This time though it was particularly satisfying as I had just made the cut in a major tour event. I made the cut recently in the NZ PGA Champs but this event was worth 3 times that amount and had been the carrot I had been chasing for a very long time. To add to that enjoyment was the fact that I played another solid round to finish the tournament shooting even par again for the third day in a row to finish on 2 under in a tie for 27th.
It was by far and away my best performance since hanging up the coaching hat and heading back to playing a couple of years ago. Obviously my win in Wollongong is right up there, but this felt great, really competing with some quality players. KJ Choi ended up being too good for me but once again I can take real confidence from the fact that he is ranked inside the top 50 in the world and yet was only 2 shots in front of me.
My final round had a very similar tone to the third round. I actually started really well hitting it close on the first 3 holes but not being able to make a putt for birdie. One thing is for sure, my putting needs work and I will continue to spend some more time with Kev on it in the next week. I feel as though I putt well, but simply need to make more, especially when the winner shoots 18 under. I did have 17 birdies, only 6 less than the winner but putting can account for the extra 6 and also the extra bogies too. It is an area that I need to elevate and if I can improve it even by 5%, I think it will have a massive impact on my scoring.
Back to the final round. So after making par on the 4th hole as well I could only manage a bogey on the 5th hole. Wow that hole cost me this week!! I had 5 over on that hole alone. Even just taking pars on that par three alone for the week would have seen me finish in a tied 8th or 9th. A great bounce back birdie on the 6th hole though after hitting a 300m plus drive. It kind of caught Brent and I by surprise as I found my ball down between two fairway bunkers. I turned to Brent and said “How far have I hit that??” Maybe just a little pumped with adrenalin after making another bogey on the 5th!! Anyway it certainly made the 6th hole a lot easier as I now only had a wedge to the green. Following the birdie there I hit a poor drive down the next finding the right rough leaving a 3 wood to the green into the wind out of the rough. The rough unfortunately grabbed the 3 wood and turned the head left and I watch my ball sailing left of the green. Now normally that would have been ok, but unluckily for me my ball found the cart path that runs along every hole over here and bounce and extra 50m straight into some jungle resembling the Amazon! Not the luck I wanted on this final round and certainly not a shot I wanted to have to play again having lost the ball. Fortunately for me I managed to hit a great 2nd 3wood on the hole and got it to just off the edge of the green. Down in 2 for a disappointing double bogey 6.
Time to regroup but important to realize that I had been playing really well today and that I needed to just keep giving myself opportunities. I was playing a circle game anyway that Kev has taught me, scoring my game on pre shot routine, execution and post shot reaction. Despite making the double I still scored a full circle for the hole which is the aim. Each shot if done properly with those three components will score a little circle with a full circle being awarded if all shots on the hole are completed with success. It was all about getting more circles so Brent and I set about achieving that. I did that really well for the next 4 holes playing them really well and picking up 1 birdie and 3 pars. After a perfect drive down the 12th I missed the green to the right leaving myself a near impossible up and down. It turned out that way as I made a bogey. Once again though my bounce back was swift making a great birdie up the 13th with a close approach shot. Two pars at 14 and 15 found me at 1 over for the day with three to play.
Pinx Golf Course was a quality course and a superb tournament venue. The more I think about the place the more I think it is just the perfect set up. The 18th hole has great viewing from the clubhouse and ample room for a good grandstand at the back and the right side of the green. The set up prior to the 18th is great though with a risk reward par 5 16th with both risk off the tee with trees, thick rough and bunkers awaiting a stray drive and then if you make that shot the 2nd has an elevated green with a large water hazard bordering the right side of the hole from about 60m out right up to the green edge. 17 is a great par 3 with usually a mid to long iron in and then 18 as mentioned is a great finishing hole. Mind you I don’t think too many members would see it that way. It was 428m long, usually playing into the wind from the left with the second shot being a water carry to the green! Sounds like fun hey!!
I found myself standing on the 16th tee, wanting to finish with 3 full circles in my circle game and hopefully that meaning 3 birdies! Every day this week I had hit 3 wood off the tee on 16 as Brent and I had decided in practice that the 2nd shot was too difficult and that I was just as much chance of making birdie hitting my third from the lay up point, hopefully taking anything worse than par out of the equation. I teed my ball up and turned to Brent to see he had the three wood out again. I looked and him and said “I think it is maybe a driver today?” His response was swift “are you going to go at the green?” My response was equally swift saying “I think I just want to have the choice today.” So player overruled the caddy on this occasion. I was hitting driver well and just thought I wanted the option of going at the green, in doing so bringing a 6 or worse into the equation but also giving me a higher chance at 4 and also a chance of a 3. I flushed it, perfect and into the middle of the fairway splitting the bunkers on the right and the trees in the left rough. Being last to hit my second gave me plenty of chance to think about the shot. I had 205m to the front of the green and a few metres more to guarantee that I would carry the water up the right side of the green. The wind was slightly into so it meant a 3 wood and a 3 wood where I wouldn’t leave much of it in the bag! One of my playing partners was just a metre further out and when he hit his 3 wood you could tell he absolutely smashed it. It just carried up onto the green but ran through the back. It was go time for me and the last thought I had before starting my routine was, “Matty, if you are going to compete on a world level, you have to be able to hit this shot, cmon!” So like so many times before I went through the routine and simply pulled the trigger. Perfectly struck on a perfect line and I knew it was good. It flew past the front of the green but just dropped a little right as it was falling. It ended up not quite carrying the extra 7-8m to the right half of the green which would have seen it finish really close. It was dry though and with a pretty simple chip shot to make eagle or birdie. The eagle didn’t happen but the birdie did and back to even par for the day. Off to the 17th where Brent had his lost yardage book drama earlier in the week. Not today though and as efficiently as he had all week he churned out the numbers. As I am currently writing this blog in mid air somewhere between Seoul and Singapore, I am not 100% on those numbers. I think from memory it was 193pin and around 170m to the front with the wind slightly down and off the left. The pin was tucked just over a tier but it was accessible if you landed your ball in the right spot given the firmness of the greens. It was a perfect 4 iron fade for me to that yardage so once again it was routine and pull the trigger. I had hit a lot of good long irons this week but I think this one was the best of the week especially given the circumstances. I struck it well and it finished about 5 feet from the hole pin high to the right. Finally I made one of my chances and moved to the tough 18th at 3 under for the tournament.
I had made par up the 18th each day but not convincingly and today the hole was playing just as tough with the wind into from the left. As I had done all week I didn’t hit a great drive and found myself just in the left rough. In hindsight I probably hit the wrong shape of tee shot off there opting for a draw instead of a fade. I was left with a 4 iron into the well guarded green and although I struck it well it missed the green just to the left side, almost going in the hazard. When I reached my ball I found that I was going to have to play it from standing in a hedge with a very limited backswing and no real shot. I said to Brent that I had worked far to hard today to throw shots away trying for a miracle shot and that I thought the best option was to play safe and hope to make a 30 footer for par. It was such a difficult shot because of the hedge there was no guarantee I could hit it on the green even though the green was only 3m away. I played it as well as possible and found the green and despite hitting a great putt it just missed and I tapped in for par. Very pleased and satisfied with my week and the mental advancement I had made to my game this week.
So there you have it, a very detailed insight into the life of a tour pro and what goes through our minds in the heat of battle. It is great fun and I am thoroughly enjoying what I do for a living, well at least the golf part anyway. The travel part isn’t so fun, take today for example, I left the hotel at 8am, caught a bus to the airport, a plane from Jeju island to Seoul, a bus from one airport in Seoul to another before this current flight to Singapore and then the final flight from Singapore to Brisbane at 12:10am arriving at 9:50am some 25 hrs after that first bus ride and going through 3 time zones!! That isn’t my idea of fun but I guess it’s better that the other option, boat!!! See you all soon whether that be family and friends or golfers at Indooroopilly or Sanctuary Cove, hope you enjoyed the read!!