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Golf can be a funny old game at times....

Monday was the 36 hole qualifier for the US open at Walton Heath for anyone not in the World Top 60.  I decided to skip it as I have a lot of golf coming up and should I have qualified I would probably have missed 3 European Tournaments in the run up to the Irish Open.  I'd love to play in the US Open but with this year's event being in California, the possibility of missing so much golf before the Irish Open and the fact that I'm due to attend the WGC Bridgestone Invitational (US Visa dependant) later in the year I decided another long haul trip was not what I needed at this point in my year.  Trying to fit 36 holes in between Wentworth, Celtic Manor and Sweden is also a lot to ask as all three are really long courses.  Sad to say but there really is such a thing as too much golf!


I travelled to Wales on Tuesday; it's a 2 hour drive from Ascot and another chance to take the car for a decent drive just cruising down the motorways.  I'd an interview to do with Bunkered Magazine before I met Jamie on the range to continue work on my swing adjustments.  It's hard work trying to get rid of years of bad habits but it sure beats sitting behind a desk all day, especially when the sun is shining!  I spent quite a bit of time on my chipping as well trying to keep the momentum going from the weekend sessions with Owen at the Wisley.  I finished off Tuesday with a trip to the gym in the resort, focusing on stretching with a little cardio thrown in, just to get my body moving again after the car journey and trying to shake the remaints of last week's cold off.


The weather was great for the ProAm on Wednesday, it was sunny and about 20 degrees, much better than I'd anticipated!  I played with 3 great guys, Paul, Johnny and Mick.  All 3 enjoyed it even though the course is probably too tough - it's long, has big slopey greens, lots of water and the final 3 holes are all up hill.  They really finish you off if you're not going well.  Needing a few birdies over those holes to make the cut or win is not nice!  I wanted a seat towards the end of the round as we'd been out there over 5 hours but the boys enjoyed it and I had fun talking to Mick.  It turns out Mick was originally from Dundonald but has lived in Cardiff for the last 26 years and now advises the Welsh Assembly on economic development.  I always enjoy finding out what my ProAm partners do for a living or about their businesses I find it all fascinating and so different from golf.  I'd only missed 3 shots all day so I hit a few shots after the round and spent most of the time practicing my putting as I'd found it difficult to read the greens.  The facilities are good at Celtic Manor; it has a great modern range and chipping area.  I just can't forget how different it looked for the Ryder Cup, I was there reporting for BBC Radio Ulster, apart for the mud and rain clouds the number of people attending and the size of the tented village were just mind blowing.  I'd dinner with Peter Lawrie and Damian McGraine, and enjoyed showing Damian the car.  Sometimes it can get lonely on tour if Bev travels with me as you don't get as much interaction with the other guys, so it was nice to catch up with them and find out what they've been up to.
 I'd a late start on Thursday and had almost gone back to sleep after breakfast.  I went for a quick jog around one of the other courses to try and sharpen up but it didn't really work.  I'd a good draw with Peter Lawrie and Richie Ramsay and was really looking forward to having a bit of craic on the course while we played.  Peter had played the qualifier on Monday and secured one of the spots following a really good weekend at Wentworth, his game was in a good place!  I started really well in the tough and windy conditions.  I was 1 under through 6 holes and then plugged in a bunker on the 7th making bogey but held it together until the 12th and 13th.  I just lost concentration slightly and although my tee shots were fine the short game let me down again.  I hit an awesome tee shot on 15 but it bounced over the back of the green and got buried in the rough, an eagle chance turned into a really good par.  My only poor swings were on the 16th and 17th tees, when I really didn't need them!  Turning a good round into an average one and leaving me with work to do to make the cut again!  It was a disappointing finish after battling the wind constantly for 5 hours.  Bev dragged me out for a quick bite to eat and then it was straight to bed to try and recover for an early start on Friday.


I felt a lot brighter on Friday morning and started well again, hitting a great tee shot and iron onto the green on 11 for an outside eagle chance.  I was happy with the birdie.  I hit 2 poor iron shots at 12 and 14 along with another clumsy chip and was 2 over after 9 holes.  I battled well and birdied 2 to get back to the cut line.  Then hit my best shot of the 2 days on the 5th - a 5 iron to 8 feet over water.  I felt this was a turning point if I made the putt I'd be a shot inside the cut and should be fine, if I didn't I'd be under pressure.  I pulled it a fraction and three putted the 6th to see my chances escaping.  It's a game of such tiny margins at the top level.  My body just gave up after that and it's definitely a round I'd rather forget.
After the round I had some food and my coach gave me a stern talking to.  Jamie is such a good guy and he tries to help whenever he sees you struggling, even if it's not his area of expertise. 


It's been a longtime since I've missed 3 cuts in a row and everyone was keen to make sure I addressed any potential issues.  I was keen on going straight back home but Jamie and Bev convinced me I should do some work with him on Saturday morning on the practice area.  It made sense as we'd missed the checkout time and would be charged for the room regardless.  Bev took me out for a nice dinner and we'd a beer as we talked about the round and the changes I needed to make.


I'd a really positive session with Jamie and Owen on the range and chipping area on Saturday morning so it had really been worth staying.  Hopefully Sweden will be a little kinder next week!  I was surprised by the golf this weekend Thongchai Jaidee winning in Wales, he is one of the nicest men in golf and I'm a huge fan and Tiger in the US, the way he hit the flop shot on 16 was amazing, I'd just switched the golf on as he was hitting it.  It just shows it's a funny old game and you can't ever give up!