It’s been quite an eventful few weeks since my last diary, starting with what turned out to be a good decision not to go to Madeira. I was happy when I made that call, as I’ve not had much success there, and the way my schedule had gone, I needed a week off. How it then panned out with the weather further vindicated my decision to give it a miss, so it was nice to be at home having been on the road for five weeks.
I went out to Morocco the following week, but didn’t play great, as my iron game was a bit off. That course has a lot of fall-offs around the greens, so the areas you are hitting to are very small. It’s relatively generous off the tee, and I actually drove the ball quite nicely – but my iron play and my putting weren’t quite as good as they have been, so sadly it was a short week.
I don’t think my expectations have changed hugely following my second- place finish in Africa, as I’m still trying to do exactly the same things. But as soon as you have a good result, you know what you’re capable of and want to achieve it again. So maybe your standards do go up a bit. Every week I want to try and achieve the same thing, but you just can’t play well every week.
The Shenzhen International was three weeks later, and I thought I might get in, so I sorted out my visa. But then the entry list came through and the cut-off point wasn’t moving. You have to travel Sunday lunchtime, because it’s a 12-hour flight, and with the time difference you don’t get there until Monday night. On Thursday or Friday I was still fifth or sixth reserve, so I assumed, with no tournament the week before, that it wasn’t going to move. On Saturday morning I was up to third, and they then want to know whether or not you would travel if you were first reserve. I was really in two minds, because it’s a long way to go just to be a reserve. But, thankfully, by Saturday lunchtime I was in, so I booked my flight and flew out the next day.
I’d been told that all the tournament venues in China are long, which wouldn’t necessarily have suited my game, but it was still a good opportunity, and one I wanted to take. And I played nicely, with my iron play and putting pretty solid. I didn’t hit the driver that well, but if my irons and putter are solid, I tend to score well, as they’re a key part of my game. Unfortunately, I just didn’t keep it going in the final round. I was in the third to last group with Tommy Fleetwood, but the putter went missing. I made a double on the second from a 50-yard bunker shot – there was water all around the green, and unfortunately it came out clean – so I got off to a poor start. Then I had a couple of three-putts in the middle, which kept the momentum going the wrong way. I finished tied 34th in the end, which was a bit disappointing, but that’s golf!
I then unexpectedly got into the Volvo China Open, which was about a three-hour flight away. My whole China experience was very different. The food’s not quite what you expect – sheep’s heads and so on, so not the usual fare that you get down your local Chinese! The first week we were in a nice hotel, but for the second week there was no room in the official hotel, so I had to book something else. The food was terrible, although we did manage to find a good Italian restaurant around the corner. I hit the ball as well as ever that week, but the putter was poor, and I just struggled with the speed of the greens. I had about six three-putts over my two rounds, and ended up missing the cut by some margin.
After all that travelling, I decided not to go out to the Mauritius Open, and have actually got an exciting trip to Spain lined up. My sponsors, CK Group, won a ‘Seve Experience’ in a Seve Foundation charity auction, offering the chance to tour round his house, meet some of his family, and play golf with one of his brothers at Pedrena. Luckily, my sponsor said I could go along. Seve was my golfing idol, so I’m very excited. It should be awesome, and will hopefully give me plenty of inspiration for the rest of the season.