The Italian Open in Monza!!

A quick turnaround at home, but so worth it to watch Jess walk into school, and to be there to pick her up after and then hear about her day!

I walked through the door at 10.45pm Sunday night, and walked back out the door 4am Tuesday morning to head to Italy via a quick stop off in Brussels!

And it was a quick stop in Brussels, it wasn’t the scheduled 1hr stop after a delay taking off from Manchester, it ended up being a sprint through Brussels airport to catch the next flight by a whisker!!

Phew!!!!!

Again, it was great that my coach Mark Pearson joined me for the first three days! Even better that he picked me up en route to the airport! Thanks coach, top taxi work too!

As you may have read in my last blog, I ‘top tenned’ it in Holland to get the exemption to play in Italy, if that hadn’t have been the case I would have been 1st reserve as I boarded the plane Tuesday…

That would again have been a very frustrating position to be in, now I knew I could board the plane and know I was preparing for the event!!

As first reserve on site Tuesday afternoon there is always that 50/50 chance you may get to play, two players withdrew from last week’s event on the Wednesday so it does happen…

But if you flashback to Perth in Feb, it didn’t happen for me that week!!

You just never know…

And the painful thing for the guy who was 1st reserve in Italy was that if I had finished 11th in the KLM then he would have been playing and not me!!

(He did get to play in the end, but with only 20 minutes’ warning as Patrick Sjoland withdrew with a bad back).

Last minute problems…

The only frustration about getting into an event late is the planning. I had booked into the ‘caddy’ hotel months ago but when it looked like I would not be playing I cancelled it before the cancellation policy could kick in!!

It was perfect too – €55 a night with breakfast and a bus to the course each day!! So straight away I tried to get back in that hotel Sunday night!!

It wasn’t happening! But I had a back-up plan – Stu Manley was 3rd reserve and travelling so he had the room booked too and if he did not get into the event by Wednesday I would take it on…

So the next problem was finding some suitable ‘digs’ in a good location and at a decent price! That was the tricky bit!!

In the end I got ripped off, €240 for two nights to stay in a really average hotel… Stu Manley ended up staying another night due to the delays so I had to move again…

This time €95 and the hotel was worse!

So I checked out again Thursday morning and then finally got in to the caddy hotel for the last two nights! It was lovely!!!!!! And trumped both the previous hotels for only €55!!

ABOUT THE ITALIAN OPEN…

There always seems something a little bit extra special playing an ‘Open’. I think playing for a country’s national title means a lot, so for Joost to win last week in Holland and to do it in such a fashion must have been incredible, and around his home course too!!

I’d heard great things about the Italian Open before the week – the cars, the quality of the food, the hugely increased prize fund (€3m), a top quality field and a great old school kind of course!!

And it didn’t disappoint, it was very different to anything we have played all year! It’s very narrow in parts, trees that must be well over 100 years old lining every fairway! But unfortunately that didn’t help the course, no light to greens, combined with rain, isn’t great for growth, so the greens’ surfaces weren’t fantastic and the surrounds were very patchy in places.

But there is that good old saying as many of you will know “it’s the same for everyone”, so I planned to just get on with it as I heard too many players already complaining about it!!!!

Practice went well again – having Mark with me really helps, as he keeps it extremely constructive but most importantly it’s always relevant to the conditions and the challenge that is set out for us each week!

Just for example… there is no point practising 50ft putts (which were needed in Holland) when in Italy the average green is only 25yards long!!

For me personally too, the work I can do on Trackman is fantastic, to be able to put a swing or a feeling to the numbers on the screen is a huge help and for me a great learning tool!!

The more I write and talk about a Trackman the more I want one!!!!! Argh!!!

So I was all set for round 1 at 2.00pm and after seeing the forecast we were set for a day with lots of rain!!

ROUND 1… or should I say DAY 1?

There was not much to say about Thursday… we waited, waited and waited!! It rained for most of the day with scattered thunder showers!

I got to warm up around 5.30pm and ended up going out for two holes making par on both!

So straight back to the hotel, some room service and bed, ready for a 5am alarm to get up to the course for a 7.30am restart!!

DAY 2…

We managed to get out and complete our 1st round, I played really solid too… I opened my account with an eagle on the 14th my 4th hole… and in the end went on to shoot 66 (-5) and make a charge at the leader board!!

Then after a 40 minute turnaround we were back on the course to start round 2!

We managed 12 holes before the hooter went again…

But it was a nice start, a birdie down the 1st, followed by another on the 3rd after holing from 25ft!!

One blemish on the card but followed that up with a great 5 iron to 4ft on the next and it was cancelled out straight away!!

Solid birdie down 9 after finding the green with 3 wood and then pars around to the 13th tee where thankfully we got called off for a torrential down poor and electricity in the air!!

So everyone was now off the course and the second wave of players were getting ready to start, for us waiting to return to play the tour have a time limit where they don’t have to allow us a warm up!

So, while tucking into my cake and biscuits we then got the surprising call that we had 15 minutes to get into position!

I hadn’t hit a ball for nearly an hour and we had a ten minute walk at least!! No one was ready! But they had to try and get us out playing if there was any hope of a 72-hole tournament!

As we were about to tee off, the hooter went again and we were back in without hitting a shot!!

Another hour passed, which felt like three, and we were sent out to warm up this time!! Then as we were loading up the buggies to head back out, John Paramor announced there will be no more play and we had to resume at 7.30am the following day!!

For me that felt like the best decision!!!

I then checked into my third hotel of the week… the ‘caddy’ hotel! It was spot on!! And what a different environment to a ‘players’ hotel, just so nice and relaxed, they all know each other so well, so many characters, some quality nicknames and so many stories to go with them; many of these guys travel week in week out living together in each other’s pockets and have done for years!

Players tend to have their own rooms and more often than not in luxury, and it’s not quite that for caddies!

For example my caddy Steve was in a hostel sharing with total strangers, but at £60 for the week he’s then making the most of his wage!!

ROUND 3…

Well, it started Saturday afternoon but it sure didn’t finish, for me it was a 5.10pm tee off and we played till it was dark!!

With the wet forecast predicted through the night and most of the next day, no one knew what was in store for us!!

After a couple of pull hooks down the first, a nice break back onto the fairway helped, and I made par… I then played pretty steady for nine holes making a great birdie 2 on the 3rd and then a great chip and run on to the 9th to set up a 10ft birdie putt!

I converted that in the dark – I guess the hours in the dark as a kid putting at Crosland Heath finally helped!! Ha ha!!

So 9/9 greens in regulation and two birdies meant a solid nine holes in 2 under!!

Back again Sunday morning first thing to hopefully get some more golf played!!!!!

Three pars to start, and steady enough, then after a great tee shot down 13 I hit probably my worst iron shot of the week, short siding myself in the bunker!!

A bogey there, and a couple more down the closing 5 holes, I ended the day +1 and fell out of contention!!

We had an hour turn around and were straight back out to play again…

My last round was with David Lipsky and Romain Wattel, both great guys, good company and solid players!!

I played scrappy through the first 4 holes… but made another birdie down 5 and got some momentum back!

Plenty pars, a stress free birdie on 14 which surely was the easiest hole of the week, and one more at 17 to get to -3 for the day!

That score felt better than how my game felt! A sloppy drive to finish down 18 and a bogey to leave a sour taste in the mouth to what had been a great week!

But to get in contention, play in the last group in round 3 was great and to then post another top 20 in an event I had to qualify for is a huge bonus!!

Let’s just say the Italian Open was an extremely fun but tiring week, and to get 72 holes in was amazing with the conditions we had to battle – the European Tour sure know how to run events!!!

Bravo!!!!!

For me I now fly to Germany for the Porsche Open and a course I’ve visited on Challenge Tour numerous times!

It’s head down, work hard and I’ll give it my best shot again!

KLM Open, Holland – My NEW European Tour blog!

After a solid week in Denmark it was a real shame not to get in the event the following week in Crans, Switzerland!

Of all the events on the schedule this year, that was probably one of the most talked about events, it just sounded and looked spectacular!

So to be 5th reserve on the Wednesday felt agonisingly close! And again it’s frustrating to see invites being handed out to players in similar situations to me and getting the opportunities to play, whilst I have to sit back and watch the leader board for another week.

But that’s how it works, and hopefully I will still get a few more chances to play this year!

Last week I played the KLM in Holland – as you now know it was a great week, coming T8th! My aim was to achieve a top ten finish as that would ensure my place in the Italian Open this week (I would have been second reserve and planned to travel anyway). So I travel early Tuesday knowing that I’m definitely in the field!

Then next week I am certainly playing the Porsche event in Germany!

After a short break it’s the final three events before ‘judgement day’, when the top 110 in the OOM are finalised!

Alfred Dunhill Links

British Masters

Portugal Masters

I’m really not sure of my chances of playing the above three events, the closing date for entries is 3 weeks before, so you have an idea then…

But even with the Dunhill having a large field as it’s played over 3 courses around the St Andrews area, many of the field are invites…

Then the British Masters and the Portugal Masters are reduced fields due to daylight so I may struggle to play – it may depend on who has already guaranteed their card for 2017 as they may choose not to play…

Who knows? All I know is I will be ready and waiting to play and if there is an opportunity I will take it!

So, back to the KLM Open in Holland – it was a quick flight to Amsterdam, followed by 1 hour in a courtesy car to the course!

My coach Mark Pearson came over for three days this week which is always great; to have his watchful eye over my preparation and keep my swing in shape before the final stretch of the season really helps!

With flight times as they were last week, I played 9 holes Tuesday and 9 holes Wednesday, also I had a wedge fitting with Titleist to fine tune the set-up of my Vokeys!

Tuesday went great, apart from jumping in the hire car with Mark and getting a little lost en route to the course, the practice was fantastic! I played the front nine, it felt like a really good layout, my game felt good and the course was in great condition!

The facilities are really fantastic too, so the back nine Wednesday and lots of productive practice was in order!!

ROUND 1

9.40am start off the 10th which was the last out of the morning groups – I was playing with fellow Q-School graduates Nino Bertasio and David Dixon.

I started off really solid, played my first 4 holes tee to green great and just had to keep patient on the greens…

The next hole was one of the tour’s new initiatives, a short par three which got the fans involved! The three of us hit our tee shots, then a spectator came out of the stand to try and beat us!!

If they do, they win two KLM tickets to fly anywhere in Europe!

For us, though, John Morgan the Sky commentator took the challenge so they could show it on TV!

Thankfully I took him down, hitting mine to 6ft and rolling it in for my first birdie!! :-)

A good birdie down the next and I was on the move!

In the end I signed for 66 (-5) with 7 birdies and two bogeys, one on the tough 2nd and another on the 9th, my last hole, from a slightly out of position tee shot…

But a great day overall, and one my coach Mark was very happy with!! The post-round de-brief did not take too long!!!!

ROUND 2

Last out at 2.40pm – the hardest thing about those tee times is passing the time in the morning! Especially as I’m not one for staying in bed all morning…

You don’t want to sit around all morning, but you don’t want to kill it in the gym or do anything too tiring.

It was Jessica’s first half day at school back home, so I got to hang about in the hotel and speak to the family on FaceTime, they even faced timed me from the school gates so I got to see her there, which was nice!

Technology is a blessing!!

I then had a late breakfast and got the 11am bus up to the club, did my pins in the yardage book, loaded up the bag nice and heavy for Steve, ate more food and chilled!!

At 1pm my routine starts which includes the physio bus before any actual golf preparation, so by 2.40pm I’m raring to go!

A par, bogey, birdie start and things were ok… It felt like a missed opportunity down 6 but I guess level par never really hurts you!

Then the fun started… Down the next I hit a poor 4 iron off the tee into the rough, followed that with a hack up near the green before nearly playing table tennis backwards and forwards over the green!

Let’s just call it a chipping incident to forget! A triple bogey 7 there and a bogey down the next, I was back to -1, on the cut mark and 4 over for the day!

I was on the back seat!!

I missed a great chance down 9, lipped out from 15ft on ten and it felt I was already running out of chances!

The 11th is ranked stroke 1!!! After a decent three wood off the tee which left me a little bit back of where I would have liked, I then crushed a three iron from 230 to 15ft and rolled it home for birdie to give me the boost I needed for a charge!

And that charge came with three on the spin from 13 to 15 to make the last three holes a lot more comfortable and meant I lived to fight another weekend in T20th position!

ROUND 3

Bogey free is always pleasing on Saturday ‘moving day’ and to add 4 birdies to that to shoot 67 (-4) is a great day!!

ROUND 4

Starting the day in T11th I knew a top ten finish would get me into next week’s Italian Open, but that also meant a good score was needed!

I drove it pretty poor all week, but never too far out of position. I holed out from 35ft on the second for birdie and my day was up and running!!

A great two putt birdie on the 6th to finally birdie the easiest hole of the week and I was cruising along nicely.

I struck again on the hardest hole of the week (11th) hitting a 6 iron to 3 feet! And from then on my game seemed to up a gear but the putter cooled down a little!

A few missed chances and a long range three putt on the crazy 16th green, I now knew a couple of pars to finish stood me in a great position to grab that top ten!

I left myself a smelly 45ft putt on 18 up a big slope, but rolled it up to 2 feet and tapped in for par!

What a fantastic day, and to play with Bernd Wiesberger too, who was leading for much of the day, it was a great experience to be back in that position!

And then it was home to walk Jessica to school for her first full day, and now an extremely early flight out to Italy on Tuesday morning for the ITALIAN OPEN!!

As ever, a huge thank you for the hundreds of amazing emails throughout the week! Pictures of your TV’s at home on Sunday, tweets and Facebook msg’s… It really is appreciated!

FLASH BACK – After spending a week with Steve Selbie, fellow Woodsome member, in Prague (Selbie Opticians) a few weeks back, we got onto discussing my eyesight, and the trademark squint I always do when struggling to see the ball down from the air!!

He got me in for an eye test on return from Prague, confirmed I’m short sighted and sent me away with some trial contact lenses!

Round 1 was my first competitive round seeing the ball land – now could that have made a difference?  And even just 1% difference could help me at my level…

But I admit we don’t know as it can’t be measured… but maybe, just maybe it’s worth getting your eyes checked again too :-)

Thanks, Steve!

www.selbieopticians.com

‘OCT’ machine (ocular coherence tomography) – this was a scan of my retina which can only been seen through one of these machines… Only three in the Huddersfield area!

NEW BLOG: The famous ‘Himmerland Hill’

Of course it was great to play four rounds last week in Prague…especially when many aspects of my game felt average at best!

And it’s great to know that I can still compete and get myself into some good positions with my game feeling below par… but I know I shouldn’t be letting some of the shots slip, which I am!

So knowing that things were getting better as the week went on, I was hopeful for a good showing in Denmark, an event which I have played before!

Having been before I knew what I was in store for and what a fantastic event it is!

The famous ‘Himmerland Hill’ is something you can never forget!

So last week I ended up flying Monday morning from Prague to Copenhagen… and then drove 3.5 hrs to pick up Laura, the kids and my out-laws (sorry, I mean in-laws) in Aarhus and from there we all drove across country to Himmerland Golf Club and our woodland lodge! (sounds a lot more glamorous than it was).

Our wooden lodge!

Our wooden lodge!

This was a typical Danish summer house, but this one was pretty un-used!

For £900 it was very damp, had more creepy crawlies and frogs than you could imagine but it was a mile from the course so that was its selling point!

Pros and cons for sure, as the players’ hotel was 40 minutes away in Aalborg which was certainly not ideal!

Tuesday and Wednesday, as most weeks, were standard practice days for me. I’ve been training pretty hard in the gym recently too with the programme Rachael Tibbs (Dynamic Golf) has set me, so some hamstring treatment on the Tour Physio bus afterwards was really needed!

On the physio bus post round!

On the physio bus post round!

It’s an unbelievable facility and service that the Tour and the European Tour Performance Institute provide and many injured players would not play some weeks if it wasn’t for their help and expertise!

So I was all set for another week on Tour and luckily for me after a week of moaning about self- inflicted early starts last week, I got the two perfect times to be able to rest up for this week!

1.50pm round 1 and 8.50am round 2!

As my stats proved for the week my game is in a good place, I’m just not capitalising on the many chances I’m creating each round!

Patience has to be key and I know I will get my reward in the coming events!

After two rounds of 69 I was -4 and around 18th position; I followed it up with another 69 which moved me up to 10th.

In that round I was bogey free until the tough 18th took its toll…but overall a great position to be in as I expected that if I could push for a top 10 it would possibly get me into Crans the following week!

The fans at the ‘Made in Denmark’ event are incredible; 80k came through the gates for the week and at times fairways and greens were 4/5 people deep.

Especially up around the 6th green which seemed to get the better of me for the week, even when it was a hole most people were making look easy!

For example, Martin Kaymer went birdie, birdie, eagle, eagle…

Me… I made a scrappy par day 1, a shocking bogey day 2, then salvaged a par day 3 after pulling my 3 iron left of the green!

On leaving the club face I knew it was heading for trouble, but second thoughts were if it hit my mother-in-law I would surely get a bonus point…

On shouting “fore” the crowd scattered, only to see it miss Linda by a whisker!

After a grovelling apology and that scrappy par save I think it was soon forgotten… and finally in round 4 I made birdie!! But that was a hole I definitely gave a lot up on the field!!

For round 4 they forecasted shocking weather, so they got us all out early in a ‘U draw’ and it was a good job they did… after 9 holes we then spent 4 hours inside sheltering from a huge downpour… luckily we got back out and somehow stayed dry until the end!

Rain delay....

Rain delay….

Round 4 I had a fun group, Jaco Van Zyl and Eduardo Molinari…Jaco ended up shooting -6 and made it look pretty easy but my game wasn’t far behind him tee to green, he just took his chances and made a few nice par saves along the way!

That’s golf!! And it’s a funny game and one with far too many frustrating fine lines but that’s something you have to learn to deal with if you want to get to the top of this game!

So in the end I finished the week T18th, scores of 69, 69, 69 and 71 for -6 total!

As always I found plenty of positives and came out with a new career high ‘World Ranking’ of 416, so I have to be pleased with that!

I can’t forget to mention ‘Himmerland Hill’ – if you watched the event on TV you will have an idea about what we had in store… but until you’re there you would never fully appreciate the atmosphere!

The hole at the weekend played around 90 yards, over a valley to a small, extremely undulating green with an amphitheatre-like banking which seated approximately 3000 people, where most of them had squeaky rubber ducks!

I made a mess on day one but gave myself three great birdie chances the next 3 days!

After a spine-tingling Danish clap on walking to the green I failed to convert any of my birdie putts, meaning I never got the famous squeaky duck treatment for making birdie!

Squeaky ducks!

Squeaky ducks!

It’s quite a surreal experience, for a hole that is so short and should be so easy, I think just the environment it’s set in makes your knees shake and all of a sudden it becomes one of the hardest holes on the course!

Again, a fun week on Tour with plenty going on, and even more for some players with a little player fisty cuffs in the locker room and also a caddy sacking his player mid round, leaving him out there with his bag – it was all going on! (No names mentioned from me, sorry!).

So a week at home now, and then it’s the KLM Open in Holland where I get another opportunity to put some points on the OOM!

I’m already looking forward to blogging again soon! Thanks as ever!

D+D Czech Masters on The European Tour!

How amazing has the Olympics been … And the Paralympics has not even started yet!!

The Hanson household has been seriously glued to the television for every single sport going; my elder daughter has been so excited shouting for Team GB too, it’s just been incredible to watch, and great to see her so excited about sport!

All the Olympic athletes are unbelievable and don’t get anywhere near the recognition they deserve! There are many sports in the world like Football, NFL, Baseball and even Golf where they earn super money and fame … But I’m sure the effort levels from some of these Olympians is by far superior to any of those sports and it would be great to see them walk away with more than just a medal!

The gymnasts, the cycling, the swimming, the running, I just can’t imagine the pain barriers these athletes go through for sometimes what can only be described as a ‘pat on the back’ in comparison to what a Premier League player would get for scoring the winner in a game!

We just can’t get enough of Team GB at our house! And to think 20 years ago in Atlanta, Team GB were not even in the top 25 of the medal table!!

So back to the Golf…

It feels like I haven’t played for ages … After the Scottish Open I had two weeks off, then after the King’s Cup in Thailand I had another two-week break!!

So to only have one competitive week in 5 weeks through the middle of summer seems strange, but that’s just the way the events have been scheduled this year and how they have fallen with the Majors and the new addition of golf in The Olympics!

So I was really keen to get going and hopefully have a good run of events in Europe!

It was back on board with Jet2 last week and off to Prague from Leeds/Bradford!

The Czech Masters is a great event and one I played 2 years ago on the European Tour and this year should be more fun!

On the flight out I was joined by Steve (Caddy) and fellow Woodsome members Phil Shaw, and Steve, Sheila and their son Greg Selbie.

I can’t thank Phil enough for wanting to join me this week, to experience life on Tour behind the ropes will be fun for him but for him to help towards my costs of flights and the official hotel is a huge gesture!

And again I must also thank the Selbies for also wanting to help towards some Tour expenses and also support me this week, it’s always great to have friendly faces around when on Tour!!

On landing we were then joined by the one and only Mark Baber. (Mind Coach) Mark flew in from Stanstead and was with me for the week to keep up the good work we have been putting in back at home, especially the fantastic work we have recently been doing on the greens!

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So Tuesday was a standard practice day – we arrived at the course, quick bite to eat, completed my pace putting drills, dispatched a quick basket of balls and got out to play the course!

I really like it, and have fond memories of a good week here back in 2014!

Wednesday there is no play on the course, so it was just a case of working through my ‘prep’ to-do-list and getting set for day 1!

Like I’ve already said, it’s great to have support when you’re away at events so as well as the friends I’ve already mentioned, I was also joined by some really good friends of mine who have been behind me from day 1!

Michael (Veggie) and Jackie Appleyard from Bradley Hall and Mike and Lin Ockenden (past Crosland Heath members).

Both Michael and Mike are both ‘ex European Tour’ caddies, having both travelled with me and caddied on Tour in Austria and Prague respectively!

So after a lovely meal out Wednesday in the fabulous Prague, I was all set for round 1!!

DAY 1 ROUND UP

My game really is starting to feel good again, there are still some areas that need fine tuning (there always is) but it feels something good is around the corner!

On day 1 I was two under through 12 and in cruise control, or so it felt! A three putt on the long 3rd hole, then soft bogeys on 5 and 7.

And then to top it off I three putted the 8th, my 17th, and ended up shooting 74 (+2)

That put me down in around 90th position and fighting to play the weekend – pretty disappointing after what felt like I was showing potential!

DAY 2 ROUND UP

It’s always nice to get off to a fast start, whether you’re in contention or fighting to make the cut!

A perfect tee shot down 1, I played up just short of where I wanted be … and from there I spun my ball back off the green into the water! A good up and down from 90 yards I made bogey and definitely didn’t get the fast start I was hoping for!

That start got even slower when I clipped a branch on the 4th off the tee, found the hazard and compounded my error into making a double!

That was ‘weekend golf’ getting away from me and I was now +5 total thinking level par would probably make the weekend!

Work to be done!

I parred 5 and 6 … And felt I needed to nick a birdie before I ended the front nine and the 9th was probably my best chance.

A solid par down 7 … But then the 3 shots of the day that changed my momentum … A great drive down 8, a 5 iron from 200 yards to 15ft and a birdie putt that never left the middle! #gameon

A text book birdie down nine and I was in with a fighting chance!

On 12 it felt like make or break! I had 270 to the flag on the par 5 … Water short of the green, it needed a good hit but it was safe left of the green.

That’s exactly where I bailed out but a great up and down from the rough and the charge was on!

I holed out nicely for par on 13, 14, 16 and then felt two birdies were a must!

I took the aggressive play down 17, which gave me the best chance with the approach shot for birdie. 17 is probably one of the toughest holes out there, and I then hit a quality 6 iron from 193 to 7 feet.

Putt missed … Argh!!

It felt like game over, but you never know …

Again we went for the super aggressive play down the last, I don’t think many players would have reached for the driver … But I hit my best of the week …

After working out the yardage I called it to Steve: “It’s a perfect yardage, I could hole this!”

100 yards, slightly down breeze, full lob wedge!

To see it pitch 3 foot past and spin back shaving the hole to a decent applause from the crowd was great!

I knocked it in from 3ft to get back to +1 for the tournament! But still thinking it had probably missed the cut … We then ended up having a 7 hour wait to find out we had made the cut on the mark!!

What a crazy game, but what a great feeling to get that reward for not giving up, knuckling down and making those clutch birdies coming in!

Everyone was delighted and dinner sure tasted sweeter that evening!

DAY 3 ROUND UP

It really was a round that could have been! I know that’s so easy to say, but cruising to -4 through 11 holes I was on a charge!

We set out that morning to be aggressive, and takes shots on! With the prize fund this week and the sheer number of people making the cut you needed a couple of 66’s to make an impact on the OOM!

But at the same time every penny counts!

So, standing on the middle of the 12th fairway the par 5, we decided to take the shot on from 270!

It was down wind, and a good three wood had enough to cover the water … I slightly miss hit the shot and it bounced back from dry land into the water!

A bogey was not the end of the world, but a shocking shot into the next led to another bogey and then the round just seemed to spiral away from me!

A poor display on the greens over the last 4 holes and I very disappointingly shot 73 (+1).

I know this is hindsight and you could say this every round, but if that ball on 12 had stayed dry I would have possibly moved to -5, kept my momentum, and maybe pressed on!

But it wasn’t to be!

So we moved down the leader board a little and that only meant one thing!! Less time in bed Sunday morning! Nooooooo!

DAY 4 ROUND UP

After a third 4.30am alarm in a row, we got the 5am shuttle bus to the course in torrential rain! It looked to be set in for the day and we were in for a shocker!

But to be fair the weather was fine for playing once we teed off at 7.45.

I felt to play pretty steady and in the end signed for 74 (+2) but again there were plenty of positives and I know what I need to work on next week!!

Again it was great to finish with a smashed driver down the last, a nice wedge and a solid 12ft putt for birdie! It makes lunch taste sweeter and you finish the week on a positive note!

74, 71, 73, 74 (+4) T77th

Again a huge thank you to all my friends who came out to support me this week, it’s been fantastic to join you all for dinner each evening and have you out on the course screaming and cheering at every par I made!

For me it’s now onto Denmark to meet the family and get set for another week on Tour at the Made in Denmark event at Himmerland Golf Club!

After playing the event in 2014 I can’t wait to experience ‘Himmerland Hill’ again!!

Blog again soon – Chris!

“Fancy an evening out with friends, colleagues or clients…? How about coming to the Ryder Cup event I’m part of below…”

Would be great to see many of you there!

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The King Cup, Thailand – New Blog!

So two weeks at home passed by pretty quickly and after the busy three week stretch on the road it was nice to have some time off!

I was under the weather all week in Scotland and it took me a full week at home to fully get back to 100% fitness!

I think I must be like a lot of guys, though, I find it hard to actually take time off, but I need to learn to manage myself better; I’m not saying I practise the most out of anyone, but I always like to do something!

I personally feel guilty for not doing anything … leaving the clubs in the flight bag, just chilling out and spending time with the kids, I feel like I’m not getting better, and players are passing you! But rest is just as important as practice at times.

So after calling in to see my physio Craig Coulson at Elmwood (Holmfirth) for a knee check-up, which I passed with flying colours, he instantly spotted that I did need some rest. So plans for the week slightly changed…

I had a few days off before my day in Leeds on Thursday with my coaches Mark Pearson, Mark Baber, and Rachael Tibbs, then for the rest of the week had a light practice session Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning.

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Mark Baber, loving his European Tour range access pass…

Mark also agreed with what Craig had said, and actually said he was surprised I made the cut in Scotland after leaving there on the Thursday night seeing me already fatigued. But he did say if I’m going to do some light practice that it still had to be very productive!

We set some goals to achieve for the following week, to get my driver swing more on the inside on the downswing, and work on improving my lower leg action…

I did, and I did it very well, with Mark happily ticking my progress report off the following week!!

Check out the picture from the lesson, this is the first time on Trackman I have recorded a carry over 300 yards, more proof that the work with Mark and Rachael in the gym is paying off!

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So two weeks came to an end … I had some great time with my close family and friends, some great days out, and some fantastic time just spending it around the house with the kids!!!

But then it was back to work and I headed off to Thailand for the King’s Cup; this was the smallest event on the European Tour schedule but could have been the most important! At the end of the season every Euro on the OOM counts and some people will be cursing they did not take this playing opportunity in Asia!

I think it was about 26 hours door to door this week; that included two 7 hour flights with a stop off in Abu Dhabi for nearly 4 hours.

So on arriving at Manchester airport via the train, I headed to the Etihad desk to enquire on any upgrades as I had heard they currently had a 50% sale on upgrades….

My brain was working overtime … what would I pay to make the journey out more comfortable … maybe £300 for 14 hours’ flying time would be good value, but maybe that was optimistic!!

Etihad “of course you can upgrade Sir, that will be £900 for both flights”!

Me “oh, that’s ok I will leave it, how about the exit seats with legroom?”

I ended up paying £140 to guarantee the exit row seats on both flights just to get that extra leg room and comfort, as I dreaded being stuck in a middle seat for 14 hours. Coming home it’s not a problem, but to get there before an event and feel fresher is very important!

Flight 1 to Abu Dhabi went by quite smoothly, a bit of food and a couple of films and it was over, it was then 4 hours to pass in the airport which didn’t sound too much fun!!

Time for flight 2 … on arriving at the boarding gate I handed over my boarding pass, and soon had it returned with my seat number crossed out, and my NEW seat in business class noted down!!
What a bonus, maybe it was because I had enquired, or maybe it was because I had paid some money for those exit seats that they looked favourably at me … but I was very thankful!

So what a place to start writing this week’s blog!!

On arriving in Bangkok you suddenly remember how hot and humid this country is! Personally, it’s far too hot!! I only like sweating when I know it’s from me exercising, not from just walking around doing nothing and sweat pouring off my body!

I guess on the course it’s something else that’s very different from playing mostly in Europe, always wiping your hands, your face, changing gloves, drinking water by the bottle every hole. It’s a different kind of golf, and again different grass and a challenge which the Asian golfers know so well.

If there was an exam in how the golf swing looks, not many Asian players would pass the test, they are all very individual but there is one test most of them do pass, and that’s scoring!!!

They sure know how to get the job done in their own back yard!! It’s like the challenge you have when you’re in South Africa, the home players are tough to beat!!

This week it was nice to be in the official hotel, and for once it was cheap! I guess that’s where the Asia Tour differs from Europe, but Thailand is a cheap place to travel around!

We were down the coast from Pattaya on Jomtein Beach, it wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds but I know it was a million times nicer than the road hotel the caddies were staying at in the centre of Pattaya.

Nicely Photoshopped!

Nicely Photoshopped!

For anyone who knows Pattaya, you know exactly what down town is like, and I won’t be going into detail on that one!

THE GOLF…

The course this week was and played very short, they changed two of the par 5’s to par 4’s to try and strengthen the course, but it’s only real protection this week was the firm small greens and in parts the poor quality of them.

It’s rainy season at the moment, and unfortunately some greens had been washed out prior to the Tour arriving!

But all of a sudden this made the course very tricky, and some pin positions were unplayable if you put your ball in the wrong position off the tee.

My game this week for two rounds was pretty average, but still to miss the cut after a fast start which had real potential to be 5 under through 5 was disappointing!

I knew I had left myself a lot of work to do in round two to make the weekend, but felt shooting 3 under would be safe, I was up for the challenge!

Round 2 I did give myself plenty of chances of making the cut but didn’t capitalise on any of them leaving a sour taste for the week! With 7 holes to go I played some good stuff, birdied 3, but then missed from 5 feet on the next two holes for birdie, and that was the end of my challenge.

So a missed cut, which in the end fell at +1, but one that will hopefully now shake me up and get me back on the right track in Prague in a few weeks!

Thankfully I managed to get my flight changed to fly back Friday evening which got me into Manchester Saturday morning!

A missed cut is never easy to take, but at least when I sit down at the end of the year I can say I gave myself the best chance by taking all the opportunities the Tour has thrown at me.

As I always say … “have clubs, will travel!”

My Scottish Open Blog!

Firstly, thank you to everyone who made my Golf Day at Woodsome on 4 July possible!!

I really hope you enjoyed the day, and congratulations to everyone who picked up a prize!

The day concluded around 7pm and myself, Laura and the kids were on the road by 8.05pm starting the long drive up to Inverness for the Scottish Open.

After an hour both the girls were asleep and after two short stops en route we made it to our accommodation for the week at 3.10am!

Straight to bed and 5 hours’ sleep later, the next day had started!

I had some extra amazing support with me!! My mum, Laura’s Mum and Dad, her brother Chris, Steve’s wife Tracey, two other good friends Bob Whiteley and Arthur Batty, all made the journey, and once again my coach Mark Pearson was up for two days.

And at one point during round 2, I did actually witness my own personal Mexican wave!

So Tuesday morning the girls headed off to Loch Ness for the Tour families’ day, which of course was a boat trip searching for the hidden monster!!

And I got up to the course for some light practice and played 18 around the fabulous Castle Stuart!

It’s very picturesque!! You play the first 3 along the shoreline of the Moray Firth, and then 10, 11, 12 along the shoreline in the opposite direction!!

I’ve probably not played links golf since the Open in 2014, and being honest I’m not the biggest fan of it! People will not like me for saying that as it’s the ‘true’ form of golf and a lot of history is tied to links golf…

But it can be so unfair! Every single shot you need some luck or a good bounce. Sometimes you can hit the ball great and shoot a worse score than if you had played bad!

But with links golf you have to be more patient than ever, and accept bad breaks; if the course beats you up walking down the first after you’ve climbed out of a pot bunker then you have no chance for the next 17!!

Pot bunkers and golf balls seem to act like homing missiles, sometimes off the face of the club you just can’t miss them!!

You have to have a great imagination of what you ‘think’ is going to happen too, as you never really know on this terrain, and some people really like that!

You might think I’m been a bit soft saying I would rather a ball land and stop with a 3 iron from 200 yards but personally I think that in itself is a hard enough skill!

In practice we played the course dodging a few showers but overall it wasn’t too bad, the wind was fine.

So to then play last out (2.30pm) in horrific wind and at times rain, was not what we had ordered for round 1.

I managed to hang in there, birdie the last two and shoot 75 (+3); it kind of felt repeatable! But then when you see the stats that the morning average was 74 and the afternoon average was 77 it gave me a great confidence boost!

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I was feeling pretty rough that week, fully dosed up with medicine, and it was a tough early start to get up there in the morning and warm up for a 9.30am tee time.

I managed to play solid though throughout the day and felt in control! It was nice to shoot 70 (-2) – I knew I was safe to play another weekend in a big event!

But there wasn’t much to shout about over the weekend! The wind had totally changed direction which made the course play so differently!

I played with Pablo Larrazabal and we both shot 75 (+3). I knew it wasn’t a great score but then I had the opposite feeling from day 1, when I realised everyone was shooting under par…. it now felt a really poor score!

I dropped down the pack to nearly bottom, and that meant day 4 was to fight to get off the bottom, as no way did I want to finish bottom!! Even though technically you’re not, as another 90 players had already missed the cut…

Day 4 the wind returned to normal and I played steady enough; I drove the par 4 3rd, 10th and 16th which always helps when you’re two putting for birdies…. I shot level par and left plenty of chances out there!

What I learnt about this week… When you’re tired this game is so much harder, losing focus when the weather is beating you down leads to poor mistakes and ones which prove very costly!

Also I need to improve on slow greens, something I never thought I would say….my putting has improved so much in the last 7 months but on fast greens.

Saying that, it’s rare we play on slow greens so I could just write off last week…..

But my ‘old’ technique was suited to slow greens, I would hit putts all the time which works when there is no pace to them….

But after hours of lengthening my swing and not hitting putts, to go back to slow greens certainly threw me!!!!

Overall though, another week on the Tour, another weekend played, a fantastic event to be part of and another week where many lessons have been learnt!!

And of course more points on the OOM!

I am getting better, and I know all the things I’m doing are the right things!!

So patience and good preparation are still the key, good things will happen and I can’t wait to write about them soon!!

Regards

Chris

The 100th Open De France! New blog!

So, as I mentioned at the end of my last blog, I received the email to say “Chris, you are now in the French Open, will you be travelling?”

Probably one of the easiest questions I’ve ever had to answer, especially when my flight to France was already booked! Laura, the girls, and Steve’s wife Tracey had also started the long drive down from Yorkshire!

So after a few delays, me and Steve landed in Paris and after a few hours we were at the accommodation with the girls!

This week we were in a ‘lodge’ and Steve and Tracey were ‘glamping’ on the same holiday park as us!

(On leaving we found out it was infested with mice … not good!)

It was ideal really (despite the mice) – a little restaurant on site, a heated pool, and a small park for the kids…but 6 nights was going to be enough!

Location wise it was great, a couple of miles outside Versailles and within close range of the players’ hotel (once again nicely priced at €220 a night).

‘Le Golf National’

I’ve heard so many great things about this course, and with the changes in preparation for the 2018 Ryder Cup, it sounded even better!

The only difference this year was that it was soft, and normally plays firm and bouncy!

Anyway the practice round did not disappoint!

About the course….

Every tee shot was like last week in Germany, you had to hit the fairway! Semi rough was not an option as you weren’t going to get to the green! It’s as it should be, there is a huge reward on hitting fairways, which then gives you a massive advantage going into the greens over everyone else who’s not on the short stuff!

You really had to plot your way around and be very patient! And to finish off, it probably had the best 4 hole stretch you had to navigate your way around!

I loved it!

So Tuesday/Wednesday were normal prep days apart from having ultrasound on a recurring pain in my left knee…

Nothing major to worry about but a slight tear in the cartilage, it’s manageable with ice, elevating it and not putting any extra stress on it!

It only hurts when I squat to read putts, so in my swing it has no negative effect!

1st round!

Wow, I played good for 11 holes, not far off my best! I was cruising… Then two great par saves down the next two holes kept some momentum!

Up 14 I missed a short birdie, then holed a monster on 15, made a meal of 16 in the water but made a world class birdie down 17!

To sign off with a 5 down the last was no drama. Basically if you miss the fairway you make bogey… simple as that!!

But a great first round 68 (-3) and I was in the mix!!

Round two I played ok, but it was eventful! The double up the 9th, my last hole left a sour taste but that wasn’t half of what went on…

Down the 13th, I pulled my drive left, shouted “fore”, it then took one bounce and smashed into a spectator’s chin! One big bump and some claret dripping off his chin unsettled me a bit as that was a new experience!

But I battled on, so did he, as five holes later he reappeared for a photo of me walking off a green!

I just hope he’s not preparing his law suit!

Round 3…

The only highlight was playing with Padraig Harrington, as we both dragged each other down and played poorly!

He was a great guy, we really enjoyed his company and you can see how he has so many titles to his name!! He knows his own game!!!!

Round 4…

That’s as good as I’ve been all year, I did not hole a lot but my game was solid!! It’s really nice to sign off with a good score (70, -1) and move up the scoreboard to T45th.

What a fantastic week!

68, 75, 77, 70 (+6) T45th

And now some more good news….

I’m into the Scottish Open! BRING IT ON

The BMW Championship – Germany!

If it wasn’t for the re-rank last Monday following the event in Austria, I wouldn’t have been playing this week….

At close of entries I was well down the reserve list, but Monday morning after the re-rank I comfortably jumped inside the ‘red’ line you see on the Tour website and into the event!

What a great feeling! One of my mini goals this year was to climb as high as possible on the re-rank. So to go from what was technically 28th to now 9th was a huge jump and I’m sure it was probably the biggest in my category!

I couldn’t ask for much more, and it then gave me a realistic chance to get a start in the French and Scottish Opens which are much larger prize funds on the schedule.

Fingers crossed!!

So last week it was the well-established event on the schedule in Germany, Dusseldorf!

The BMW Championship!

The last time I played in this region was back in 2007 when I managed to receive a random invite to a Challenge Tour event where I made the cut, with good friend Toby Garrett on the bag!

 

So to be back in the area (different course) with a European Tour card in hand is something I can honestly say back in 2007 I probably never thought would happen!

Good positive thinking there Chris!!!

Having a week at home has been great, my children are mad as a box of frogs, so much fun, but non- stop!

But with our new improved back garden, we’ve spent endless hours playing out, afternoon tea parties, hiding in the Wendy house and as you will now see by the pictures, sneaking some extra practice in on the newly installed green!!

Thanks to European Golf!

One thing I also managed that week at home was to watch some golf, and the biggest thing I noticed from watching the best in the world play was that my game is very similar to theirs! And more importantly, my course management and patience on the golf course are starting to mirror the best in the world!

I’m learning, and over the past 6 weeks I’ve learned a lot quicker!

At a golf course like Oakmont (US Open) you have to be patient, play to 40/50ft at times on the greens, accept you’re going to have tough two putts – but doing that takes away the big numbers of missing greens in the wrong places!

Par is, a lot of the time, a great score and chasing birdies can lead to disaster!!

You will get plenty chances on par fives when you get wedge in your hand or get around a green in two!

I admit it’s taken me a while to buy into this style of golf – boring, conservative some may say – but that is what the best in the world do, even if you don’t think that from watching the golf on TV.

And then the days they putt well, and hole a few outside chances, they compete/WIN!!

So the week in Germany gave me another opportunity to improve as a player, challenge myself and really enjoy playing another week on the Tour in a fantastic event!

Tuesday was the standard long travel day, and thanks to my brother in law I got a nice early 4.30am pick up to head to Manchester, a quick flight to Germany and then straight to the course – lunch, practice, play!

Long days but the key is trying to keep it very constructive, don’t waste any minutes out there as you don’t have enough hours in a day to be wasting any!

Wednesday I had a few ‘jobs’ to do; I picked up a few bits off the Scotty Cameron rep, some fresh shoes off Footjoy, some new Kangaroo leather grips off Taylormade I am looking to try, and then a 3 iron/driving iron off Mizuno which I’m looking to put back in play which I used to use a few years back!

It’s like Christmas every week on the Tour, and as sad as it sounds it’s something I dreamed of with my friends when aged 12 practising 30 yard spinning sand shots off the green keeper’s car park at Crosland Heath!

Again, this is also how the main tour is so different; I’ve mentioned it before how the hospitality is outstanding… But BMW took it to another level! WELL DONE!

By Friday night I still hadn’t had my hand in my wallet (you can insert your Yorkshire joke here about having deep pockets and short arms); other than paying for my flight, hotel and caddy I’d not needed to spend a penny, there is a constant supply of food, drinks, snacks, fruit, course snacks, and BMW courtesy cars on tap!

And like I say, they really do try to make it as easy as possible for the players!

I just really hope that the guys who have been out on Tour for years appreciate the efforts that go in to make their job easier…

– Food

– Drinks

– Cars

– Equipment trucks

– Yardage books

– Fitness truck

– Doctors

– Physio

– Referees

– Tournament staff

– Sponsors

– Courtesy cars

– Shuttle buses

And most importantly the Volunteers; I find it amazing how many they round up at these events! And if it wasn’t for the ball spotters many players including me at times would be shooting a lot bigger scores than they do!

Me personally, after 5 years on the Europro and 4 years on the Challenge Tour, I sure appreciate the opportunity I have, and the effort that goes in to running these great events!!

I also got the privilege of test driving the M4 and the i8 down the autobahn which was a cool experience, they just give you the keys and say “have fun”, see you in an hour!

 

ROUND 1

So a 7.30am tee time Thursday was perfect! It doesn’t sound it with a 4am alarm but to get fresh greens for nine holes is luxury. That’s because they were super soft as they have had so much rain out there, so late afternoon they are a totally different surface.

2.30pm would not be an ideal time unless the weather man has his say!

In round 1 I played pretty solid, if you drive the ball well round here there are chances on every hole with it being so soft!

But miss the fairways and you’re hacking it out, even from the first cut of rough, I did this three times hence my bogeys/doubles on the card!

But in the end I signed for level par (72) which ended the day in 62nd position (top 65 make the cut).

ROUND 2

I got off to the perfect start, 3 iron, wedge to 6 inches for a tap in birdie.

I played nicely for the rest of the front nine and got it to -4 which was a great move and safely inside the projected cut line of -1.

But then I felt the brunt of the German rough on ten and hacked it from right to left and walked off with double!

Then back to back poor bogeys set me back to level par and struggling to make the cut with four holes to go!

15th was my best chance, I hit an ok drive, then an ok 3 wood and it scrambled onto the green, and I two putted from 60ft! That was one birdie back…. Now on the cut mark with three tough holes to go!!

I got it back on 17, after a great approach to 15ft and a perfect putt!!

Rock solid par down 18 and I was safe for another weekend’s work!! :-)

ROUND 3

Waking up to torrential rain is never a good start to your morning as a golfer!

Neither is warming up in the rain, teeing off in the rain and playing 9 holes in the rain…

We then got called off the course, and three hours later got the message that there was no play for the day!!

 

That only meant one thing… Sunday was going to be a long day!!!!

For the first time in a long time I felt a little under the weather, I got to sleep by 8.30pm and didn’t wake up feeling much better…

Those last 9 holes of my third round Sunday morning were tough and I dropped too many silly shots to shoot +3 and drop down the board!!

After another breakfast I re-started my warm up for round 4 – and again got off to the perfect start down 1! 3 iron, wedge, birdie!

I missed a short birdie putt on two, then birdied 3 and 5 to be cruising at 3 under!!

A couple of bogeys around the turn but then two perfect shots on 13 followed by a 12ft birdie putt was enough to turn the round back into a good one!

In the end I shot 67 (-3) which was one of the day’s better scores and moved me back up to 38th.

Again a solid week, more money on the board but a week which just made me want to do some driver fine tuning for my next event!!

On the European Tour there is such a premium for driving the ball straight!!

GOING FORWARDS….

I had a golfing dilemma now… It’s Open Qualifying on Tuesday which after 2014 was of course something I wanted to do….

But this week it’s a massive event on Tour, the French Open; before the last round I was 6th reserve… And with the way entries work they hold spots back for anyone finishing top ten the week before who is not exempt….

No one managed to finish top ten…. So then I had to wait in hope for the email to say I’m in the French Open and I can prep and plan for the week with no distractions from Open Qual!

A tough call to make, and there is a good argument for both playing and not playing, but me and my team have made what we feel this year is the correct decision!

I hope you have enjoyed another insight into my life on Tour, it’s been a fun journey so far, hopefully there are many more great weeks to write about!!

Also a huge thanks to Tim Bickmore for this message I received last week! This is exactly why I write these blogs!

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– just to add to this latest blog, I did get the email I was waiting for and I’m now in the 100th French Open this week!!

The Lyoness Open – Austria!

So, after leaving Manchester airport around 9am last Monday, I then walked back through the door at Manchester airport  5am Tuesday!

But this time heading for Vienna!

Having that day at home can sometimes make the difference – a day of normality, see the family, chill out, just be at home, and then off to a fresh start for the next event!!

Sometimes going week to week can feel like a slog as you end up spending every day at the course as you’re already there, and then don’t get that ‘time off’ which you need!!

My coaches Mark Pearson (swing) and Mark Baber (mind) came out for two days to help me prep!

Pearson would keep an eye on my swing, check some numbers, and then Baber had the challenging job of dealing with my head – ha ha!!

 

I played this event two years ago, so remember the course quite well. Even though I didn’t make the weekend, I remember it being fun … it helped though that my good friend Michael Appleyard came out to caddy for that week!!

Hence his Twitter profile saying (@veggie) ‘Ex European Tour’ caddy, which is just a fun private joke!

I had my standard Tuesday/Wednesday practice days with the only difference being some filming with the Tour media for a feature on how my year is going!

 

So, after some good work with my team (or ‘entourage’ as some players called it, poking fun at me having my 2 coaches, manager and caddy walking round with just me in practice!) I was ready for another week on Tour!

But having great people around me who I believe in only gives me more belief and confidence in what I am doing!

Round one I played pretty steady, nothing too special, and had a pretty quiet day on the greens!

I shot 71 (-1) which was around 28th position and a few shots inside the cut mark.

We had it pretty windy in the afternoon but the morning starters had no wind … So of course we hoped for a fair draw the following day…

That wasn’t to be… We had strong winds from the start but thankfully it lasted all day!!

When you know it’s going to be a long day and a tough grind, you automatically feel a good start is key!

Round 2…

So after an ok tee shot down the 1st, I had 230 from the semi going for the ‘semi’ island green par 5.

A slight miss-hit out right and splash! Not to worry, I just thought, take your drop, chip it ok, and you have a chance for 5 still!

I was dropping the ball within my two club lengths but on a banking, after two drops and then placing the ball on a nice tuft of grass, my exact words to the ref were “it’s still moving” and his response “no it’s in play”.

I walked 5 yards away to my bag, turned around only to watch the ball roll back in the water!! So another penalty for what felt like nothing….

I dropped it again and proceeded to duff it back into the water! Oh!!!

Another drop, a pitch to 12ft and a single putt 8! Believe it or not that felt quite good!

I then went birdie, par, birdie, and bounced back lovely!! The rest of the round I was solid and closed for 74 (+2) and in the end comfortably make the cut which fell at +3.

As you know, Saturday is known as ‘moving day’ and in perfect weather I made my move!!

The key last week was patience! And I really was… I was -3 after 16 holes and the last two holes are no push over with 17 playing stroke 2!

So then to hole out from 20ft on 17, and then 45ft on the 18th to nice applause from the crowd, was great!!

67 (-5) and up to 12th!!

It was also great to play with 2 experienced campaigners in David Howell and Richard Bland and see where my game is compared to how they play!

You can just tell from watching them that where my game has improved the most is exactly what they are so good at!

Course management, not going at silly shots, playing safe at times, accepting that 20ft is sometimes a great shot… Being patient, not wasting shots, never shooting a massive score and when you putt well you score well!

To be fair Mark Pearson has told me that for 6 years but have I listened….?

Round 4 was more of the same, but after a night of rain, and rain on and off all day, the rough was now juicy!

Get it out of position, and you’re hacking out and trying to save par… Again a day for patience!

The highlight of the day was holing a gap wedge from 125 yards on the 15th! Brucey bonus!!

Result = 71, 74, 67, 70 (-6) T10th

This week was the end of my 7 week trial with the new Scotty Cameron I picked up at Valderrama!

And I’m pleased to say it passed with flying colours! That week I made a commitment to stick to the same putter, routine, technique, grip and process for the next 7 weeks before I changed anything at all…

And following my stats and seeing the results there is no way we are changing anytime soon! We are onto a winner with this one! Plus Steve would hang me if I told him I was going to change!

The last bit of good news I’ve been aiming for, which some of you know about, was the re-rank in my category!

Before this week I was number 28, bottom of the Q-school cards… After this good run of form I’ve now moved up to 9th which gives me a much more realistic chance of getting into more events this year!!

I’m delighted! And with this week’s result too, here is my updated and new highest world ranking of 439!

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P.S – a massive thanks to Richard and Donald Stirling for coming to watch and also to my German friends Helmut and Manuela for driving down for the weekend!

It really is appreciated!!

Chris Hanson

The Nordea Masters! T25th

What an event Nordea put on for the European Tour’s Nordea Masters at Bro Hof Slot!

From getting off the plane the hospitality and player support was world class!

This week Laura and the children were out with me and landing in Stockholm we actually had two cars waiting to collect us! One for our luggage and one for us!

The luggage had to slum it in the new BMW 4 series whilst we cruised to the course in a new X6!

It was only Monday, so we all headed to the hotel mid-afternoon, unpacked, chilled, had a swim and got our bearings!

We were the only golfers in our hotel, as the official one was so expensive once again, and I had managed to find what felt like a good ‘Yorkshire’ rate in Sweden where everything is so expensive!

So Tuesday for me was a full day of practice, whilst the girls had other plans!

This week the Tour/Sponsors had arranged a family day on Tuesday and a wives’ day on Wednesday (this was all paid for too by Nordea).

So Tuesday the girls headed off to ‘Junibacken’ and had a wonderful time!!

It’s like a fairy-tale wonderland with all Swedish characters such as the Moomins!

I had my standard long day up at the club, did some driver testing, and some work with Trackman just checking my swing numbers.

Steve arrived at lunch time then we went out and played with Mark Foster, finishing around 7.30pm.

Wednesday was just a practice day, so a day of putting games, and keeping the good swing feelings from the previous day on the range.

Whilst I practised, Jess and Olivia were in the Tour Crèche, which they provide most weeks on Tour, again another fantastic service which is free – they really try to make it accessible for families to travel.

This meant Laura actually got to watch me this week, hence all the action shots!! :-)

The same day Laura went off on the ladies’ day to Stockholm with a group of wives and mums. They had a great time visiting:

– The King’s Palace

– The Grand Hotel for a Smorgasbord lunch

– And some shopping

This was all VIP for them, guided round for the whole day!

Every day the BMW cars picked us up and shuttled us back and forth from hotel and golf course, it was a half an hour journey but they made it so easy!

We also became good friends with Anders who drove for us most of the week, it was like having the friendliest guided tour of Sweden every day, and we learnt things you never normally would when at an event!

About the course…

Firstly, on the eye it was amazing! Very impressive, especially as you drive into the course and see the vast amount of water surrounding it!!

But it was one of those courses that you play in practice and think, “wow, it’s going to be really tricky”.

I say that due to the length but more so the slopes on the greens … But in practice you always tend to do crazy putts the full length of the green and just think you are going to three putt everywhere.

But when the tee positions slightly change through the week, the wind blows and helps on many holes, it’s not as long, and then you play into segments of the greens and some pin positions all of a sudden become really easy ones as the ball always feeds down to them!

But it’s a great test – I’m just glad we didn’t play it from the back tees which measure 8000 yards, which is just crazy!

My golf…

It was the first week this year that I’ve known the guys I’ve played with in the first two rounds – and I knew these two would not finish last! (Like in Morocco).

I don’t mean to sound nasty, but it sure helps when you’re all playing ok and drag each other round.

Joel Sjolholm shot -4, Zander Lombard level, and I really did scrap it round for level par!! (72)

I was surprisingly very poor off the tee, but my putting held my game together and a birdie finish down 9 gave me a boost to go into round 2.

Round 2 I played lovely, birdie, birdie start always helps!! And I pressed on and got it to -4 after 15 holes!

17 is the famous island green you see in all the pictures, it’s a great last 4 holes to finish and the last two are in an amazing amphitheatre!!

I left myself a tricky long putt and three putted … Then parred the last and was pretty happy to sign for 69 (-3) and move up to T26th.

A good day’s work!

Saturday for round 3 the weather changed, it was pretty cold, the wind had really picked up and all of a sudden it became a really tough test!

I played really solid, managed to post 70 (-2) and moved up to T12th which was very pleasing! A light afternoon of practice, some fun with the kids and it was back to our hotel for an early night!!

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Round 4 the weather was similar, if not windier!! I bogeyed the first after a mis- club into the green but then plodded around really solid not making a birdie until the par 5 9th.

I played the next three holes well and after birdieing 12 I moved into the top 10. I was confident, my game was good and there were still some good chances!

The 13th is a great risk reward hole, I hit a really nice tee shot, and it gave me the opportunity to cross the water and go for the par 5 in two!

I hit 4 iron straight at it! I called it early too: “Steve that’s perfect”, so to then see it drop out of the sky maybe a foot short and splash was a big shock!

I walked forward 30 yards and then flew the green with a 6 iron, it bounced into the deep trees and in the end I was very grateful to make 7!!!!

It didn’t shake me too much, I was 1 over and that was never a bad score…

A good par up the next, then onto 15 – another risk reward hole! I killed it off the tee, then hit a ‘worldie’ of a three iron from 260 through the back of the 90% island green…. Played a great chip and unfortunately failed to convert the birdie and that probably annoyed me a little!

A three putt bogey on 16 and 18 from long range sandwiched a double bogey 5 on the island green 17th after myself and Tyrell Hatton both found the water!

Very disappointing but a day that showed a lot of promise in many aspects of my game!

In the end, and after the way the first round felt… T25th is not a bad overall result! It’s more weekend golf under my belt, more money on the OOM before the re-rank, and lots of positive vibes to take into Austria this week!

But away from the golf it’s been a fantastic week too! Being able to relax with my family, and for it not be non-stop golf like a normal week is a breath of fresh air!

Even if the kids are totally crazy at times!!

But to be hitting balls on the range Saturday afternoon, and look across to the crèche at the end of the range and watch Jessica having a golf lesson at the same time was pretty sweet!!

Then we headed home together, and I fly straight back out for the next event in Austria where my coaches Mark Baber (mind) and Mark Pearson (swing) are joining me!!

It should be fun!!! :-)

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