Here we go...
This week is the Grand Prix of Mont de Marsan and is the first event I am playing in since coming home from the United States. Mont de Marsan is only an hour from home so I am fortunate to be able to stay at home every evening which is good for comfort but also for expenses.
The course at Mont de Marsan is in the middle of the Landes forest with fairways running in between pine, oak and chestnut trees. The lay out is a par 71 designed by Jean Garailde one of the most successful french golf professionals. The tight fairways, sometimes only 15meters wide, make the course very technical and demanding. It is a beautiful course.
My tournament started on Friday at 9:50am. This week I have opted for a strategy that relies on the strong parts of my game based on my play in the last week of practice. I am trying to get the ball in play as much as I can even if it mean I hit a shorter club than driver off the tee and then be aggressive with my wedges and short irons.
I started quite poorly because after hitting the fairway on my opening tee shot I missed the green with a short club and lost a shot. On the following hole, a par 3, I hit my iron shot to inside 2 meters and holed the putt to bring my score back to level par. I made par on the next two holes and then made my second birdie of the day on hole 5. I choose to hit a long iron of the tee because it is a short but tight hole. After finding the fairway I hit a gap wedge just to the right of the hole to about 3meters and made the put. Two pars followed one was an up and down and the other a green in regulation and a 2 putt. On the 8th hole I made my third birdie of the day. After hitting my tee shot on the fairway I hit my wedge shot to about 3 meters and holed the putt. I then birdied holes 11 and 12 in a similar way when I hit my approaches onto the green and made the putt twice. On 12 however I must admit that I was further away from the hole and was only trying to 2 putt but it went right in the middle and I moved to 4 under par. Following those 2 birdies I had a bit of a rough patch where I lost a shot on both 13 and 15 but I managed to bounce back on the par 3 16th with a birdie. After lots of thought I chose to hit an 8 iron with my hands a little bit down on the grip and with a three quarter finish in order to take a bit of distance of the shot. The ball flew perfectly as I had visualized it and finished just a few meters away from the hole and then I holed the putt. I finished the round with 2 pars and signed for a score of 3 under par.
Overall I felt like I managed to stick to my strategy very well today. My ball striking was not as good as I wanted it to be and as it has been in the last week but I managed to give myself some opportunities for birdie and my putting was excellent. I made the most of what I had and I am happy with my score for today.
My second round was in the afternoon and therefore in very warm conditions. The warm air made the ball fly much further than usual but it also made the greens harder which can sometimes reduce the margin for error on approach shots. It started my round with a few pars. On the opening holes I played well but all the birdie chances I created were downhill putts which meant I couldn’t be as aggressive as I wanted to. I made a bogey on 5 because I took 3 putt after an amazing recovery shot which was very frustrating. I had hit such a beautiful, demanding and risky shot and it felt like I had just thrown it away. I moved on to the sixth hole and refocused on my round. I hit a nice tee shot but missed my birdie putt. I then made a bogey on 7 when I didn’t get up and down from the green side bunker. Following this dropped shot I decided to be more positive and let my game create chances to get back in the round. On 9 the chance came. I hit my wedge shot to less than half a meter and taped in for birdie. Then on 11 I hit my approach to 3 meters and holed the putt. Two holes later on 13 I made another birdie to move to 1 under for the day. My plan of having a positive attitude was working. Unfortunately I made a bogey on 15 to bring my score back to level par and finished with 3 pars to sign for a score of 71.
I entered the final round tied for the lead at 3 under par. My group teeing off at 9:50 in the morning which is quite unusual for a final group in the final round. The positive was however that we were able to stay out of the heat for most of the front nine. I started my round very steadily with 4 easy pars. I then made a bogey on the 5th hole after an errant tee shot finished behind a tree blocking my route to the green. On the following hole I hit one of the worst shots I hit during the week. On the short par 3 I pulled my iron shot left of the left green side bunker. The lie was terrible and I could attempt a lob shot. I tried chipping it around the bunker using the slopes but the ball bounced into the bunker. A bunker shot and 2 putts later I was walking to the 7th tee with an ugly double bogey on my scorecard bumping my score up to 3 over par for the day. I then made bogey on the 8th hole in a similar fashion by missing in the green in the wrong spot and not getting up and down. Following these dropped shot I tried to bring my game back to the basics of hitting fairways but also being very aggressive with my approach shots. I saw some results. I birdied holes 11 and 13 to get back in a position where I had a chance of winning on the final holes. I walked to the 14th tee confident that I had a real chance. Because I had just birdied my previous hole I was teeing off first. The 14th is a hole where precision off the tee is a must. My plan was to get the ball in play and then the pressure would be on my playing partners. I hit the fairway and they both missed it into thick rough and trees on the left side. When I got to the ball it was covered in mud… The mud was on the left side and so I had to aim right in order to compensate for the change in ball flight off the ball. I hit my shot the ball flew straight for about 100 meters and then turned uncontrollably. I was 50 meters left of the pin after the ball had finished bouncing and rolling. Meanwhile my playing partners hacked their shots out to the correct side of the green. I made a double bogey there and lost all the ground that I had made up. It was a tough one to take especially since I was the only one to hit the fairway and I had done exactly what was need from the tee. A couple of pars and a bogey made for a disappointing score of 76. Congratulations to Marius on his victory he played really solid on the final holes to clinch the win. Personally I was really disappointed with the way the round went. I though I had hit the ball pretty well but when I hit bad shots I was always on the wrong side of the hole. This plus some unfortunate things like the mud ball prevented me form scoring well and winning. I will learn from it and do better next time I play.