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On the Road with Ernie: Doing My Homework

Ernie is back in England working on his game and helping his home course prepare to host the European Tour's BMW Championship at the end of May. Find out what else he's doing and when he'll be back in the U.S. in this edition of On the Road with Ernie...

I got back to Wentworth from the Verizon Heritage at the start of last week and this is where I’ll be until the weekend. This past six or seven days I’ve been spending a lot of time with Chris Kennedy and his team, playing and walking the West Course and basically discussing the plans and preparations for the BMW Championship which will be played at Wentworth beginning May 25th. I’ll continue to concentrate on that for the next couple of days.

The course is really starting to come along well. The weather has just got warm enough here in London to encourage some good growth in the past week or so, which obviously makes a big difference. It means we can start re-shaping the fairways now, to fit in with the new bunker positioning. Everything is really coming together, which is nice to see. Chris and his team have done a great job over the last six months.

I’m certainly looking forward to having everyone come here at the end of May and play the new-look golf course. Personally, I think we’ve succeeded in improving on a classic layout and so far the response has been mostly positive. I had Retief over to the house at the weekend for a barbeque and we were chatting about it that night. He was saying he’d spoken to the Tour a couple of years ago suggesting that changes needed to be made to the golf course. He basically likes what we’ve done here.

Let’s face it this is the most prestigious tournament in Europe, outside of the Open Championship. If THE PLAYERS Championship is the PGA Tour’s so-called ‘fifth major’, then this would be the European Tour’s equivalent. You need a golf course that reflects that status, and I think that’s what Wentworth offers. It will be a real test for the top players, which is clearly as it should be.

Anyway, we can cover that topic in a bit more detail next month, in the build-up to the BMW Championship. For now, let’s get back to what I’m doing this week.

Coming up this week…

Towards the middle of this week I’ll dedicate myself 100 per cent to my golf game and my fitness – call it tour pro’s homework, if you like! I was actually considering taking an extended break between now and the BMW, but I’ve decided it’s a better idea to play a couple of tournaments in America. I feel like my game is very close right now and some serious competitive action will be good for me. So I’ll tee it up in the Wachovia next week. I’ve not played there before but I’m told it’s a very good golf course. Then I’ll play the Byron Nelson the week after that, which has always been a favourite tournament of mine anyway.

The work I’ve been putting in with Lead (coach, David Leadbetter) and also with Ricci (caddy, Ricci Roberts) has really started to pay dividends. I mean, I’m swinging the club well and basically playing a lot of good golf. But it seems like at every tournament, somewhere along the line, I kind of ‘fall off the bus’ as they say. It happened at TPC, at the Masters, and at Hilton Head as well. And those few bad holes every now and then…well, they’re really hurting my chances. I could have easily been in contention for a couple of wins these past four or five weeks. As it has turned out, I’ve ended up with three top-10s.

But like I’ve said a few times in my recent website reports, this is just an uphill climb that I have to overcome. This happens in golf. You just have to put in maximum effort to work your through it.

And when I look at the bigger picture – at my game as a whole – then apart from Bay Hill and the Matchplay it’s not been that bad. I expect better, obviously. But this is still early in the season. There’s plenty of time to turn it around and you know how it is with this game – sometimes that turnaround can happen in a heartbeat. I have to be patient and keep doing what I’m doing. It will come.

Anyway, I’ll be travelling next Monday, but I’ll try and check-in with you again before the weekend and maybe update you here with some more on my preparations for the Wachovia Championship.

Bye for now, then.

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