Posted on: 17 August

I qualified for the Senior British Open at Sunningdale GC which was my first major tournament as a senior. Following qualifying it was a mad rush to register, get a caddy, and book in for practice rounds.  When there is the uncertainty of qualifying you have very little time and opportunity to plan and build up to the first round. For example, all the nice practice round times were gone, and with a sponsors pro am to be played on the Tuesday the earliest practice tee time I could get on Tuesday or Wednesday was 3:30pm. Also, having played since Saturday I would love to have a half day off just to give the mind and body a rest. It’s a balancing act and I will have to decide which is more important, practice or rest.

I register on the Tuesday and I have a practice time booked for 2:45pm. Moments after I have registered I am told that Retief Goosen’s entourage has a positive test for Covid-19 and they all need to be retested. I was asked “would I like to fill his spot for the pro-am.??” It’s not what I had planned but a chance to play at 12:25 rather than 2:45 sounds good to me.
Wednesday I just practice and rest up for the week. I feel a rested mind and body is like a “15th” club.
1st round – The hot weather continues with just a light breeze. It is a one tee start so tee off times go all day. My tee time was 3:20 pm which was a long time to wait and meant that I finished just before 8pm. The golf course was in great shape with a premium on iron play into the greens. I started with a birdie on the 1st and an eagle two on the 3rd hole (a par 4 ) and after the first 9 I was -3 under. Unfortunately, on the back 9 I missed a couple of drives and putts and I shoot 1 over. 3 birdies and an eagle offset by 6 bogeys.
Score – 71
Shot of the day – Holing my second shot on the par 4, 3rd from 91 metres. Nice eagle!

2nd round – The hot weather finally eased off a bit and a nice breeze started to blow. The temperature comfort level was better but the wind started causing headaches on the course for everyone. The wind was swirling around the trees, and choosing the correct yardage and club became difficult especially with tournament pin positions set by the R&A. 1 birdie was offset by two bogeys and a triple bogey on a par 3. A shot you can all probably relate to was on the 15th, a par 3, where I completely thinned a ball out of a green side bunker into the trees on the other side of the green. Making a 6 was probably a fair score.
Score – 74
Shot of the day – I holed a 15 foot par putt on the 16th to stem the bleeding and ultimately ensured I made the cut.

3rd round – Another day that produced three birdies on the front 9 holes but 6 bogeys scattered throughout the round offset all the good work. The back 9 was a struggle for me, and for most of the field, but hopefully tomorrow will be better.
Score – 73
Shot of the day – The opening drive was straight down the middle and went 300 meters. A great shot straight out of the box in front of the galleries.

4th round – The only advantage of being towards the end of the field is you get and early start, 7:50 am. This gave me a chance to make the best of the greens with very few footprints and make a move back up the leaderboard. 5 birdies and no bogeys is always good but on the final day of a major, and with the tough pin positions, it was even more satisfying.
Score – 65
Shot of the day – Holing a 40 foot putt on the 18th in front of the crowd.
Finish – =35th.

Tournament: Senior British PGA

The Senior British PGA was held at Formby Golf Club, just north of Liverpool. There are a lot of great golf courses near here, Lytham St Anne’s and Birkdale, to name a couple and if you are thinking of a golfing holiday in the UK this is a pretty good place to start. Formby is another links course and with the hot weather the course is dry and the ball is running a proverbial mile. What makes this course difficult is trying to keep the ball out of the many pot bunkers with your tee shot. And believe me there are a lot of these bunkers and once you’re in them the most you can do is grab your sand iron and splash out. In fact I’m tempted to leave my driver out of the bag as it brings a lot of these bunkers into play.

1st round – I had an early tee time which normally means a chance to take advantage of the course before the wind gets up. Unfortunately, today was the reverse. The wind was howling and with balls rolling on the greens (which are not that quick) the course was deemed unplayable. My 8:20 tee off time is pushed back to 12:00. This makes for a long day as typically I am up 2 hours 30 mins before I tee off so I can stretch, have breakfast etc and arrive at the course. As I teed off the wind had dropped a little but squally showers swept across the course. I tried putting the umbrella up but that was a waste of time and effort. As the day goes on the wind drops but I did not play well and dropped too many shots. It was a day I would like to forget. 4 bogeys, a double bogey and no birdies.
Score – 78
Shot of the day- A low, stinging 4 iron hit 150 metres (normally I hit it 190-200 metres) on the par 3, 4th hole to hit the green.

2nd round – I teed off in the rain but thankfully it only lasted for 3 holes before it stopped. However, with the easing of the rain the wind increased, not to the levels of yesterday, but enough to be a two/three club wind. Finally I made a birdie. It took me 26 holes to make my first birdie of the tournament and at a professional level that is not good enough and it tested my patience. On the next hole I did something I have never done in my entire professional career (and probably amateur as well). I teed off from the wrong tee markers. The tees markers for the pros and amateurs constantly change during the week and, eager to see if I could make another birdie, I teed off from where we played yesterday. Unfortunately, the pros tees were back another 20 metres. Talk about 1 step forward and two steps back. In fact if it wasn’t for me realising my error the other pro would have teed off there as well. Anyway, it’s a 2 shot penalty…………… a mistake I will only make once. I have been hitting a lot of good shots and putts but I am just having one of those weeks.
Score – 74
Shot of the day – Holing a 7 foot birdie putt on 8th to finally make my first birdie for the week.

3rd round – The winds were moderate today but a lack of birdies again coupled with driving it into 4 pot bunkers made scoring very difficult for me. The putter did not cooperate and I wasn’t able to take advantage of some great shots. Two birdies and 6 bogeys meant I missed the cut by one shot which I think is the worst feeling for a pro. Not the first time I’ve missed a cut but as I am super competitive I don’t enjoy the feeling of missing a cut. I’ll get my revenge next year!
Score – 76
Shot of the day – Rolling in a 10 footer on the first for an opening birdie.
Result – Missed cut

I now have two weeks off so I have headed back to France to get ready for the next tournament which will be in Ireland in two weeks time. I am looking forward to the break and consolidate on what has been a mostly successful few weeks.

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