Edoardo Molinari: I hit one bad swing in 36 holes and I walk off with an eight...
Saturday 16 July 2011
I was up bright and early for my second round, and when I got to the course the sun was shining and the wind had died down. You never get a day at Royal St George's where there is no breeze at all, and once again the conditions were testing. The wind was blowing in the opposite direction from Thursday, which tends to change the nature of the links.
The first thing I have to say is that for 17 holes I played really well. I drove the ball nicely, hit a lot of excellent iron shots and many good putts, but they didn't want to drop.
My bad drive came at the 14th, the 547-yard par five. The wind was blowing from left to right and the hole has a narrow fairway, with out of bounds on the right. It was hardly surprising that all three players in my group hit their drives left, but I hit a bad hook and although more than 100 people tried to find it, there was no sign of it; I had to declare it lost and go back to the tee and hit another.
It wasn't the best hole on which to hit such a poor drive because the rough on the left is probably the thickest on the entire course.
I put my second drive (my third shot) in the rough, too, and was only able to move the ball about 100 yards up the fairway in four, from where I missed the green on the left. I hit a good chip but failed to hole the putt and suddenly I had dropped three shots on one hole and walked off with an eight. And all because of one poor tee shot. It was my only bad swing in 36 holes of golf, so you can imagine how frustrated I felt by it.
It also shows just how punishing a golf course this can be. You have to concentrate all the time and focus on every single stroke.
Another shot went at the 15th after my drive found a fairway bunker. The ball barely trickled into the sand and I wasn't able to make a full enough swing to get my second shot to the green. The tee shot was good enough – I was just a bit unlucky that it found the trap.
Throughout the round I hit so many good putts that didn't go in. As I said after my first round, those putts are the difference between a good score and an average score.
I didn't get off to the best of starts, dropping a shot at the first, but then I birdied the second and seventh to get to the turn in one under par, at which point I was two under for the tournament, and in good shape. But the back nine was frustrating. I missed the green with my second to the 10th and dropped a shot. At the par-three 11th, I struck a lovely iron shot that finished maybe 15 feet from the hole but the putt shaved the hole. It was the same story at the 12th, where once again I was within 15 feet in two but just missed the putt.
At the 13th, which measures 459 yards, I hit a huge drive and my second shot finished at the rear of the green but, once again, I hit a beautiful putt that looked like it was going to drop but stayed above ground.
Then came the 14th and 15th. The 16th is the 163-yard par three and again I played a super shot, 12 feet to the left of the hole, but missed the putt again. A routine par followed at the 17th and I had a good up-and-down at the last for a par. It all added up to a round of 74, and a 36-hole total of 143, three over par. I then had to spend the rest of the day waiting to find out whether or not I had made the cut – luckily in the end I did make it.
It was a disappointing round of golf, but at times like this I cast my mind back to less than two years ago, when I was still playing on the Challenge Tour. It is difficult to believe what has happened to me since then. Last year was amazing, winning twice and getting into the Ryder Cup team. I know my progress this season has not been so good, but the time that I have spent on the PGA Tour in America has been a positive experience.
I have learnt how to play golf in different conditions, and I have felt better prepared for the majors and the World Golf Championship events than ever. My 11th-place finish in the Masters was definitely down to better preparation and feeling totally acclimatised with the conditions.
For the rest of the season, I will be playing most of my golf in Europe. I am a long way behind in the Race to Dubai, but there are a lot of big tournaments still to come.
Edoardo Molinari is writing exclusively for The Independent during the Open
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