Raring to Go Again
Having got back from Shanghai a day later than scheduled, after the rain delay in the final round out there, I had a really nice week off with the family at our house in Wentworth. The first couple of days I pretty much took it easy, as you'd expect. Then as it got towards the end of the week I went to the gym a few times here at Wentworth and started to hit practice balls down at Queenwood Golf Club, where I'm also a member. I'm so pleased with the way I'm swinging the club, I just wanted to make sure that I stayed in that groove and kept working on the things that have helped me turn things around in my game.
I explained in detail in last week's report the advice that David Leadbetter had given me, which made such a difference. But, you know, I want to give my good friend Johann Rupert a bit of credit also for the improvement in my game. I was on the phone to Johann towards the end of the Johnnie Walker Classic and it was during that conversation that he said he'd been watching me play on television and thought he'd spotted something. Obviously we've played a lot of golf together over the years and he felt that my hands were a little higher at the top of the backswing than he could ever remember, and that I maybe wasn't turning my shoulders as well as I usually do. I must admit I wasn't convinced, but when I went to the practice ground the next day and started hitting balls, his comments made a lot of sense. Along with what David had said, it all kind of clicked into place. Anyway, for the record, thanks Johann!
It feels like no time since I got off the plane from Shanghai, but here I am getting ready to fly off again, this time to Dallas for the EDS Byron Nelson Championship, an event which I like a lot. As I was saying in last week's report, I really enjoyed the way I played in the Asian Open and I can't wait to tee it up again this week.
As I'm sure many of you reading this will know, the Byron Nelson is actually played over two courses at the Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Dallas. On the first two days everyone plays a round each at the Las Colinas TPC course and the Cottonwood Valley course (where, by the way, I set a course record 61 on the way to winning this event in 1995). Then over the weekend we play the final two rounds on the TPC.
Both layouts are par-70 and although the TPC is almost 200 yards longer than Cottonwood, neither is what you'd call a monster - at least not by today's standards. Here, it's more about position than power. You need to hit it straight off the tee, and find plenty of fairways to give yourself the best chance of controlling your approach shots into the greens. And 'control of your ball-flight' really is the name of the game here. This is Texas remember, and the wind can blow…and usually does. The good news is, the way the ball was coming off the clubface for me in Shanghai, I feel very confident about that part of my game. It's amazing how small changes to your set-up can make such a big difference to the trajectory of your shots. I feel like I can shape my shots again, just as I want to.
I'd say my record in this tournament is okay. As I said, I won it in 1995 (man, I can't believe that's 10 years ago!) and finished tied-4th in 2002. I didn't play here in 2003, but last year I came to the Byron Nelson on the back of a three-week break and, to be honest with you, I was a little bit rusty during the first couple of rounds. But I played nicely on the weekend, over the TPC layout, shooting 7-under for the final two rounds and finish tied-7th. Obviously this year my game should be a lot sharper from day one onwards, having won in Shanghai only eight days ago.
That's about it for this week's report, except for me to bring to your attention a new feature on my website, which you might be interested to have a look at. It's a World Map in the Design section, created to show all the golf courses that are either completed, under construction, or simply in the planning stages. I think it looks great and it reflects what a fantastic job my team are doing in the golf course design business.
Anyway, I'll be sure to write again next week and give you the full rundown of events from the Byron Nelson.
Bye for now.
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