Last month I spoke about my impending trip to Seve’s home just before the Spanish Open – and what an awesome experience that was. On the first day, we had lunch at Pedrena Golf Club – Seve’s home club – then went round to his house in the afternoon. While we were there, it was the fourth anniversary of his death, and I think we were the first people to visit his house since then.
We were supposed to play golf with his brother, Manuel, but he’s been struggling with his health recently, so sadly he couldn’t come out for a game, although he joined us for a beer afterwards and we chatted with him for about an hour or so. You could tell he was still quite emotional about it all – he and Seve were very close.
The whole trip was really inspiring – I shot nine-under par at Pedrena the following day, then carried that form into the early part of the Spanish Open, where the wind made things tricky all week. It was kind of moving around, then stopping and gusting, so clubbing was really difficult. I struggled a bit on the last day in the wind, unfortunately, and finished tied 28th.
I was paired with Miguel Angel Jimenez for the final round, which was pretty amazing, as being his home open, he enjoyed a huge following. Two weeks later, at Royal County Down, I played with Rickie Fowler and Padraig Harrington over the weekend. I’d have to say Fowler is the biggest draw, in terms of crowds, that I’ve played with since I’ve been on Tour. It was really difficult to concentrate and keep myself focused because at times I felt like a bit of a spare part. You’ve got to be a very strong character, and have a strong sense of your own identity to thrive on tour, so I’ve certainly learned a few things over the last few weeks.
Rickie played solidly before finishing 8, 8, which is never nice to see. But on that golf course, with the wind howling, it was very easy to do that. He just hit a few poor drives, which cost him those shots. Just before that he’d pitched in for an eagle two on 16, which generated one of the biggest roars I heard all week. I’d hit a poor pitch and still had 30 feet to go, so it was quite difficult to follow that. But I suppose I had pretty much the same score as Fowler, then beat Harrington on Sunday. In tough conditions, I controlled the ball nicely in the first two rounds to get inside the top ten on the leaderboard, but I struggled a bit with my ball flight over the weekend, and ended up tied 35th, which I wasn’t too unhappy with in the circumstances.
In between, I got an invitation to play in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, courtesy of being one of the top two in the Race to Dubai rankings who weren’t already in after the Spanish Open. There were so many potential scenarios that could have unfolded in Spain, so it was a matter of just trying to play as well as I could, and in the end it was good enough.
The PGA Championship is always an amazing event, and I played okay in places, but it’s so demanding off the tee there. I dropped five shots in four holes in the middle of my first round, which killed me. After that it was a bit of a battle, but I kept going and played okay in the second round. But it is a tough golf course, and probably one that doesn’t necessarily suit my game.
I have a regular caddie now in Barry Love. Actually, his name is Barry Cornwall, but he calls everybody ‘love’, so everybody calls him ‘love’. I got my card with him at Q School, but he then decided he was going to work for somebody else. That didn’t happen in the end, so I’ve got him back now. He didn’t come to South Africa, but was on the bag for me in India and Thailand. He’s caddied for about 10 years, but hasn’t done too much on tour, so it’s a case of us building a relationship, and if we do it week in, week out, then we will hopefully find something that’s consistent and works well.
As for my schedule, after Nordea and Austria, I didn’t qualify for the US Open at Walton Heath – the putter went stone-cold that day – so after a week off, it’s on to Germany, France, Scotland… and then hopefully the Open, if I’m able to qualify.