Not for the first time I failed to make the cutt at Spanish Open
It was a much easier journey to this week's event, just one 2hr
flight to Barcelona from Belfast and then a 1hr drive to the course
close to Girona. What a difference it makes compared to
the 24hr journeys earlier in the year.
Liz Maybin, Gareth's wife and son Reeve were on my flight and I
gave them a lift to the course. I know what it's like with
all the bags, cots, car seats etc. so I gave her a hand picking
everything up. Gareth had gone on Sunday to get some practice
in and I was happy to have company on the drive so it worked out
The before weekend was good; we went to watch the Giro come
through Templepatrick and finish through Jordanstown. There
was a great turnout of people, it reminded me of the Irish Open at
Portrush which also rained but didn't deter people. I don't
tend to wear warm enough clothing at home, partly being away all
winter I don't like layers on, but it cost me at the Giro I got a
bit wet and cold and didn't feel the best, such is life! My
brother was over with his family and it was good to catch up as
it's been about a year since we've seen each other.
After dropping Liz and Reeve off, I went to the hotel onsite to
check in. The hotel didn't have a booking for me and I called
the manager Bev, to ask why. Either the Tour travel agent hadn't
processed it or Bev hadn't sent the request. She can't
remember which as there are so many bookings but she apologised and
spent a frantic hour on-line trying to get me somewhere to
stay. I said I would deduct it from her shoes budget.
The hotel was full but luckily I met Kevin Phelan in reception and
he said I could share with him, so I bought him dinner that night
to say thanks. You know it's going to be a bad week when it
starts like this!
I spent some time the next day with my coach Johnny chipping and
in the bunkers. Johnny comes out to some European events for
3 days, generally Monday to Wednesday and then heads home and back
to his regular clients. He's an expert at the 6 or 8 iron
from the bunker, it teaches you to use the bounce of the club
properly. Seve grew up on the beach playing this shot, a
factor in his amazing short game. I didn't have a whole lot
of energy so I just played 9 and did more short game and putting
down the metal ruler, a slight miss hit and it doesn't stay on, and
I got about 15 in a row. One of Johnny's young students has
got 31, that's quite a record!
We spent Wednesday focusing on short game, and then moved on to
long shots. I was working on setting the club and trying to
keep my legs quiet. It helps me start the ball not too far to
the right of target. It's the same stuff I work on nowadays and can
be boring but boring is good in golf. It's weird to see
everyone again; it feels like the start of the season even though
it's halfway through. Some guys are back from the US, like
Sergio, Colsaerts, Molinari, Gonzalo Fdz Castano for this week and
Wentworth next week.
Johnny and I had arranged to go to the F1 tyre testing, 40 mins
away at Circuit de Catalyuna where the Spanish Grand Prix was on
Sunday. 4 times a year they stay to test stuff, it was a
great opportunity I'd never been and wasn't in the pro-am, we left
at 1pm. It was an easy trip down the toll road and
unbelievably entrance was free. There were about 200
spectators in the whole track; we basically had the whole place to
ourselves. Raikkonen, Rosberg and Vettel were out there
amongst the others. The V6 turbo is quieter than the V8 but there
is still a lot of noise. We watched them go 150mph round a
tight corner, 205 down the straight and in 150 yards go from 40 to
100 and back to 40, it's unreal. They are seriously good
multi-taskers and athletes, 5 gravities in braking and 3 in
acceleration, I think my neck would snap off. I went
back up the road to get Physio and walk a few holes of the front 9.
Johnny stayed, he had a late flight.
I wasn't on my game on Thursday and was playing with Kenny Ferrie
and Ricardo Santos. I was battling well through 15 holes at
level par then I totally misjudged a chip shot on the 16 and 3
putted for double. It was just touch and feel which were clouded;
it's all about mental focus. I had 2 good pars to finish and
a chance to improve on Friday. I went straight to bed, which
I never do after the round and woke up at 5pm convinced I had
missed my tee time on Friday, that's how gone I was. I got up and
had some Physio and went to bed again for more sleep, very
glamorous. I hadn't left the hotel.
Friday was windy in the avo, I was battling. If I hadn't
got such a bad lie on the downslope on the 16th, it might have been
a different story. I couldn't hold the green with my chip and
the momentum was lost. I had some more misjudgements in the
wind meant the weekend off. I'm not going to lose confidence
over it as I just wasn't sharp enough. I've never made the cutt at
the Spanish Open, which is really random as it's played on a
different course each year and I love playing in Spain but it's
just one of those things. After a couple of days rest I'm now
ready for the BMW PGA at Wentworth this week. I'm flying to
London as I'm writing this. Bev and Erin are coming tomorrow;
Erin is starting to walk so that will be exciting.
I know every tournament is important but there are certain ones
that count a lot more than others and Wentworth is the biggest
regular Tour event we have. It's a very tricky course, the
wind blows above the trees so you need a lower controlled ball
flight and good driving. There are deep fairway bunkers which
you want to avoid.
We also have the US open qualifier at Walton Heath next Monday so I
will go there on Wednesday to practice. The celeb pro-am at
Wentworth is a mad circus and the range is totally jammed, it's not
the place to work on your game on Wednesday and most of us try and
avoid it if we can.
I'd just like to make a special mention of my former caddy, Iain
McGregor who sadly passed away on the course in Madeira last
week. He caddied for me for 4 months in 2009. He was a
fun guy living life to the max and was a good caddy. I have
great memories of him as he helped my win my first Tour title in
Portugal. He was never happier than in the bush in Africa.
Last year we were sitting by the river in Leopard Creek at night,
he was telling us to shut up as he could sense an elephant close
and could tell us which different creatures were making all the
noises. We were looking for him last week with his usual
banter. We all miss him. Everyone is wearing black on
Thursday at Wentworth in remembrance of him.