Well what an exciting couple of weeks it has been. I have felt over the past couple of months that I haven’t been far from breaking through and it has come to fruition. Amazingly in Korea of all places a country that I have struggled to play my best golf in the past.
To prepare best for the High1 Open I felt it would be good to play an event the week prior and luckily we had a Jeep event on the Gold Coast at Palm Meadows and Royal Pines. My game progressed well through the week and with scores of 69,72,69 and 68 I ended up in a tie for third. This was a nice confidence boost and the fact I went through the weekend without a bogey was even better.
On the Sunday night I would then jump on a flight from Brisbane to Korea via Hong Kong. It was a long day of travel with a four hour bus ride to finish off and with a solid case of the flu I was ready for a big night’s sleep. This was the second time I had played at this course as we had an event there last year. I shot 3-under in the first round before bad weather struck and we couldn’t get any more golf in so I had a liking for the course.
With a couple of days practice under my belt the game felt good and I was ready to go on Thursday morning. A bogey free 67 was a great way to start and meant I was only one shot behind heading into day two. I got off to a flyer on day two and was in the lead before finishing with a 2-under par 70 and an eventual tie for the lead at the halfway mark. Having missed my past five cuts in Korea this was almost hard to believe but it is funny how the game works.
With plenty of good players around the lead I knew some great golf would be required to get the job done and on day three the weather would turn ugly with cold windy and showery conditions. These conditions where to my liking and at one stage I jumped to a five shot lead on 11-under par before a couple of late bogeys and a finish on 9-under par with a two shot lead. A great spot to be in but anything can happen around the High1 course as it has really narrow fairways with long rough and a lot of water and out of bounds to catch the slightest stray shot.
I woke up nervous as expected but excited about the challenge ahead. Bio Kim and Park Sang-Hyun would come out all guns blazing and while I was even par through six I would be two behind the lead. The closing stretch is extremely difficult and I found a great rhythm with my 3 wood and irons and played really steady coming home. I had the lead with three to play before a bogey on 16 meant a tie with two holes to play. 17 is a tough par 3 and I had a really good number and hit the 5 iron of my life so far to 10 feet and holed the putt. The job wasn’t done as 18 ranks at probably the hardest hole on the course with a really tricky sloppy green. My iron shot in left me with a horrible putt up and over a tier with no room for error. I hit a great putt and only had a one-foot putt for the win.
It was so exciting when it when in and for those who were watching I looked up to thank my great friend Peter Beck who did a huge amount for my career and unfortunately passed away a couple of years ago.
After all the craziness of the final day it is starting to sink in and it is truly exciting. This year has been really tough and at times I have doubted my ability to get back to the form I had shown a couple of years ago. This week proves I have improved from that and a big thanks must go out to those who have done so much for me along the way. Denis McDade had done so much for my golf game and I am so lucky to have one of the best coaches in the world. Denis recently was named as the PGA Teacher of the Year which is very well deserved with all his hard work.
Scott Williams my trainer, Dr Tina Maio and Dr Noel Blundell have also had a massive part to play in what makes up a great team. The team at Drummond, Titleist and Oakley have ensured I have the best equipment and support while a big thank you to Golf Australia’s rookie pro program that has ensured I have been able to access the best services and events.
I must not also forget all my friends and family who have been a huge support in the good and most importantly tough times. Mum and Dad especially feel every up and down and have always been there when I have needed a hand.
It was also great to see my younger brother Dan play well up at Barham with a third place and is making his way in the Professional game. Hopefully a good couple of weeks at Tour School will see him out on Tour full time.
From here I look forward to a big summer and using this as a driver for future success. There is nothing like winning and I can only think this will make me work harder to ensure there are many more wins on the world stage.
Next week I will defend the title I won last year the South Pacific Golf Open Championship in New Caledonia before heading to St Andrews to play in the Dunhill Links. It will be a great couple of weeks
Matt Griffin with the South Pacific Open trophy
Wednesday 1st August
Well over the past month I have spent most of my time in the USA playing a few E Golf events and checking out a couple tour school stage 2 venues to work out where I want to go later this year. I hadn’t planned to make a mid-year trip over but the way the schedule worked out it seemed like the right thing to do.
My trip started in Miami where I would check out one of the second stage courses. It was a nice golf course but I immediately knew it wasn’t for me as there wasn’t much of a premium on driving and had quite large greens. I was lucky to get the game in as hurricane Debbie was slowly moving up the Florida coastline.
After a night checking out South Beach Miami in the rain I drove up to Tampa Bay to play another course in Brooksville Florida. This course suited my eye and should allow me to utilize my strength of good ball striking. It also has Bermuda greens, which I tend to putt well on. The weather continued to get worse as the hurricane moved in and by the time I was heading to the airport the next day it was absolutely belting down and winds were increasing. I thought for sure my flight would be delayed but amazingly we got out on time. It was exciting on the Sunday to watch some of the golf as Marc Leishman won on the US Tour. He is a great player and Denis McDade who coaches me also coaches Marc.
After the time in Florida it was off to Virginia for the first E Golf Event. This Tour is a pay to play tour and is a step down from the Web.com tour. The quality of the fields is very strong and the events are run well. The first event was held at a ski resort on a nice course at the bottom of the ski fields. Scoring would be low and that was how it ended up. I shot 69, 71, 69, and 66 for a 13 under total and ended up in a tie for 13th place. I was happy with my form and the only thing holding me back was that I just didn’t get my round going early enough. The positive was that I came home well in what were some extremely hot conditions. It also proved the high standard of the golf, as the course wasn’t that easy.
Having finished the round it was then a hectic trip to the airport that was full of drama. On the night before the last round a massive storm came through a large part of the US and put over 2 million people without power for over a week. A number of windows were blown out of the hotel and the final round was delayed due to debris on the course. When I finally made it to the airport I found that no flights were leaving and I was delayed by over a day. With some hasty changes I rehired a car and drove a couple of hours to the meet my connection in Washington with only a few minutes to spare. It was a crazy couple of hours but I was glad to make it and get out of there.
The next week I had the week free and would spend it with my good friends Jamie and Lorrie Mandell in Lewiston New York quite close to Niagara Falls. It was a fun week spending some time by the river, visiting Toronto and a Canadian Football Game. We also played quite a bit of golf and went to the Ark Park to watch a great outdoor concert. It was nice to be able to relax for a week and enjoy travelling a bit. A highlight was a 62 I shot at Niagara Falls Country Club a course that holds a large amateur event the Porter Cup.
After the week off and some really good golf I felt great when I headed back down to Charlotte for the next E Golf Event. In the practice rounds I felt the best I have all year but unfortunately it just didn’t pan out the way I wanted. Sometimes that is golf and with the eventual cut set at 4 under my even par total saw me have the weekend off. With some good practice over the next few days I was confident it was only a small speed bump and that I could rebound down in Wilmington the next week.
Down in Wilmington the weather continued to be extremely hot and the course for the week was set along a river and was a really good test. On day 1 I began well with a 69 before shooting 71,72,71 to eventually end up in 23rd place. A solid week but I was disappointed as I made a few too many errors in each of the last 3 rounds. I wasn’t far from a good result but not quite there.
It was then off to California for a couple of days before heading back to Australia. I had 2 days in Carlsbad before flying out and I planned to spend the first at the beach. Unfortunately I had to spend the morning in hospital after I tripped and fell whilst on a run. In the fall I fell quite heavily on my right elbow and had quite a large cut which would require 4 stitches. Not what I had planned but I guess I was a little lucky it wasn’t worse and had broken something. On the next day I then headed to the Scotty Cameron factory to get fitted for a new putter and work on my putting stroke. It is a great facility and a very popular place among professional golfers.
It was then off home for a week and a half before heading to Thailand for the Thailand Open. I am hoping my elbow will heal in time and allow me to play. I will probably be a little restricted but over the past few years I have often played my best golf coming off an injury so we will see what happens.
Tuesday 3rd July 2012
After the disappointment of the initial stages of my last trip to Korea and Japan it was nice to finish the trip off on a better note with a couple of solid finishes. It wasn’t without the odd drama or two but all goes down as experience. I am now writing to you from Miami Florida where I am doing some preparation for Tour School at the end of the year whilst playing a couple of pay to play events in the Carolinas.
I guess the more cuts in a row you miss the more pressure there is to make one. So when it came to the 4th event of my trip in Chiba Japan the tension had risen a bit. It wasn’t helped by the fact that after the last event I hadn’t had access to a golf course for three days. I was able to get in some good gym work whilst also doing some dry drills. The practice round was positive as I was starting to eliminate the poor shots I was hitting. An early start would also mean a better place of play while we would still have the good old lunch break.
I got off to a really solid start with eight pars which was a little frustrating given I had played great with not much going right. I was able to make a couple of birdies around the turn and played solid coming home to shoot 2 under and be in a tie for 7th after round one. Boy was it nice to be in contention again.
A birdie on my first on day two got the juices flowing but unfortunately I just overshot my second shot into a terrible position on 2 and made a poor double which hurt my chances. I did battle back well to get back to one under for the day before hitting a tricky set of holes and three straight bogeys dropping me down the board. A late birdie left a better taste in the mouth and a 15th place finish. Only one shot out of the top 10 (4th time this year) and some more positive signs. It was also good given it could easily have been four or five shots better… but every pro thinks that way!!
I then had a small gap before the next event and so Gareth Paddison, James McLean and I spent the weekend in Tokyo and visited a few of the sights which was fun. Shibuya square was a great experience and it is crazy seeing so many people in such a small area. A highlight too was Melbourne’s win over the Bombers in the footy. Those of you who follow me on twitter (@MattGriffinGolf) would realise I bleed red and blue so I apologise to those in the rooms next to me for all the cheering! We have been waiting a while for a win.
After the weekend we headed down to the southern part of Chiba for the ISPS Charity Challenge one of the higher money challenge events. The course was very tricky and had an extreme amount of out of bounds, which would come to haunt me. My game was gradually getting better so I was confident I could handle it. In round 1 I got off to a flyer and was 5 under after nine as all the putts and chips I had been saving seemed to drop. The back nine was solid and I stood on the 16th tee 6 under and in the lead before hitting one slightly left hitting a tree 20m inside the OOB. Unfortunately it went straight left and OOB (although I did have a clear shot to the green). That was a setback but I birdied the last for a round of 67 and 3rd position. I was feeling great and ready to make a bit challenge.
My body had other ideas though and a build of off bad beds, stress with a new body movement and a lot of travel I would wake up with really sore ribs on the right side. My movement was restricted and had a sharp pain in my take away. I battled through and despite the restriction played the front 9 on day two in one under in very tough conditions as a typhoon was passing close by Japan. I wasn’t the same after the break and my lack of range led to 2 OOB balls of to the right and an overall round of 75. Very disappointing but I probably would have taken it at the start of the round given the discomfort.
I felt better day 3 but still wasn’t quite right and shot 74 to finish 24th. It was then straight to the airport and a smile on my face when I saw the red kangaroo. Overall a very poor trip but it was nice to bounce back at the end with some better golf.
After arriving home I had some good rest and great treatment to get the body in shape. Basically my whole right side had tightened up causing the issues whilst I was away. Now the project is to ensure it doesn’t happen again to that level as some tightening is inevitable with the repeat action associated with golf. I was also able to put in some good work with my coach and what we were working on has come along nicely and I am in a much better position now than I was 6 weeks ago. The Royal Melbourne Purse proved that as I played nicely to finish 2nd in their yearly pro am which is a wonderful day on US Open Monday. It was a shame not to win it for the 3rd time in as many starts but there were some good signs and I always feel at home at Royal.
So I have just arrived in the USA and it is great to feel the warm weather again. In the next couple of days I will check out the Florida venues for US Tour School to see if one catches my eye before heading north for a few E tour events a pay to play golf tour. I will update you on the progress in the next email but until then I hope this finds everyone well.
Monday 28th May
Well I write my latest blog from my hotel room in Tokyo Japan. Not a lot of rooms to move but you don’t expect a lot - they certainly make the most of their space up here. It has been a tough time up here with three missed cuts and plenty of challenges.
I guess before I left on this trip I was a little worried with my game as I was struggling to put the score on the board due to a couple of swing adjustments. They have me on a better plane but with a closed clubface that can only lead to trouble. It is something that will get better with time but not ideal when you are trying to compete. Long term though I am certain they will lead me to become a better player and hopefully take me where I want to go ultimately the world top 50.
So the trip started with the Maekyung Open and event to test the mind of the even the strongest mentally. It is frequently a week that the Koreans dominate around a very tricky course that is always set up tough. They also like to make it difficult for the foreigners with a whole raft of things we have to put up with. However if you’re game is on, you can still make a solid cheque. I started well too with 12 pars and, with a number of close shaves, could have been 3 or 4 under. I then struggled home with a couple of mistakes and shot 76, which was disappointing given overall, I played ok. Friday would be a complete disaster with an 82 as my swing was off the boil and I was highly frustrated and probably ended up with my worst finish in pro golf.
After a weekend of practice and a good few days leading into the SK Telecom, I felt a good result was just around the corner. The Pinx golf course is much better and rewards good play although it can get very windy. I was off in the afternoon as the wind increased significantly to make scoring difficult. Again I played extremely solid but couldn’t get anything going before standing on the 18th at 1 over. A par would see a good start but a poor drive and then second lead to a double and an opening 75. After a good start to day two I was in good position to make the cut before a couple of poor swings lead to some big scores and another blowout 79.
That takes me to one cut made out of eight in Korea showing my dislike for the place. I don’t know why my record is so bad but hopefully I can play well enough to ensure I don’t have to return. A Sunday night departure was much anticipated and hopefully better things to come in Japan. The Japanese people are so accommodating but coming from Korea they go up another level. It would be a hectic first day, as I would land with Ryan Haller at 8.30 before a 5-hour trip to the hotel for our US Open Qualifying the next day. A tough schedule but worth a shot.
I had second thoughts when I had to set a 4.30am alarm after getting to bed at 1.30am earlier but it’s a major so I got myself up and was ready to go. In my favour was that it was 36 holes around a brutal course to walk, which should suit my fitness. I actually played really well the first 11 but could find the bottom of the cup. I then had a horror hole leading to a triple on 12 before getting one back and finishing with a 75 and a lot of work to do. Bogies on 2 and 3 made the job even harder but I thought well will just have to shoot 9 under from here to be a chance. When I played the next 10 holes in 7 under it was almost a reality and that was with a couple of close shaves. I felt I needed at least 2 or 3 more birdies but they didn’t come and I missed by a few shots. The good news was it felt my form was returning.
In the next Challenge event I again played quite well but blew plenty of chances and played poorly coming in to miss the one round cut. This was extremely disappointing and it has been a long weekend since to try and get myself up for the upcoming event.
While it has been disappointing it does put things into perspective and I have now set a few new goals for the year and will hope to make a trip to the States in July. I just love the golf over there so hopefully that will make the wheel turn a bit. Also hopefully as this swing adjustments become engrained I will feel a bit more comfortable with the game on course.
I guess looking back on the past month it is a good example that pro golf isn’t necessarily what we see on TV but if it was easy everyone would be doing it. I am looking forward to the challenges ahead and turning it around.
Keep safe and good golfing.
Thursday 3rd May
Hi all well the last month has been a little bit quieter with only one event in Japan surrounded by some hard practice. While only one event it would be really important, as it would determine whether I would play on the main tour or on the secondary tour in Japan.
After returning from New Zealand I had the chance to put in a couple of big weeks in the gym and on the golf course. I put into place a couple of new programs in the gym, which have been really good and I definitely noticing some extra strength through the swing. This work has enabled me too make some good swing improvements with my coach, which has been really positive. We aren’t quite there yet but some good results are just around the corner I’m sure.
So after a couple of weeks of hard work it was off to Japan and firstly to attempt to pre qualify for the Tsuruya Open a main tour event. The Monday would be a really important day as if I could qualify and have a solid week in the tournament I would jump up the re-rank and get most of the rest of the year on the main tour. So it was basically qualify and get the opportunity to play for $1-$2 million every week or miss and play for $150k on the challenge tour. A big day you would say!
The good news was the course is really popular with the Aussies and in my practice round I took a liking to the course as it favoured my length. Luckily I was in one of the last groups as when I arrived at the course my clubs went missing as one of the caddies mistakenly thought my clubs were those of one of the other Aussie boys. So with broken Japanese/English we managed to get them back finally and I could warm up. The day would start well as I made the turn at 3 under and in real control of my game. A couple of near misses on 10 and 11 and then a nice drive on 12 left me in good position. What I couldn’t see though was the mud on my ball and the shot flew with a hard fade into trouble and a double awaited. I bounced back with birdies on 15, 16, and 17 to get back to 4 under and in control before we stood on the long par 4 last and it started pouring with rain. The hole got a lot longer and a near miss with the putter led to a bogey and a 69 total. I hoped it would still be enough but unfortunately the scoring was great and I missed by one. This was a real kick in the guts as I had played really nicely but to no avail.
Having missed pre qualifying it was then off to Tokyo en-route to the Japan Challenge event north of Tokyo. Tuesday would be spent with Ryoko from Titleist who is looking after my travel arrangements as we set about organizing bank accounts and my re-entry visa. After a total of 12 trains and 3 taxis I eventually made it to my next hotel after a long day but I would have been lost without Ryoko for sure. That is one thing about the Japanese people they will do anything to help you. The train ride across the country was also spectacular with all the Cherry Blossoms out in full bloom.
After good nights sleep it was time to prepare for the Challenge event and the game felt in good shape. The Challenge events are funny as you play with 1 caddy between 4 players and have an hour break in the middle of your round. The course was challenging and quiet severe around the greens but I played solidly early on to be 1 under through the turn. I came out on the back nine and played nice but copped a couple of horrible bounces, which proved costly, and I ended up missing the one round cut. It was a long day walking off the course 6.5 hours after beginning and fair to say I was looking forward to the flight home. That is golf though some times it gives you a lot and others takes it away.
Since being home I have been preparing for a 5 week stretch of event beginning with 2 One Asia events in Korea before heading to Japan for 3 challenge events. My game feels in great shape so I am looking forward to some good finishes coming up.
Till next month
Sunday 8th April
Hi all well the past month has been quite busy with a few events and the start of the One Asia season.
Overall my form has been coming together nicely and the work I have done over the past couple of months has been worthwhile.
Following the QLD PGA in Toowoomba I headed down to the Gold Coast to play in the Jeep Fourball at Royal Pines.
It is the first time the event has fitted into my schedule and it was a good excuse to spend a week on the Gold Coast.
I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with Paul Bellingham and his family for the week and team up for the fourball.
The week would be reduced to 54 holes because of poor weather on the Saturday but I played some great golf all week and ended up in a tie for 1st after rounds on 70, 64, and 67 to be 15 under par.
It was really nice to shoot a couple of low rounds as that has been something that has been lacking over the past year and even better to get a win.
A big boost to the confidence and I will hopefully be back with Paul next year to pick up the teams event as well.
There must be something about Queensland as I always seen to play well up there.
Obviously the early morning run along the beach and swim keeps me nice and relaxed.
Also enjoyed a day at Movieworld and Wet n Wild, which was a lot of fun and nice to get away from golf for a little while.
Following the Fourball it was back home for a couple of weeks to prepare for the Indonesian Open and the start of the One Asia season.
As always it would be an extremely hot week with temperature hitting 35 degrees all week and some extreme humidity.
I enjoy playing in this weather as I feel my fitness sets me up better than most for the challenge ahead.
With the first view of the course we knew we where in for a challenge with long rough and extremely firm fast and steep sloping greens.
A deadly combination making hitting fairways a big priority. This would suit my game so I was looking forward to the challenge.
On day 1 it would become an extremely windy afternoon and with a late tee time some tough work ahead.
I played well but didn’t convert some chances for a 1 over 73 but a good score compared to other afternoon scores.
Day 2 was much easier but I didn’t play great for a 2 over round but I would make the weekend and given the poor side of the draw not a bad result.
Scoring was pretty bunched so there was a good chance to make a move up the board.
A good round of 69 was a good start on Saturday and then on Sunday without much luck I shot 71 and ended up in a tie for 22nd on 1 under par.
This would be a solid start to the year and given I wasn’t quite there with my game and played the par 5’s in even on the weekend a reasonable week.
Congratulations to Nick Cullen on a great win as well he has been playing some really consistent stuff over the past 12 months.
From Indonesia it was then onto Queenstown New Zealand for there PGA and a real contrast in conditions.
It was great to walk of the plane in one of the most spectacular places in the world and breath the fresh air.
My game felt great in the lead up and I was hopeful of a good week.
Each round I played some great golf but never quite got the score I was after which was frustrating.
The first couple of days this was due to a few too many errors and on the weekend I was stiff to have many close shaves with the putter.
It all added up to scores of 71, 69, 70 and 71 for a total of 7 under par and a tie for 17th.
Another solid week but not quite what I was after.
The week was really enjoyable though and its hard not too have fun in Queenstown.
There are so many great places to eat while if I wasn’t there for golf I would have to give the bungy jumping a go.
A few of the boys were able to fit in the shotover jet, which was a lot of fun through the tight gorges.
From here I know have a couple of weeks at home before heading up to Japan to try and pre qualify for the Tsyura Open and play the first Challenge Tour event of the year.
Thursday 1st March
Over the past month it has been nice to get back playing and at the back end of the month have played the Victorian PGA at the Forest Resort in Creswick and then the QLD PGA up in Toowoomba.
To start February I continued on with the intensive program in the gym, which has shown some good results. In testing I was able to increase my weight by just under a kilogram whilst reducing my body fat. Basically this means more lean muscle and hopefully more power whilst increasing my ability to keep good posture throughout the swing. The aim is to look to add another 2-4 kilos and then should be where I want to be. Has been interesting to see Rory McIlroy put on a little over the summer as well. We have pretty similar body shapes but would like some of his results!!
While going through this program I have also been working on the swing with Denis McDade and some good improvements have come along. Getting closer to being where we want to be with the club being on plane for longer. The short game is coming along well too so if I can lock these in some good scores should be just around the corner.
With all this work it was nice to put some of this into action at the Victorian PGA at Creswick. It is a new course that provides plenty of challenges on a very hilly piece of land. You have to keep it on the fairway as the trees are very dense while the greens have a huge amount of slope. I played solidly all week and after rounds of 69 and 71 wasn’t too far away heading into the weekend. Actually played my best golf on the Saturday but had no luck with the putter and shot 72 which was disappointing. Then on Saturday I copped a bad break on the 5th that would lead to a triple bogey as my ball came up against a massive stick just off the fairway. Battled back to shoot 72 but finished 17th only 7 away from the eventual winner Gareth Paddison who played great all week. Plenty of positive signs to take out of the week though.
On the Sunday night made a quick trip back to visit the old cricket club from the junior days for Cheltenham’s 150th anniversary. It was good to catch up with plenty of old friends and coaches. If it wasn’t for golf I reckon I would still be playing cricket their as I always loved it.
It was then onto the QLD PGA at the City Golf Club in Toowoomba. Had an early lesson on Monday morning and a bit of practice before heading north on the Tuesday. The weather forecast looked horrible but we were lucky enough to get the first to days of play. Struggled early on day 1 but played well coming home to begin with a 69 around the par 70 layout. Day 2 was tricky with wind and rain but played really nicely to shoot 67 and move into contention.
Day 3 saw the rain really arrive and after an initial delay we got out on the course just as it started to really come down. With everything getting drenched I started birdie, birdie to move right in contention but then bogeyed the third in torrential rain. The siren went to suspend play again and we got out on course a couple of hours later for one and a half holes before the rain came again ending the days play. Overnight rain left the course unplayable and with the rain finally clearing we finally had a restart at 12.30pm after being at the course at 5.30 in the morning. The course was pretty waterlogged but it was great we got 54 holes in.
For the rest of the round I couldn’t really find my rhythm and made a couple of birdies and bogies. The slower greens killed me as I left a couple of putts short in the heart.
A final round of 71 left me in a tie for 15th and my 3rd top 20 for the year out of 3 events. This has been good given all the work of course but top 5’s is what we are really after. They aren’t far away though. A great finish by Andrew Tschudin saw him take out the win which was great to see. Definitely one of the nice guys on tour and a quality player.
In the next month I will have a few events starting with the Jeep Fourball on the Gold Coast. It is then home for a couple of weeks, which will include being best man at a wedding. Really looking forward to the wedding day and I’m working on the speech now. In late March it is then off to Indonesia for the Indonesian Open and the start of the One Asia year before heading to Queenstown in New Zealand for the NZ PGA.
Monday 10th October
Well I write this latest blog from my hotel room in Korea and I can tell you I have definitely stayed in better. The past couple of weeks have seen the highs of pro golf and some of the lows.
It all started last week with the Dunhill Links at St Andrews in Scotland a $5m European Tour event that had six of the worlds top 10 players plus all of the European Tour big names along with many celebrities. It is a great week as you play Kingsbarns, St Andrews and Carnoustie over the first three days and get paired with an amateur partner before a cut Saturday night to the top 60 players. Unfortunately I missed out on Warnie or Steve Waugh but got the owner of Celtic Manor Resort in Wales as my partner.
It is usually a cold and windy week in Scotland but incredibly the weather was beautiful apart from the Sunday. This was a good result and my form was good heading into the event so I was confident of taking on the big names. Got off to a great start at Kingsbarns on day one to be three under after seven. Continued to play great to the 12th in quite windy conditions but didn’t capitalize on my chances and could have been three or four better. A tough run home and I gave them back with a few visits to the pot bunkers, which was disappointing. A round of 72 was solid but given the way I had played I was disappointed. From there it was off to Carnoustie for round two traditionally one of the hardest course in the world. After a slow start I made a good run before hitting it into the burn on 18, which was a very frustrating shot as I had the easier front nine to come. Played a great nine holes and gave myself nine realistic birdie chances but only made two of them despite putting nicely. A two under 70 was a good score but again I left a few out there while a number of the top players went low.
Saturday would see a round at the Old Course and with soft winds another chance to go low. Got off to a great start off 10 and made the turn at three under having negotiated the road hole. There were plenty of birdie chances coming home and I played well but again didn’t make the most of my opportunities to finish with a four under 68. A great thrill and most importantly I had made Sunday.
Sunday would see the Scottish weather finally arrive and we played the first nine in a cold wind and constant rain, which was the back nine as I started on 10. In the cold and wet this nine is extremely difficult and after eight I was plus four for the day including a visit to the road on 17, which is not the place to be! I stuck it out though and played fantastic coming home to play the front in five under and shoot 71 and finish seven under for the week in 53rd.
Overall I was really happy with the way I played for the four days and with a bit of luck could have finished in the top 20. It was step in the right direction and playing Sunday at St Andrews is not something many people get to do! I’m sure it will be the first of many if things keep going in the right direction. It was also a great week having my American friends Jamie and Lorrie come along for the week with Jamie caddying. He has earnt time on the bag in the future. Also have a few Scots and Englishmen who have spent time in Australia out there fun too. I can’t wait to return!
So having just got over my jet lag heading to the UK I would have to put my body through it again heading back to Korea and a 3.30am alarm Monday morning wouldn’t help. Anyway made my way there and just made my tee time for my Tuesday practice round. Yes in Korea they make you play at a certain time unlike anywhere else! It was then back to the hotel and my concrete feeling mattress. Wednesday is pro-am day which no Aussies get in so it is just practice and a restricted one bucket of balls. This would mean I would get more rest, which was good and headed for my tee time on day one. Just wasn’t with it all day and kept hitting it in the wrong spots, which isn’t hard to do given all the pins are tucked. This all added up to five over and today struggled again so heading home tomorrow night.
Still feeling good with my game and feel this week has been a combination of the worst jet lag I have had (waking up like its morning at 1am isn’t good!!), big change of course and tough week added up to a poor result.
So from here it is off to a week at home before starting the Aussie summer that I am really excited about. Looking forward to too seeing many of you along the way.
22nd September 2011
Hi all well is it with great pleasure that I write this email having chalked up my first Australian Tour Victory with a win in the South Pacific Open at the Tina Golf Club in Noumea New Caledonia. It was a highly dramatic week with passport issues and then a playoff.
With a lot of travel coming up in the week prior to going I needed to send my passport to Canberra and the Korean Embassy. As is always the case it is a drama getting this done in a hurry but with a little encouragement it usually returns on time. However this time despite my calls it wasn’t posted till late Thursday and missed the overnight bag. As a result on Friday afternoon Australia Post didn’t know where it was and I couldn’t fly on Saturday and instead would have to leave Tuesday. This meant a Tuesday night arrival with the event beginning on Wednesday.
So I woke up Wednesday and got some information off my roommate before heading to the course to try and limit the damage. An opening 2 under par round was solid although I blew a good start to the round. Day 2 was an early start which didn’t agree with me and I was a couple over early on. Battled hard and recovered late to shoot 3 under on a day of good scoring. This meant I headed into day 3 well back and needing a great weekend. Started the round nicely and gradually built on it in tricky conditions. Ended up with a round of 67 which moved me right back into contention in 2nd and only 2 back of Terry Pilkadaris.
The final round was a beautiful day and got off to a great start birdying 1 and 4 while Terry eagled 4 and birdied 5 so I dropped to 3 back. Solid golf followed before I finally made a putt for birdie at the 12 which got the round going and then birdies at 14, 15 and 16 meant I was 1 in front. A big par save kept the lead with 1 to go and I was left with 4-5 feet to win on the last. Felt like I hit a great putt but it went the opposite way to what I thought and it was off to a playoff with Terry.
On the first playoff hole I hit a wedge to the bottom of the tier while Terry hit a great shot to 2 feet. Standing over the 35 footer I felt like I was in trouble but there is always a chance. Fortunately I hit a great putt which went right in the middle to the roar of the crowd and when Terry made his off we went again down the 18th. This time Terry was first to play into the green and hit it to about 40 feet. I then had the perfect distance and hit a great wedge to about 3 feet. After Terry missed I made mine and could celebrate the first win.
It was a massive relief to get over the line after many near misses and sets up a great finish to the year. Also I am now 1st on the Australian Order of Merit a position I will look to keep for as long as possible. The people in Noumea were great and it was a really good tournament run well with some good dinners along the way. Especially the final night function that turned into a massive party as those Europeans certainly love to have fun. I will look forward to heading back there in the future as it is a beautiful place.
From here it is of to the Dunhill Links in the UK a $5m European Tour event that all the big Europeans play and also played at St Andrews. Cant wait to get back there it is a truly special place. Following that week it is back to the Korean Open before a week at home.
Hope this email finds you all well and a big thankyou to everyone who has supported me along the road. I have been lucky to have so much support and great friends. You are all a part of this win.
To many more down the track
25th August 2011
since my last email I have played the Thailand Open at the Suwan Golf and Country Club just outside of Bangkok. The Thailand events are always enjoyable weeks with delicious food, markets to explore and great golf courses. This week would be no different as we played a fantastic resort course that rewarded good play and punished poor decision making.
As always it was an extremely hot week and as the wind fell away, the humidity rose causing the guys a lot of trouble and becoming physically demanding, especially when we played for 5 plus hours. I don’t mind those conditions, given I enjoy the fitness aspect of the sport. I was joined by my trainer Scott Williams for the week, who came to experience the extreme conditions to help us to develop a fitness strategy to deal with such weeks in the future.
The schedule this year has been rather disjointed and another 3 week break between events meant I wasn’t quite sure where my game would be at heading to Thailand. Some hard work prior meant my game was in good order and I began solidly with a 2 under 70, which was a little disappointing as I had been 3 under earlier.
Day 2 was extremely stormy and transport was also an issue meaning the 45 minute bus journey took 1 hour 45 minutes. Luckily I like to get to the course early so had allowed extra time but there were some stressed golfers on the bus. Despite the hold-up I started well and with a rain delay in the middle of my round moved to 6 under for the tournament with 3 to play and within range. A double on a par 3 was costly as the storm came in and with just a sand wedge into the last green the siren went as a massive storm was about to hit us. Frustratingly this meant a 6.45am restart and a 4.30 am get up to finish the last hole of day 2! Surely the storm could have waited!
After closing out another 70, I moved to the weekend 5 behind and equal with eventual winner Andre Stoltz. Saturday scoring was really hot and another 70 was frustrating, as despite playing well I just wasn’t going low enough to keep up.
Sunday came around and I played really well for a 5 under 67, which could easily have been a few lower with a bit of luck and meant I finished 18th on 11 under for the week. It was however another good Sunday round, which is a good sign that I am getting back to my amateur final round form, which had been my best. This would be 10 behind the winner Andre Stoltz, who shot an incredible 17 under on the weekend around what we all thought at the start of the week was a tough course. Shows what great play does and the quality of golf on the One Tour now.
The 18th place moved me up the order of merit enough to keep my status for next year which is nice given my poor start to the year and allows me to focus on the Tour School in America. It was also a fun week and having Scott up there will give us a lot of good information for setting a program going forward to make sure my body is at 100% under the toughest of conditions.
From here it is another few weeks practice before heading to New Caledonia and the South Pacific Open. Following that it is the Dunhill Links at St Andrews a big European Tour Event and then the Korean Open. We then hit the exciting Aussie summer of golf including the Masters at my home course Victoria again and Tour Schools, which will set up a busy year of golf in 2012.
I hope you all well and I look forward to seeing lots of you at the Aussie events at the end of the year.
Friday 22nd July
It has been a while since my last update and plenty has happened in the meantime.
In early June, I had the Nanshan Masters, an event on OneAsia. It was in northeast China on a nice course that required good play to score well. My side of the draw copped the windy conditions both days, which made it difficult for scoring. On the Friday we even had a delay due to high winds but I played well enough to make the cut and be in a reasonable position heading to the weekend. This was good after a few tough weeks prior and felt like I could make up some ground on the weekend. Unfortunately as had been the case on the opening couple of days, I struggled to convert my chances and ended up finishing in around 50th.
After a quick trip home it was then off to Fiji for a couple of weeks of golf and holidaying. The past couple of years Fiji has been the place, where I have turned my year around. The first event was the Fiji Open at Pacific Harbour, which has a nice design but was in poor condition due to the wet weather in Suva. This made the golf a bit of a lottery but I put myself right in contention, 1 back heading into the final day. With a bit of poor play and bad luck on the bumpy greens I fell back to 7th but it was an enjoyable week between golf and the pool. It was then back to the Starwood Classic, an event I won last year. Played nicely without reward and ended up 9th which was ok. I really enjoyed the week with some fun playing partners and great accommodation at the Sheraton Denarau resort.
Unfortunately, I had an added thing from the week, which I hadn’t bargained for as from the last Friday a red spot appeared on my leg, which grew to the point where it was tough to walk, excruciating and extremely hot to touch. The most likely cause was a spider or a mosquito bite that became infected. As a result I moved my flights forward a couple of days, which meant I couldn't join a boat and fishing cruise organised with a few of the other players out to the islands. Frustrating, but the right decision, as by the time I got home Sunday afternoon I had a bad fever. I went to the doctor, who sent me straight to hospital. After being admitted I was put on IV antibiotics and the doctor made a deep cut in my leg to release the infection. This was done to stop the infection spreading, which I was told could have led to the loss of my leg. I was very glad I had made the earlier flight home! The cut had to be made deeper on Monday morning but by the afternoon I was allowed to go home. I still needed daily IV antibiotics by the district nurse until Thursday and then required regular dressing changes for the next 10 days. The nurses and staff were fantastic and made it as easy as possible, but by the last appointment I was happy to say goodbye to all medical staff.
It slowed my preparation for the next two OneAsia events but I was able to get in a reasonable amount of practise, although I hadn’t been able to get to the gym at all, which was frustrating. It was then off to Korea for the High One Open before heading onto Indonesia the following week.
The High One Open was played at a large ski resort in the South Korean mountains, which will be a site used for the Winter Olympics in 2018. The course was spectacular and quite a good layout, although they had unfortunately grown the fairways in to be sometimes only 6 paces wide, which made it difficult. An early tee time on Thursday saw a good chance to get off to a good start. After losing my opening tee shot I wasn't so sure, but I played a great back nine, to shoot 3 under and in a tie for 8th when round 1 was eventually completed. I finished my round before 12pm on the Thursday but wouldn't get out again due to extremely frustrating weather. We were high up in the mountains and Korea had been experiencing a huge amount of rain. A combination of rain and fog delays due to the low clouds meant an extremely frustrating week for all. By 11am on Sunday the 2 round wasn't even nearly halfway completed, when the organisers finally gave up. During Friday and Saturday I had warmed up a couple of times but never really looked like getting back out. Unfortunately the whole field received the same amount of cash, $2000US so the nice start went to waste.
It was then off to the Indonesian Open played at a great course in Jakarta that demands a lot of the players and has a closing stretch that would test the nerves of anyone. The course was in great shape and had the fastest Bermuda greens I have ever putted on running at 12-13 on the stint meter. The afternoons were significantly tougher and so a 73 on day one wasn’t great but not the worst score. After an early bogey on day 2, I took advantage of the early conditions to shoot a five under 67, which put me back into contention. It was also a great learning experience to play with Stephen Leaney on the first couple of days. He has won all around the world and almost won the US Open back in 2003.
After watching a lot of the British Open back at the hotel, I was inspired for a big weekend and played well on Saturday in tricky conditions for 1 under, but fell away from the lead a bit. A good Sunday and I could still finish well. On Sunday the pins were extremely difficult, a lot were tucked close to the water and with the fast greens, scoring was tough. A slow start wasn't what I was after, but my momentum gradually built and left a chip for eagle on the lip on 17 and was 3 back in 5th spot. A bogey up the brutal 18th left me outright ninth and a good week with a closing 68 to shoot 9 under for the week.
It has been nice to return to form and feel like a big second half to the year is right out in front of me. The past couple of years have actually panned out in a similar way. The infection in my leg could end up being a positive as it has really made me get back to enjoying my golf. From here I have a couple more weeks at home before heading up to the Thailand Open and to a course I enjoyed back on the Asian Tour back in 2009.
Hopefully I can go a couple better than last year.
Friday 1st April
Well, what an eventful start to the One Asia year! Last week we played the first event of the year in Jakarta and it had everything; some great golf, poor golf, long bus trips, the flu and even some controversy on the course.
Firstly I’d like to congratulate Andre Stoltz on a great win. He has been playing some fantastic golf with consistent top 10’s and played solid all week. You could say he was due for a win, which was great for me to see, and shows patience does pay off.
We arrived in Jakarta on Sunday night and felt the heat and humidity straight away. I felt good out on the course on Monday and hoped the weather and course would suit my game. After three days of solid practice I was ready to go and when I got out there on Thursday afternoon I felt really good, which showed as I raced to 7 under after 10 and had the lead. Everything was going right until I ran into a bit of a roadblock on the 11 as a windstorm blew through and made a couple of holes play extremely tough coming home. Ended up 6 under in second place and 3 behind Matt Miller, who played a fantastic round of 63.
I was happy with my day and had plenty of time to contemplate it on the 1 hour 50 minute bus ride home. These trips were a constant in Jakarta as the traffic is truly atrocious and made for a draining week.
Getting back to the hotel at 7pm and then an alarm at 4 in the morning hurt but I was eager to get back out there again to try and regain the lead. I raced to 11 under and had plenty of chances to go further, but couldn't quite capitalize. Unfortunately I bogeyed my final 2 holes to drop back to 9 under and it would be a sign of things to come.
I had most of the afternoon off and leading into day 3, I was 2 behind Matt Miller, who was at 11 under. Unfortunately as the night wore on I gradually came down with the flu and when I woke up in the morning I knew I was in big strife. Felt like I’d been hit by a train and knew it would be a battle through the heat and humidity.
Amazingly Matt Miller had exactly the same symptoms and by the end of the day we almost became a team trying to get each other through the day. Thanks to Gatorade, through 12 holes, I was hanging on at 1 under for the day and could have been better with a few putts dropping.
It was then the real drama started as Rory Hie and his father/caddy had a disagreement with a rules official who caught them for slow play. Both Matt and I were then involved as some golf course etiquette wasn't quite right. Following that the home crowd clapped both Matt and my poor shots and it was an unpleasant finish to the day.
Unfortunately I struggled home and shot 3 over for the day and was out of contention. Matt Miller was impressive shooting 1 under for the day, which was really respectable given the way he felt, and what had happened on the course.
The final day came around and although I felt better was still a bit drained and not much went right on the course. Ended up again shooting 75 and tied 33rd position. Having gone into the weekend in second spot that was extremely disappointing but I guess you could say it wasn’t totally in my control with what occurred.
The positives to take out of the week are that the areas I have been working hard on with my coach and trainers are starting to really come together and some great results are hopefully just around the corner. Lets hope it may result in a win similar to Andre last week.
So it is now for 3 weeks of hard practice getting ready for Volvo China, which is played, across Easter. Bring it on!
Sunday 9th January 2011
Well the last round began and it was great to see some fantastic crowds out there. By the end it was hard to get through the crowds there were so many which was fantastic.
It was nice also that the home town crowd got right behind me.
Got off to a really solid start with six pars and then a birdie on seven to get within one of Sheeo.
Gave myself plenty of chances early but couldn't quite capitalise.
On 8,9 and 10 got tricked a little bit by the wind and left myself a lot to do and dropped back to 3 behind.
A birdie on 11 was a good kickstart and got me right back in it.
Unfortunately the putter was cold all day and missed a few opportunities on the run home and made one bogey to finish 2 behind and second.
Great to see a fellow Victoria member and Denis McDade pupil win and nice to have started the year off on a great note although a win would have been nice.
Thanks to all for their support out there this week was a heap of fun and let’s hope that win isn’t too far away.
Saturday 8th January 2011
Well Saturday brought another extremely hot and windy day which would mean scoring would be tough again. The greens were also drying out a lot making it tough to get near the hole.
I felt starting the day if I could shoot something under par I would be around the lead come the end of the day.
I got off to a really solid start and was one under after nine but could have been a bit better if I holed a few putts.
On the back nine the putts dropped and I made five birdies and one bogey to end up with 66 which was a great round and was nice to top it off with a long putt on the last.
Was quite strange out there when the change came through and the wind immediately picked up strength to the south.
So the last round tomorrow and Paul Sheehan is leading by 2. Will need to play great golf to catch him but feeling good and confident I can give it a good run.
Will be fun out there as where both members at Victoria and are coached by Denis McDade. So there should be a lot of local support which will be good.
Friday 7th January 2011
Melbourne turned on a typical sandbelt day today with a strong northerly making scoring extremely difficult.
Good thing was you knew that if you could shoot around even par you would pick up a few spots.
After a good warm up was looking forward to getting out there but struggled early and was 5 over after 8. Wasn't far off but in the conditions I just kept making bogeys.
Couldn’t get the right club in my hand and left myself with a lot of work to do. There were also some very tough pins out there today and given the conditions made it even trickier.
Rescued the round though and with birdies on 10,12,16 and 17 and only one bogey on 14 came back to shoot only 2 over. A good result given the bad start and the important thing is that it leaves me in contention heading into the weekend.
Looks like another windy day tomorrow and if I can play all 18 like the back nine today should be around the lead come Sunday.
There have been some really good crowds out there this week and hopefully that continues on the weekend
Thursday 6th January 2011
It was great to get out there in perfect conditions today and scoring was pretty good as expected. Wasn't sure what to expect today with the first round of the year but the game was in good shape and got off to a flyer and was 5 under after 8. Didn't quite happen after that and battled home a bit with the putter not quite as hot on the front nine. Would have taken a 67 at the start of the day though so quite happy.
Played with Cam Percy who played fantastic today barely missed a shot and could have had even lower than his round of 64. Not sure about his Collingwood logo on the bag though a Melbourne one would look a lot better.
So it will be a big day out there tomorrow and some expected hot weather will ensure the greens dry out. A couple more rounds of 67 though and we should be right there come Sunday
Wednesday 5th Janurary 2011
Well after the first pro am of the year I am really looking forward to getting the year underway at the Victorian Open. Had a really nice break at home and have practiced hard the past week to get the game in shape before tomorrow’s first round. Struggled a bit in the pro am but after some hard work this afternoon feel like I am ready to go.
The course is in great shape and with some warm weather ahead Spring Valley should play hard and fast as Sandbelt courses are known for. With an early start tomorrow will need to get off to a good start and get myself into the tournament. With a very strong field I would expect something between 10-12 under to be a good winning score.
Hope to see some good crowds out there this week and hopefully start the year with a good result.
Monday 20th December 2010
Well it has been an extremely busy end to the year with a lot of positives and a couple of disappointing weeks as well but overall very positive.
It started back in early November with the WA PGA down in Bunbury. Rounds of 68,69,68,68 left me at 15 under and second place which was a nice way to start a six week stretch. It got really close on the back nine and I came home in 3 under which was good. I actually stood on the 17th tee in front but by the time I got to the green was one behind after Bransdon birdied the last two holes so there wasn't too much that I could do.
It was then straight back home for a big week and the Australian Masters. Being at home it was a huge week; with lots of media, friends and members at the club interested in what was going on taking a lot of time out of the week. I was also drawn with Ogilvy and Appleby day one and two, and only a couple of groups in front of Tiger. It was a great experience to play with a couple of Australia’s best and in front of some big crowds. Although I felt good I was a bit tense with all the lead up and expectations and struggled to 4 over on day one. Day two the conditions in the afternoon were really difficult and windy and I played well for even par including a birdie eagle birdie finish, I missed the cut by one shot. It was a lot of fun though with the Cheltenham boys out making a presence for themselves and making it on TV.
It was then off to the USA for second stage tour school at a course on the Monterey Peninsula. Unfortunately my form left me and I struggled and missed comfortably so I will have to go back again next year for that. Enjoyed a visit to Pebble Beach and a great day and night in San Fransisco which is a must visit including Alcatraz.
From there it was a quick dash back to Sydney and out to the Hunter Valley for the NSW Open at the Vintage. Had a really fun week there and after a good opening round struggled with the putter and finished back in the mid 20’s in the field. Could feel the game returning before two of our biggest events, which was good.
So it was then down to wet old Sydney and the Lakes for the Australian Open and a great field including the Shark. After the Pro-Am was washed out on Wednesday and then a horrible weather report we weren’t sure we would get out there but luckily we did and after a 7 under 65 I led the field after day one which was a huge thrill. Day two and I played really nicely in tough windy conditions and battled hard for 2 under to move to 9 under. Was really pleased with the round considering the conditions and the pressure. I was then in the second last group on Saturday with Dudley Hart who battled with a bad back. The ball just refused to drop and I worked really hard for even par and hung in there which was great. It was a similar story on Sunday and after a horrible start 4 over after five I battled really hard and despite a bogey on 18 shot one over. Disappointing to start so bad but great that I worked hard to stay in it and still had a respectable finish despite just missing a lot of putts. It was also a great experience to be up there all week and can’t wait to do it again.
It was then finally off to Coolum for the Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca-Cola; a week all the players absolutely love and I really enjoy the course. Had to take it easy nursing a sore wrist after a shot out of the rough the week before and got off to a nice start with 4 under. Unfortunately again got the wrong side of the draw with a very windy Friday afternoon but played great before a struggle coming home back into the wind. I shot 2 under and was the leading player from my side of the draw showing the difficulty of our side. Saturday was tough again but I played solid for even par. It was then Sunday and the downpour came rainy all day and the course became really waterlogged making it extremely difficult. Played really well and had it 4 under after 14 before play was halted as the rain became torrential. Which was unfortunate given I had got through a lot of tough holes in the rain and the leaders got them in perfect conditions but that's golf. Coming back Monday morning at 6 I hit some great shots but couldn't quite hole a putt and finished on 10 under 2 back and 6th. A great week and getting close to that first big breakthrough!!
So after a visit to Australia Zoo it was back home and time for a couple of weeks off which I really need after a huge finish to the year. The last six months have been great with a lot of top finishes and I ended up 7th on the OneAsia Oder Of Merit and 11th on the Australian Order of Merit. That will give me a busy schedule next year and back to second stage US tour school and finals in Europe and Japan if I need them.
Hope everyone has a great xmas and new year and thanks to everyone
for all their support this year.