I’m writing this midway through a five-week globetrotting stint that has taken me to Thailand, India, and then South Africa for three weeks. I only found out I’d made it into the True Thailand Classic about three or four days before I flew, but thankfully it didn’t make too much difference to the flight costs! I’m pretty much my own travel agent, although I do have a bit of help from a company called Destination Golf, especially with the long haul flights.
Last time, I talked about my good first rounds, and that trend continued in Thailand, where I was actually leading after 11 or 12 holes. I had a few messages from friends calling me the ‘first round specialist’, but it’s funny how people start putting thoughts in your head, and in India I found myself thinking, “Actually, I’m not sure I want to start so well – perhaps a steady start might be better!” But I started terribly – four over after five – so then I was thinking, “That’s that idea out the window!” But I played quite nicely after that to shoot one over, which should really have been better, as I played really well on the back nine.
I made the cut in Thailand, but finished well down the field, then made too many bogeys in India to miss the cut by one. I struggled on and around the greens, which was extremely frustrating, because I hit a lot of good shots and the course suited me.
All my good golf so far has come from creating lots of opportunities via good iron play, but my putting has been a bit up and down. There’s a lot of grain to the grass in these countries, and sometimes you can see it, but sometimes you can’t. You might have a lob shot you think is into the grain, so you try to pitch it close, expecting it to stop, and it turns out to be down grain, so the ball shoots forward and rolls on 15 feet. That’s tricky – both from the mental side and the scoring side – and is obviously why the Indian guys do so well in India, as they see it much better.
In Joburg, I had a bit of tightness and some muscle spasm in my back, possibly from all the travelling, but even so, I played quite nicely. I was 52nd heading into Sunday, so didn’t have huge expectations, but then hit it inside six feet on five of the first six holes, and made every one to be five under, before making a silly double on seven. I then had another tap-in birdie on eight, so it was a great front nine. The pins were tougher coming home, so I didn’t hit it as close, and unfortunately didn’t hole anything, before getting a bit unlucky with a plugged lie on 14. That was a little disappointing, having started so well, but I’ve just got to take the positives from my 43rd place finish there.
It is expensive playing the tour, and I’ll admit I do find it hard to take that out of the equation, and just play golf. Obviously, that’s where you pile the pressure on yourself, with every little shot or putt becoming too important. Thinking like that just isn’t good for your golf, and that’s where the sports psychology comes in – something I’ve worked hard on, and will continue, but haven’t quite mastered yet!
Overall, I’ve made more cuts than I’ve missed, so I can’t be too disappointed. It’s still fairly early in the season, and I’ve been playing some good golf, but it just hasn’t quite been as consistent as I would have liked. That said, I believe the outcome goals, in terms of results, will happen if I just stick to my simple processes. That’s the plan anyway, and by the time you read this, you’ll know how the rest of my South African swing panned out.
After that, it’s home for a week, then out to Morocco, then home for a couple of weeks, before potentially heading out to China. However, as a Q School graduate, I’m not too sure how the entry list is going to go for those two China events, so we’ll just have to wait and see.