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European Tour Career

2013

The 2013 season has been a frustrating and difficult one for me.  Results have not shown the improvements made in my swing under the tutelage of Justin Parsons and Johnny Foster.  The season started well in the Middle East swing but had faltered since Dubai and I took a few weeks off after the PGA Championship at Wentworth to bed in a new diet.  Following the birth of my daughter in June I was back out on tour, playing the IFQ at Sunningdale before having three weeks on the road.  I also changed caddy and welcome Gerry Byrne to the bag.  Gerry had previously worked for me at the 2007 World Cup.  The first outings showed promise but I couldn't quite capitalise on the good starts made at the Irish and French Opens.  I then missed the cut in Scotland and headed home for the week of the Open.  Justin and I fitted in a few practice sessions when he was in Belfast on holiday and I travelled to Moscow in a more positive frame of mind.  I clinched my 5th European Tour title and am looking forward to the rest of the season.  My focus being to make the Race to Dubai.   

2012

The season started for me in the select field event at Fancourt, South Africa. It was the first select field I'd played in on the European Tour. I didn't perform well as I was rusty from the winter break. Jamie had me working hard on my swing and it was working great for the 2 weeks after in Abu Dhabi and Qatar. I made the cut for the first time ever in Abu Dhabi and finished 11th in Qatar. I was really excited about the season ahead. I missed the cut in Dubai and Malaysia and was indifferent in China, struggling a little with the conditions.

I was in good shape for the start of the Tour in Europe, playing well in Aloha, Spain apart from a disappointing Saturday. The following week saw me record my fourth European Title at the Trophee Hassan Deux Trophy in Morocco. The course is set along the coast right next to the Royal Palace and is one of the most exclusive courses in the World. I came from 9 shots back to take the title from Damian McGrane over the final few holes on the Sunday. It was my third title in less than 12 months and it propelled me to 74 in the OWGR, securing golf for me on the European Tour until the end of 2014 and a start at the Volvo Champions tournament in South Africa next year.

Indifferent form plagued the rest of the season, the highlight being my performance at Royal Portrush for the Irish Open. What a great atmosphere. It was a shame I didn't carry that form into the French Open, the week after and The Open at Royal Lytham & St Anne's. I greatly enjoyed the experience of playing at The Open; the size of the event was staggering. It was a shame I didn't play to my full potential.

The summer also saw me play 2 events in the USA, my first trip as a Pro. The first was the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, in Akron, Ohio. The second was the US PGA Championship in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. I learnt a lot from the experience and I hope to be at both events next year. 

The rest of the season was a little uneventful, the highlight being finishing 11th in China and playing with Rory McIlroy on Saturday.  I'd never played a competitive round with Rory before the event. 

 

2011

I started the season playing pretty average golf. Bev and I had got married at Christmas so there had been a lot of changes in my personal life. I was nervous as to how the season would turn out. I invested a lot of money into my team, adding Pro Golf Health physio team and Phil Kenyan as putting coach. The body felt a lot better after good physio and I was improving my putting stroke.

I managed to win my second European Tour Title at the Madeira Islands Open, Portugal. The course is very dramatic, set high above the cliffs.  I managed to hold off Jamie Elson, a former Walker Cup Team Mate to win. This was another huge victory as it guaranteed European Tour golf until the end of 2012. I was playing well and was on the leaderboard of several of the larger tournaments during the early rounds throughout the season, I just didn't manage to hold on long enough to feature significantly at the weekend. Jamie and I were working hard changing my ball flight which always had been right to left to a left to right shot.

The end of the season was much more successful for me than in previous years. I carded three consecutive 66s Thursday, Friday and Saturday at St Andrews, Kings Barnes and Carnoustie in the Dunhill Links Championship holding the overnight lead from Thursday.  I was unwell before the final round on Sunday, but managed to hold off both Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell to win. The shot I hit into the 16th green on the Sunday is one I'll remember for the rest of my career and got me shot of the month. Victory lifted me into the OWGR Top 100 for the first time in my career and also secured starting spots at the HSBC WGC in Shanghai, The Race to Dubai and The WGC Bridgestone Invitational in August 2012.

Although the very end of the season was a little disappointing I finished ranked 25th in the Race to Dubai, securing a start at The Open in 2012, my first Major since becoming a professional golfer!

2010

2010 was a very difficult season for me. I contracted a virus at the start of the season and then developed Post Viral Fatigue whilst on holiday. Post Viral Fatigue can be debilitating and it forced me to withdraw from several large tournaments during the spring and early summer months. Recovery was slow and painful, many people don't really understand the condition but I had great support from the European Tour medical staff and the SINI medical staff at UUJ. I had many setbacks along the way but was fit to return to a limited playing programme by the start of July. Thankfully Owen was still available when I was ready to return and I won enough money at the Irish Open, finishing 7th, to secure my Tour card for 2011. The rest of the season was consistent and I added a swing coach to help build on this for the following year. I made nearly all of my cuts from that point on. My coach, Jamie Gough, has really helped me with the fundamentals of the game.

2009

The 2009 season started well for me. I was confident with my game having finished so well at Q-school. I had also met Bev during the Christmas break so things were really looking good for me!

I headed off to South Africa on the 3rd January to play the Sunshine Tour events at East London and Johannesburg. I finished second behind Retief Goosen in the Africa Open in East London, confident with my game. I had a few good results and recorded my first European Tour title during my 7th start of the 2009 season at the Estoril Open de Portugal. I defeated Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño on the 3rd playoff hole. This was a huge result for me as it guaranteed me European Tour golf until the end of the following season and improved my ranking, ensuring I'd get to play in all the Tour events for the remainder of the 2009 season and all of the 2010 season.

The reminder of the season was a little inconsistent, the highlight being to finish 19th in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews. I struggled to find form at some of the other larger events. Owen Craig joined me as caddy at the tournament in Crans in September that year, my first consistent caddy partnership.