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I'm back home after another disappointing week. I was happy with the work I had done with Pete Cowen and Bob Rotella during the practice days but then in the tournament I was stuck between what I had been doing and what I was trying to do. I struggled in both rounds because I was halfway there in terms of my swing.
That said I managed to work my way around in the first round to shot two under par, which was a very good score as I wasn't in anyway confident once I got on the course. On the range I was fine, but once I was on the course and had to try and hit fairways it became much harder. In my first round I got away with a few very poor shots - on the 13th I hit a terrible three wood that should have gone out of bounds but somehow it managed to stay in and got away with a par when I was looking at taking a double bogey. On the ninth I also pulled my three wood into the hazard but when I got down there I was able to play it and made a bogey. In general, I got the most out my round; I was very happy with the score but unhappy with my game. I spent a couple of hours working on it with Pete after my round, the problem was that it was easy to do on the range when there are no consequences but tougher on the course.
Friday was extremely disappointing as I shot four over par to miss the cut. I started on the back nine, parred the 10th and bogeyed the 11th after my five iron approach came up short and caught the water. Luckily I was able to play it and made a bogey. I parred everything until the 15th where I made a birdie to get back to two under. A bogey on the 17th after I hit my approach into the bunker wasn't too bad as its a tough hole, but the 18th was disappointing as I should have made a birdie there - I was in the left hand green side trap in two, played a poor bunker shot and then missed the putt.
The turning point for me was the second and third holes - I pulled another three wood into the water on the second, which cost me a bogey, but it was the par five third that was really a killer - I hit a good drive and a really nice second shot with my hybrid. I was cutting it into the right to left wind and it just kept moving into it, pitched a couple of yards right of the green, hit a spectator on the foot and kicked 30 yards away. I "duffed" my first pitch and then chipped the next one past the flag, then missed the putt. It was a terrible bogey and even though I got the bad break I still should have made a par. However, I got the shot straight back on the next hole even after hitting a bad drive. From there I made pars on the next four holes, so was even par playing my last hole, which was the cut mark. I pulled my tee shot into the trees on the left again, but when I got down to the ball it was sitting on the pine needles with a clear shot to the green. There were a few twigs around the ball that I started to move and when I pulled one away it moved the ball. I couldn't believe it. Another penalty shot and at such a crucial time, it was devastating. It meant that I had to get up and down to make the cut. My wedge came up just short and meant that I had to chip in, which I didn't manage. In fact, I ended up taking three more from there to finish with a double bogey, which was a devastating way to miss the cut.
I spent the weekend working with Pete so as to get everything right and by the end of the day on Sunday I was extremely happy with everything. We spent a lot of time going through what I needed to do and eventually figured out the best way to do it. I also had a few good chats with Bob Rotella about my game and my routines, which were very helpful, so when I was leaving on Sunday I was actually feeling very good about everything.
The Honda Classic.
Heartbreak for Padraig as a final hole double bogie sees him miss the cut at the Honda Classic. Starting on the back nine, an early dropped shot on the par four 11th hole was soon erased by a birdie two on the infamous par three 15th hole. Another dropped shot had him out in one over par. Two early bogies on the way home had alarm bells ringing but he made a superb birdie three on his next hole. Pars followed and he stood on the ninth needing another par to qualify for the weekend. He was just off the green in two shots but took four to get down missing a eight foot putt for par. It was a bitter pill to swallow after some stellar play .
Padraig opens his Florida swing with a very pleasing two under par 68 which leaves him in a tie for 22nd place. Seven under par leads after the opening round. An early bogie on the second hole was quickly erased with a superb eagle three on the par five 3rd hole where he hit his second shot to eight feet and converted. He picked up another birdie on the par three 5th hole but finished the front nine with a dropped shot. Steady play on the back nine including one birdie on par three 12th hole saw him sign for his 68. He tees off Friday late at 1.15pm local time (+5 hours GMT).
Padraig returns to the US tour for the Honda Classic which is the start of the Florida swing. It is an event that he has fond memories of having won it back in 2005. The course itself was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is famous for a three hole stretch on the back nine known as the "Bear Trap". They comprise two par 3's and a par 4 with water the dominant feature. Many a score card has been ruined playing these holes! The par 70 layout was also the toughest course on tour last year outside the Majors. Eight of the top ten players in the world are playing this week in a star studded field. Padraig tees off at 8.15am local time with Luke Guthrie and big hitting J.B.Holmes.
This week I am in Palm Beach, Florida for the Honda Classic, which was my first win on the PGA Tour back in 2005. Even though we don't play the same course, it is still nice to come to a tournament as a past champion.
I arrived here on Monday evening and on Tuesday I spent some time on the range working with Pete Cowen. I hadn't seen him for quite a while so it was good to catch up and as ever with Pete it was the same stuff - keeping the shoulders packed and swinging under my left shoulder, which I had got away from without realising. Once I got back to it my strike changed and it felt much better. After working with Pete I spent some time with Bob Rotella; we had a good chat about where my head has been and what I have to do. Essentially I have to realise that I don't need to do everything perfect. Bob came out and walked a few holes with me and we continued our discussion.
On Wednesday I played the afternoon pro-am, which was delayed by an hour and forty five minutes due to fog in the morning. As a result it was reduced to nine holes, but thankfully it was on the back nine. I got my practice done before I went out so that I could finish up once we had completed the round. The back nine played tough as it was seriously windy.
I am happy with the work that I have done with Pete. I'm not sure if it will have bedded in fully this week but hopefully enough so that I don't have to think too much about it. When I get it right it feels very good.
This week?s event has produced one of the best tournament fields of the year. It benefits from being in the middle of two World Golf Championship events and also having a lot of PGA Tour players living in the area. It also has a real good tough test of golf in the PGA National course, which is probably the hardest course of the year outside the majors. There isn't really any easy holes on the course and then when you throw in the last four holes that have water lurking everywhere, combined with the strong winds that they get in the afternoons, it makes for a very tough week.
I am looking forward to getting going to see how the work with Pete has settled in but more importantly to see how my chats with Bob affect my play. We discussed lots and I feel that we made some good progress and come up with some good points. However, the only way for me to put them to the test is in tournament conditions.
I am out early Thursday and late Friday, which is a nice draw as it gets windy in the afternoons, so to get your first round in early is a big bonus.