We’re into the final stretch now, and after missed cuts in the Porsche European Open and the Dunhill Links, I’m now one spot outside the Race to Dubai’s crucial top 110 for the first time since my runner-up finish in South Africa back in early March. I played really well in the KLM Open, with four rounds in the 60s, but the scoring was very low, and I made a few silly mistakes here and there that cost me, so it was a little bit frustrating.
I finished T36th there, then played solidly tee to green next week in Italy, but didn’t putt that well to finish T44th, so more frustration there. My long game has been making steady progress, but as you all know, just as one area of your game improves, something else goes off, and for me it has been the putting. I putted quite poorly in Munich, and not very well for the first two rounds up in Scotland. Then while I putted better in my third and final round there, my long game wasn’t quite as good. The courses and the weather were fantastic, so it was set up for a low scoring week, but if you’re not hitting it close and not putting well, you’re never going to make much headway.
The whole Dunhill experience was a new thing for me, because you’ve got so much going on with the three different courses. I had to play three practice rounds, as I didn’t really know any of them, having only played St Andrews once about 15 years ago. That means you then don’t practise quite as much overall, as you’re travelling around a bit.
The format is a bit different too, with one pro and one amateur in a fourball betterball pair, and although I’m used playing in pro-ams, that did bring a slightly different dynamic to proceedings. None of that had anything to do with my performance in the end though, because it was just a matter of not hitting it close enough and not holing enough putts. But it’s a special event that’s very different to every other week, and I really enjoyed the tournament – if not the result. So now I find myself outside the top 110 – but it wasn’t the Dunhill that pushed me out, so much as my ongoing performances. I knew that the money I had up on the board was never going to be enough, and that I needed at least one or two more decent performances in the run for home.
Unfortunately I missed out on the British Masters at Woburn, as I was sixth reserve, but I’m playing the Portugal Masters and, fingers crossed, I’ll get into Hong Kong too. I would have taken this position at the start of the season, though. Yes, it is stressful too – but that’s just part of this job! It was really disappointing to miss out on Woburn, as events on home soil are rare these days, and it would have been great to get a few friends and family up there to support me. But it wasn’t to be, and my focus now is just trying to play good golf for the rest of what’s left of the season, and trying to put thoughts about my Race to Dubai ranking out of my head.
I don’t want to think about the downside, but even if I finished, say, 115th I’d be guaranteed around 1S-20 tour events next year, so I have got that to fall back on should the worst come to the worst.
The new season starts pretty much straight after Dubai, with back-to-back events in South Africa and Australia, then nothing until January. I wouldn’t be guaranteed those two starts, but you can’t imagine the top players going from Dubai to South Africa to Australia, so I’d say there’s a pretty good chance of getting into those two events either way.
But you just can’t tell. I thought I was going to get into the Hong Kong Open pretty easily, but at the moment I’m still 19th reserve, though there are lots of people on the list who may not play if they get into the Final Series. So we’ll just have to wait and see on that. In the meantime, here’s hoping for the big week I need!