The good news is that I am getting better!!! Yesterday I was 9 shots worse than Adam Scott, today it was only 4, so going on those numbers I should beat him by 1 tomorrow and 6 on Sunday leaving me only 6 behind!!
In all seriousness though, that was a very tough day, brutal conditions with severe wind and rain just to cap it off. Starting the day at 1 under and inside the dreaded Friday cut line only just, it was always going to be one very tough afternoon at the office. Adding to that was the fact that my status on tour next year is riding on this week. I went into the week in 69th position on the Aussie Order of Merit with the top 75 getting status of some sort. Really though, the top 60 is where you really need to be.
Because of all of that I had some anxiety and nerves about the day ahead of me today, probably more than normal. After starting with a par followed by a bogey, another bogey and then a double bogey, that pressure was going through the roof. The 14th hole, my 5th of the day didn't do much to erase my increasing levels of anxiety as I missed the green into the right bunker. It is easy to have all the answers as far as how to deal with such things on the golf course but as I told my brother last night, I am human and sometimes it does get too much. When you are playing for your livelihood that is when the pressure starts to overcome you at times. I had a bunker shot and then 13 more holes to try and turn this day around!!
My bunker shot was sublime and left me only a tap in, just what I needed. Despite the poor start I felt like I actually hadn't done much wrong and murray reassured me of that, ramming home the notion that we needed to keep believing and trusting in my swing and game. When things aren't going well, it is easy to start second guessing yourself and your ability. A perfect drive and second shot left a good chance at birdie and after reading the putt with Murray and hearing his thoughts on the break of the putt, I finished the discussion with the statement, "As long as it breaks 4 inches downwards at the end, I'll be happy!" That is a common statement amongst golfers meaning we hope it drops into the cup.....fortunately it did!
The next stretch of holes were good for me as I made three more birdies in a 5 hole period. So with 6 to go, I had rectified the situation I found myself in some 7 holes earlier. Standing on the 3rd tee, with 7 holes to go, I still had some difficult holes ahead of me, namely the next 3 and then things theoretically it was going to be a little easier on the way to the 9th, my last hole. After negotiating the next 3 holes in 1 over that was the end of the strong into the wind holes. I parred the 6th and made a good birdie on the 7th to be 1 under for the tournament with 2 to play for the day. Very disappointingly I missed two putts that I should have made on the final two holes and had to settle for a bogey, bogey finish. That certainly left a pretty sour taste in my mouth after such a good fightback.
The best news of the day was that I was finished and I had made the cut, giving me a chance at the weekend and getting inside that top 60 by the end of the weekend. Two very good rounds of golf await for me and
Royal Sydney is the host venue for what should be an absolutely awesome Australian Open this year. Now you may be asking why I think it will be an awesome Aussie Open. The answer is that it is a great golf course, one that challenges every aspect of your game, there is a great field boasting some fantastic names in golf and I might add that they are all in form too and thirdly Adam Scott arrives here looking for the triple crown in Australian golf and as the US Masters Champion that the Sydney siders haven't yet been able to celebrate and congratulate him for! That and my good form this week in practice shows exactly why this may be a very exciting week!!
I arrived Monday morning and was picked up by my good friend Nick Farr-Jones and after dropping him at work I was off to the course in his car he had lent me for the week. We have become very good friends since playing together in the NZ PGA a couple of years ago and our mutual Christianity has only grown that friendship even more. After a really good day out on course I managed to beat the strong winds and rain that arrived in the afternoon as I headed to my accom for the week . After a quick shower I headed out to meet Nick and go to a dinner with him at the Sydney Opera House....as you do!! First stop was his office, overlooking the Opera House and Harbour bridge...not sure how he ever gets any work done!! We walked down to the Opera House to the dinner which was a Australian Sports Hall of Fame dinner and very quickly I found myself in an environment that I love, a room full of Australian Sports stars!!! Who could I talk to I thought as I scanned the room. I was like a kid in a candy store as I looked around the room, Dawn Fraser, Grant Hackett, Adam Gilchrist, NFJ, Alan Davidson and Louise Sauvage just to name a few!! It was a great night chatting to most of them at some point and listening to NFJ, Gilly and Dawn in a Q and A hosted by Liz Ellis, netball guru! What a great way to start the week!!
The course is in great shape and without doubt hasn't disappointed me after I recently said it was in the top 5 Aussie courses I have played. It was just how I remembered it with great shapes of holes and it being a course that will test every aspect of your game. There is something very special about the 1st and 18th holes here, the majestic clubhouse creates such incredible starting and finishing holes. The 1st sets your game going by placing you right beside the clubhouse with the first morning breakfast for invited guests happening just metres to your right creating an exciting spectacle for those lucky enough to gain an invite. The 18th is a dogleg to the left where as you walk down the hole your view finally opens up to what you see in the photo below, a great view of the clubhouse where your round began!! To put it into perspective, if you look at the photo the right hand corner of the clubhouse is where you hit the tee shot from on the 1st hole, elevated and nearly in the members lounge!!!
My practice has gone very well this week and alot of that has to do with a former club pro of Royal Sydney, Murray Lott on the bag for me this week. Murray brings a wealth of experience to my bag this week having actually caddied for Nick Faldo here in an Australian Open in the past. He is also my new short game coach so having him here and continuing to help in that area has been a great benefit too.
I am ready to go, looking forward to getting stuck into the event tomorrow, don't forget to follow along o
It's official, I think Adam Scott may have it at the moment!! Wow a 10 under par 62 around that course is one seriously impressive round of golf. It was incredible to be out there, playing pretty well and just watching him go lower and lower on the scoreboard. At one point whilst I was waiting on my 17th hole to hit our tee shots, he went to ten under and Murray my caddy said to me, do you think he is just going to start showing up on Thursdays to play without a practice round. He is a worthy world number 2 right now that's for sure!
I played really well today, very composed and well structured round that I probably let slip a little at the end which was a little disappointing. My front nine was faultless and despite turning in 3 under it really could have been a lot lower. I had great chances on 1, 2, 4 and 9 that I missed which would have been nice to add to the putts I made on 3, 6, and 7 for birdie. Still 3 under was a solid nine holes as the wind began to get up heading to our back nine.
I drove the ball perfectly down ten and hit a solid shot into the green but due to a slow player in our group putting our group on the clock (meaning we were getting timed for every shot we hit, and potentially penalised if we were to get bad times), I missed a short putt for par. Despite being quite disappointed at the dropped shot with such ease I ripped it down the 11th and once again found the green with a look at a birdie. Although not making it I did make one on the 12th to get back to 3 under. The wind was really starting to blow so getting back into the clubhouse was going to present some great challenges
Unfortunately I made a couple of poor choices and I made two bogies from them. On a day where Scotty is shooting 10 under I couldn't really afford to be making course management errors. Still 1 under was a very solid day and certainly put me ahead of most of the field and with the weather predicted for tomorrow, that is a nice place to be. I will need my A game out there tomorrow, hopefu
Not much to say other than yet again a great weeks work was undone on Sunday. That's the challenge of this sport I play, putting 4 good days together.
Thanks to Macca for caddying and putting up with my poor Sunday again.
The positive of the day was chatting to a wheelchair bound kid behind the 16th green. He has a rare condition where he can't walk on his legs but can only stand for short periods. The doctors have said they don't know why, it has been 6 yrs. he still plays golf amazingly. I gave him my glove, signed before I putted. I went and made my birdie putt, the first putt I had made for two days of any distance, and it was only 8 ft!
The walk up 18 on Sunday in front of a full grandstand is still a great experience even when you have had a really tough day like I did. It was a good feeling to make a great birdie there too, to a big cheer from the crowd. Birdies on 16 and 18 on this course were particularly rare today, I think 4 on 16 and 6 on 18 all day.
A well deserved week off tournament golf this week now as the schedule moves to the NSW Open but after a heavy three weeks I need the week off as I prepare for the Australian Open and also the Japanese Finals the week after.
It is a great event and made all that much better by having some international visitors to the event. This year Matt Kuchar has come to play and has been a welcome superstar to the event. I had a chat to him in the locker room before my third round, just briefly asking him if he was enjoying his stay. He said he was but that he would really love to be able to take his sweater off. I said that I couldn't agree more as I come from Qld where it is hot this time of year. Lovely guy.
Once again my warm up felt ok and I was able to hit most shot shapes on the range which is always a confidence builder. My putting too felt good so I was ready to go. The first tee nerves are always there but today I wasn't too bad and flushed it down the middle with my 2 iron. I was determined today to start well and not find myself at 2 over par like I have in every round for the last 10 I think before mounting a comeback.
I started solidly but couldn't find a putt in the first 4 holes for birdie. I thought I hit a good shot into the par 3 5th but on the ever firming greens my ball went long into the back bunker. As I was right at the back of the bunker some of the volunteer helpers for the week were sitting only metres from my ball. There was a couple of older ladies there and as I walked into the bunker I said to them "well haven't you got the best seat in the house for this!" They replied with "yes and we are looking forward to watching how you do this!" I played a gem of a high soft bunker shot and it rolled to some 4 inches from the hole. Upon leaving the bunkers to the cheers from the crowd I cheekily asked the ladies if they saw what I did....they were thrilled with seeing it but more thrilled at having a player chat to them, made their day I think.
So after that par I made birdie at the 6th after hitting it to 2 feet and then played the tough final 3 in even par. The back nine presents a few chances but despite hitting the first 5 greens in reg I couldn't make a putt with my best chance being on the 12th where I missed a 12 foot chance. I hit a great drive down the par 5 15th and only had a 3 iron in which I put on the green. It was a great eagle chance but I missed it and had to settle for par.
Still I was a couple under in windy conditions and I knew the course was firming up and playing a little tougher. The final 3 aren't easy holes in this wind direction so I would have been happy to par in. After a very solid 4 at 16 I made an error in club selection on 17 which left me an incredibly difficult putt down a big slope. Some of the slopes are that big that there is simply no way to stop your ball from gathering speed and racing past the hole. That is what happened here and I missed the return putt for a disappointing bogie 5, my first of the day.
A strong par up the difficult 18th left me feeling satisfied yet slightly disappointed I didn't get more out of a day where I didn't miss one fairway and I hit 17/18 greens in regulation. I can only hope my ball striking repeats tomorrow and I roll a few putts in.
Adam Scott has done wonders for Australian golf since winning the US Masters, but having own last week and now leading here it is just so brilliant for the game in Australia. I kind of hope he gets up today as heading to Royal Sydney in a couple of weeks with him as Masters champ and having a chance at the triple crown here in Australia would make that week a crazy week. The crowds out have been huge and I expect a massive crowd out today and at Sydney too. Great for golf!!
Friday, cut day!! Tournament golf is played undoubtedly in two parts by 90 percent of the field. For those fortunate enough to be at the top of their game and such the leaderboard, it's not, but for the rest Friday carries it's own unique pressure unlike any other day of the week.
Pro golf is a tough gig, you work hard all week and unless you can negotiate the Friday cut there is no pay! There aren't too many other jobs out there where you work from Monday to Friday and depending on how well you work, you may get paid.......there is also the added component that if you work well, some weeks you still don't get paid as 60 other guys may work better and you are still on the outer!!
Today, around a tough course, that Friday challenge was always going to be a tough and relentless one. It wasn't going to ever let up until you managed to negotiate the difficult 18th hole.
I started solidly with good chances on the first two holes for birdie but under estimated the amount of break on the first and had a massive horseshoe lip out on the 2nd. After my tee shot went long on the 3rd it left me a terribly difficult shot that I failed to get right and despite a great putt it still managed to lip out also.
Some days on course I find my job very tough and today was one of them. I hadn't done much wrong and it seemed like everything was going against me.....or so it seemed. My headspace was filling up with those sorts of negative thoughts and I really struggled to release myself from them today and get back on track. I went into my own little world trying not to talk as I knew only negative stuff was going to come out. I too like everyone else in this world was having a bad day at work.
After some great ball striking over the next 5 holes I managed to miss all my birdie putts, get one ball up and down for par from and impossible position and missed a pretty straight forward 8 foot putt for par. So I stood on the 8th tee with the very real challenge of "Cut Day" looming large as I found myself at 2 over par for the tournament and plenty of the course stroll to play. A perfectly played two shots into the 8th and I finally converted a putt for a much needed birdie. That was quickly erased though when I found a fairway bunker on the 9th. The disappointment this week for me is the way the bunkers have been prepared, leaving large groove marks in them making it virtually impossible to get a good lie. A wedge out and another to the green but a missed putt returned me to 2 over with 9 to play.
I knew I was playing well and hitting the ball well but the scoring just wasn't happening. I didn't change anything on the back nine, gather the info on the shot, come up with the plan and execute the shot. I did it reasonably well, making birdie on 10, pars on 11, 12, 13 and 14 before a great drive and a solid three wood on the par 5 15th set up a nice birdie. I negotiated the tough 16th with a par before playing a beautifully controlled half 9 iron into the 17th and making the 14 foot birdie. The last hole is challenging and with the wind picking up left to right made it even tougher. My drive found the rough and my second the fringe of the green with a long putt up the green remaining. I misjudged the speed and ran it buy some 15 feet. Fortunately thr putt was exactly the same as the hole before and I made it to save par and be in the clubhouse at -1.With massive relief at turning a tough start and a poor mental game into a positive result and another cut made, I can head to the weekend in a tie for 19th and have a red hot crack at moving up the leaderboard. I'm looking forward to a better result this weekend than last week. s
Thankfully the weather held off today, well the rain did anyway. So all we had to deal with was some wind and very cool temperatures.
My warm up went well and I was putting the ball well too. Yesterday afternoon I spent about 40mins with Ian Baker Finch talking all things putting. It was bitterly cold and raining yesterday so I was amazed Ian still came to our arranged meeting for some putting tuition. It was worth it as he has some serious talent for putting and info to be shared.
I started the day on the 11th, due to the composite course we are playing the 10th tee is away from the clubhouse so the 11th is much closer. I hit a decent drive and had about 75 m to go. There was a little wind into the face and due to the rain yesterday I said to Macca that I actually thought this shot might spin a bit. So we aimed a little right and were trying to land it on a bank and let it spin down to the hole. It was on the perfect line although when it landed it spun, and I mean spun. It came back the 30+ feet to the front of the green and then off the front, caught a slope and ran some 25m off the front of the green.....unbelievable!! What a start, two good shots and now I had an incredibly difficult pitch shot over a bunker with no green to work with. I played a sublime pitch and was left with 8 feet for par. Starting with a par on the first is such a big thing, just to get going on the right footing. I made it and away we went!!
After making par at the second I hit a poor shot into the 13th, my 3rd hole of the day and made a bogey. After pars at the next 2 holes I then three putted the 16th to be two over through the first 6 holes. The course wasn't getting any easier out there so this was a less than ideal start. The only positive was that of late I have found myself at 2 over so many times during rounds and in fact that is when things seem to start going well.
Today was no different as from there until the 17th hole I played great golf, getting it back to 1 under for the day. I hit two pretty good shots but unfortunately 3 putted and headed to my last hole very disappointed to have fought back and then drop a shot so softly. I still had work to do however and needed to knuckle down on the final hole of the day. I played a solid whole and was reasonably satisfied to finish the day at even par.
Hoping for a nice morning tomorrow where I can play well and hopefully get myself under par and really into the tournament. Fingers crossed.
This week sees the opportunity to dust of the clubs from last week and see what shiny new opportunity awaits me at the Australian Masters at Royal Melbourne. As it was my first visit to RM, I was very excited to get down here.
Having put last week's PGA behind me it was up early Monday morning, 2:40am, and off to the airport for the trip south. One thing Melbourne does really well is that it really helps you to miss Qld weather. What garbage we have had since we have been here, barely above 16 degrees, blowing a gale and raining off and on.
I arrived at RM full of expectation and anticipation as it is rated the number 1 course in Australia, and has been for some time. After unpacking our gear into the locker it was time for the first tee. It is a quality golf course, there is no doubt about that, and very difficult to boot.
The course boasts several tough par fours, some tricky par threes and a couple of gettable par 5's. It has a little too many blind tee shots or tee shots over crests for my liking though, I like to see where I am hitting the ball. The greens are very hard to hit into and very undulating making both finding the same area as the pin and putting very difficult. Add to that some tea tree and serious rough and you have a tough test of golf on a calm day! Calm, it certainly hasn't been that for either of my practice rounds, the wind has been out of control at times. On one green yesterday my playing partners ball was at rest about 20 feet from the hole when a huge gust blew and moved his ball about a foot, the really bad part was that that foot made his ball catch a slope on the green resulting in his ball rolling some 50 feet back down the green and off the front.
Needless to say that this week will be all about Real Estate. I have created a new game to play on course with myself this week and the name of it is Real Estate. As they say in the business Real Estate is all about "position position position" So for this week the challenge for Macca and I is to work backwards from the pin location on the green figuring out the best place to putt from to that location, then from that location working out where is the best place in the fairway to approach from and then from that location in the fairway, how am I going to get the ball to there....position, position, position
Tomorrow is my final day of practice before the tournament begins on Thursday so I am hoping for some fine weather to be able to fine tune things. If we are met with bad weather, which is predicted, I have a great back up plan. I am staying with a friend this week and yesterday he tells me that he has just started working in a new business. He tells me he is in golf simulators now, so tomorrow if the weather goes pear shaped, I will be heading indoors to play Royal Melbourne on the golf simulator!!
I look forward to sharing more from the Aussie Tour with you this week!!
Once again it was great to arrive at the course on a Sunday with a decent show at finishing high up the leader board. As I have already said this week, the PGA, Royal Pines, RACV and the other sponsors have done such an amazing job this week and that job has made this week such an awesome thing to be a part of.
As a professional golfer there is nothing better than warming up in front of big crowds and standing on that first tee with the crowds 5 and 6 deep watching that first shot of the day. The adrenaline and nerves certainly let you know you are alive on that first tee shot. Trying to calm yourself down is a skill that I haven't mastered yet and to be honest I am not sure if I will ever master it.....but I do love it!!
My day was unfortunately over effectively in the first 45 mins of my round. What a bad time for my whole game to desert me, my driving, iron play, chipping and putting all seemed to be replaced by that of a c grader as I managed to drop 6 shots in the first 4 holes with nothing going right and everything going wrong.
To be honest, at that point I have never been more deflated or disappointed on a golf course before. 45mins earlier I was excited about what the day had in store and now my day was done, top ten in tatters and even more importantly I was wondering where a good shot of any kind would come from. I will openly say that my emotions didn't change from that point for the rest of the day, I simply tried to find a way, one shot at a time to rebuild all the good work I have done throughout the week.
Fortunately my ability to gather the info for the shot and execute the shot I have chosen was still there, and all I could do was trust that it would return some quality shots again. It did return and if I was able to make a few more of the chances that I gave myself, I may well have finished better than the 4 over I did. Still, given the circumstance I found myself in after 4 holes, to shoot 2 under the last 14 holes was a positive way to finish the week. As I arrived at the last, the last hole Sunday, I hit a great drive and had 161m to the flag. From the fairway you could see the big grandstand was full as well as the other stands around the green. This is a fun part of what I do, I know many of you wouldn't love hundreds watching you hit into the green but I really enjoyed it. I hit a great 7 iron and it never left the flag, pitching on the green and rolling up to 3 feet from the pin. The crowd gave a huge roar, one that will get me back, that's for sure!!
I think the highlight for the week, and there were many, was after I putted out on the 18th. I looked around, trying to soak it up and I saw a young man in a wheelchair behind the bunker. After shaking hands with my playing partner and caddies I went around the bunker to see him. I said hi and thanks for coming out to watch the golf and signed my glove and cap and gave them to him. He was not only disabled physically but was also mentally disabled in some way. He smiled though and when I asked him for a handshake he immediately raised his hand up to me. Despite the disappointment of my day this moment meant a lot to me and also to him and his dad who was with him. A good reminder that at the end of the day I am just playing golf and there are far more important things out there in life to be good at too.
So that's it for another week of blogging but the good news is that the Aussie Masters week starts tomorrow. It is at the famous Royal Melbourne course and as I have never been there before I am so looking forward to it. It is great to be heading there on the back of two really solid weeks and with the confidence, despite taking a hit
I am exhausted as I sit and write this blog after a long hot and tough day out on the course at Royal Pines. It was again very windy out there and it was a true test of your ability today.
I arrived at the course a little earlier than normal today and was treated with a tour through the TV Production truck where all the magic happens to bring an event like this to the millions of homes around the world watching. It was mind boggling and so confusing but thankfully they are the professionals and they know what they are doing. So many screens and buttons and levers and dials.....all coming together in perfect harmony to bring the golf to the masses. It was a great insight into the "behind the scenes" stuff that goes into a tournament week.
Practice again went well although I was certainly feeling the pressure a little today. I was a little nervous and the crowds despite being big on Thursday and Friday had swollen again. With my long game tuned up and ready to go, I hit the putting green prior to my tee off. Being off in the 5th last group meant that most of those 10 guys were around and it was good to have a look around to see if you could gauge how the other guys were feeling. I said hi to Adam Scott and wished him well for the day before a few minutes later he asked me if my putter was anchored. This led to an interesting discussion regarding the rule change and methods that we both might use down the track when the ban comes into place. I also caught up with Adam after the round and had quick chat to him about a mutual friend who lives in the states and also what he thought he might serve up at the traditional Champions Dinner at Augusta next year. (The Masters Champ gets to choose the menu)
Today I can honestly say that it was the best I have played for the week without doubt. I had worked hard on the range and got myself into a good place mentally out on the course. I played exceptionally well throughout the front nine but the last hole I missed a very makable par putt meaning I made the turn in 1 over. The back nine didn't start too well as somehow my birdie putt on 10 stayed out of the hole before my first errant drive of the day found an ugly spot and a bogey. I was now 2 over and had a very tough final 7 holes in increasing wind. I managed to par the next 3 holes but after pulling my tee shot on the 15th left and what I thought was into the water, I thought I had blown the last real birdie chance coming in. Fortunately my ball was up and I managed to hack it out down the hole, the photo above is the 2nd shot on that 15th hole. I found the green for my third and once again I managed to make a putt for an unlikely birdie on the hole.
The last three holes really only presented one good opportunity for birdie and that is the 17th, the short par 4. I did however play a great shot into the par three 16th first and although I hit a great putt, the ball managed to stay out of the hole thanks to a 90 degree lip out!! 17 I made a meal of and was lucky to get out of there with a par before I headed to 18. Back into the wind this was going to be a tough test. I smashed my drive and hit a great cut 4 iron onto the green, pin high. Despite hitting a great putt and it looking the goods, it slid by leaving me at 1 over for the day and 3 under for the tournament and in a tie for 12th going into the last day.
It has been a really solid week and I am keen to finish it off with a low score tomorrow and be the clubhouse leade
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!!