I arrived Tuesday morning with my caddie, Jamie, in his Renault Scenic; a automobile worthy of the road but not of the parking space it filled – Ernie Els’. From the moment Paul Robigo, the warmest car park attendant in the south region welcomed us to Wentworth, I knew it was going to be a special week.
I’m not one to be overawed by a place or circumstance but stepping foot on the 1st tee at Wentworth, surrounded by people – most of whom I suspected to be decent golfers – I was feeling the pressure. A necky-3wood into a stiff breeze left me another in. Another necky-3wood and a poor chip and putt and that was me already over par. A traditional ‘Pepperell’ start. My habit of relinquishing any chances during my opening round wasn’t going to happen this time.
There is a reason for that – Jamie. He has been my putting coach for a few years and I decided the week before to ask him to caddy. He’s a great green reader and someone who doesn’t put up with any crap, just what I need sometimes. My week at Wentworth showed to me how immensely important it is to have the right people around. Particularly at important times and junctures. With Jamie on the bag and Mike (my new coach) present also, I realised how if I were to remain patient, this week could be a great one.
Patience it was, and with the weather turning very nasty and some other top players turning their minds elsewhere, this was a opportunity. Doggedness and tenacity win battles and after throwing up on day 1 on the 11th (due to illness) and a 5am alarm on Friday, never had there been a better time to dig in and flourish.
A quadruple-birdie finish on Friday catapulted me into the top 10 and with it a late Saturday tee-time. I thought I was nervous on Thursday’s first tee shot! The support however was brilliant, “c’mon Edwardo” was a popular cry and there were even a few “c’mon the Owl” shouts flying around.
The only shot worth talking about was my tee shot off 15 on Sunday as it had the potential to cost me some sleep. And hassle off the fastidious type. The reason no sleep was lost is because I went through the same routine and the same thoughts as the 6 iron I hit to 4 feet 10 minutes previously. I was actually comforted walking off that tee knowing that if I’d of hit that shot on the range my coach would have liked it (the left shot I hadn’t seen in weeks because of my bad habits). Unfortunately it just came at a bad time. The same thing happened to Matteo and Marc Warren but at that moment Lady Luck shone down on them. Whoever says luck isn’t important has obviously had either too much or not enough.
Some people often struggle with contending at weekends – that has perplexed me in the past. For me there has always been one striking and simple thought when being in the hunt on Saturday and Sunday: you’re playing well so you have nothing to fear, you don’t even need to think about golf anymore. It just comes down to course management and containing emotions, if you do this well you will always have a chance to win.
The BMW PGA was the biggest event of my life, I contended to win and that’s how I thought. I could’ve won! The greatest confidence boost I’ve taken is in knowing that the paragraph above contains messages that hold true regardless of the scenario.
The US Open Qualifying on Monday really contained very few lessons. Confidence holds on for 24 hours.
My next competitive tee shot will be off the 1st tee at Merion. There won’t be a 1 iron in the bag so I will not be compared to Hogan. There will be a jockey-sized caddy on the bag but I won’t be compared to Frankel. There will however, be a 22 year old fired up and ready for a battle. So as far as I’m concerned I hope Merion is playing its toughest.
From that wise old Owl, cheers.