Day two verdict ? 73
Today going out mid-morning, I felt much more a part of things than yesterday. Obviously, I?m disappointed with the way it finished. I clung on towards the end and I put up a decent fight to try and make the cut but the last hole is unbelievably tough. I hit a bad drive that left me with a really long shot to the green. It would have been nice to have a birdie putt but second shot was probably a bit lucky to catch the bunker and not go out of bounds but I hit a great bunker shot and I missed the putt. It?s disappointing because I feel that I should be contending at the weekend and not missing the cut by one or two.
Over the last couple of days I feel that I played well but was just a fraction out.
It does get a bit tiresome telling everyone that I?m playing nicely because until I get results I can?t really draw much from it. I know that I could play similar golf next week in Hamburg and win ? it?s as simple as that. You have to be positive because in this job even the number one in the world doesn?t win every time. The odds are stacked against you so you have to put up with disappointments ? it?s all part of the job.
It has been really nice staying on site this week ? I?ve really felt a part of it all. I wasn?t sure what it was going to be like. Being amongst the world?s top players has been really good. As my girlfriend Jo likes to put it, ?I?m studying at the University of Golf at the moment.? I?m 31 and I feel that I?m on the right lines but it?s human nature to want things right now because you never know what is going to happen in the future. If you were to look at my growth as a player and as a business over the last few years, it?s all looking really good.
I?m going to stay until Sunday because the Hotel was pre-booked for a week. I figured that instead of paying 240 quid a night and not get any use out of it that I?d camp out in the room. I?m going to fly home on Sunday night then I?ll fly to Hamburg on Tuesday morning. If the weather is nice tomorrow I?ll hit some balls on the practice ground if they let me but if the weather is shocking I might have a bit of a party in the room.
Over this course, you can?t get away with anything. Every component of your game has to be really good. It?s such a thorough test that whoever wins on Sunday is going to be a world class player, it?s as simple as that. I don?t think we?ll get a flash in the pan winning this weekend because you could have a four shot lead with four to play and not win. You cannot relax until you?ve tapped the ball in at the last ? it?s a hell of a finish. You certainly wouldn?t switch the TV off if someone had a two shot lead with the last still to play.
Day one verdict ? 75 I played steady golf today, I hit every fairway apart from two but it was a round that I really got nothing from. I think 75 was the most it could have been. I made bogey on the second and then made another bogey on five. I really should have birdied the 6th. I hit a drive and a 5-iron up short and then hit a great chip over a bunker from a tight lie but missed the putt. Then I missed it from 6ft on the next for birdie. I bogeyed 12. I birdied 13 then three putted 14 for par. It was all a bit frustrating because level par or one over would have been quite a good score.
Teeing off last is never a good draw, it?s like turning up at the best party in the world as everyone else was going home. I also didn?t finish until 9.20 because the round was really slow. I don?t like to make excuses, it?s not my way of doing things but the group in front were really slow. The fact that I didn?t have a great score was nothing to do with that, it was down to me but it?s never easy when you have to wait. This is my profession and I have to be able to cope with everything that in thrown at me so I can?t make excuses.
Wednesday – Final preparations
I?ve played Carnoustie quite a lot in the past so today I didn?t feel the need to get another 18 in. I just wanted to get out on the course really to do some chipping because the practice chipping green here isn?t great. So I teed off with the amateur qualifier Llewellyn Matthews then after four holes I hopped over to the 15th and asked Davis Love III, Justin Leonard and Drew Weaver if I could join them. It?s not something I felt that comfortable doing but if you don?t ask you don?t get. So I joined them and they made me feel very welcome – they were good guys.
The course is playing long in the wet and I had to hit a lot of 3 woods today. I?m at a stage now where I don?t get down on myself about how long a course is ? I just get on with the shot I?m faced with. The courses we play week-in, week-out on the European Tour are all quite long so I?m used to having to hit every club in the bag well. When I go home to play with my mates, the courses we play feel like pitch and putts by comparison.
My parents arrived this afternoon so I met up with them at 4pm. After that I went back to the course to do a bit more work on my chipping and pitching, then tonight we are back off to St Andrews for dinner. I?ll probably try and eat lots of protein and stay off the sugar. I find that sugar gives you highs and lows and I need to try and keep my energy levels constant.
I?m last off tomorrow as I was when I first played in the Open. The problem with that is that you get all of the bin collections going on while you are still out there trying to compete. That can be a little bit frustrating but then you can look at it another way. The weather in the morning might be horrific and then get better through the day. That?s the unique thing about The Open and it could work in my favour.
When I first played in the Open in 2002 I didn?t get much sleep the night before ? I was pretty nervous. But now I?ve played in so many big events so that makes dealing with it much easier. So tomorrow morning I?ll watch a bit of the golf which could be really useful to see where the guys are hitting it to. That should kill some time then I?ll start work with my coach at about 1 o?clock then have some lunch and then prepare for the round.
Tuesday – An early start
I set my alarm for six this morning because I wanted to get an early practice round in. I was praying for some decent weather so I was really pleased when I stuck my head through the curtains to see perfect blue sky. I couldn?t wait to get out there.
I played at 7.20 with Scott Drummond and Rich Beem. I?ve known Scott for quite a few years now and he?s a good mate of mine but it was the first time I?d met Rich and he?s a really nice bloke, very chilled out. Today was Scott?s first practice round of the week so we just hit lots of balls. On Tour we usually have a game in practice because you are only allowed to use one ball but here they?re a bit more lenient so we chipped and putted a lot.
The wind was in a different direction today which was useful to see how the course played. My coach, Matt Belsham arrived last night. He walked the whole course with me and we talked about lines off tees and certain shots around the greens. It?s really useful to have your coach walk round with you and I really respect his opinion.
After I played we did some work on the range and then I met my psychologist, John Pates. This gave me the chance to work on a new putting routine that I?ll start to use on Thursday morning. I was worrying too much about my technique so I?m just trying to free up, to think more about the target than the technique.
Last night I was at the TaylorMade party. I enjoyed it but you can never really relax in that situation. I was driving so it really wasn?t the time or the place to have a few beers. I saw Alex from TaylorMade this morning asleep on the Tour truck so I think it was a pretty heavy night for some. Tonight I?m off to St Andrews for dinner then tomorrow I?ll have a bit of a lie in and probably start at about 10. I?m down to play with Vijay tomorrow which will be good.
Monday – First impressions
Having watched The Open on TV every year from about 1986 onwards, it?s amazing to actually be playing in it. Ever since I started as a junior at Ashford Golf Club I?ve practised holing putts for the Open ? all the guys playing this week must have done that at some point. So to have the opportunity to play in the tournament and hopefully get in contention is awesome. It?s what dreams are made of.
The last time I played in the Open was at Muirfield in 2002 and I qualified just a few days before at LFQ so it was all a bit of a rush to get ready. This year I qualified at Sunningdale a couple of weeks ago so I?ve had some time to prepare. My management company, GMI looked into accommodation for me – they found a few options ranging from houses that would cost between two and six grand for the week. We then found out that there were a few rooms here at the Carnoustie Hotel that the R&A had kept back. They are charging £245 a night! It?s massively over priced but I thought that for ease of transport it was best. I don?t have to worry about traffic and getting to the course and it takes the stress out of it.
I had my first sighter of the course last night when the weather was perfect. When I played here in the Dunhill Links I thought it was a nice course but now with the huge stands up and special atmosphere of the Open I thought it was awesome. The course is in great condition and the rough isn?t too punishing. It?s one of those courses where there are no weak holes. You need to hit the ball well from the first to the last hole. Whoever wins this week needs to play all round good golf. It?s as simple as that really.
This week I?ve got my girlfriend with me. Jo is a great influence, she?s really supportive. She?s a school teacher so in the summer holidays she gets to quite a few events ? probably about six or seven in total. When I played last night she walked round. She was also willing to walk round again this morning when it was lashing down with rain but I told her not to be silly. My parents are also coming up ? they?ll be here on Wednesday. I?m going to pick up a hire car from Dundee so we have a bit of freedom to get out of here and meet my parents for dinner. We are planning to go to St Andrews tomorrow night for dinner which will be nice ? I love it there, there?s a great feeling about that place.
I?d like just to thank everyone back home for their support, it?s been brilliant. I?ll try and savour this experience as much as I can but it?s my living so I need to get my head down and perform. I can?t just wander round lapping it all up – I?m here to do a job.
Finally, I?ll mention the little gift pouch that you received when you register as a player. I was hoping that I might get something a bit special. Like when you make it onto the European Tour, they give you a money clip which is nice. But all I got was a player badge and then lots of info.