This week at the Challenge Tour event in Lucerne, Switzerland I got off to a really strong start with a seven-under 64 and initially I was tied for the lead. I played well throughout the tournament and I had some birdie streaks. The first day I had seven birdies and no bogeys and over the final four holes today I was three under. I finished 64, 71, 72, 70 and tied 22nd in a field of 156.
The clean air and beauty of Lucerne make it one of my favorite places to compete. There’s something refreshing about this place that helps me focus. I do wonder, however, how people justify living here as it’s so expensive. The small bowl of spaghetti and glass of water I just had for dinner cost $35, which really is kind of nutty.
My short game and putting were on point this week. A lot of putts fell during the first and final rounds. I did get a little tentative during the second round and I’m working on correcting a few approach shots that went left. Last night I sent a couple of video clips to my coach and the suggestion he made helped a lot. When I got it down toward the end of today’s round birdies started coming.
It looks like I’ll get in the next three Challenge Tour events in Belgium, France and Denmark. I’m headed over to Belgium tomorrow.
I wanted to pass along a quick update about my play this week at the match play event on Challenge Tour in Andalucia, Spain. I shot even par – one over the first day and one under the second – to finish tied 52nd in a field of 156 but I missed the top 32 for match play.
I played well this week for 34 holes but I made two bad swings during the first round resulting in lost balls and, consequently, a double and a triple. I made ten birdies and otherwise I executed and competed well. I was happy I came back from the two tough holes, but it wasn’t quite enough.
Andalucia, is a beautiful part of Spain, which reminds me of San Diego. It was the most hilly course I’ve competed on. The slopes are just so long, and there are so many of them. The tees were the only level spots, and just walking the thing was a big cardio workout. But, it also was an incredibly gorgeous venue right on the Mediterranean.
I played well this week and shot 12 under (66, 68, 72, 70) to finish tied 13th at the Challenge Tour event in Oxfordshire, England. The change I made in my ball flight three weeks ago, moving away from the draw I’ve played my entire life to a fade, continues to settle in and feel good. Each week it gets better and I feel more confident executing it and seeing the ball fall to the right. And, a switch to a new putter two weeks ago seems to be paying off as I’ve been rolling it quite well on the greens.
I’m excited about my new technique and the future as my game feels good. The only rough spot this week came after a six-hour rain delay on Saturday when I had two tough holes.
I’m in a cab right now headed down to Heathrow where I’ll catch a quick flight over to Paris. Once I get there, I’ll drive five hours west to Pleneuf, France for the next tournament.
I competed on the Challenge Tour this week in Katrineholm, Sweden (just outside of Stockholm). I was three under (74, 70, 73, 68) finishing tied 42nd (nine shots behind the winner). It was an up and down week but I played well under windy conditions the second day and I also played well today but, really, I could’ve had a special round this morning with seven birdies over twelve holes but three bogeys crept in.
I’ve always hit a draw but in recent weeks I’ve been thinking about changing my swing a bit and going to a fade and, fortuitously, someone I hardly knew came up to me on Wednesday and gave me advice on fading the ball. A swing coach from London (and who also spends a lot of time in Sweden), who I had met just briefly several months ago and who works with a friend of mine, spent several hours with me getting the new shot pattern down. For the first time ever, I hit fades throughout the four days. By today it was working much better than the draw pattern I used previously.
I just landed in Helsinki, Finland for the next event. I’m feeling good and excited about my game and the upcoming week.
I had a good week here in Senica, Slovakia finishing five under (74, 66, 73. 70) tied 44th. I played well the second round to make the cut and then I had a bunch of birdies over the weekend but a few more bogeys than I wanted came along. I’m feeling good about my game but I’m also pushing for more.
I’ve been to some unusual places but I never thought I’d compete in Slovakia. The weather here is crazy. Extremes in wind and rain seem to be a bigger issue in Europe than in America but Slovakia takes it to a different level. It changes quickly, so a player who finishes in the morning wave may compete under dramatically different conditions than the ones that go off in the afternoon. There were three to four-shot changes in average, daily score this week based on when a player teed off. It all evens out over the course of a season, though.
We competed on a great course, which was typical of ones we play in countries where golf isn’t the primary sport. The government and promoters in these kinds of places try to advance our sport and also generate tourism. They found a beautiful piece of property and hired a top course architect (Jack Nicklaus did this one) and made a big investment to create something unusually attractive and difficult. Incredibly, we actually had a par 6 this week, which was kind of cool and which I hadn’t seen before. It played 783 yards, and any shot along the way that landed in the rough made it hard to get to the green in four.
Overall, it was a good week on a great course in strong competition and now I’m at the Vienna Airport headed to La Gomera, Spain in the Canary Islands. We’ll play another great course there that’s built on the side of a volcano and, as a result, has views of the Atlantic Ocean from every hole. It too, of course, can get windy.
I shot three under (70, 71, 71, 69) at the Najeti Hotel event on the Challenge Tour finishing 16th. It was a very tough track out in the rural, rolling hills of France and it had some of the hardest fairways to hit that I’ve seen. A few of them canted significantly so unless a drive was shaped properly and landed in the perfect spot it rolled sideways into deep rough.
I played well and there are a lot of positives to take away from the week. I’ve had good finishes in the past two events and my game feels solid. Right now, though, I’m a little frustrated because I was on a hot steak today - three shots out of the lead with three holes to play - but I didn’t finish things off the way I wanted. Two of my approach shots buried under lips of bunkers on the final few holes and a short putt missed. All in all, however, I’m excited about the future and eager to get going in other events.
I have a flight back to the U.S. tomorrow. I plan to see my short game coach on Tuesday and my swing coach on Wednesday and then I’ll practice at Berkeley Hall the remainder of the week and head back over here on Saturday, June 25 to play a Challenge Tour event next week in Denmark. After that tournament, I hope to play subsequent ones in Slovakia, Spain and France.
I shot ten under (68, 70, 68, 68) in the Challenge Tour event that ended today and I finished tied 28th. The course this week was really the tale of two different nines as the front was scorable while the back had several tough holes. It was a good, tree-lined track and the people in Antwerp were very nice to us.
I'm attaching a picture of a neat old castle that was just behind one of the greens. There's another part of it, which can't be seen, that serves as the clubhouse. Very cool place.
My game feels good. My driving, short game and putting were very solid this week and I'm excited about the progress I've made. Right now, I’m working on tightening up my approach shots by becoming more exact with yardages and optimizing angles. I’m realizing that getting approach shots closer to the hole is the biggest ingredient for scoring out here. Just three feet in difference can be significant since the "putting make rate" on tour from eight feet is 50% but it drops to 30% at eleven feet.
In the morning I'll drive down to Aa Saint Omer, France for the next event.