With professional golf now a 364-day-per-year sport, the question of prioritising within one’s schedule is becoming ever more important. Do you set your goals at the beginning of the year and stick to them rigidly? Can your aims change as the quality of your play changes? How do you balance the two major Tours, not to mention the four Major Championships? These questions and many more have to be answered by every pro.
On the day after Sectional Qualifying for the US Open at Oakmont, two of the European Tour?s rising stars offer very different views on US Open and Open qualifying.
Bradley Dredge (pictured), having experienced a gruelling few weeks, including second places at the Irish and Wales Opens, told GM:
?At the end of the day my decision not to play in the [US Open and Open] qualifiers fits with the goals I set myself at the start of the year. My goal is to finish well inside the top 50 at the end of the year and the best way I see that for myself is to play well in the big European Tour events. There are some big events coming up after the US Open and of course it would be great if I was exempt for the US Open ? then I would go and play. But to go and play 36 holes at Walton Heath the day after the Wales Open and after the two previous weeks was not on. To be honest I just don?t really feel like playing golf right now! I know I am a professional golfer but if my goal had been to play in all the Majors at the beginning of the year then yes I would have gone, but that?s not my goal and so I chose not to go.?
?I was hoping to be top 50 in the rankings by now but I am just outside of that. As far as I can work out I?ve got three separate chances to get into the Open. So at the end of the day if I play well I will secure my place. It?s all about performance at the end of the day and if I perform to the best of my ability that should be enough.?
?There is a risk that I am going to be left sitting on the sofa watching it. But to be honest even if I go to the qualifiers there are only 12 or 15 places available from 110 guys. So you know it?s pretty tough because it?s like playing a normal European Tour event and you have to finish in the top 15. Whichever route you go down to be exempt for the Open or US Open you just have to perform. If I perform to the way I am trying then I will get my spot.?
Nick Dougherty, having led the 36-hole US Open qualifying at Walton Heath, said:
“I can’t understand why guys pulled out of this. This is my first win in two years. I?m claiming this as a shared win. I didn?t play that well in the afternoon but in the end it is about getting through. The US Open was my first Major when I qualified here two years ago and I didn?t have to qualify last year. I’m pleased to keep that run of playing in it going. It’s the only cut I?ve made in the five Majors I?ve played in as well. I am looking forward to it especially after hearing what Tiger said about Oakmont. I really get excited about playing courses that difficult and if he says it is the toughest course he has seen then it is going to be pretty cool.?
Look out for Bradley Dredge’s first blog live from the European Tour on this site from July 1