In the mix at the majors is where you want to be as a player, so obviously it was good to enjoy that buzz again at Valhalla, especially after the year I’ve had. As it happened, it could have been something really special.
My golf was in decent shape from the get-go, having started with a pair of 70s, then a nice solid round of 68 on Saturday. That got me to five-under for the tournament, eight shots behind the leaders, and to be honest I still felt like I had a chance on Sunday. This is a great golf course, but by major standards it was very gettable. If you played well you could get plenty of looks for birdies out there and the way I started my final round it felt like I could birdie every hole. I had the momentum going, six birdies in 11 holes, and it was just so much fun to feel those vibes again.
When we got to the turn in nine-under, I said to my caddie Colin ‘okay let’s play the back nine in five-under and get to 14-under.' That was definitely doable because my game felt in great shape. Just that bogey at 17, which was playing tough, cost me an outside chance of posting a very competitive number and maybe making the leaders think a bit. That and not birdieing sevenand missing a five-footer on eight; they hurt a little bit and those were the ones I was thinking about on the way home.
This morning doesn’t feel like a time for disappointment, though. It was a pleasing performance – four under-par rounds, then making a bunch of birdies on Sunday and closing with a 65 for a top-10 in a major. I was hitting the ball beautifully and my putting was good all week – probably my best putting performance of the year, actually. That’s a massive positive to take forward into the remainder of this season.
So, three solid performances in a row has obviously cemented my place in the FedExCup playoffs (Ernie is ranked 85th on the points list after the PGA) but still for me there was no hesitation in committing to this week’s Wyndham Championship. I really enjoy this tournament. Sedgefield is a beautiful old Donald Ross design, one of the premier private clubs in America having hosted the Greater Greensboro Open for more than 50 years. I love the course and have shot some pretty low numbers the couple of times I’ve played there, a 65 in round one in 2011 and a final round 65 last year. I’m looking forward to it and having played so well at Valhalla, feel like I can carry that momentum and really give it a good go this week.
Anyway, just before signing off I want to thank you for all the messages of support and encouragement last week, both on Twitter @TheBig_Easy and through the website. Your kind words are much appreciated.
Also, many congrats to Curro Aurora who blitzed the field to win the annual Ernie Els SA Primary Schools Championship by 21 shots at Middelburg Country Club at the weekend. That’s seriously good playing! It has been exciting to see how this tournament has grown in the last four years and it is especially gratifying to see 19 schools challenge for the title this year. It is such an honor to be involved with the juniors at this level of their careers and obviously I am thrilled to assist the SAGA in providing a stage for our future stars where they can develop their skills and talent during an organised and competitive tournament. It is also critically important to show the juniors the benefits of a healthy, active and outdoor lifestyle. I believe that playing sport and interacting with each other is such an important part of growing up, especially in the fast-paced world we live in today.