It’s been too long since my last blog, as I’ve actually now played three weeks without keeping you guys in the loop…but I’m pleased to say I feel like I’ve made some progress and I have some positive things to report!!
Spain – Bilbao T57th
Czech – Prague M/C
Czech – Brno T15th
That’s what my last four weeks have looked like – it started in the north of Spain, where we had some mixed weather through the week and I certainly wasn’t prepared enough for the cold!!
Zero degrees first thing each morning with frost delays, I sure missed my mitts!
It was also Jacob Campbell’s first week on the bag, too. We’d had a run out at Worksop the week before in the 1836 Tour and finished 4th so we were optimistic about what was ahead.
In Spain I played quite nice, I made the cut comfortably on a tricky course which rewarded good play, but a shocking Saturday dropped me well down the field, pretty much propping up the leader board.
Extremely disappointing, as the course suited my game very well.
So Sunday was one of those days…many players throw the towel in as finishing 60th or 65th on Challenge Tour doesn’t make much financial difference at all. But for me it was chance to shoot a good score, build some confidence and still feel good about my game heading into Czech the following week!
So in round four I battled hard, shot -1 and left with a smile on my face and my head held high!!
After the round we set off on a 4/5 hour drive down to Madrid to spend the night before flying out to Prague the following day. We stopped in a local village near the airport and it was great to sit out with the locals and have some tapas and a beer.
We certainly missed that up North, as the house we rented near the course was nowhere near civilisation and we struggled to even find a supermarket within 20 miles.
So onto Prague it was, we got to our accommodation Monday evening, chilled out, settled in after a Lidl shop, and then got up to the course early Tuesday for nine holes and a day of practice!!
It was certainly set up for a low scoring week – extremely flat, no rough and there was certainly an advantage for the guys who bombed driver!! (That’s not me).
I went out and shot 70 (-2) in round one, played ok, but with the course very score-able it was a pretty average score and just inside the cut line. Day two the weather was pretty rough, we were out in the afternoon and it was very windy, I played the first four holes nicely and felt great, I then said to Jacob “this wind is perfect for me” and quickly followed that up with a bogey and a double bogey!!!
You can imagine how I now felt, a great example of how golf bites you in the a**e!!
There and then I felt I was on the back foot, as ever I battled hard, played some good stuff, but didn’t take my chances, and with four holes to go I needed to make a few birdies…
One came at 15, I then parred the next two holes and now had to birdie the tricky par three 18th…it was only an 8 iron but with a huge fall off the green on each side. I did the hard work, one of my best shots of the day to 4ft!!!
But you already know the result…it was a miss cut so I obviously missed the putt.
I marched off to sign my card and met Jacob in the locker room; we had an EasyJet flight Sunday night. It was 6pm Friday evening and the chances of getting home sooner and at a fair price were slim, but it’s always worth a check.
“Bingo, let’s go!” We packed up at the course at 6pm, got to the accommodation at 6.15pm, and were then at the airport by 6.45pm. It was all systems go, and EasyJet let me change both flights for £60 – what a result! Somehow we got home that evening!
So a week off was certainly called for after three weeks on the road and not much success. You can play ok on the Challenge Tour and not really feel to get anything back for it, and that’s even when you make cuts. The expense of playing outweighs the prize money a lot of the time!
So plenty time with the family, a game of golf with my mates, a session with Nick Lees my mind coach (Peak Flow), a session with James Thompson my fitness coach, a session with Lee Sullivan my putting coach, a trip to Tour X, and a pro-am at the Oaks and that was pretty much the week off over.
So back out to the Czech Republic but this time to Brno. Many guys flew to Prague or Vienna but they were both over two hours away. We managed to get cheap flights to Brno from Stansted, so a one-way car hire to the airport Monday morning and a full travel day it was.
Again we had an apartment; myself, Jacob, Matt Ford and Matt Baldwin -it’s nice to have a bedroom and a living room rather than just a hotel room sometimes, you get to relax a bit more, have some banter and you’re not always sitting on your bed or in the hotel lobby.
Tuesday we got up there, played 18 holes and put a good practice session in, the forecast for Wednesday was shocking so we got the bulk of our prep completed early. And for once the weather man wasn’t wrong.
It rained and rained for most of the day Wednesday, so we got some practice done whenever possible, but for me it wasn’t a bad thing. For the past three events I’ve really struggled with lower back pain and for the first time I’ve started to worry about it affecting my golf, so it was a good chance to rest, see the physio, and do some of my exercises which seem to be taking the pain away.
So round one was upon us again and it was time to compete, and this week the course set up was really good, we had some ROUGH!! And wow it was thick in places, on a few holes you couldn’t move the ball much more than 100 yards, the reward was there for hitting fairways, and for me that’s a nice thought to have even before teeing up!!
I like the fact that if you don’t play well you’re probably going to struggle to shoot a good score!
My game was solid and for two days I shot 71, 69 for a -2 total and safely negotiated my way through to the weekend, where the cut fell at level par. I feel to be trending in the right direction and that’s all you can ever ask for!!
So round three there were thunder storms on the horizon, and with me sitting in the middle of the pack, and the organisers deciding to do a ‘U draw’ that now meant a 7.40am start for round three and first out in a two ball with Ryan Evans – there went the Saturday morning lie in!!
Round three I made seven birdies and one nasty double, but to post 66 (-5) and have an extremely positive putting round was exactly what I needed, especially after hearing a few negative whispers lately, so it felt nice to shoot a decent score and be up the top end of the leader board.
Round four I flew out of the blocks, three under through 5 and cruising, but three poor swings in the next 13 holes led to a few bogeys and I ended up shooting level par and dropping a few places to T15th….
Am I happy? Yes and no…
Of course YES it’s my best result in a while, and I may even sneak a few world ranking points back after plummeting down to 1000 in the world from a career high this time last year of 258.
And YES because I made some progress with some of the changes I’ve made!
But NO for the sole reason that I know I have more in the tank and I’m excited about what the rest of the season has in store!!!!!!!!!