I am now in Shanghai for the WGC HSBC Champions tournament; this event has grown tremendously over the last five years. This year it has joined the ranks of the World Golf Championship events which has brought a stronger field than any other year.
I have played here since its first staging five years ago and is an event that I look forward to coming too. It is very well run and the fact that it is in Shanghai is also a big attraction for me as it is great to come and see a city like this. It is a massive city with lots to offer, in some areas it is very westernized and then other areas it is very traditional Chinese.
I have had reasonable finishes in this tournament over the years but I have never managed to get myself into contention. The fact that it comes so late in the year has always hindered my performance; as it is one of my last tournaments of my season as a result I am always fighting with myself not to get into technical work.
I have come here over the years facing my long winter break and looking forward to getting into working on my swing. This has been distraction to me as it takes away from my performance; this year I am in a similar boat but I am not quite as distracted by it.
I am looking forward to my winter break so that I can spend some time on perfecting the swing changes that I was working on in the early part of my year.
However, I know that I have too wait till my season is over before I get stuck into it. I am here to try and get my first win on the European and PGA Tours this year and to do that I have to stay focused on my mental approach.
I played nine holes with Shane Lowry on Tuesday; it was great to play with Shane as I haven’t had a chance to play with him or spend anytime talking to him during the year as we play such different schedules.
It was a very relaxed game; we just played away and chatted about lots of different things. I wasn’t overly happy with my game as I was still cutting the ball and so I spent a bit of time on the range afterwards to try and cure it. I didn’t feel the need to play eighteen holes as I have played here a number of times.
Wednesday as always is pro-am day and I played in the afternoon pro-am; again I wasn’t quite happy with how I was hitting it. It is unusual for me to struggle to draw the ball but I am certainly suffering from it at the moment. I have to try to hook it just to get it to move with a little draw. I spent a bit of time before and after the round working on it on the range. It is feeling a bit better but I could certainly do with more time to sort it out before the tournament starts.
We are playing at the Sheshan Golf Course again this year, as we have since the tournament’s inception. It is a very good course with plenty of exciting holes; there is a great mix between reachable par fours and fives and then tough long par fours.
The course is probably in the best shape that I have seen it in; the greens are particularly good this year. The rough is lighter than last year but it is still penal, there is definitely a premium for coming off the fairway. I like the course and the set up; I really like the fact that there are reachable par fours like the 16th and that the par fives are also reachable. This adds so much excitement to the tournament; the finish here epitomizes this.
The last three holes anything can happen; the 16th is a reachable par four, but you can also end up dropping shots if you try and force it too much. The 17th is tough par three over the quarry and then the 18th is a reachable par five with water all down the right and in front of the green. With a finish like this you want to have plenty of shots in the bag to feel like you have it won otherwise you are grinding your way right to the last green.
So far this year I have won only one tournament, the Irish PGA; I would like to pick up another win before the end of my season which is only three more tournaments. I am here to try and get my first win on the Tour this year; however the problem with this for me is that I tend to try too hard when I am thinking about winning from the start. I have to ensure that I stay patient and ensure that I remember it is a 72 hole tournament.