week. I have played the course twice in practice (both times with Paul McGinley and he won the money) and spent quite a bit of time working on my short game. I remember the course from when I played the US Open here in ’01. I didn’t find it unplayable then and I would have to go along with that for this week too. The course is set up very fairly; looking at how it has played in practice it definitely favours a guy that is hitting it straight.
I have spent a lot of my week trying to get myself back into the same frame of mind as I had at the Open. I spent a lot of time working on my mental game and trying to get my routines working properly. I have been working with Bob Rotella again this week and as always it is the same stuff that we always work on. It is just much easier to commit to it when he is around rather than when you are on your own.
The course this week measures over 7,100 yards; not terribly long by modern standards even though it is a par 70. This is an old fashioned course, tree lined and greens that slope from back to front. The defences of this course are the rough and the greens. While the rough doesn’t look too bad it is Bermuda grass and so the ball sits down and is hard to move forward. The greens can get very quick especially when you are putting from above the hole, so the key for the week is to try and keep the ball below the hole and leave yourself an uphill putt. The course is set up very fair, the fairways are firm but the greens are receptive; if you miss the fairway it makes it very hard to get it to the green, but even if you can you can’t control the ball. It will be important to be coming off the fairway as much as possible this week. This course has 18 very good holes and as such it is hard to pick out holes that will be key for the week. The way the course is set up you can attack any hole if you are hitting from the fairway and if you are not it is a case of damage limitation. There are two par fives, one over 600 yards but it is still possible to reach it in two and the second is relatively short that is well on in two. As there are only two of them it will be important to play them well and try to pick up some shots on these holes.
One of the biggest factors this week will be the weather, so far this week it has been exceptionally warm; temperature have been just short of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The forecast is for it to get warmer as the week goes on. In these conditions it is very important to make sure that you drink plenty of water and not to over do the practice. Fatigue will definitely be an issue for a lot of players that are not used to playing in temperatures like this; I am quite comfortable in it as I have played in places like Malaysia many times. It is important to be aware of it and to ensure that you do things properly, so that you don’t end up wearing yourself out by being in the heat more that you have too.
This is my last major for the year and I am here to try and win it as always. I will bring positives from my Open win but I am not teeing it up assuming that because I am the Open champion I deserve to be in contention again this week. It is back to square one for me, taking it one shot at a time and trying not to get ahead of myself. The main thing about being the Open Champion is that if I don’t have a good week I won’t go away too disappointed as I have my major. That said I am will be trying my best to get myself into contention come Sunday. As I always say, if you can get yourself into the frame with nine holes to play then anything can happen. The more chances that you give yourself the more likely you are of winning one, so with this in mind I will be trying to give myself a chance to add to my Open by being in the mix come Sunday.
The last major of the year is over. It started promisingly for me but fizzled out into a poor enough week. However I am not too disappointed as it is still only my second tournament after my Open win. The few weeks since my win have been hectic and as a result I haven’t quite got back to normality yet. I came here and was trying to win another major but I always knew that it was going to be extremely tough for me as I wasn’t really back to normal tournament mode.
I finished in a tie for 42nd after rounds of 69, 73, 72 and 74 for a four round total of eight over par. It wasn’t the performance that I was looking but then you rarely do get the performance that you want from the start. I played my first two rounds with the other major winners of the year, as is the norm at the PGA. Of the three of us I was the only one to make the cut for the weekend, but after the first round it looked like I was going to make a challenge for the tournament as I shot one under par to get myself on the leaderboard. I was very happy with the score in the first round but not so happy with my game, but I just managed to get the most out of where I hit it. After my second round I still thought that I could mount a challenge but that it would be very tough, even though the journalists told me that they were the same two scores that I had shot in the Open! If only it had gone as the Open did over the weekend. My game didn’t improve over the weekend and neither did my scores. I dropped down the leaderboard after both rounds to eventually finish 42nd.
Overall my game was poor for the week; there is no other way to describe it. I struggled to get focused over the ball and wasn’t there mentally. The more I tried to get into my target the more I couldn’t, I was getting distracted and couldn’t commit to the targets I was picking. In practice during the week I was having trouble with my focus and I worked on my routines and different ways to get myself set before I hit it, however it didn’t really work for me in the tournament. After the first two rounds I realized that I wasn’t into my target as I should be and so I decided to do bit of work on it on Friday afternoon. With the heat it was best not to do any work as it would only wear you out but I knew that I needed to figure something out for the weekend. I spent a couple of hours working on it and managed to get a couple of things sorted out. It wasn’t quite as good as I would have liked but it was certainly better.
On Saturday my routines were definitely better but I was a bit flat and I couldn’t manage to get myself going. I would definitely say the practice on Friday evening didn’t help as far as energy levels and my overall performance but it definitely made my routines better and it was work that I needed to do if I was to have a chance of winning. It just didn’t work out this time but the work that I did will help for my next few weeks. My Sunday round wasn’t much better, the extreme heat had taken its toll on me by the end of the week and my golf suffered as a result. My weekend scores were not what I wanted but there was nothing I could do. I struggled mentally and by Sunday I was worn out because of the heat.
Overall I struggled with my game. I wasn’t unhappy with how I was swinging the club, quite the contrary. It was definitely more my mental game that I struggled with and I would have to put that down to tiredness. I haven’t really had a chance to recover since the Open and the week I had off after it was mad with everything that was going on, then it was back to work with the Bridgestone and the PGA. I know now that I needed a break from it all to recharge the batteries but it just wasn’t possible. My performance here this week was definitely impeded by the fact that I haven’t fully recovered; but you know, I don’t mind that I didn’t perform as I would have liked as no matter what, this year is has been a success.
Thankfully I have a week off now to try and get myself back to normality and get ready for the rest of the season. I am off to Orlando for a week to see a few of the theme parks and I’m not bringing the clubs. It will be a week away from golf to recharge the batteries. I have to say that I am really looking forward to it. After a week off then I have a run of four events which will decide the winner of the Fed Ex Cup.
Thanks for stopping by!