Was it the right or the wrong decision to play the Czech Masters on the European Tour last week?
Some say yes, some say no….
The original plan was to commit to Challenge Tour all year, so in that breath I should have been in Ireland trying to push up the OOM. But after an average campaign on the Challenge Tour so far this year I felt why not…. Let’s play Czech and see how it feels to play on the main tour again, get the juices flowing and try win some money, at the end of the day it is needed and it is my job, I’m still trying to pay the bills.
Also…what happens if you go out there and win or finish in the top few, doors do then open and other opportunities arise.
I had played nicely in Denmark the week before, so the game was trending slightly in the right direction, but 16 under and tied 18th on the Challenge Tour doesn’t get you much to show for it, so I decided to give the main tour a go – I miss it!!!!
So, it was back to Prague for the third time this season, but this time with my good mate Adam Walker on the bag, and it was actually this time last year we named him the ‘shovel’ for digging me out of a streak of eight missed cuts, with decent weeks in Sweden and Czech.
I’ve actually played the Czech Masters four times prior to this year and made the cut every time. It’s a fun track and you have to drive it well, as if you don’t get the driver in play it plays pretty long, and they tend to get the rough pretty juicy around the greens and down the side of the fairways.
As I knew the course very well, I was happy to get a Tuesday afternoon flight out and arrive at the course around 5pm. That meant some extra time at home Monday, and I wasn’t rushing off Tuesday morning before the kids got up.
So, a few hours’ practice Tuesday night and then a full day’s practice on Wednesday getting set for the week. I didn’t actually even see the course;Adam walked a few holes Wednesday whilst I had some TLC on the physio truck making sure the back was up to it.
We also had a pretty decent draw: Eduardo De La Riva and Liam Robinson, both good guys and decent company, that always helps, plus we all played pretty steady too.
For three rounds this week I putted amazing, possibly my best three rounds in a row, I holed out well, and dropped a few bombs too. It just felt that if I started to hit it a little closer, I was looking at a really low score sometime soon.
Round one I dropped just one shot when going for the par five (12th) green in two, and other than that it was a pretty flawless performance shooting 69 (-3).
But scoring, as expected, was good; it’s long, but it’s soft and that makes any course accessible, especially when there are plenty good players in the field. Me and Adam both knew we had to press on Friday to makes birdies, keep looking forward and push on up the leaderboard.
Again, I played solidly and whenever I was slightly off, my short game was on fire and saved my bacon, and through ten holes I was two under and very comfortable.
Down my 11th (2nd) I hit a pull hook into the left rough, I found it under the overhanging branches of a solo tree. I thought I could have a swipe at it and move it somewhere towards the front of the green….
Swoosh…that’s one fresh air!!!!
Adam: “are you going to chip it out now?”
Me: “can’t believe I’ve missed it, I’m having another go.”
Swish…that was two fresh airs, and half the tree snapped off on the ground!!!!!
I then chipped it out and got up and down from 80 yards for a double bogey and I quickly dropped back to -3 on the cut line!!
A world class up and down on the next, then the power play on the 6th came off and I made birdie to give me a little cushion with a few holes to go.
The 8th is a demanding hole – if you watched it on TV, I’m sure many guys found the fairway trap down the left which I did, and I actually found it in round one too.
After a great shot in round one, I was positive I could repeat the feat, but I didn’t. I hit the lip and it skipped out 15 yards ahead of the trap, still 180 yards to go – that’s not good!!
From there I hit a 7 iron to the perfect three putt range, 65ft down the hill…
One of the key things I’ve been trying to focus on at the moment is to stay positive whatever the situation, and I sure did! All credit to Adam, he’s the best at this, so positive whatever is going on, wants to win, wants to make birdies, save par, beat everyone, whatever it is, he’s positive!!!
We discussed holing the putt was possible, so to then see it drop was great and made playing the ninth a lot easier which then led to holing a 15ft putt for birdie to close the day on -2 and -5 for the tournament. Cut safely made!!!
A couple of good saves Saturday but mostly a flawless performance and zero bogeys on the card! That’s always a great feeling and in three rounds I’d only made one bogey and one double, not bad golf and some certain progress from where my game was at a few months ago.
So, -4 and up to -9 for the tournament, I was in with a real chance of a good finish and playing well. But as ever golf kicks you where it hurts and a miserable day on the course Sunday (+5) meant I fell well down the leaderboard to T58th.
So, in all was it a good week or not?
So, I would safely say it’s been a pretty positive week and I will look forward to my next event in a few weeks, which will most likely be France or Portugal on the Challenge Tour!!!!!!
I’ve actually got a few weeks off at home now and I’m missing Belgium due to some exciting news to hopefully follow soon…will keep you posted!!