Galgorm Grief and Oh So Close!!
It’s been quite a month folks. As we head towards the seasons end and inimitable Tour School, I’ve had a bit of a roller coaster few weeks. My form on the Europro Tour, where standards have reached ridiculously high levels, has been very steady. This is reflected in my 10th place on the current Race to Amendoeira leaderboard. Top 5 on this list at seasons end gains an automatic Challenge Tour Card for next season. It would be nice to have this in my pocket heading to tour school. After an unusual missed cut at the Nokia Masters I spent some much needed time with my coach Simon Byrne and headed to Galgorm for the Northern Ireland Challenge. This Challenge Tour event is gaining more traction each year and it would not surprise me if it ultimately becomes a full European Tour event in the short term. It certainly has that feel about it. My first round was pretty steady until we got to the 8th hole. A pulled 6 iron approach finished in a impossible lie in green side rough. I was only able to advance the ball into an adjacent bunker. With a really steep bank to negotiate, it took 3 shots to get out of the bunker. A resultant 8 was devastating for my card. Galgorm doesn’t give shots up easily and I was made to pay for that slip up. On day 2, we teed up in very mixed, windy weather. Starting on the back 9 we faced one of the most daunting tee shots on this fine course. Par 5, severe dogleg left to right. A carry of no less than 260 yds required to make fairway with trouble almost everywhere. You might ask why I’m spending time on just 1 hole but there’s a good reason. After striping a drive to the perfect position we trundled off knowing that we needed a 5under round to make the cut. On reaching my ball and working out yardage etc, my eyes moved to my golf bag. Instantly, a sinking feeling engulfed me. A sudden realisation struck me that I had put my “rescue club”into my bag when leaving my accommodation and forgot to remove it before play. Now I’m in the middle of the 10th fairway with 15 clubs in my bag. I reported the incident to my fellow players and then a tour official. The result was a 2 shot penalty. So despite getting a birdie 4 on my first hole I had to card a 6. Now I’m even further from the cut line. Nothing for it but to settle down and try and shoot best possible score. I played some terrific golf over the next few hours and despite shooting the requisite 5 under, I missed by 1 shot due to the penalty. A salutary lesson hard learned. You may ask how a touring professional can make this kind of mistake but unfortunately history is full of such hiccups. Sometimes a player can get so focused on practice and pre round procedures that a simple check to count clubs can be overlooked. Suffice to say that mistake will not reoccur. Championship” at the East Sussex National course in the UK. My game has been good for some time now and the 3 round format of the Europro Tour is a great game sharpener. Last week I felt comfortable in my skin and despite a mediocre 2nd round, I was very confident heading out on the final day. Birdies on the first 3 holes gave me a lightening start . 5 more followed before a lone bogie on the 18th. This was good enough to get me into a play off for the title. To be honest I wasn’t really ready for a play off. The tournament leader Min Kyu Kim already a winner the previous week had a 3 shot advantage with 3 to play. The way he played all week suggested that he would close out comfortably. Bogies on 16,17 and 18 proved otherwise. I was sent scrambling for my clubs which were by this time safely packed in the car ready for trip to the airport. Just as happened in Galgorm, golf can be a funny game. I had great chance of victory on first playoff hole but my ball stopped in the jaws from 8 ft. I played the second poorly and Kim parred to win. Disappointing but very encouraging non the less. I’m in great shape just now and feel a win is close. I have a demanding finish to the season with Tour School and “Europro Seasons End Championship”on the horizon so it’s heads down for next few weeks. Hope all you guys are having a successful year on the course and thanks again for all your support. I will keep you updated on progress.