After what felt like the quickest 24 hours at home ever, it was straight back on the road!
Tuesday 18 June – a 3am alarm and off to Leeds/Bradford airport we went – it was going to be a long day! The only blessing was that I’d played the course (Valle Romano) a few times in February (in the MW Pro-Am), so I wasn’t under pressure to have to rush round Tuesday afternoon and play 18 holes (as there was no play Wednesday).
It was so hot! The main focus, therefore, for two days was to get set with the least amount of practice possible, stay fresh, but still do the essentials!!
I decided that playing the back nine was a must do;even though in the tournament we ended up playing in the opposite wind, I felt it was still very important to hit the tee shot down the 12th, and get set on my plan off the 10th tee.
Back in the pro-am I made a real mess of the 10th both days and never really decided on the best way to tackle the 12th.
But I now had my plan!!!
Wednesday we called up to Valle Romano in the morning, I got some putting done before the sun came up, but as soon as the heat kicked in and all the players showed up, we vanished! The facilities are not great there and it was so overcrowded!!
So it was back to Los Naranjos, where I spent most of my time when we lived in Marbella. Such a relaxed golf course to do some quiet and constructive practice, I’m so glad I went – the place is great!!
Plus I got to say hi to everyone who always looked after me so well whilst in Spain!!
So round one we were in for a treat, wow did it blow!! The last time I played in a wind that strong must have been in St Andrews!!
It was like walking round in an oven too, the wind took a little bit of edge off the heat but made the course a real test at times.
I played solidly and a 69 (-2) left me in around 10th position.
Day two the wind was just as brutal; I actually played pretty similar but scored 4 shots worse (73), but the good thing was it didn’t really matter and the top 64 made the match play stages and it was then a fresh start.
So 6 nine–hole matches stood in the way of a trophy –my game was trending the right way and I was starting to get some confidence going. I’ve recently started some work with a new ‘performance coach’ based in the South and it’s made an instant impact, and been so refreshing!
The conversations have really hit home with me and I have been able to relate to everything so well!
I drew Daniel Im in the 1st round; I’ve known Daniel for a good few years and know his game well. He eagled the first and I went one down – his putting can be dangerous!
He hit a few poor shots in the middle and I managed to take the win on the last! A pleasing start to the knockout, and hopefully that was my average golf out of the way too.
Next up was the in form Adrian Meronk – the guy hits it miles, he should, he’s 6’ 5″ but he can sure play and he’s proving it, currently lying 12th in the rankings.
*we played the back nine*
I missed a short eagle putt on our 1st hole and an easy par save on our 2nd hole which would have put me 2up, but that’s match play and after 5 holes I went 2 down.
So back against the wall with 4 holes to play, Adrian made a poor bogey up our 15th to my par, we both birdied the next, and then I stepped up to the plate on our 8th.
My mindset was so positive and I felt to really take control of the situation, Adrian was 10ft away, and I was 20ft away.
Downhill, 2ft left to right break and that’s no story telling exaggeration – I made the putt and fist pumped it in! Adrian missed and up the 18th we went, our 9th.
He holed a great putt for par, then we both made birdie down the first, Adrian holing out well again.
I made a great up and down par on the next and then it was his turn to falter and not recover. I took the match on the third extra hole and was now into the last 16!
I had one more match that day and played the 8 holes in -2 to beat Tommy Linard 2&1, hitting one on my finest 4 irons into the par 5 8th, closing the match with a birdie.
So into the last 8!
And unfortunately that was as far as I went, a hot start of eagle par birdie had me one up but in the end UgoCoussaud made 5 birdies in 8 holes to beat me 2&1.
I did make two mistakes in the middle but it was certainly going to be tough to beat him.
So, it was another week over and I was very pleased to post a 6th place finish and move up the rankings!
There are not many better feelings in professional sport than having a plan and making progress, especially when people say you are doing the wrong things . . .
A huge thanks this week must go to everyone who supported me out in Spain, it’s always great to have cheers from the side lines, especially my little nephew Issac!
Again, a quick 24 hours back home and on we go to Rome for the next Challenge Tour event!