It wasn’t quite the return I had hoped for…. I finished in a tie for 50th in the end, which was better than the previous week in Abu Dhabi where I missed the cut, but still well short of what I was aiming for. However I will say that 50th was not a fair reflection of how I played during the week.
Looking back, I know that I could easily have finished a lot higher up the leaderboard without doing much different. The way the course was set up with heavy rough and narrow fairways meant that it was hard to hit many fairways, but when you did you felt that it was setting you up for a birdie chance. Whereas when you were coming from out of the rough it was difficult to get it to the green, but even if you could, it was hard to keep the ball on them.
For the most part of the week I was happy with my driving, although a lot of the time I didn’t take advantage of my good drives. I would hit a good approach and then not hole the putt, or else hit an average approach and not really give myself a fair chance of a putt. I did manage to make 13 birdies for the week, which wasn’t too bad, but I still left a lot behind me. However it wasn’t so much the amount of birdies that cost me, it was the dropped shots; 16 bogeys and a double bogey just wasn’t good enough. Some of these were legitimate dropped shots but a lot of them were poor. I would say the majority were down to lack of play and rustiness, either through some poor decisions or just some sloppy shots. For instance, I played the last two holes in 4 over par for the week – I made one birdie and five bogeys on them – these are two holes that you are looking to make birdies on, not bogeys In the last round I took four from the edge of the green on 17 for a bogey and then on 18, after a great drive, I duffed my 4 iron into the water.
I could bore you by going through my rounds hole by hole, but there is no need. My play was easily good enough to finish in the top-20 but too many silly mistakes cost me. My putting, whilst it didn’t show up in the stats, was a lot better. I felt more comfortable over the putt and rolled the ball at the hole nicely all week. I found the greens hard to read, as they are so flat – I remember having the same problems back when I used to come here regularly.
I left Dubai feeling good about my game as I saw a lot of improvement across the board. While I was disappointed to finish where I did, I was happy to get four rounds under my belt. At the moment it is play that I need and not time on the range, which I could see from my performances these last two weeks. I spent most of my time on the range practicing my wedge play, which is an area of my game needs some work as I haven’t done much on it over the winter break. However, the work I did do over the break has bedded in nicely and so going forward I am committed to spending more time on the scoring clubs.
The week was a very positive one for me in terms of my season ahead. I can see what needs some work and I have got to see how my winter work faired under tournament pressure. For now it’s a week off before I make my first start on the PGA Tour.
Final round of two over par 74 sees Padraig finish in a tie for 50th place at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. He got off to a good start with an early birdie but finished poorly with a couple of dropped shots which was the story of the week. Overall he made thrirteen birdies throughout the tournament but had too many mistakes with the last day epitomising his week as wayward drives punished his rounds.
Third round of one over par 73 was disappointing as Padraig had got off to a good start. He opened with three birdies in his first eight holes but had a couple of dropped shots to be out in one under par. He started for home with seven straight pars before losing shots at the last two holes to sign for a 73. It leaves him at three over par heading into Sunday.
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!!