This week I am back at Sherwood Country Club in L.A. for the Chevron World Challenge, Tiger's tournament. I missed it last year as I finished my season earlier so as to get my winter break in. It is the last tournament of the year for me before I take an eight week break from tournament golf. After the Race to Dubai I took the week off and relaxed at home; the weather was terrible but it was great to be home. I then traveled out to L.A. on Sunday so as to give myself a chance to acclimatize to the time change.
The absence of Tiger from this year’s event has been the major story so far this week. The press has been asking all the players about what has happened, but the thing is that it has nothing to do with any of us. It is a private issue that Tiger and his family will deal with. We are all here to play a golf tournament.
I played thirteen holes in practice on Monday; it was fantastic conditions to play in, 80 degrees and no real wind. I hit a few shots afterwards to get myself back into the right frame of mind. This tournament has two day pro-am but I only play on the second day. Because of this the course was only available for play after three on Tuesday. I did a bit of practice in the morning, working on my short game mainly and then trying out a few new driver shafts. After all of this I played the five holes that I hadn’t played on Monday. On Wednesday I played the pro-am as normal. However, it was played under a different format that we are not used too. It was a "shamble" which involves picking the best drive and then playing your own ball from there. The scoring in this format is exceptionally good and there were teams shooting twenty-four under par. I hit the ball fine in the pro-am but I struggled to really get into it and found it hard to get focused over my shots.
This is an event that I have performed well in in the past; I have won it once and finished in the top five a few times. I really enjoy it for a number of reasons: it is a limited field and we are looked after extremely well. As well as this a gang of friends come down from San Francisco for the week and it is kind of my Christmas party. That said, whilst it can be easy to fall into the trap of not taking it seriously, I am still here to win!
As this is my last event of the year it is my last chance for a win in 2009. I have had a number of strong finishes over the last few months but I just haven’t been able to finish any of them off. The fact that I haven’t won this year will definitely help keep my mind on the job this week. It would be great to come here and finish the year on a high; however I know that I can’t win it on the first day. I have to stay patient and see if I can give myself a chance on Sunday afternoon. This is a course that I enjoy playing and have done well on before; it is always nice to play on a course that you have good memories on. I am looking forward to getting started this week but I am also really looking forward to my winter break. The main thing for me this week is not to get ahead of myself and to ensure I keep my mind on the tournament.
USS Michael Murphy, named after Irish American Navy SEAL hero, heading toward Korea