Tour Diary

Italiano – Pizza, pasta and a bit of golf!!

It’s Tuesday morning and a nice short early flight out of Manchester to Milan for this week’s Challenge Tour event. Not sure why but this week it starts on Wednesday, so finishes Saturday.

Maybe with Final Qualifying for The Open on Tuesday it’s better for me anyway – chance to get home, settled and get a good practice in for the Qualifier in Southport (Hillside GC – Tuesday @ 7.20am & 12.20pm).

Anyway, this week should be fun. I’ve not been to Italy golfing since 2006 when I went for a week’s practice with a friend and all I can remember was that the food was outstanding!!!

Pizza, pasta heaven! My favourite, but I may have to find my running trainers or it could have a drastic effect on my Stromberg Trouser waistline!

Over the last few weeks (Austria/Scotland) my game has been going in the right direction so I’m pretty excited to get back out there and compete again. I look forward to continuing this blog throughout the week with hopefully some good scores….

Varese Golf Club is short, very tree lined with 7″ deep semi rough! It is seriously thick! If your ball is in there outside of 100 yards you’re not going to get it on the green.



It had to be like that though or the scores would have been crazy, I’m pretty sure the Tour have said that to host an event you need to grow the rough. They sure have!!

Day 1:

I played lovely in the first round, keeping my ball in play and giving myself a good few birdie chances. I started on 10, birdied the long par 3 13th then parred every other hole until my last. My 9 iron just missed the green and nestled down in the semi, so to finish with a bogey after what felt like a good performance was slightly disappointing!

I’ve got a 8.00am start for round two so hopefully it won’t be quite as hot!! 30 degrees is a bit much for me!

Day 2:

Won’t be quite as hot I said… Check the picture out below. It was too hot to hold the steering wheel! 40 degrees on the dashboard when I left the course! WOW!


Again I played pretty good all day, got it 1 under for a while then back-to-back bogeys halted my charge. I knew the cut would be at worst level and probably -1 so with 4 holes to go I had to make at least one birdie to have a chance.

All I said to my self was “give myself 4 birdie putts” I missed a ten foot putt on fifteen then birdied the 16th from 7ft and parred in, I was hopeful!

I sat in the club house and the hotel for the next 3 hours pressing refresh, refresh, refresh as my name went from T59th, to 63rd and eventually finished on the magic T60th to make the cut on the mark and the chance to play weekend Golf! Chuffed to bits!!

That evening…

Following the second round I was asked to do a mini documentary for a programme on Sky Sports called the Challenge Series. They do one most weeks and this week they wanted a ‘rookie’, so that’s where I stepped in.

They took me and Matt Ford down to the town of Varese which is near Milan for some sight seeing and a meal in a local restaurant. I had an interview about life on tour and travelling to all these great places. It was good fun and hope it comes across well on TV
(I will keep you posted on TV times).



Day 3:

To finally shoot a few under par (-3) was a great feeling! It’s been a while, and on the Challenge Tour if you’re not under par you don’t have a chance to compete! The last few weeks have really opened my eyes to the standard and to where I need to improve my game.

My coach Mark Pearson has talked about improving my driving accuracy for some time, and I always felt my driving was ok (but Mark knows his stuff). And playing in the UK where semi-rough is non-existent and deep rough is very rare you don’t notice missing fairways that much.

But playing out here with a 7″ second cut, and firm greens, you soon realise that you have to drive it well and it makes you realise how tough the US Open is for example!!

And you MUST MUST MUST putt better!!

Day 4:

After moving up 26 places yesterday to T34th it would be nice to keep going in the right direction, every penny on the OOM will be important come the end of the year. I learnt that playing on the Europro!!

After three putting the first and third for bogeys with a birdie in between, it wasn’t really the ideal start for the confidence. But I shrugged it off, missing a few early on does not mean you will miss all day!

I then bogeyed 5 & 6 to go to +3 falling well down the field. That’s a nasty feeling as it becomes quite costly. I promised myself to keep at it and just try to give myself birdie chances and hopefully the putts will fall.

I did just that, I holed for birdie on the 8th from 7ft and gave myself a few good chances. After saving par at 12 and 13 I had my work cut out on 14 but holed from 15ft with a massive swing on the putt to save par again.

A bad bogey down 15 but I made sure I gave myself a putt for par which I was happy with. Then the fun began, like I said I just wanted to give myself chances …

I holed from 30ft on 16 and 15ft on 17 both for birdie and then saved par on the last from 30ft again! It was a great feeling to leave the course on such a positive and I’ve never been as happy shooting +1.

It just shows what having some belief and thinking positively about putts can do, I truly believed I could hole every putt and enjoyed the challenge of reading the putt and hitting the putt however much break or speed the putt had!

I remember years ago a tip I read for putting, always try to hole it, and always give it enough break! Sounds simple but that was pretty much my mindset!

Also have to thank IgniteSports and Mark Pearson for there help!!

Overall it was a pretty successful week, I knew my game was going in the right direction and making the cut this week was proof of that. Hopefully now I can get back up that leader board and compete in the near future.

T44th – 70, 70, 67, 71 (-2 total)

Hope you’re all still enjoying the blogs, as I’ve been finding it great to share my experiences and photos from my Challenge Tour season.



PS – following Open Qualifying next week I will hopefully be heading to Switzerland for the next Challenge Tour event with good friend Andrew Appleyard on the bag!!

Last modified: June 3, 2019