I’m excited about this week – looking forward to it. I feel like my game’s in a good place, even though I haven’t played competitively for a couple of weeks.
I had a week away in Barbados after Harbour Town and the Zurich Classic and feel like I’ve hit the reset button for the next part of the year.
The Majors are big weeks in the golfing calendar and it’s all about conserving your energy and not letting them get inside your head too much.
My focus this week will be to try and keep a similar routine to what I normally do.
Bethpage State Park
I arrived in New York on Sunday and played nine holes at the Black Course in Bethpage State Park. I’ve never played here before, so I was keen to see what it’s like in person. You watch the tournaments on TV, but there’s nothing like seeing it with your own eyes.
I’m used to going to different golf courses and getting to know the lay of the land in a couple of days, so it’s nothing new for me. If you get a couple of practice rounds in, you generally get a good feel for a golf course and know what way it’s going to play.
If you just read up on it or watched DVDs, you can be influenced in a bad way of how you should play the course. I like to play a golf course in my own way.
I get there and get the yardage book out, stand on the tee and visualise what I want to do, right down to the flag. That’s the way I like to go about it. Watching re-runs of previous tournaments wouldn’t help me in any way, really.
Generally, for the big tournaments, I rent a house and try to keep a tight group around me. I’ll have people I’m close too with me, like my agent Brian Moran, my coach Neil Manchip, my dad, my wife Wendy and my daughter Iris.
They’ll all be in the house. Coincidentally, my brother Alan who caddied for me last year at the USPGA, is over in New York on work, so he’ll be there too.
That’ll be it, really.
You want people around you who know what they’re doing. If you have a bad day, they’ll know to leave you alone and stuff like that. Just little things like that, so you’re not distracted. I’ll just try to stick to a similar routine to what I’d normally do.
USPGA last year and this
To be honest, I feel like I’ve been playing decent golf since last season’s USPGA Championship at Bellerive GC, where I finished tied for 12th. If I hadn’t bogeyed the 16th and 17th, it could have been a Top 5 finish. That was very disappointing, but apart from that, I played great.
It’s funny. I was at home last week in Florida and there was a replay of it on the TV. It was cool. I played great golf that week against great golfers, and that’s where I want to be.
Obviously, my first job at Bethpage this week is to make the cut. But you can make the cut and still be out of contention, so I want to be in contention.
My approach will be to get out there and try and shoot the best score I can on Thursday, and then see where I am on Thursday evening.
I plan to do the same on Friday and hopefully that’s enough to put me in a decent place going into the weekend. The ideal scenario is to be in a good position going into the back nine on Saturday. You’ve got 27 holes to have a go at it from there. That’s the way I’ve always viewed tournaments. If you’re in contention by the back nine on Saturday, you can make a move.
I played great golf at Harbour Town last month, when tied for third place, and went into that week knowing my game was in good shape, despite missing the cut at the Masters.
I learnt a little bit about myself at Harbour Town. I just really need to relax on the golf course and not worry about the consequences of a good or a bad shot.
The best thing was that I felt very comfortable in the lead having been at the top of the leader board from tee off until the business end on Sunday.
That was something I felt when I won in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, which was nice. I was happy. Obviously, I was disappointed I didn’t win at Harbour Town, but I was very happy that I gave myself a good chance of winning.
That’s what I want to do. I want to be playing against the best players in the world, competing against them and seeing if I’ve got what it takes to beat them. To be competing with the likes of Dustin Johnson, the World No. 1 at the minute, is a great feeling.
To be able to go out and do that is very nice. It can’t do anything but give me confidence going forward.
The US PGA tend to set the course up just a tad easier than they do for a US Open.
If the US Open was at Bethpage this week, it would be brutal! This course should be more playable because the US PGA is a different organisation so there are different people setting up the courses.
They have it in their own head what score they want to win the tournament. Whereas the USGA, they would see level par as a winning score – the PGA would like to see six to 10 under or something like that.
It’ll be set up a little bit easier to allow some low scoring, but not too much easier. I’ve played quite a few PGAs over the years and that’s the feeling I get from them.