Monday at Shinnecock Hills
What can I say about attending my very 1st USGA event other than these guys know how to run a golf tournament!!
The infrastructure is incredible, as well as the staff and volunteers on the grounds were out of this world! The sheer size of the venue, the systems in place and the way the tournament treat the players and support team is out of this world!
The first thing we did when we arrived at Shinnecock was to organize all of our credentials and get familiar with the practice facilities and the 1st and 10th tees. This process took approximately 90mins to settle in as Herby and his movement coach Simone begun to loosen Herby up before we started with a range session.
Herby's coach, Dominic Azzopardi was happy with how Herby's body was moving and the way he was swinging the club, which for a Monday is always nice to see.
We headed out for practice with one of my other clients, Max Greyserman who is currently the 1st alternate for the event. The 1st nine holes we played were brutally slow, but it gave us all an excellent opportunity to spend a little time around the greens and familiarised ourselves with the course and the atmosphere of the US Open.
We played the 2nd nine holes by ourselves which gave us an excellent opportunity to spend some time working on Herby's short game and pitching, which will play a big part in shooting the lowest score possible this week.
The course set up is very fair, but tough!! With firm, fast, sloping greens and high fescue grass in the rough, players will have to be in control of their golf ball from the very beginning of the event, all the way till the last putt has been holed.
For us, conserving energy will be a big key over the next 48hrs, so tonight we finished with a little friendly table tennis tournament to keep things relaxed and fun. Tomorrow we have a good day of practice planned and get out to have another look at the front nine, as the course can be visually very deceiving, we want to take in as much detail of every hole to help put together an excellent course management plan.
We are all looking forward to another great day of preparation tomorrow and get to soak up the atmosphere of competing in one of golf's Major Championships.
Tuesday at Shinnecock Hills
After a big Monday at Shinnecock, we planned to have a high relatively short, sharp practice day focusing on our critical priorities for the week ahead. We had a 12.52 Tee Time on the 1st with Jon Rahm and Aaron Wise, which was great for Herby to spend nine holes with PGA Tour winners and pick their minds about how they go about their business.
Conversation flowed well between Herby and Jon as they had played together in the 2014 World Amateur Championship, where it wasn't long before some friendly banter between them begun to surface.
One hole Herby hit it 25m past Jon and gave him a little ribbing for being one of the "Little Guys," which backfired on Herby pretty quickly when Jon proceeded to hit a pure 6iron to 5ft only to ask Herby where his ball finished after Herby had dumped it into the greenside trap.
The banter proceeded until the 9th green where a discussion between Herby and Jon implied that Jon being 1yr older than Herby made him the "Teacher" and Herby the "Pupil" to Jon replying with "Last time I looked, I am in the Top 5 in the World". They both had a good laugh before they played out the 9th hole and shook hands and wished each other a great week.
The information that Jon was sharing in regards to the golf course, the possible pin positions and tips on equipment that he uses were very valuable to Herby and the team, and now we all have a massive amount of respect for Jon as a person, not just as a golfer.
After the nine-hole practice round, we spent some time around the chipping green fine-tuning some of Herby's processes before spending some time on the putting green working on his 5ft drill.
We then left the course, had a lovely BBQ cooked by Master Chef Azzopardi (Questionable) and sat down for a great team meeting fine-tuning some of the critical processes for tomorrows final day of practice.
All in all, it was another fabulous day, and we are all excited and confident about the week ahead.
Wednesday at Shinnecock Hills
With rain forecast for the afternoon and having played in the afternoon Tuesday, we decided to play an early morning tee time on Wednesday to try and dodge the weather, as well as having an early day to rest and prepare for Herby's 1st Round in a Major Championship.
We had an 8.35am tee time booked which meant we left the house at 6 am to get in a good warm-up session before hitting the 10th tee. Herby hit his 1st shank of the day before he even got out of the courtesy car, as he managed to get most of his Carman's Choc Chip Muesli Bar spread all over his white pants. Not only that, the chocolate stains happened to be spread over his crotch and inner thigh, well played Herby!!!!
After we had a little breakfast in the player's lounge, the team went through pin positions for the day and began to create a strategic plan to play each hole as effectively as possible, highlighting the potential holes where Herby can be more aggressive as well as the holes where he might have to play more conservatively.
After Herby's warm up, he got to the 10th tee where he was paired with Henrik Stenson and Ryan Fox, which was another fantastic pairing the day before he makes his debut in a Major Championship.
Within the first few holes, it was clear the work that Herby had been putting in with both his coach, Dominic Azzopardi and his movement coach, Simone Tozer was starting to have a positive impact on his performance. Herby executed beautifully during his nine-hole practice round with a heavy emphasis on his chipping and pitching, which is looking fantastic after spending a bunch of time working on this aspect of his game over the past three days.
Herby also got a new Hi-Toe 60deg wedge from TaylorMade with fresh grooves to help him get maximum spin around the very firm/fast greens of Shinnecock Hills. This club has been a great addition to the bag, helping Herby commit entirely to the creative shots needed and having full trust that the ball will react the way he wants to the tough pin positions at Shinnecock.
Over the first few days of the practice rounds, the course set up has been quite fair, but you can also see heading into the weekend, the course will get firm and fast which will make for some challenging scoring conditions.
At approximately 11.30am this morning, Shinnecock was hit with some rain that will no doubt soften the playing surface and help make the greens more receptive for the 1st round tomorrow, but also potentially making the course play a little longer if the rain continues into the late afternoon and night time.
Our afternoon was spent playing some cards, doing some preparation in the yardage book and playing a little table tennis tournament. We plan on having a reasonably early night and get a good quality sleep, as a week like this takes its toll on a player's energy levels. We can all have a good sleep in tomorrow as his 1st Round tee time is scheduled for 2.20pm, although with the Long Island traffic problems people have been having this week getting to the course, we have allowed 2hr travel time for a regular 35min commute.
Herby has done a fantastic job with his preparation and mindset this week, and we are all excited to focus on executing our plan and let the results take care of themselves this week!
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Coverage of the U.S. Open begins on FOX SPORTS 501 at 11:30pm AEST with Herbert teeing off at 4:20am