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On the Road with Padraig
A second round of one over par sees Padraig finish at one under par at the halfway stage of the Maybank Championship. He got off to a nice start with two early birdies but three dropped shots in a row saw him out in level par. He covered the front nine (his final nine) in one over par recording eight pars and a bogie. Eight under par leads the tournament going into the weekend. Padraig tees off at 8.30am local time on Saturday with Ross Fisher and Matthew Southgate.
A fantastic return to form for Padraig after a nearly four-month layoff, he opens his account at the Maybank Championship with a two-under-par round of 70. Starting on the back nine, he recorded four birdies on the day and just two bogies but most pleasingly had six 3’s on his card. He reported no ill effects with his wrist after and tees off Friday, early at 8.20am.
Padraig tees it up at long last after a niggling wrist injury in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for this weeks Maybank Challenge. The Ryder Cup trophy will be on display as Thomas Bjorn and Padraig both play this week. Major champion, Ernie Els is also in the field. Padraig tees off in the opening round at 1.05pm local time with Gavin Green and Kurt Kitayama.
After nearly four months since my last tournament, I am back in action this week at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia. It has been my longest break from competitive play since I turned professional, maybe even since I started playing golf. The reason for this was because of a broken bone in my hand, but when I found out it was broken I never thought it would keep me out for so long. After every other injury I have had over the years, I have come back quickly and I assumed that this would be the same. However, my recovery has been well behind my expectations.
This is also my first tournament since being named as the Ryder Cup Captain. Since it’s been a while I have got used to it, but this week everyone is congratulating me on my appointment. It’s been nice as it’s brought back to me how big a deal it is and how much it means to the European Tour.
I started hitting shots last week to get myself ready and even then I was taking it very easy. It wasn’t until I got here that I began swinging full out. I arrived on Sunday so that I could get three days playing before the tournament starts. On Monday I played 16 holes, on Tuesday 9 holes and then 18 in the pro-am on Wednesday. I’ve done some practice too, but nothing like I would normally do. I am very conscious of my wrist and not wanting to put it under too much strain. So far it has been fine, but I’m getting physio twice a day to ensure that it holds up.
It’s been a funny few days as I have been mainly concentrating on my wrist, but as the holes went by and it appears to be okay I have been trying to get back into playing golf. This is my first tournament since the middle of November and I can see the rust. When I planned my schedule before I broke my wrist, I would have seen myself being here fully into my season and very competitive. So being here as my first event and trying to see where my game is at is not ideal. It’s been a typical first week, some things are looking fine but I can see the areas of my game that need work and time. As always I’d love to have a more time to get ready but the thing that I have come to realize over the years is that you are never quite sure how your game is until you test it under pressure. By the end of the week, I will have a good feel for what I need to do and for where my swing is at.
This week we are playing at Saujana Golf and Country Club. I’ve played here a few times over the years and in fact, was beaten in a play-off by Vijay Singh in 2001. I’ve always enjoyed coming out here to Malaysia to play. While it’s extremely warm it has never really bothered me – I make sure to take on lots of water and luckily I don’t sweat too much.
The course was remodeled last year and all the greens were relaid. As a result, they are quite firm which is unusual for this part of the world. It is definitely playing much harder then when I last played here – it’s more difficult to get the ball close and also there are a lot more run-offs around the greens. Over the years the scoring has been low but given the course set up this year, I am not expecting the scoring to be as good.
Considering I wasn’t sure how my wrist would hold up when I was coming out here, I am happy with how my practice has gone. I’ve seen a lot of good signs in my game but more importantly, my wrist has reacted well so far.
I’m looking forward to getting my season started and to seeing what my game is like under the gun. In some ways, I’m happy the course is playing tougher than normal as I don’t feel under pressure to have to shoot 20 under par.
I’m excited and nervous after such a long break and it feels like I would have felt many years ago when I would be wondering if my game was still going to be there.
I’m out late on Thursday and early on Friday with Gavin Green and Kurt Kitayama.
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.