Tuesday was spent catching up on some rest in the morning and then heading to the course for some practice. We managed to hit some balls and putts but that is the extent of what's available to us foreigners on the Tuesday. Wednesday was our practice day and that allows us just one day to learn the course and play it just the once before the tournament. Those rules are strange but not new to the contingent of Aussies pegging it up this week. Fortunately those rules don't apply in return for our events back home. Unless there is a pro am scheduled, the course and practice facilities are open for everyone to utilise and hopefully give everyone the same fair chance to learn the course.
The course here this week has been rated in the top 10 courses in Korea for the past number of years and I could see why. It was a good strong course which just about had everything. Holes shaping both ways, and sharply both ways, variations in elevation both up and down and lumpy rolling fairways and greens which meant very few flat lies and very few flat putts!
My Wed practice round was spent with 3 other Aussie mates and despite the usual fourball match going on, I was madly scribbling down notes on every hole and around every green. My one look at the course was designed to come up with my blueprint for the week and how I thought I might be able to successfully negotiate my way around. It has been months since I have played a tournament such is the schedule this year and I must say it was nice to be dipping my toes back into the water of tournament golf again.
I have been working hard on my game at home these past months and due to an unfortunate accident that my wife suffered , severing a tendon in her finger, I had to withdraw from the NT PGA Champs on the Aussie schedule. So this event is the first decent event that I have played since the first week of June in Austria. Pro am golf is fun but this is why I do all the practice and preparation for.
Thursday I had a morning round and I really enjoyed putting into practice all the things I have been working on back home with one of my coaches Cameron Strachan. Cam has taken a more hands on approach in the past few months and that has seen him travel down from the Sunshine Coast to really put the hours into my game. I feel like it has been challenging but rewarding and despite some solid pro am scores I was keen to see how things stacked up on a bigger stage. My swing coach Murray Lott has done some fine tuning via video and everything was feeling good. I played really solidly in round one and patience was definitely the word for the day. I stuck it out well and all facets of the game we're going well. I negotiated the difficult holes and managed to give myself a few looks at birdie on the easier holes. When my putt rolled right in the middle on the last hole for birdie, a 1 under par 70 was on the board and I left the course hot and sweaty from the muggy conditions but satisfied with my day's work. After the scores here last year where I think 5th place was 5 under I thought it was a good start.
Day two was a late start made later by some morning fog delays. When I finally hit the course on the back nine, I didn't start well. The first hole was solid but I missed a very makeable par putt. The second saw a perfect drive but my ball ended up on the side of a massive mound in the fairway meaning the ball was above my feet by an incredible amount...almost waist high, and I was in the middle of the fairway. On such a long and strong par four to have a fairway like that seemed a little much, not just to me but every player in the field. The second shot just to add to the slope has out of bounds right and water left! I found the water but a great up and down meant only a bogey. The real drama of my day was two holes later when I stuffed up. Simple as that, I chose the wrong club and the wrong shot into the island par 3. Water and a triple bogey leaving me 4 over through 4 holes for the day. The great part of the work I have been doing though is the mental approach when things like this happen. I have worked hard at changing my poor ways of the past where I can have a sook and whinge and complain with the best of them. Now my focus was simply, the tee shot on the next. I flushed it and continued on as if nothing had happened. A few solid holes until a bogey on 17 and a scrambling par on 18 saw me turn +5 for the day and with plenty to do to make the cut.
This is where the work I have done has changed my approach to a situation like this. I think back to Austria earlier in the year where I "chased" the cut and "pushed" for birdies on the back nine on that second day. This day I said to my caddy that nothing changes, the plan stays the same, no change to the game plan. I'd like to say that it worked and I made the cut but unfortunately that's not the case. I will say that it did work however, I shot 3 under around the back nine and missed by a shot. I believe in my new process more than ever now and seeing it unfold under pressure on that back nine actually gives me great confidence in the process. I was patient, calm and simply executed to the best of my ability the plan I had produced back on Wednesday.
My weekend in Cheonan was boring to say the least. I couldn't get out early and missed my son's soccer grand final on Saturday. A great friend of mine, Luke Simpson and I coach the team so I definitely felt like I was letting Luke and the boys down by not being there for the big GF. They fought hard against the ladder leaders to go down in a gallant 3-1 final, still managing to gain promotion to Div 1 next season! To add to the disappointment was the fact that I missed my daughters first effort in the musical at church on Sunday, something that apparently she smashed out of the ballpark! Go Eden!!!
So the blog is back on deck, sorry for the lack of blogs recently, that's been a deliberate act on my part as we wanted my focus on the changes I have been making. Hopefully I will at least bring you some tournament news over the coming months as I rack up the frequent flyer points travelling around the globe. Next up is the Sth Pacific Open in New Caledonia, then off to Scotland and St Andrews for the Dunhill Links champs before home for the Qld Open, Japan Q school, Nsw Open, Australian Open and either Japan Finals or the Australian PGA.
Catch you soon and as always thanks for the support both to me and my gorgeous wife and kids!! I appreciate it all!!