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A case of staying focused and staying on course

The week at Wentworth is always long and busy.  There are interviews as all of the golf media assemble for the flagship event on the European Tour.  It's probably the first time this year that most of the top names attend, other than Abu Dhabi.

On Monday I felt a bit fluey.  Last week had been busy for me with friends and family coming and going for the rugby and the golf day I'd gone to on the Sunday. It had been really cold at Stoke Park on Sunday and my light jumper was perhaps a little too optimistic in hindsight!  So it was a gentle gym session with Rob on Monday, trying to wake me up, mainly focusing on correct movement.  We did manage a rowing contest towards the end of the session which was a bad idea as I knackered myself and didn't even win.  Rob is much stronger and fitter, but I left the gym with a new sense of respect for Sir Steve Redgrave and all the boys doing the rowing training for the Olympics.

I then headed up to the course to catch up with the whole team Jamie, Phil and the physios.  I find it tough managing my time amongst everyone, as I tend to overrun when hitting or putting.  It was my first chance to try Jamie's new toy - it's a flight scope which gives detailed information on your swing and ball spin on every shot on the range.  It links up to the Ipad via Bluetooth and can be a great addition to practice.  Coaching has moved to include these machines as they don't lie, if your swing is off it will show you why.  It has space to save 30,000 swings for reference and showed me that even if I try hard to hit the fade shots I only ever achieve a square delivery.  It's nice to know that I'm on the right track.  After our play session I putted with Phil focusing on the same stuff as before.  It can be quite boring but it's also necessary.  The greens were poor this week as it's been so cold at night over the past month.  There has been very little growth and the ball was bouncing all over the place.  It's a shame because the recent course redesign was aimed at improving the putting surfaces, it just didn't happen this week.  The day ended with a rub from Shane at ProGolf Health and then home to bed early.

I woke up tired and was still fluey on Tuesday so decided to skip the range, save energy and headed straight to the course for 12 holes.  I managed to catch a lift with a referee back into the clubhouse as I'd a headache developing.  It's a long 6 miles around the course and it was getting really hot. 
I was second reserve for the ProAm on Wednesday; it's not a bad one to miss as it's a tough course for us never mind the amateurs.  It can take at least 5 hours and it was 27 or 30 degrees at Wentworth.  Owen and I walked a few holes to check the greens and angles into pins etc.  I saw Rory on the 17th and we'd a quick chat about moving away from Belfast and the rugby.  He's such a nice guy, very grounded and remembers small details about others which is impressive when he's meeting so many people all the time.  Then it was food time, this week's players' lounge is the best all year.  The quality of the food is amazing and they have a few chefs working cooking fresh pasta or serving a carvery lunch every day.  There is an amazing choice every sitting from full cooked breakfasts to museli and fruit at breakfast, to pasta and carvery at lunch then a light dinner.  It was 27 degrees and really hot, I was struggling in the heat even though I normally complain about the cold and lack of sunshine!  I just did a little practice hitting on the range for a short spell and then spent 45 minutes chipping and bunker play, the first time I'd practices either in a few weeks.  It was a bit of a strange day for me as it started with an interview for National Club Golfer which was followed by a Ryder Cup clothing fitting for Bev and myself.  I'm currently in the Top 30 on the Ryder Cup points list and so I had to attend a fitting.  It's just precautionary incase you make the team to help the manufacturers have everything ready in time.  It's a surreal feeling being included in the group of potential players and I know I'd have to start playing really well to have any chance of qualifying for it.

Everyone starts at the first tee all week which is unusual for a normal European Tour event; generally we go off both the first and tenth tees in the morning or afternoon.  Wentworth sends us out all day from 7 am to just after 330pm!  It's a long day and is just like The Open.  It was 9am start for me, Thomas Aiken and Stephen Gallagher.  It was a good group to play in both guys are great players with different strengths, Stephen has a nice swing but struggles with putting and Thomas has an unorthodox swing but is one of the best putters on Tour.

I started off nicely and was 3 under after 14 holes but I'd been feeling the heat as it started to build and by 1pm I was struggling with my cold in the heat of the day.  My second shot at the 15th ended up in the greenside bunker, I made a really long backswing and decelerated on the actual swing, leaving the ball in the bunker and ended up with a double bogey.  By the time we'd reached the 17th tee I'd lost my tempo completely, sent it left out of bounds and made another double bogey.  In 2 holes I'd gone from one shot behind the lead on 3 under to barely making the cut on 1 over!  It can all disappear so fast which is disappointing and frustrating!

I felt refreshed when I got to the course on Friday morning and was 2 under for my round after 7 holes.  I only missed one fairway all day, on the 8th and again it ended up costing a double bogey.  I fought hard on the way in but 3 putting the par 5s for Par isn't good enough at this level.  Everyone was struggling on the greens even Aiken, who normally makes about three 30 foot putts a round and even he couldn't read the greens!  I think our final 2 holes summed the entire Group up Gallagher going out of bounds on 17 and Aiken, who saved par on 17 to stay on one over, sent his tee-shot on 18 out of bounds as well.  All three of us ended up missing the cut comfortably!  There was some consolation in that we weren't the only ones to miss - Rory, Graeme and Darren amongst the other casualties. 

I spent the weekend with Owen at the Wisley practicing my short game before Wales.  It's never nice to miss the cut, especially at an event like Wentworth but at least I was able to get away and do some serious practice before next week. 

I also decided to skip the US Open Qualifier at Walton Heath.  I desperately want to play in the majors but my priority this week was to get ready for Wales, and think about getting ready for Germany, The Irish Open and France before the Open in July.  There's a lot of golf left in the season and I have to remain focused and stick to my objectives.