After a tournament most players are keen to get home ASAP, especially those with families. But getting home from Austria this week was a nightmare!! On Sunday, I had an early tee time and so headed to the airport as soon as my round was over to see if I could get an earlier flight home, which didn’t happen.
Then my evening flight was cancelled due to hole in the runway at Gatwick. The best Easyjet could do was fly me back Tuesday night…which I turned down. I instead bought a flight with BA to bring me back on Monday evening. It gave me a day to look round Vienna, which is nice, however, I just wanted to get home! As I was just about to board Monday evening this flight was also cancelled, as there was an issue with the plane this time! I couldn’t believe it took me two days to get home and how happy I was to finally see Heathrow on Tuesday morning.
My learning experience of working with caddies has continued this year, as I will be on my third Caddy of the year in Germany next week. I have thought about using friends and locals, but that doesn’t give you the consistency which is important to me. I’ve also thought of taking on a younger less experienced caddy and moulding them into a caddy that I want, but at this stage in the season I don’t have time for that.
Obviously a caddy wants success just as much as the player, so the players form will affect the relationship. But the thing with employing a caddy is there is rarely a contract, job description, interview and no real structure. It really is a case of just seeing if it works until someone decides they want out. In an ideal world you would work with someone and stick together to get some consistency over time under a contract. But this doesn’t seem to happen unless you’re top 50 in the world. I now know what I am looking for in a caddy and I need to take more control, as I am the boss! Hopefully, I can achieve that and will have the consistency I am after for the rest of the season.
Until the past month I had a long run of missed cuts. Poor driving and putting was the main cause although I actually played decent at times. I was feeling I was playing better and just not getting the return, which does start to affect your confidence. Going to Ireland I had my family with me for the first time this year. My wife is from there and so I had a lot of support from the in-laws and that certainly helped me. I was going there with the simple goal of enjoying the week rather than putting the pressure on myself. I played a little better and made the cut right on the mark. I got a birdie at the par five last with two great shots getting me to 20 foot for an eagle, which made for a relatively easy but all important birdie. I played OK over the weekend and felt quite positive from that result going into Wentworth.
Wentworth is a great event and one I love, yet I hadn’t made the cut in my previous three attempts. I adopted the same approach as in Ireland and just wanted to go out and enjoy it. I had a very late tee time on the Thursday, so that enabled me to spend the night at home on the Wednesday, which is very rare. It’s a mad week in practise with so many people on the range, so escaping Wednesday was great although the M25 made me sweat a little on Thursday! Again I made the cut but the weekend wasn’t quite what had I hoped for but it was certainly more positive. The aim now is to turn this into some top 10 finishes and compete at the top of the leaderboard. Ideally to ensure I am not under the same pressure to keep my card as last year!
I have taken the difficult decision not to enter final qualifying for this year’s Open. The date falls two days before the start of the French Open and would prevent me from having a practice round as these can only be done on the Tuesday and Wednesday morning before the tournament. That would mean a one-day 36-hole qualifier on Tuesday and then driving through the night to get France for a practice round – and then trying to play four rounds after that.
One of my ambitions is still to play in the Open, but the European Tour is my livelihood and I need to have 100 per cent focus on that. The French Open, which is celebrating its centenary, is going to be an incredible event this year with a really strong field including Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett. There’s a good prize fund and world ranking points on offer so I will be looking to have a good week.
I will then be playing in Scotland at Castle Stuart, which is a course I’ve never played before. I am aware there are Open qualifying opportunities at both of these events – if I can finish in the top 10 I’ve got a chance.
It’s Father Day on Sunday and I’m going be having a great day caddying for my daughter Teagan in her first ever Wee Wonders tournament at Hever Castle. I don’t think her dad being a professional makes any difference to her and she’s pretty relaxed about it all. As for me, I’m not one of those pushy fathers, I just want Teagan to go out and enjoy it.
At the end of next month I am having a golf day at Princes for my sponsors – C+K Group, Price Bailey and Crisp Thinking. There will be six players from each of them and I’m really looking forward to getting out there with the guys who have been greatly supporting me on Tour.
Follow Matt’s fortunes via Twitter: @mattfordpga