Off and running in Hong Kong!!

I wanted to touch on a different subject at some point in one of my blogs, and last week in Hong Kong felt the right time, as it was very apparent that week!

I pride myself on my preparation, and I’m pretty sure Justin Rose does too; for me he’s the ultimate golfing professional! But one thing for sure is I’m pretty certain his days are extremely different to mine and he has to be even more careful with his time, which in turn probably makes his time away from tournament golf even more important!

Let me start with my Wednesday preparation:
• 7am alarm, up for breakfast at the hotel
• 8am, bus to the course
• 8.30am, physio treatment to get rid of my aches and pains from run/gym night before
• 9.30am, range session working through my bag, testing new clubs, Trackman games
• 12pm, relaxed lunch
• 12.45pm, putting drills, tech session and competitive games
• 3pm, short game, bunker work
• 4.30pm, few drivers to finish off in a different wind direction
• 5pm, early dinner at the course
• 6pm, bus back to hotel
• 7pm, gym session/run and cool down
• 8pm, write up the day in my diary then chill out, watch TV, speak to family

Sounds pretty easy and fun, right…?

Well, I got to do exactly what I wanted to do, preparation was great, I ticked off my ‘to-do-list’ and everything I wanted to achieve, and was ready for my first round!

So, from what I see, read and hear from other players, let’s now try and piece together what Justin’s Wednesday might look like:

• 7am alarm, up for breakfast at the hotel
• 8am, private courtesy car to the course from sponsor’s hotel (perks of being top 5 in the world)
• Arrive at the course 8.45am, get stopped by every man and his dog for a photo, autograph and chat!
• 9am, get sorted in locker room and head to the range (repeat above en route)
• 9.15am, spend an hour hitting balls, having every shot watched and I’m sure admired and sometimes even criticised by the public and press!
• 10.15am, press conference, more autographs/photos
• 11am, early ‘quick’ lunch
• 11.30am, meet pro-am team
• 12pm, play pro-am which is also your practice round, so studying course and practising whilst entertaining the team (importance of a good caddy here)
• 5.30pm, after 5 1/2-hour round, spend 45 mins with team
• 6.15pm, now too dark to practise, so courtesy car back to hotel
• 7pm, arrive at hotel
• 7.30pm gym session
• 8.30pm dinner and bed with no real time to chill out
• 5am alarm for round 1 to start!

What I’m trying to say is, the better you get as a player, the more commitments you have, the less time you have, and at times the more selfish you have to become as you still need to do YOUR job.

That’s why I sometimes/not always have sympathy for players spending hours doing autographs or receiving abuse for not signing another kid’s hat.

There has to be a point where they stop – don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it’s part of the job/success that comes with playing and I’ve seen first-hand how happy it makes a young boy/girl to get an autograph, but I also understand that at times it’s tough!

I saw it first-hand with Rory at The Scottish Open; he stood and signed autographs for people for 25 mins, and the second he walked away some guy sarcastically shouted “Thanks” for not signing his…that’s unfair, surely!

Rory seems a great guy too!

I did see at Valderrama, which I thought was cool, a kids’ only area for autographs! Now I’m all for that – there is nothing worse than seeing kids gets pushed to the back with adults leaning over them to get autographs for themselves or even worse to sell on eBay…get a grip!!!!

Anyway, that’s my little topic covered from a playing perspective.

Great third hole

Great third hole

Now back to the tournament…

Last year I really struggled at this event, I was like a cat in the headlights! Different grass, grainy greens, and so firm.

I don’t think saying ‘I wasn’t ready’ are the right words, but I didn’t embrace it!!

The layout of the course is fantastic, it has such variety, you maybe hit only 6 drivers, but even when you do they need to be good ones!

The course, I would think, is well over 100 years old, so is shaped wonderfully through the trees! The whole atmosphere around the event is cool too – I’m pretty sure it’s not a cheap place to play your golf!!!

But let’s just think about my preparation for 2018 compared to last year.

So, on finishing the 2016 season I had a pretty grim month of weather at home before flying to this event in Hong Kong for the 2017 season, I was probably practising every other day, maybe doing a few hours indoors at Woodsome and, if I was lucky, got outside some days.

Flash forward 12 months, and following the end of the season I had two weeks’ training followed by two weeks’ solid practice in great weather and really good golfing conditions!

I actually can’t believe some people felt a move to warmer climates was a bad idea and that giving yourself the best opportunity to be the best golfer you can be was not right!

Arriving in Hong Kong I felt prepared, if anything it’s just getting a card back in your hand now and feeling the butterflies!

I’d played a few games over the last few weeks but it’s still not the same.

It’s a tricky course in Hong Kong and one which I mentioned I really struggled on last year, propping up the leaderboard with a few scores in the mid-seventies!!

And with a sneaky wind in round one I posted a 1 over (71) but this year it actually felt ok; it’s not an easy course as you can soon get out of position with it being so firm and at the end of the day I was in around 50th position.

Day 2 I played really solid, everything went pretty smoothly, I controlled it nicely and shot a bogey free round of 66 (-4).

That felt great and boosted me up the leaderboard to T15th… they’re the rounds you really enjoy, not feeling to make mistakes as generally you make birdies, so to go bogey free is pleasing!

So, the first event of the year and some weekend golf, that’s a good start, but of course in the position I was in I wanted to push on!

Again, I played nicely, carding a 67 (-3) and left a few good chances out there!! I actually got it to -5 through 14 holes, but a poor bogey on 15 and a closing bogey on the tough 18th left a slightly sour taste in the mouth!

But to get myself into tied 8th with a round to go in the first week is pleasing, and you just never know what a Sunday has to offer!

Unfortunately for me this Sunday wasn’t to be, maybe I wanted it too much? Is that possible??

But a poor tee shot off the first led to an opening bogey and I just never seemed to get it going.

Through 8 holes I was +1 but it felt so much worse. Shaking that feeling off is tough, you feel to be trying and trying and getting nothing, it feels the world is against you!

Nine is a tough hole, a demanding tee shot, and a tricky second even when in position.

I tried to draw it round the corner, over hooked it and then compounded my error with a three putt triple bogey!

That hurt big time!!!

The next hole then provides a chance; I failed after two shocking pitch shots and luckily ran off with a bogey, and actually hearing the crowd laugh at my first pitch was pretty gut wrenching!

My only birdie came down the next, followed by plenty of average pars before short siding myself into the 18th and leaving myself no shot in the trap!

So, a 76 (+6) to turn a great week into what all of a sudden felt an extremely average week!

Of course, there are so many positives to take from the first event of the year, as you guys keep reminding me (huge thanks!) but I’m better than what happened in round 4, and I shouldn’t be letting rounds get away like that.

The only saving grace is that it was in round 4 and not round 1, as that would have made playing the weekend a lot tougher!!

As ever, in true #TeamHanson fashion, we’ve assessed the round/week and after two flights to Brisbane for the next event it’s time for a fresh start and prepare for the Australian PGA Championship!!

Game on!