Back in the desert and the putter has started to warm up!
This week I was playing in the Abu Dhabi GOLF CITIZEN Open on the MENA Tour, at the stunning Yas Links Golf Club. If you ever get the chance to come to Abu Dhabi you must visit or play this golf course. It’s similar to how links courses back in the UK may look but with the paspalum grass it plays completely different. Holes running alongside the Yas island lagoons are something to be seen as pictures don’t do them justice. The flat calm, crystal blue water is both mesmerising and peaceful. Although beautiful some shots across the water can be very daunting, especially when the winds pick up in the afternoons.
I finished 4th here last year, and although after last weeks disappointment I was feeling confident in my game and I could bring out my best golf here.
The first round, I got off to a steady start and was a couple under par for the majority of the round. I still wasn’t confident on the greens and it was definitely showing as the round progressed. The greens were pretty slow for tournament standard. When I first played this course 3 years ago, the greens were so pure; firm and lightning fast, almost scary to putt on. Its a shame that they couldn’t get the greens to the speed they wanted but the rest of the course was in great condition to make up for it. Even though I holed a few putts inside 10ft for par, I did 3 putt a couple of times again, annoyingly finishing with a 71 (-1) for the day. I’ve stopped looking at the leaderboards on the first 2 days, as it means absolutely nothing, unless your leading, the real focus is on the practice and preparation after the round for the following day; what shots wasn’t I comfortable with? what needs to be better? is it a technical issue or routine issue or commitment issue. I usually kink these flaws out as soon as possible ready for the following day. After that round I warmed down with some left handed shots for rhythm and soft flighted irons. When it gets windy I tend to swing harder and quicker which is the opposite of what you should be doing. I also finished with an hour on the practice green, to gain some more feel the pace of the greens and gain confidence inside 5ft.
Round 2 was a hot one, jeeeeeez! With my early tee time the wind was non existent and the morning fog had risen and the humidity kicked in. It honestly felt like stepping into a sauna on that first tee. To make things worse it was one of the slowest rounds Ive played this year; 5 hours 35 minutes. Theres a few dead spots on the course where the grass in the sand dunes can grow up to waist height. Finding your ball is a challenge, and when you do find it, trying to advance it maybe even more of a task. At one point there were 3 groups on the par 5, 6th hole tee box, with no shade, the sun trap was claiming its victims as player after player were pinging in the shit. I hit the ball great, better than the day before and gave myself plenty of opportunities! I only missed one green and that was one the 2nd hole where I also wanged it in the shit and lost my ball (the only bad shot of the week). I missed one green and shot 2 over par. My putting was horrific. Its a horrible feeling when your getting ready to make a putt but you just know, there is no way you can hole this, no matter how close you are. As many times you see the line and imagine the ball dropping into the hole, there isn’t much you can do when confidence is low. I again 3 putted twice and missed every putt I looked at. Fair enough if I was consistently hitting it to 30 or 40ft every time but it was more like inside the 10 to 20ft range. Another day of going backward on the leaderboard. Nothing I hate more. After the round I practiced solely putting for 2 hours, I must have lost 10 pounds due to sweating that much haha. I working on starting the ball on line, holing putts from 3,4,5,6ft under pressure and also pace putting from 30-45ft. My go to drills.
Round 3 was a funny one. I felt confident and optimistic but also in the back of my mind, “was my putter going to work today?”, “will I make any putts?” After holing a 8ft’er on the first for birdie, I stayed resilient, I didn’t get too ahead of myself; I avoided the “Oh! Ive holed one, this is it, were on a roll”. I birdied the 5th after hitting it close, and confidence was slowly creeping back. A bogey on 8 knocked me back but we push on. On 11 I had 240 yard to a tight pin, I flushed a 2 iron all over the flag to 10ft, I boxed the double-breaking downhill putt and finally got it going. As soon as I get to like 3 under I feel like I can push on and make loads more birdies, where as when Im stuck on 1 or 2 under I sometimes feel am I playing well enough to push on or is it luck that I’ve not made any mistakes yet. I holed a good par save on 13 and rolled in a 6ft birdie putt on 14. Hole 15 came as a real shock, it was playing long as decided to take the bunkers in the fairway out of play with a 3 wood off the tee. I hit 5 iron in, to about 45ft. I did my routine and then just committed to the putt and then BOOM, it smashed the back of the cup and dropped for another birdie, I couldn’t believe it! All of a sudden I started holing putts and was now 5 under. I made 2 solid pars on 16 and 17. To finish with I left a 10ft birdie putt on the last in the jaws of the hole to get to -6. I was humorously annoyed at myself as I yelled “chicken shit” across the green. I’ve remembered it in a manner to not make the same mistake again next time.
I climbed the leaderboard maybe 25 places and finished 11th. A positive end to a slow starting week, and a little extra money back in the account. With the help of a few people who know who they are, and the extra $$$ I earned this week I can now play the remainder of the season, 3 events left. I’m very grateful and appreciative of everyones responses and support. A few people have messaged me about these blogs and said positive things about them which motivates me to keep writing. Being so far from home and not being able to share what I experience with anyone, with only a score on a leaderboard to show for it, it feels good that people are enjoying my blogs.
Next week I’m competing in a new destination; Jordan. Its set out to be a great week with a par 3 competition and a Pro-Am before the tournament so I’m super exited to get back competing. Im feeling good, my games in great place and I’m holing putts again. Good things are coming!
Hope you all have a great week and if your playing golf this weekend remember the wise words of Ty Webb from Caddyshack.
“I’m going to give you a little advice. There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.
Also, a big thanks to Ornella Parigi for taking some great pictures!
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