After my stint in America to play competitive golf at the earliest opportunity it felt great to get back to familiar surroundings and compete on the European Tour again for the first time in four months at the Austrian Open.
I think the European Tour have done a phenomenal job in getting tournaments back on in the current climate and hats off to Keith Pelley and all the team for the job they have done during these difficult times. It felt very surreal arriving for the first event as there are obviously lots of measures in place to keep all the players and staff safe with lots of testing, as well as staying within your bubble.
I think quite a lot of the players – including myself – found that difficult as when you turn up to these tournaments you tend to hang out with each other after your round and go for dinner together, but it’s not like that right now. You’re only allowed to meet with your caddie and have to go straight from the course to the hotel, so it was room service for me most nights! At times it did feel as if was a bit too much, but then you realise how lucky we are to be playing golf again, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
View this post on Instagram
Playing for the first time without any fans felt really weird as I didn’t know if I was playing a practice round or tournament golf! The fans are an integral part of the sport and they can give you so much momentum as you feed off their energy, so hopefully sooner than later we will have them back. I found it difficult to get my game going again at the start of the UK Swing due to the lack of practice and training during quarantine. I think I have lost some distance which is a big strength for me so I’m going to be hitting the gym to that get that back and have that edge once again. Everything needs to click again, and I look forward to being able to do that and hopefully I can get my game back to its best for the big events come the end of the year.
It’s great the European Tour have managed to get the Andalucía Masters back on the schedule as playing at Valderrama is always a treat for any player. It will be interesting to see how it is run because the UK Swing events were really organised but heading to Spain will obviously be a bit different so hopefully everything goes well and we’ll see some great golf. I’m still undecided if I’ll play as I may take the week off to work on my game some more but I really enjoyed playing on the course for the first time last year in front of my home crowd. I even played got to play two days with Sergio Garcia which was really special and to finish tied second in such an iconic place for Spanish Golf felt incredible.
It was great to see Collin Morikawa win the PGA Championship as we’ve crossed paths in college golf and it’s really impressive to see the progress he has made in such a short length of time. I also had my eye on my old teammate at Texas A&M, Cameron Champ, who ended up finishing inside the top ten which was nice. These guys are all a similar age to me including Jon Rahm, who went to World No.1 for the first time last month, and we are in a position where if we play well we can achieve great things, so hopefully I can join them in the future. It’s good to have golf back!