Every year I look forward to playing in the Dunhill Links as it is one of the most enjoyable tournaments on the schedule and this year was no exception. I really enjoyed the week. I would have liked to perform a little better but that did not take away from my overall enjoyment. I finished in a tie for 26th which was a poor return considering how I played; J.P. and I also missed the cut which was very disappointing as we are normally contending the team event, not worrying about making the cut.
This is a tournament that I have a very good record in over the years; I have won it twice and finished in the top ten a number of times. So every year I come here with high hopes of contending for the title on Sunday. This year didn’t go as I hoped as I only made the cut on the mark which meant that I started my last round from the tenth tee. It was funny playing the last round like this as it felt like we were out on the course on our own as the crowds were on the other nine watching the leaders.
In practise on Wednesday I hit the ball exceptionally well and couldn’t ask to hit any better. When I got on the course on Thursday I was struggling with my focus a bit as I was actually put off by how well I hit it the day before. I played poorly for most of my round in Carnoustie; it was only on the last five or six holes that I actually started to hit the ball well. However I did scramble very well all day and then when I started to hit the ball better I holed a couple of putts for birdies. In the end I was three under playing my last hole, the ninth, which was a great return considering how I played. On the ninth I purposely hit my drive down the left side as it was the safest line but when I got down to my ball the rough in the area was growing into us and I had no lie. I had to wedge it out and ended up taking a bogey. It was very disappointing to finish with a bogey as I had managed to keep it together all day.
My second and third rounds were quite similar in a lot of respects. I played very well from tee to green and gave myself a lot of chances, but didn’t really hole enough putts. On Friday I played at
The weather forecast that we had got on Friday meant that it was always unlikely that we would play on Saturday due to the winds and it was spot on. We had a day off which I spent resting, catching up on some sleep and generally just taking it easy.
Our third round was played on Sunday and we were in Kingsbarns; again I played lovely golf most of the day but missed a lot of chances. I made three birdies on the front nine to be seven under and then another birdie on the eleventh and at this stage I felt that I was getting myself into the tournament. I missed a seven footer on the 12th to go to nine under and then from here the wheels came off! On the 13th I pushed my tee shot a fraction and it came up a yard short and ran down the hill, from where my chip was just short, ended up in the bunker and I took a double bogey. I then followed it up with another double bogey on the 14th to put me back to four under par. I managed to par my way in to finish on four under which ended up being the cut mark; it was looking dodgy for a while! In the team event we had to count the double bogey on the 13th and then a bogey on the 14th which ended up knocking us out of the tournament. It was a very disappointing end to my third round as I was looking like getting into contention at one stage and then I was sweating on making the cut.
My final round was again a story of many chances and several missed putts, although I did manage to hole more in this round than previously. I ended up shooting six under for the final round and still feeling like I left a lot of shots out there. Bar one hole, the 4,th where I hit a bad second shot that cost me a bogey it was nearly a perfect round from tee to green. The only problem with hitting the ball as I did in the final round is that you can get frustrated because you are not holing all the putts. Even though I shot six under I felt that I should have scored better.
My final round was a little funny for a couple of reasons, firstly because I started on the 10th and secondly because I have never looked at leader boards so much in a round of golf before. I wasn’t looking at them to see my name but to watch the progress of Kieran McManus in the team event. He went out in the final round leading by one shot; myself and Ronan were hoping he would win but we were also nervous for him. On every hole we were looking to see how he was getting on and how the guy in second place was doing. In the end he won by five shots! He played great for the week and deserved to win.