It was a disappointing start back for me - missing the cut was not what I had hoped for. I went out to L.A. knowing that I was quite rusty but I was happy with how my winter work had gone. Every year when I start back I am unsure as to what to expect. Historically I have been a slow starter as I tend to spend too much time on technical work during my winter break - this winter was better than most but I still spent a lot of time working on technical issues which meant that when I got to LA I was wishing that I was more prepared. Some things never change!!
In practice I was struggling with a lot of my iron shots going right, generally starting a little right with a cut. I wasn’t too worried about it as I felt that it was really just a timing issue and that by the time the tournament started it would have worked its way out of my swing. However it never did and I struggled for the rest of the week with the ball going right. It wasn’t too bad with my driver but more with my fairway woods and irons. It meant that I never really got comfortable over the ball as I was always struggling not to hit it right; as a result I ended up hitting a number of shots fat and out of the toe, which came about as a result of trying to compensate, resulting in my hands getting a bit active.
My first round was played in typical L.A. weather, sunny and warm; unfortunately I wasn’t able to match the weather. I shot a one over par round of 72, which in the end was good score as I struggled on my back nine and had to scramble to save par a number of times. I started out nicely making a couple of birdies in my first five holes - it was actually feeling easy for a while but then I woke up I began struggling with that "right" shot. The scoring was pretty good as the conditions were nice for golf so mine felt below average and left me outside the cut mark by the end of the day.
The weather forecast for Friday was terrible and as usual here in the US, they were right. I played in the afternoon and it was one of the worst days I have ever experienced on a golf course. The only day I can think of as being worse was the first day at Royal Birkdale in the Open Championship two years ago. We managed to play 16 holes before we were called off due to poor light. Like the first round, I started well but wasn’t able to keep it going; two birdies in my first three holes got me to one under par for the tournament but from there on I began to struggle again. By the time I was called in, after hitting my drive on the 17th, I was two over par for the tournament and lying in a tie for 71st position. While I was outside the cut line I felt that it would be two over once everyone finished.
I came back on Saturday morning with two holes to play and needing to make two pars to make the cut. On the 17th I was hitting a seven iron in for my third shot and it came up a yard short and finished in the bunker; in the air I thought I had holed it. I thinned my bunker shot and then missed the putt, which meant that I needed to birdie the last hole to make the cut, which I wasn’t able to do.
Even though I never felt comfortable over the ball it wasn’t really the fault of me missing the cut, which was due to the short game as usual and unfortunately I was a little too rusty. In the second round I had two three putts, the 4th and 12th, and thinned two bunkers shots, the 9th and 17th, which were ultimately the shots that cost me making the cut. There were a number of other shots that I let slip around the greens but these were the ones that really cost me.
Missing the cut was disappointing, as I would like to have played four rounds so as to get more tournament practice. One positive is that I was getting better mentally as the rounds went on - I felt that I was making good progress in this area.
Having missed the cut I spent Saturday practicing and trying to work out why I was hitting the ball right but to no avail. I traveled to Pebble Beach on Sunday morning and did some practice in the afternoon before watching the Super Bowl. My focus is on the AT&T National Pro-am now and with this in mind I will be working on sorting out that "right" shot and getting myself in a good frame of mind for the week.