This week I am back in Wentworth for the HSBC World Match Play Championship. I haven’t played in this event since 2004, unfortunately I haven’t qualified for it since then. It is a great tournament with a great history; I can remember watching this event on the television as a kid. This tournament has been running for over 40 years now and has attracted all the great players over the years and most of them have their name on the trophy. This event and the BMW PGA Championship that is held here in May have made the West Course here in Wentworth world famous; this is one of the courses that golf fans in Europe would know nearly all the holes, something similar to how fans know Augusta. I know that when I came here for my first time as a pro I knew the course from just watching the events on the television over the years.
This week we are playing matchplay, which is a form of golf that we professionals don’t get to play that often. As an amateur I played practically nothing but matchplay and now as a pro it is the total opposite. I enjoy this format of golf, it is very different to a normal tournament, and so much depends on how you are getting on in a match as to how aggressive you have to be. The great thing about matchplay is that one bad shot does not have the same effect as it does in strokeplay; in strokeplay a bad shot can lead to the end of your tournament for instance where as in this format it may only cost you a hole. It is a totally different mentality that is in operation when you are playing match play, it can be hard to change over to it but at least in these matches we have 36 holes. These matches are more like marathons rather than sprints, unlike the Accenture World Match Play. I have played in this tournament five times before, my best finish is getting to the final and I have also had a couple of semi final places. I have never won this event; it is one that I would like to add to my C.V. as it is a great event.
Last week I struggled a little bit with my routines due to having a couple of weeks off, I am hopeful that this week they should be better because I have a week of tournament golf under my belt. The key for me this week is not to do too much other that play my matches; if you are to go all the way in this tournament it means playing up to eight rounds of golf on a long and heavy course. So the main thing is not to get involved in doing much practice other than what is totally necessary. With this in mind I have done very little this week, I arrived on Monday afternoon and just hit a few putts and a few shots in the evening. Tuesday was pretty much a wash out as it rained all day, it cleared up in the evening and I played three holes and then Wednesday I played in the pro-am. It was my first look at the course since May, other than it being a bit softer it was exactly the same. When we play here in May the course plays hard and fast, it tends to suit the shorter straighter hitter as the ball is running, however at this time of year it suits the longer hitter as it plays its full yardage. I find the hardest thing about playing here at this time of year is controlling the spin on the greens; because the greens are so much more receptive at this time of year the ball tends to spin like mad on the greens. This can be the most difficult thing about playing here, judging the spin. The course is in great condition, a little wet after the rain on Tuesday but very good nonetheless and the fact that there are only sixteen players in the field means that it won’t take too much of a beating and also means that there won’t be too many foot prints on the greens.
The course is really set up well but it is playing very long, you will see more drivers hit this week than you would see during the tournament in May and also more long irons hit into the greens. There will be a big premium in hitting the fairways as the rough will be quite penal as it is wet. I am playing Anders Hansen in my first round match on Thursday; it is a tough draw as Anders has very good course form around the West Course. He has won the BMW PGA twice here, including this years. It will be a tough match but then all the matches will be tough. I will be trying to play my own game and go through my routines as normal, if I can do that then I will be happy.