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On the Road with Padraig
Padraig shoots a three over par round of 75 to leave him at two over par for the tournament but still within the cut line after the morning wave. The course played very difficult again as the highest average score ever was recorded in yesterdays opening round, (just over 74 shots for the field)! He recorded four birdies on the day, picking up shots at the 3rd, 5th, 10th and 16th holes but had too many mistakes including a double bogey six on the par four 8th hole. It will be wait and see for the rest of the field to finish.
Padraig opened his account in the desert with a pleasing round of one under par 71. Starting on the back nine, he turned in two under par but consecutive dropped shots after the turn had him back at level par. He did however manage to birdie the par three 7th hole on the way in sign for a 71. The course this year is playing much tougher with the rough up and the greens playing hard and fast.
Padraig continues his season on the European Tour as he tees it up this week at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The Ryder Cup captain will be joined by the man he took over from, Thomas Bjorn, and last weeks winner on the PGA Seniors Tour, Miguel Angel Jimenez. It is a star studded field with last weeks contenders, Lee Westwood, Tommy Fleetwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick all playing. Your defending champion is Bryson DeChambeau.
Tee times! Padraig plays with Tom Lewis and Renato Paratore at 7.50am Thursday and 12.10pm Friday.
For the first time since 2004 I am back in Dubai for the Desert Classic. For the first 8 years of my professional career I never missed a tournament here but when I took my PGA Tour card in 2005 it changed my schedule and so I wasn’t able to make it. This year it worked out nicely for me to play two events in the Middle East swing, including a return to the Dubai Desert Classic and I have to say it feels good to be back. The course is very similar to how I remember it used to play; they have put in some new tees but they have maintained how the holes used to play.
The set up this week is much tougher than I ever remember and from what the guys are saying it is toughest for a long time. The rough is up and the greens are firm and fast. If you don’t get a good line on your ball in the rough it is hard to find and if do find it, unless you get a good lie, it is very hard to get to the green. It has put a huge premium on hitting fairways from the tee, but if you can put your drive in play then there are birdie chances. However if you miss the fairways then pars are hard to come by. It’s hard to see the scoring being anything like it has been over the last few years.
I played nine holes on Monday and Tuesday, both with Shane and did some wedge practice as well. After last week I could see that my wedge play and short game was quite rusty. I’ve been spending my time working on these areas this week as they will be vital to good scoring with the way the course is set up.
On Wednesday I played the morning pro-am. I was happy with how I had played Monday and Tuesday but I will say I found the course a lot tougher. I didn’t play too well – I found the rough quite a bit from the tee and it made the course play long and tough. It had a US Open feel to it. However I’m not stressed about how I played as I hit the ball nicely on Monday and Tuesday and also last week in Abu Dhabi. I actually see the tough course as an advantage to me as there will be plenty of guys that will “lose the head” with the course the set up.
After my round I hit some wedges, chips and putts. I found the greens very fast on Wednesday morning, so I spent a bit of time working on my pace drills. I’m a lot happier with my putting after the work I did last week, it is just a matter of getting comfortable with the pace of the greens.
I’m out early on Thursday at 7.50am (3.50am Irish time) with Tom Lewis and Renato Paratore. If you add both their ages together they are only just older than me!!
Catch up with Padraig’s busy playing schedule as well as finding out what he’s doing off the course, from his role as the R&A’s Working for Golf Ambassador, to the work he does raising awareness for the Special Olympics and as Ireland’s Golf Ambassador.