American Adventures

Posted: 26th March 2008

"So how did the new equipment work out then?" I hear you wonder. Well, if you followed my progress at Bay Hill, you will have noticed that I was not around for the weekend again - another big disappointment.

I had all the reasons in the world to play well this week, especially with sixteen of the Broome Manor boys cheering me on from behind the ropes, and my girlfriend Emily to entertain as well. It sounded like I was the local boy when I was announced on the tee for the first round, with my playing partners who actually were local wondering why I had brought my own gallery with me. The lads were in the area on a golf week, which was a good coincidence.

Mind you, the fact that I was on the first tee was a feat in itself, as when The Jockey arrived at the course on Monday morning and tried to sign in at the registration desk, he was asked why he was there as I was not in the tournament field. Panicked, he called me three times, sent two texts and finally got to speak to me when I woke at ten thirty.

I arrived at the course at eleven thirty, to be informed that a mix up at their end meant that I should not have been invited to play under the Ryder Cup exemption category as I was not a member of the US Tour, and as all the other invites had been assigned there was nothing they could do unless someone withdrew from the tournament before midday. Or to put it another way, in ten minutes time.

Amazingly, Kevin Na withdrew at 11.57am, so to everyone's relief I was given the last invite, which had originally been guaranteed to my friend Brian Davis as he was the first reserve.

The Jockey and I obviously took this as a sign that I was certain to win by seven and go on one of the greatest runs in the history of the game, and we were already spending the cash mentally when I hit a nine iron to six feet at my first hole. So naturally I missed it, along with another good chance at the second, and by the time Bay Hill's famous water holes started to collect my golf balls like they were going out of fashion, I ended the day once again over par and under pressure to make the cut.

That pressure only increased over the final couple of holes on Friday, and I came unstuck on the long par three seventeenth, when my three iron joined the fishes once again. A birdie at the last meant I missed by two.

When players are in the hunt to win a tournament and they talk about pressure, their game is obviously in good shape and it really is just a mental battle to overcome the nerves and continue playing as you have for the last three and a half days. When you aren't in control of your game and you add a little pressure as well, the game becomes very interesting. In fact, the next time you go to an event, try following a couple of guys right on the cut line on Friday, it really can be quite compelling to witness the struggle of making the cut instead of just watching the guys on top of the leader board serenely coasting to another low score.

Oh yeah, to answer the original question - the new shaft and ball combination is a change I really like, but the Never Compromise putter, although feeling nice, did not make the cut itself and was replaced with my trusty old putter on Friday. Until my regular putter misbehaves for a long period of time it will stay in my bag, as I still feel a strong loyalty towards it.

One massive decision has been made during the last week whilst I was in Miami with my sponsors CA, and that is that after six really good years I have unfortunately decided to consult with a new swing coach. Clive Tucker has been instrumental in helping me achieve so many goals over the last few years. He has improved my knowledge of the golf swing immensely and we have shared some great moments. However, with the downturn in my form still lingering around I felt it was the right time to hear some new ideas.

Graeme McDowell, one of Clive's other clients, won in Korea last week which I was so pleased to see for both of them, I'm sure under Clive's watchful eye he will continue to rise up the rankings as I did.

I'm proud to be sponsored by CA, alongside Retief Goosen, so it was obviously bitterly disappointing not to be playing in their very own tournament, The CA Championship at Doral. This did, however, give me the opportunity to spend more time with their clients over the week, which they tell me was a real bonus.

Saturday was spent on the Great White course, designed by Greg Norman, which I was keen to see having just read his autobiography which talked in depth about his design principles. I really did have a good look at one hole, the eighteenth, as I played it 27 times in one morning. That's what happens when you drop down the rankings you see.

I thought my tips would come in handy and be well received, so when I suggested that
Hope, a very nice lady, should move her ball position back in her stance to stop topping her shots, I was hoping for great things. When her next shot was an air shot I screeched off in my cart as quickly as I could to give the next four clients the same treatment.

Groundhog Day comes to mind when you do this as you may well imagine, but they are all great people, having a great time at a golf tournament, which at the end of the day is one of the reasons we are all so lucky in being able to earn a great living from the game of golf. The other bonus is it really is nice to meet so many new people, and good people at that, so if any of you reading this were one of the lucky few to be entertained by CA last week, I hope you had a great time and remember my main tip - have a rest from golf for two weeks, then give up altogether.

If, however, you ignore my advice as normal, then I hope to see you next year.


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