My first BMW PGA Championship…
So, Wentworth over the last 12 months has been redesigned, and it’s cost £21m to do so!! All the greens have been re-laid, six have been redesigned and all the bunkers improved and many shallowed out, especially on the fairways.
It cost £7m alone to add the ‘sub air’ system to the greens, which they also have at Augusta; this system allows them to dry the greens out as much as they want to be able to control the bounce of the ball all week.
Having punishing rough and firm greens makes a great set up in my eyes, it rewards players who drive the ball well, but then you still have to control your ball flight into the greens and manage your game well, judging the bounce each hole.
The greens really were incredible, and I guess they had to be for that money, but it had been the greens over the years that had kept so many good players away from Wentworth, and this year not one player had anything negative to say about the set-up of the European Tour flagship event.
As per usual, the service and hospitality from BMW was world class, the courtesy cars provided are not even on sale yet, brand new models and they chauffeur you around whenever and wherever you want to go.
The players’ lounge is five star, it’s pretty much like being in a top-class restaurant every day; the breakfast laid out is fantastic and then the lunch selection takes it to another level, mostly freshly cooked in front of your eyes!
As a player or a guest, you truly are spoilt – I know my guests throughout the week were very appreciative of the hospitality they received.
It was my first European Tour event in England bar the Open, but that of course is run by the R&A, so things are a little different – in fact, very different! The European Tour are trying so many different things, pushing the boundaries of traditional golf and trying to make it not only better for the players but more interactive and exciting for the fans.
For example, announcements on the first tee, including bio’s, videos, and music on the driving range – they tried it in Abu Dhabi this year and from a player’s point of view it worked, it totally changes the atmosphere, and at Wentworth the players’ playlist was on the big screen, as we had to select a song of our choice for when we were practising!
My prep for the week had gone well, I loved the course layout, the condition and everything about it! My coach Mark was down to help me prepare for the event, too, and teeing it up Thursday I felt ready.
I actually played ok, it’s a tough but rewarding golf course… I found myself out of position a few times and then compounded those errors making two big numbers on 9 and 15! I made a few birdies but in the end signed for 77 (+5).
Obviously not the start I was after, lying in around 130th place, but it just about kept me in with a chance of making the cut.
I was out second from last on Friday, and after a morning of strong swirling winds I was pretty sure it would bring the cut line up to +2.
I played the first two holes perfectly, missing birdies from inside 15ft on both holes, then played the next two holes pretty perfectly too, and made two birdies. Back to +3 already and within touching distance of the cut line with plenty of holes to go!
I handed one back on the next, but played round to the 11th tee, missing a couple of good chances.
Then out of position on 11 off the tee I made bogey, didn’t make birdie down the ‘easy’ 12th, and then it was time to try press to make some birdies coming in…
I played solid but it didn’t happen, I gave it 110% and in the end my level par was probably one of the better rounds of the day in the conditions but not enough to make the weekend.
Again, disappointing in such a big event and the first event of the Rolex series, but it’s all part of golf and now I have to look ahead to the next events and keep working harder – I have a great plan/process in place!!
A huge thanks to all the friendly faces that were down to support me during the week: my Mum, Ben Johnson, Eddy Brown, Phil Coombes, Mark Pearson, Gerry Taylor (TPS) and, as ever, the top work from Steve on the bag, ever the professional!
So, a Saturday practice at Wentworth on #MiseryHill, then down to Walton Heath for a day walking both the New and Old course in preparation for 36 holes Monday in the US Open Qualifying!
— Again a huge thanks to all the European Tour players for supporting the #CharityBall we are hosting on 4th August, if you are still interested in the evening or would like more information please do get in touch… it would be fantastic to see so many of you there —