13th Beach is one of my favourite courses on tour as it calls upon your entire game to be at its best and every shot in the game is required. For me the preparation leading in to the start of the season seemed perfect. I had rested my foot as much as possible and had a good month of no golf at all. The body, the foot, the shoulder and the mind was give time to recover and restore themselves hopefully allowing me to attack the year.
All the planning in the world doesn't help sometimes however and on Sunday of last week I got a flu/virus and all of a sudden my week was turned upside down. This rotten chest/head cold or flu or whatever it was meant poor sleep, sore head and constant coughing up of some ugly stuff. It was going to be a fight but I was up for it.
Week one also presented a new time in golf for me, as the non anchoring rule meant change for me. The practice had been going well but as we all know the heat of battle is where we really see how it's going. For me the start was less than exciting as I missed 3 putts inside 4 foot in the first ten holes leaving me at 4 over thru 10, a less than ideal start to the season. For me it was about finding peace with the fact I was using a long putter still that I wasn't anchoring and finding the best routine with it. That certainly wasn't happening and I was struggling early. What wasn't helping was that it was really blowing in my morning round and that was making the process even harder and less stable.
The good news was that as the round went on I found better flow and rhythm to it all and it started to feel more comfortable under pressure. A solid final four holes limited the damage to 2 over and I felt like I had something to work with. Arriving home I sat on the bed to take my shoes off and fell asleep. I often tell my kids the best place to be when you are sick is in bed and thus this was the best place for me. 4 hours later I woke, in time for dinner before back to bed.
The non a hiring rule is an interesting one. It was aimed I'm sure at getting the longer putters out of the game whether that be the belly putter or the broomstick. I'm sure the powers that be will be disappointed to see just how many players are adapting to the rule and pushing the boundaries of it, keeping their same putters in the bag. This surely wasn't the intention when the rule was changed and I wonder how long it will be before they look at banning putters of length rather than the anchoring rule. Perhaps the rule being that the putter must be the shortest club in the bag??
Day two saw the unfortunate happen, a beautiful morning for those lucky enough to get on that side of the draw. It's unavoidable for the PGA staff to control the weather so as players we know sometimes it works in our favour and other times we are on the wrong side of the draw or as we call it on tour, we've been "Hallered!" It's a bit of an ongoing joke that whatever side of the draw Ryan Haller is on gets the bad side and so much so that guys even look to see if they're on his side when the draw comes out! This week I got "Hallered" and from those 60 or so players making the cut I think there was around 20 or so from our side of the draw. It was no doubt more difficult playing two rounds in the wind verse maybe one and a quarter but for me that wasn't the reason I missed he cut by a shot.
My ball striking was very solid again on day two and for the exception of a three put on my 7th hole and a poor drive on my 9th I played really well in the afternoon wind. I controlled my ball flight well, managed myself around the course well and was doing my best to conserve energy due to the fact I didn't have a lot of it. Those bogies on 7 and 9 left me 4 over with nine to play needing something special on the closing 9 holes. Golf is an awesome sport where past experiences can be used to help you in your current situation. Feelings of great shots that you have in your "shot library" as my old coach Kevin Healey taught me become an awesome tool available for use whenever you need. I went to the library and recalled the final nine from last years Aussie Open where I played awesome and shot 4 under over that closing nine. Three birdies in the first 7 holes gave me a shot and when I saved par with a great up and down I just needed a birdie up the last to match my library memory. I played a great tee shot into the wind but misjudged the wind strength on my second shot and came up short with a long putt for birdie. My putt stopped agonisingly short for the birdie and par was the result. A really solid 9 holes where my new putting stood up and I holed some clutch putts down the stretch. It wasn't enough however on week one of my year to make the cut as I fell 1 shot short. To me however I think it was a blessing in disguise as I now get two days rest for this flu and also get to be home for my sons birthday on Sunday. Every cloud has a silver lining!!
So week one is done, the non anchoring rule is in place but for how long til that changes, my ball striking picked up where it left off, my short game was good, my health was bad and I'm heading home for my sons birthday. All in all a pretty eventful week and one that I am actually really happy with. I am most happy with my fight and mental attitude to stay on task til the final hole despite how poor I was feeling. I gave it my absolute all and that is all I can ask.
Next week we see a Tuesday start at the Vic PGA and a return to one of my favourites, Huntingdale! I can't wait to return and get cracking on week two. For now though it's rest and recover time to get healthy and be ready to attack come Tuesday!
Finally I want to thank my hosts for the week, Margie and Lance. They are truly beautiful people and I love staying with them. The look after me like I'm a King when I'm anything but! Thanks guys for being amazing!