This week saw the Japan Tour head to Fukushima. It's probably most well known for the nuclear plant meltdown after the earthquake in 2011. It's always slightly concerning coming here as we actually aren't too far away from it although definitely still outside the exclusion zone. Yesterday in the third round I played with a guy called Go, yep Go. Imagine that was your name, so many difficult situations as a kid growing up!! Standing at the side of the road waiting to cross and someone yells your name.....Go was a really great young guy and without doubt had some stories to tell. He came from Sendai which was flattened by the tsunami that followed the earthquake and had friends that unfortunately passed away. Four years on and he says the rebuild is going so slowly and bit by bit. He was telling me that he flew out of Japan to America the day before the earthquake for a golfing holiday....talk about timing. Fascinating guy.
My week was a hot one this week. I knew it was going to test me this week after re injuring my knee on my week off at home last week. I actually did new damage but was told I probably couldn't make it worse by playing. 9 holes on the first two days to ease it was probably a very wise thing, I know, not usually associated with me!! It was hurting afterwards but good management meant I completed the week and actually think the knee is in better shape than it was when I arrived.
I can honestly say that this week I struck the ball as well as I ever have up here and that part of my game continues to go forwards to new levels. I was consistently ranked in the top 20 for both driving and greens in reg all week. My putting actually felt like at times it was the best it's been for ages too, although nothing seemed to drop. Fortunately my ball striking was on song and that meant lots of short birdie putts and eagle putts too. I really didn't make the extra putts you need to if you really want to contend this week and certainly my focus moving forward will be on that 5-20ft range to help that process along.
Today, the final day was the most pleasing day of the week, I was determined to look forward and not dwell on anything that was past. I was also determined not to make a bogey which would allow an under par round as I was making birdies! It was incredibly pleasing to tap in on my last hole for birdie and sign for a 5 under 67, making four sub par rounds for the week. I may not have finished high up the leaderboard but that was a very solid week for me up here and the first time I have done that.
I think my highlight for the week was today as I was heading to the first tee. Walking off the putting green there were two young Japanese boys standing there inside the ropes. They were looking like they were nervous for being allowed in there, standing with some officials. There were great crowds out today but somehow these two had "backstage passes!" As I neared them I threw my ball down in front of them and gave my wedge to one of them motioning for him to have a chip onto the putting green. He looked around to see if it was ok but I just encouraged him to have a go. He gripped it and nervously started to swing, to my horror he didn't stop his backswing for a chip and continued three quarters of the way back. Before I could stop him he started down, I looked to the putting green where one of the leaders was putting, right in line with this "full swing!" Thankfully he had an air swing and I breathed a massive sigh of relief as the club head flew over the top of the ball!! A little coaching and he tried again, this time a small chipping motion making contact and sending the ball to within about 10 foot from the hole!! I led a big round of applause from the gallery watching on as I went to pick up the ball. As I turned to walk back off I looked at him and his nervous face had changed into a beaming, smiling face that lit up my face! A high five and my day was underway as I went to the first tee and ripped it down the middle!!
I'm lucky to be able to have a crack at this incredibly demanding sport as a profession and today I didn't do a bad job of it. I've learnt things this week and look forward to the next opportunity that comes my way. For now though I look forward to home and my awesome family!!!!