My trip to Johor this week was all too short and sweet. I drove down Sunday morning and played a practice round with fellow Englishman Dale Marmion in the afternoon. Pulai Springs Golf Resort, the venue for both the local and international qualifiers turned out to be quite a nice course. The greens were a little ropey but I can’t complain at all about that as I holed my fair share of putts on them.
Today’s round started at the rather unsociable time of 7.50am. Even staying onsite the alarm still sounded at 5.45am. Ever the optimist I told myself at least this gave me the chance to get out early ahead of the heat and the predictable seasonal afternoon down pour! (Which arrived bang on schedule after I left the course.)
After a shakey start with a couple of deft up & downs for pars, a blocked drive into a water hazard on the 3rd hole led to a very unwanted double bogey 6. It was one of too many wayward drives I hit today, most of which I did somehow manage miraculous escapes from. A rare short putt missed on 10 meant with 8 holes to play I was +4 and looking like going home early. However, some more silky skills around the green resulted in a much needed birdie 4 on the reachable par 5 11th and then a Seve-esque par on 12 from the trees. I knuckled down further with a great 5 iron from 194 yards into the watery par 3 next to 8 feet which I drained to claw my way back to +2.
With the momentum of the recovery building I stood on the reachable par 5 14th with a real chance to get back into contention for a place in this weeks event but instead hit another horror blocked drive. I wasn’t getting ahead of myself, I had both a good target and focus on the shot, it was just a bad swing at the wrong time. After extracting my ball from the trees I made my second bad swing of the hole with a hooked 3 wood into yet more trees! This time I wasn’t so lucky as my ball nestled at the base of a tree where I only managed to hit a deflected shot sideways via the roots. A second double bogey of the day all but ended my chances of posting a good enough score.
The round kind of fizzled out with a near miss for birdie on 16, a 3 putt bogey on 17 and a grinding par up the tough uphill 460 yard par 4 finishing hole. All in all the 77 was about the best I could muster after missing far too many fairways. After a few weeks off I was expecting to be a little rusty out there but I now know exactly which parts of my game require some serious practice. I’ll be wearing out my driver for the remainder of the week on the range!