Monkey off my back

After doing the hard part getting the job done in April in gaining a full Europro Tour Card, missing my first 3 cuts was not the start I was looking for! Feeling like my game was in shape, the scores weren’t showing for it which of course led to leaving for home after 2 rounds, 3 weeks in a row! I have to say, I was getting a bit fed up of the 4 hour drives back and forward from Leeds to down south.IMG_2670

Going into Celtic Manor, I didn’t really know where my game was, I expected some competition rust and it definitely showed up with an opening round of +6.  There was some good golf in places but numerous school boy errors made it very difficulty for myself.  The second round was forecast to be a wash out, and it certainly was! My original tee time was 1:40pm which was later moved to 6:50pm expecting to squeeze in some holes before darkness, however that wasn’t going to be the case.  After a 2nd delay the officials called it a day and made it an 18 hole cut with 36 holes to be played the following day, meaning I was going home. Thanks for coming.

Next week, 2nd event, Frilford Heath.  Having played the course a few weeks previous, I felt confident I could shoot some good scores and bounce back from my rusty start.  The course was in excellent condition (much better than qualifying) and the weather couldn’t have been better.  Over the two days I thought I had played solid; A combination of consistency off the tee, good course management and strong iron play . However. The one club that usually holds up under pressure went very cold; the putter.  The putts just didn’t drop over the two days and looking back on my stats I lost 3 shots to the field in putts gained.  Knowing full well I was on the cut mark with 3 holes to play, I could feel the pressure but I believed in myself that I could step up to the plate and get the job done. A birdie lip out, a agonising 3 putt and another birdie chance finishing in the jaws saw me finish at +3, missing the cut by 1. Going home.

IMG_2711

Another week, 3rd event at Burhill in Walton Upon Thames. Loved the course! It offered some daunting tee shots, slick greens and some nice approaches. In contrast to the week before, Burhill was playing very firm and if you happened to find yourself in the rough, expect a flier! After a mediocre first round of +3 in a tricky wind (again some good golf with schoolboy mistakes) I knew I’d have to shoot under or level the next day to have a chance of making that now dreaded cut! 2nd round, early tee time, weather was forecast to lash it down in the afternoon, and boy did it do that! I started the 2nd round with 3 birdies in a row, BOOM! Here we go, on fire, confidence is back, shifted up a gear! As the round went on, the wind worsened and the course firmed up. Holes 6, 7 and 8 I couldn’t of hit better shots tee to green, 3 putt, 3 putt 3 putt, from nowhere… All that hard work, gone. Standing on the 10th tee, the heavens decided to open. Full waterproof suit and instantly drenched. Great.

After 15 holes I was +4 for the Tournament, believing the cut was probably going to be +4 because of the tough conditions.  Like Frilford all I had to do again was make 3 pars.  After coming off the 15th green due to it being covered in hail from what can only be described as a hurricane, we were called in because lightning was in the area.  An hour later, out we go; momentums gone, soaking wet, and no feelings in the hands. 2 sloppy bogeys on the final holes put me at +6, going home.  Golf is hard.

But wait, theres more.  Soon after finishing my round, I sat behind the 18th green waiting for my roommates Chris Halley and Paul Lockwood to come in from their game. The clouds disappeared and the sun came out, the wind dropped and the greens were now soft from the rain.  Perfect scoring conditions for the afternoon players.  This was hard to take, as it felt like a kick in the teeth, grinding away in brutal conditions for it to be chucked back in my face.  I learnt fast, thats tournament golf, and all I can do is take it on the chin and move on to the next one…

Longhirst 5Another week in, 4th Event at Longhirst Hall in Morpeth. My attitude this week was slightly different, it was the opposite of trying too hard. I had my plodding head on for the first two rounds and played really solid golf. A care free swing allowed me to shoot +2 and -2 put me at level at T19th. BOOM. A huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I ended the streak! Cut made, now time to climb the leaderboard! A big thanks to Carl & Brad Johnson, my bother Graham and Dad, for their support. I’d say it saves at least 1 or 2 shots a round, having someone there to switch off and talk to.

The final round was forecast to be a little bit windy; estimated 50mph gusts.  The weatherman nailed it.  I can honestly say I have never played in wind like it!! Somehow it was playable (the greens were on the woolley side so the balls stayed put on the greens).  From the start I agreed with my self that this was going to be the biggest grind I’ll probably ever do, physically and mentally.  My game face was on and I told myself if I just play to the conditions and try and hit every shot as best as I can without complaining or letting the wind get to me, I could do well.  Into wind, the driver did well to get past 200 yards, one hole I had to hit 3 iron shin height 160 yards, the next I hit it 330 yards, it was madness!!  I somehow managed to shoot +6 with a ball out of bounds and a ball in the hazard. In the clubhouse, job done.  The only way is up! Players above me were crumbling and dropping shots like no tomorrow, up the leaderboard I was going! In the end I finished T11th and felt great. The hard work and the motivation to get stuck in and prove myself I can do it after 3 weeks of feeling lousy, had paid off!

A much needed week off to catch up and squeeze some practice/preparation for the next 4 week stretch of events!

Now my website is up and running, I’ll be writing a blog every week to keep everybody updated.  Hopefully you’ll find it an interesting read, and follow my journey as a Rookie Tour Pro making my way up the ladder…

 

Best Wishes

Joe