For some strange reason my love of the Melbourne sandbelt area continued as did my love of playing the Aussie Masters. If only the Australian Open would come back to Melbourne to give me two weeks here a year I might make a living from this sport!!!
I had a tough but great weekend. I was paired with George McNeill yesterday who has won twice on the PGA Tour in the States and has career earnings of around $11.5 million and then got the pleasure of playing today with the great John Senden. It has been so great to test myself up against the quality of these two guys over the past two days along with Vijay Singh from the Fiji International. What is great is that a few weeks ago I sat down with my team and wrote some stuff out about what needed to change for me to improve and take my game to the next level. We have implemented plenty of that and it is great to play with these guys and at least match it with them for the most part. I have made notes and thought about how they are better and what areas of my game I need to improve to really elevate my game even more. I couldn't be more excited about where my game is at right now and where it is headed.
I said to Brad, my caddy, as we walked down the 10th hole today "How good is this?" He said "What?" to which I replied "The back nine on Sunday at the Masters!!" I was excited that here we were on the final 9 holes of the week in a position that every player starting the week would have wanted to be in, within striking distance and not without a chance to win. I flushed my 7 iron into the green on 10 and finally made a putt, it felt like days since the last putt had dropped. With renewed spirit and joy I moved to the 11th and ripped it down the right side leaving a perfect angle to the green. I hit a 6 iron as pure as the driven snow and it must have gone close to actually hitting the pin before resting some 20 feet behind it. I hit a great putt but as had happened all day it curled round behind the hole to miss. After my 8 iron found the green at the par 3 12th for the first time this week, I was left with a super fast down hill right to left putt. I hit it perfectly again and as it crept almost in slow motion towards the hole I moved right, kind of hoping the ball would move left to find the cup......it did!! In my first real show of excitement I gave a fist pump as I drew within 2 of the lead.
A perfectly played 13th hole and another birdie chance. Another quality putt but yet again the ball just slid by. It was this putt that later in the afternoon Ian Triggs, who coaches John Senden, had said to me that he thought that if that putt had of dropped anything could have happened and that he thought I was that close today!! He also commended me on my play today and also my character as I held my head high during a tough finish. Well now that I have let the cat out of the bag, I dropped 3 shots coming in over those closing 5 holes and within an instant it seemed I lost my opportunity. I actually should be disappointed and I guess I am to a degree as I had a chance today with 5 to play and really blew it. It was a mixture of a poor shot choice on 14 followed by some timid putting where I placed myself under big pressure due to poor first putts. I finished in a tie for 6th which is my best result in my favourite event of the year!!
So off to Sydney for the Aussie Open week which I can't wait for now. I have had a great week and can't thank Brad and Shelley enough for putting me up for the week, feeding me, putting up with my humour and for Brad doing an amazing job caddying for me all week. He is such a legend and I am truly blessed to have them and their newborn son in my life. They are truly quality people.
My final week of the year on the Aussie tour has arrived which is sad in a way as I am so keen to play right now whilst the form is good. I have some goals that were set a few weeks back and some of them come into play in this coming week and the week after too. It is a great thing to look at some lofty goals and feel like they are within striking distance. I will learn from this weekend and try and do it better next time, hopefully next weekend.
Thanks to everyone for your support, messages, phone calls etc, it makes my week awesome knowing that the game of golf can bring joy to so many people especially those who don't play this amazing game!! I hope to do it all again this week in Sydney so stay tuned!!!!