This week we are in Fukuyama for the Mizuno Open, the gateway to the British Open. By that I mean it is a qualifier for the Brotish Open, the top 4 players not exempt into the tournament will gain entry to this years British Open.
The course is a links course here called JFE Setonaikai Golf Club. It is predominantly treeless in the best attempt at a links course here in Japan. Usually we play hilly and tree lined courses so this is a pleasant change. It is a tough, fairly long course that requires precision off the tee as the rough is long.
I have had a very solid week in practice and have made some real progress continuing to build on all the work I have been doing since the Mac O'Grady coaching seminar I went to before the tour started. It has been a fun time with the guys this week and there is a really good feel about the Aussies doing well again this week. I hope it's my turn!
I played really well today in round one to shoot 1 under par. I probably haven't struck the ball that well ever on tour up here before. I hit a lot of shots within range for birdie today and did make some, just not enough. It was a positive day despite the fact that it felt 3-4 shots better than my score. The putting, long putter today is still not humming like the rest of the game but I wonder how much that is to do with the tricky subtle breaking greens this week. They were fast today!!
Super caddy Troy Fuller on the bag in the photo!! He is doing a super job and we are getting better and better as a team all the time!! Just hoping we can stick together for the rest of the season!
Today I played really well. I started a little scratchy but after a bogey on the 16th, my 7th hole, I hit every green in regulation and only missed one fairway from there until the end. It was easily the best stretch of holes I have played up here this year. Not only was I hitting fairways and greens but I was hitting the centre of fairways and hitting it pretty close on the greens.
I putted with my broomy today as the lefty despite feeling solid needs many more hours and a lot of routine work on it. I putted nicely today despite having a three putt on my 12th hole for a bogey where I just misjudged the pace of my first putt leaving a tricky second putt downhill for par.
Sometimes today I paid a bit of a price for getting my club selection spot on. What I mean is that I hit it to pin high numerous times to around 15 feet. The problem on these greens is that it was left with putts that were breaking crazy amounts in short distances making it very difficult to hole them. I had one putt for birdie on my 16th hole from 10 foot but in reality the putt travelled something like 13-14 feet as I had to hit it up the hill before it broke sideways at right angles to track downhill and straight into the centre of the hole!!
That birdie got me to one under for the day and despite hitting another awesome curling putt on the next hole it just slid by. So the par 5 9th hole, my last hole stood in front of me. It is a 600+ yard par 5 and today was back into the wind. I just didn't quite get my drive right and it slid into the fairway bunker down the right side of the hole. It was my only missed fairway for sometime but a crucial one. I had 300m to go and could only hit 6 iron out of the bunker. Fortunately I made great contact and found the centre of the fairway for my third. I had 155m to the pin back into the breeze slightly from the left. Upon a discussion with Troy we decided that a cut 6 iron was the shot and club. I hit it great and it looked really good, landing left of the pin and working towards the hole. There were a few claps from the spectators up at the green suggesting that it must have been in pretty good shape. Surprisingly when we got up to the green that is set above you from the fairway, my ball was a foot from the hole! Why weren't the spectators up and cheering!!!
Needless to say a birdie finish was very pleasing and 2 under was a solid day, more of that I reckon!!! So looking forward to tomorrow and of course next week too. Hoping to finish this week with my low round of the week, low round of the tournament would be great!!
Well that wasn't the day I was hoping for. An early bogey on the 2nd thanks to a poor club choice applied the pressure early in the round.
For those of you who haven't played tournament golf before, these tournaments have two components. The cut on a Friday meaning you get paid for your weeks work and then the weekend to see how much you are going to get paid. Hundreds of golfers all over the world are packing bags on a Friday and heading to the next weeks event having spent money all week and not made a cent. Imagine going to your workplace each week and not making a cent at the end of it! Not fun I can assure you.
The pressure seemed to stay on all day and for me the cut has been elusive for me on the main tour here in Japan. I missed every cut when I played up here on 2011 and missed the first two this year. Self doubt becomes a reality and it is tough sometimes to keep looking ahead and to believe you have enough game to be here and compete with these guys.
I made another bogey on the 5th hole to increase my blood pressure and when I was staring at a par putt from 17feet on the 7th with 6 feet of break I was definitely feeling it. I made the putt and followed that with another at the par 5 9th for birdie. That relaxed me a little at the turn. A tough break on 11 helped me to another bogey and all of a sudden the pressure was back on.
I concentrated on our game plan and each shot for what was required and despite a couple of good holes just couldn't buy a birdie. When I arrived at 16, a 217m par 3, I was still one under for the tournament with 3 to play. This was the first time I had seen a leader board and saw that the cut was looking like 1 under. I had no breathing room to spare at all, but in my favour was the fact that 17 and 18 weren't really tough holes.
I hit a great 2 hybrid into the 16th and saw it land in the centre of the green. Down breeze a little and that made stopping it tough and it just dribbled over the back. To my horror I arrived at the green to see my ball had found a horrible sandy patch over the back of the green. It was a brutal lie and made my shot incredibly difficult. I played a great shot from my position but could only manage to get it to ten feet. I missed the putt and thought that my chances of breaking my drought up here and making a cut were all but gone.
I played a perfect 17th hole and did everything but have the ball find the hole for birdie. This left me walking to the par 5 18th with water around three sides of the green as my final chance to make birdie and make the cut. Troy and I decided on the tee I had to try and really smash one down this hole back into the wind in an attempt to get home for two and leave two puts for birdie or even make eagle. I went after it but just left it down the right side in the rough. The Japanese guys in my group suggested I hit another ball as the out of bounds is quite close there. I didn't even know there was out if bounds over there. I hit a provisional ball and hit it on the exact same line but figured I would just walk down there and hope one of them was in. When we got down there neither ball was out if bounds and in fact I couldn't even see any out of bounds. Thanks boys for the bum steer!! Now my two balls were in vastly different positions. One was half buried in thick rough and the other was sitting on a cart path some 30m closer to the green. I walked to the one in the rough hoping beyond all hope that this was my second ball as the one on the cart path meant the green was reachable. You can imagine the relief when the one in the rough was my provisional ball. I scooped it up and headed to my first ball knowing full well that this was the last throw of the dice.
Troy and I worked out the distance and we figured I had 179m to the front of the green and to carry the water on the line to the pin I had 185m roughly. I took my drop off the cart path which was a very strategic drop. I dropped it right on the line of "no nearer the whole" and because I was on a downslope it was always going to go closer to the hole. Under the rules if it rolls closer you have to re-drop and if it does it again you must place the ball on the place where it first struck the ground. My second drop was a perfect drop with the ball landing exactly on the spot I wanted to play from and the ball rolled clearly nearer to the hole. This meant I could place the ball and in the area I was there wasn't many half decent lies let alone good ones. The spot it landed was the shortest rough which I thought would give me the best chance at going for the green. I measured up the 4 iron and sucked in a couple of deep breathes of that oxygen stuff before stepping in to the ball. I hit it well but it came out a little right and that meant a longer water carry. I ran out into the fairway to watch, hoping not to see a splash but I didn't see it come down. Troy's words still ring strong in my ears "it's safe Matty, it's over!" I was relieved and it left me a tricky little putt from off the green for eagle. I missed it and unfortunately it rolled some 3 feet past leaving me a nasty little left to right breaking putt to make the cut.....I made it! What an afternoon it was. I putted with my old putter today after just feeling like the left handed still needs far more work. It is definitely a work in progress and something I will continue to pursue but as for today the broomy worked ok.
What a huge relief and I feel as though the monkey is finally off my back up here. I am hoping it breaks the shackles and I can go on in leaps and bounds now!
As for tomorrow, I am playing golf and have two days to go rip into!! I can't wait!!
Well that was certainly a different kind of day. Putting left handed in a massive tournament was challenging mentally to say the least. I thought it was all going to go well when I holed a great 25ft putt on the first hole of the day for birdie.
From there things were a little up and down over the next 12 holes. I 3 putted the 6th hole before making great putts on 8 and 9 for birdies. Putting left handed definitely didn't feel great but somehow it was getting the job done.
The back nine started ok with solid pars on 10 and 11 before holing another nice birdie putt on the 12th. That was where things went a little crazy for me. I three putted the par 5 next hole and with that my feelings left handed were starting to unravel. I really think it has some potential but I just haven't had the time to put into it yet and so it feels very technical rather than automatic.
At 2 under I had a decision to make, play the last 5 putting left handed and maybe make some more putts or what felt more likely that I may struggle coming in. I had a feeling this might happen and so I carried my old broomstick putter with me also. I decided that I wanted a solid finish and the broomstick should get me to the clubhouse ok. I managed to actually pick up one more birdie in a really solid final 5 holes to happily be in at 3 under. With the leaders at -5 I am well placed after day one.
I practiced again afterwards with my left handed putter and found the rhythm once again. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, I will simply pick a line and try and putt it down that line.
My management around the course was very pleasing today, I played defensive golf on very quick and sloped greens. Tomorrow will require more of the same and hopefully a slightly lower score.
After my round today I went to the nearby driving range again to work on a few things as the range at the course is terrible. Here is a video where I was mucking around with the automatic ball dispensers in the tee, a good bit of fun!!
This weeks tour event is just outside the city of Kobe which is on the outskirts of Osaka. We are playing the Kansai Open this week at a course called Rokko Country Club.
The course itself is a typical Japanese course set in the hills and with most greens sloping severely from back to front. This event is one of the smaller events on tour and it seems the course goes along with that theme. It is one of the shortest courses I have played in Japan.
The guys I played a practice round with yesterday were saying it seemed like 30 under par would win here. That is obviously an exaggeration but they were getting at the fact that it was a pretty easy layout. Today though the wind really got up and some of the holes were a lot more demanding especially the two longest par four that were back into the wind. The weather forecast this week isn't super so maybe their low scoring prediction might be reined in a little.
My week has been solid in the lead up, hitting the ball pretty well. That is fairly normal for me though, it is about transitioning that form into the tournament. I am making a significant change this week in that I am going to putt left handed. I know, it sounds strange but I have been practicing it for a month since Mac O'Grady suggested it at his golf symposium some 6-7 weeks ago.
This week I have started the ball rolling with a little video to try and show a little "Inside the tour" and will hopefully do a bit more of that to try and give you an even better feel about tournament golf.
Looking forward to the week and some low scores from me!! Catch you next time you check in!!
Catch up with everything from the tour as I let you know about the course, conditions and my thoughts and feelings on how I am playing.....also some cool stories from the tour!!