As you all know I took 7 weeks off after finishing up in Dubai last November. 2017 was one of the most roller coaster years I have experienced in my professional life. From the lows of losing my PGA Tour card to being extremely grateful to Brian Gay for spotting the change in the Fed-Ex points system and weeks later nearly winning the Players!
I needed that time to reflect and spend quality time with the family. Then hit the road again, starting with the Middle East swing on the European Tour. The HSBC championship in Abu Dhabi is one of my favourite stops and felt good going into the week. But that 1st round getting back in competitive play just left me too much to do and despite a better 2nd round missed the cut. Headed off to Dubai to prepare for the Omega Desert Classic which resulted in a T6, so I was pleased with myself.
From the Middle East flew back to the USA and started my season at the Phoenix Waste Management where I kind of have a love/hate relationship! The crowds are just amazing and hole 16 is really like visiting a stadium watching gladiators, which this year had it going nicely in both first rounds until then… My favourite shot decided to appear just at the wrong time and in front of 200,000 people! Just imagine!!! Being interviewed after as I said it’s not the first and will not be the last, that shot is close to perfection as we keep telling ourselves. Before the Honda I tested new Titleist clubs (check out what’s in my bag), changed up the driver and shaft and put new shafts in the irons which I am happy with. But the Honda and the Valspar the following weeks did not work out.
I have started off the new season with two new sponsors, both new to golf, and have no doubt they will enjoy and benefit from their exposure in our sport.
This year I was happy to see young Sam Horsfield receive an invite and shine in such a class field with a T14 finish. He is one to look out for on the European Tour, give him a follow on twitter @hr59sam. I finished T41 – not great but really felt my game was coming together.
So on to the World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play. As has been well documented in the press I went back to the putter from Medinah to ignite that spark on the greens that has been missing. Got off to a fast start against Tommy Fleetwood, then continued that with a win over Daniel Berger setting up my match with Kevin Chappell knowing a win was needed to advance to the last 16. After a few holes I could sense Kevin had a problem and finally after 9 holes he conceded with back problems. Having had my own injuries I fully understood his decision and wish him well. That set me up to play Louis Oosthuizen. It was the first time we played each other and what a great match needing 8 birdies against his 6 to win on the 17th and set up a quarter final match against Kevin Kisner. That’s where my day became a little bizarre… I was told by the Golf Channel, Media & European Tour that I was in the Masters, then 10 minutes before I teed off I was told ‘sorry, points were not enough‘… Frustrating to say the least and no excuse for my poor performance against Kevin, not putting up a match after 4 great days.
Until next time