It has been a while since I played a regular European tour event, being the French Open two weeks before the Open. It feels good to be back in St. Andrews for the Dunhill Links, which is one of my favourite tournaments of the year on courses I enjoy. As ever I am playing with J.P. and we are looking to take the title for the third time. On top that it is great to be back in Europe and catching up with everyone.
I flew straight home on Sunday night from Atlanta and then onto St. Andrews on the Monday evening. I played two practice rounds, one on Kingsbarns and the other on the Old Course, which is my usual routine, I leave Carnoustie out as it is a long way to go for a practice round and I know the course well. I played on Tuesday with J.P, Gerry McManus and Dermot Desmond and then on Wednesday I played with Kieran, John and Gerry McManus. We have a regular match on the Wednesday of this event, but unfortunately for John and I we were on the losing end this year. The only good thing about this is that next year I get to set the handicaps!
I am happy with my form from the last few weeks. Whilst it would have been nice to get a win under my belt in one of the last few tournaments, I can’t complain. I am back now to finish off my season in Europe which means trying win the Race to Dubai. I have a lot of ground to make up before the final event in Dubai which means that I am in need of winning an event or two. I am happy with how everything has gone in practice and am looking forward to getting started.
The three courses that we play this week are well known, two due to the fact that the Open is held on them and the other because we have been playing this tournament here for a number of year now. Of the three courses the toughest is definitely Carnoustie, although it is generally set up a little easier than it would be for an Open. However it is still a course that you are happy to get through with a reasonable score and then try and score on the other courses.
Kingsbarns is a really good test, normally it can be one of the easier ones but that is because the par 5’s are normally reachable. The course plays much shorter than its yardage as the fairways run quite fast. If you get to play it in decent weather then you feel you have a good chance to shoot a score.
St. Andrews is a course that everybody is familiar with. The key around this course is to try and miss the bunkers and to hit your pace putts well as you are guaranteed to have several long putts given that there are quite a few double greens. This is the course that we play again on Sunday and one that all the pros know very well.
As always I look forward to playing this week and for a number of reasons. I like the courses and the format, but more importantly I enjoy playing with J.P. This year we start on Carnoustie and then play St. Andrews and finally Kingsbarns. It nice to get the toughest course out of the way early whilst the other thing we hope for is that we get some decent weather.
The Irish pub that became home base for 9/11 ground zero rescuers