The learning curve continues. Why am I still learning at 36 years of age? Well, in golf there’s always new learning to be done. A lot of it for me is re-learning old stuff that I used to do years ago when I first played professional golf. Like figuring out again how to finish off a good round or somehow managing to still post a reasonable score when not playing so good. Other learning is due to playing golf in a very different environment nowadays. This week I definitely picked up some more new tricks from my Thai playing partners.
Only slightly less irritating than missing the cut again this week was to sit on the plane last night typing out an entire detailed blog post only for it to disappear when my battery died. So, this second attempt may be a bit void of on-course analysis. To summarize, I played well on day one after a terrible start. My opening tee shot was blocked to the right, landed on a cart path which catapulted it out of bounds. The opening double bogey spoilt what was otherwise a pretty solid days golf. 15 greens in regulation and another spell of somewhat lack luster putting all added up to an opening round of 75.
Day two started early. Really early! Due to the enormous field size this week 180 hopefuls teed their ball up rather than the usual 150 or so. That meant some poor souls would be teeing it up at 6.30am each day. After a quick bite and some stretching (it was too dark to hit balls on the range,) my ball was in the air at 6.31am. Maybe it was the sleepy brain not working right but I made a poor swing on the 5th hole when I really needed one of my best. Unsure of my yardage (due to earlier blogged about changes to the course planner) I didn’t fully commit to a 5 iron over water. The resulting splash meant an unwanted double bogey 7 and placed me firmly on the back foot.
Some great scrambling over the next few holes brought me back to the 10th tee for the second day sitting around about the cut line. I was conscious of this but not overly worried by it. I’d been playing some really nice golf and just needed 9 solid holes and a couple of putts to drop to stick around for final 2 days play. What followed was a real blow to my chances. My tee shot from the 10th again came off the club well to the right of where I was aiming and once agin bounced high and destructively off the aforementioned cart path. OB again and another double bogey. Now I was in trouble.
A quick bounce back birdie on 11 helped. Birdie chances on the next few holes slipped by and I eventually stood on the 18th tee box probably needing to birdie to post the required number. It’s hard to describe but as Pros we kind of get a feel of what score will be good enough on certain days. There’s even a formula some players use to estimate where cuts will fall at. Anyway, as I stood on the final hole I decided to push and try to make a finishing birdie which I felt might be just enough to see me through. Hitting driver up the last hole is a risky play with a tree sitting directly in the middle of the fairway. Downwind I calculated a good drive would pass it and leave a short approach where a birdie would be possible. I smashed it. Absolutely killed it at the tree with a little draw. Perfect, or at least I thought until I reached the area where I expected my ball to be. Nothing. It was nowhere to be seen.
At this point the ball spotter came over and pointed out my ball had run under another tree just to the left edge of the fairway. It was wedged well and truly inside the multiple trunks and left me with no other option than to take a penalty drop. Deflated I missed the green with my approach, chipped on and almost too predictably missed the putt to end the round on a horrible low. Another double bogey.
As it turned out, a birdie would have been enough so the risk was arguably worth taking? What was interesting was the fact that upon finding my ball wedged in the tree, my first thought was that I had no other option than to take a drop. In hindsight, guys I had played with on each of my previous 3 days play had taken relief when in similar positions due to red ants being present. It’s a local rule in Thailand that red ants or fire ants as they’re known are pretty nasty little things who will bite whenever they have the chance. The rule actually only allows relief from ants nests but on every occasion one of my playing partners received a very favorable, questionable drop. Maybe I was too honest for my own good this week….
All in all the last couple of weeks have been great. I’ve been hitting the ball better and better each tournament I’ve played this year and the swing changes i’ve been making with my coach Andrew Argus are definitely starting to pay off. Under the gun, the only place to test new moves I still came up wanting once or twice but I’m confident I’m moving in the right direction and it’s only a matter of time before the scores start to reflect the kind of golf I know I am capable of.
I’m now waiting to find out if I make the great escape off the reserve list again into the next ADT event in Johor, Malaysia. It isn’t looking good so far with only a handful of names dropping off the list but the same happened at the first event with the entry list changing completely in the days leading up to the actual event.
A few pictures of the week in Thailand. Healthy post round snacks, Bangkok traffic at its finest and a much easier than expected commute back to Bangkok despite getting in everyone’s way at the train station! I’ll be back Bangkok, I’m not finished with you yet…