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GMAC shines but I was surprised by Rory

We arrived back from Sweden on Saturday night; the tournament had started on Wednesday to enable some of the players to make the long journey to San Francisco in time for the US Open.  Some of the Swedes, Alex Noren and Peter Hanson were going. 

Westwood had given us all a ball striking display at Bro Hoff Slott and didn't even putt great to win by 5 shots; I was really looking forward to see how he would fair in America.  I was also really looking forward to watching Rory to see if he would defend his title successfully.

Sunday and Monday for me were lazy days, the weather was poor and I wanted to rest to try and shake of this prolonged cold I have had.  By Tuesday I was feeling more alive and went to the Wisley to practice.  My main focus for the week was on chipping, especially the flop shot which requires confidence, and for me this comes from practice and solid technique.

Wednesday was a glamorous 3 hour trip to the US Embassy in London in the pouring rain.  It was the second time I'd been in.  I need a business visa to play in the Bridgestone Invitational in August and you have to apply on-line then attend the embassy for an interview in order to obtain one.  The last time I went at the end of May, the Consulate Officer misinterpreted what I said.  He thought I was getting appearance money, not prize money and told me I was applying for the wrong type of visa.  I spoke with him for less than 5 minutes having spent about 2 and a half hours in the queue.  This time around I spoke to an Officer with a slight interest in golf and he sorted me out thankfully.  The only downside being that I stood outside in the rain for an hour with no umbrella, in a partially waterproof jacket.   I was soaked and didn't even have my mobile phone with me to keep me entertained as you're not allowed to take anything electronic into the embassy with you.

The Wisley is in a great location, just off the A3, and its accessibility means that people can visit easily.  My putting coach, Phil Kenyan, also works with fellow Wisley member Ross Fisher and he drove down from Southport to work with both of us on Thursday.  Phil brought his SAM device with him.  It fits onto your putter and gives feedback on your swing tempo, alignment and strike amongst other bits and pieces.  It showed me that I had too much speed and length on my backswing and was slowing down through the putt.  Phil set up a drill with some tees to shorten my backswing and the SAM device confirmed the shorter swing was better.  However it doesn't matter how good your stroke  is - if you can't read the slope in the greens then you're not going to hole many putts.  Phil is particularly good at reading the greens and his tips to me are
• Always walk in from the low side of the putt as you see more up the slope
• Then try and find the point where the ball enters the hole
• Then project a curve backwards to the ball
• Continue walking around the high side doing a 360⁰ circuit, stalking the putt like Tiger Woods

We moved to the South of England for the weather but it's been shocking this year.  I actually think it's followed me, something Dennis Pugh likes to tell me when he's wrapped up in waterproofs on the range at the Wisley!  We had wind and rain all week.  Thankfully it was a bit warmer than in Belfast and I did manage to fit in 18 holes with Andrew Snoddy, another expat, on Saturday morning.  We got home and watched Friday night's golf and the rugby, had some food and settled down to watch the early coverage of the golf on Saturday night live.  I generally record the program and watch it the following morning so I can get to bed at a reasonable hour and don't throw my body clock out too much from the tour schedule. 
I was surprised to see Rory missing the cutt.  His game hasn't been up to its usual high standard of late, and the course looked as though it was set up border line too difficult.  Graeme's mental toughness really comes to the fore in conditions like that and I wasn't surprised to see either him or Jim Furyk, who has similar resilience in the mix on such a difficult course.

Sky Plus is possibly my favourite modern invention and is perfect for the 3:30am finish of Majors on the West Coast of America!  I watched the final few hours on Monday morning before we flew to Dusseldorf for this week's tournament.  It was disappointing to see Harrington bogey the last to finish fourth, and GMAC not play his best to finish 2nd.  It's a fantastic record at a huge event - first, fourteenth, second - I can only imagine the scenes at the Irish Open had he won!  With only a week to go to the tournament in Portrush I'm getting excited about coming home and playing in front of the huge crowds, the event is going to be awesome, hopefully the weather is kind.