UA-33754892-1 Open International de Normandie, Dolomiti Golf Open and Peugeot Open de Lerma | Jason Kelly Golf

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Open International de Normandie, Dolomiti Golf Open and Peugeot Open de Lerma

The last three weeks have been very disappointing. A good final round in Austria had put me in 6th on the Order of Merit, a strong position to attack until the end of the season. Unfortunately it has not gone quite to plan.

After a week off I drove over to Normandy. I had fond memories of the course at Saint-Saens having finished 6th last year. I actually had a decent chance to win after making birdies on 6 of the first 7 in the final round but then kind of fizzled out. Expectations were high.

normandy clubhouse
Beautiful clubhouse at Saint-Saens

The course was very different this year. Last year the event was held early in the summer and the course was firm and fast. Now, playing in September and after some poor weather the course was very wet. So much so that some of the fairways could not be cut. The course at Saint-Saens was playing longer with a greater emphasis on finding fairways.

normandy 6th
The 6th a strong par 3 (and my pro-am partners!)

I played poorly in the pro am but was holing some nice putts so I felt good going into the first round. Turning the long game around is not normally as difficult as warming the putter up. Indeed I hit the ball nicely all day creating plenty of chances. Frustratingly the putter had gone cold. I three putted my third hole, a par five, from 16ft. Missed a 6ft birdie chance at the next a 3ft par putt on the hole after. Two putts from 7ft on my 9th saw me turn in a poor +2. The back nine was a little better. I picked up a birdie on my 11th, eagled my 12th, bogied my 13th and birdied my 14th. Pars in from there saw me round in 70 (-1), good for a share of 28th. Day 2 was very similar. A poor start after missing some putts followed by a few birdies on the back 9 to make the round respectable. The result a 71, level par for the day and -1 overall in 39th. Only 23% of fairways and 33 putts on day 2. On the bright side I still managed to hit 15 greens.

The theme was clearly set early in the week. Day 3 consisted of 37 shots out and 31 back. The typical poor start followed by a rally. I hit three greens on the front nine and everyone on the back. 68 (-3) was a decent score but was not the move I needed to make. Into 28th and 9 behind. The final day was just very poor. I went out with no goal, no direction and no desire. Unsurprisingly the round unravelled quickly. No shot selection, no commitment, no belief lead to a 39 front nine (+4). It slightly improved on the back nine. It took a three putt from four feet to wake me up and fight. I birdied 3 of the next four before losing my tee shot on 18. I salvaged a bogey for a 74. A very poor day at the office. I finished 39th on level par. Not the week I was looking for and I deserved to drop a costly three place on the Order of Merit.

On to Italy and a trip to Trentino. Trentino is in the middle of no where. Well, I say no where but it is in the middle of apple trees......LOTS of apple trees! We stayed in a tiny little village around 15 minutes from Dolomiti Golf Club and an hour and a half from Verona, in the north east of Italy. It is a mountainous area and can get very hot.

dolomito village
Traffic jam in the Italian village!

I know this shows a particularly poor attitude but straight away I was not a fan. The course was made up of two very different nines. The front nine consists of short, fiddly holes that meander through a forest. There are three ridiculous par 5’s that have enormous doglegs and barely resemble golf holes. The back nine is wide open and modern. It was certainly the scoring nine and the better nine, but far from classic. My biggest concern was the condition. The rough was heavy in places and non existent elsewhere. Some holes had semi rough, others did not and some had semi up one side and not the other. However, my biggest concern were the greens. They had a good coverage of grass and had the potential to be good but they did not prepare them well. The greens were left too long and were machine cut, not hand cut. This meant they were incredibly grainy. If they had cut them short, hand cut them and rolled them they could have taken a lot of the grain out. Instead the grain was going everywhere. Every square of ‘cut’ had grain going in a different direction. So a 3ft putt could have two or more directions of grain. Not ideal.

dolomiti grain
The grainy squares on the green.....just a nightmare

I had been making way too many mistakes the previous couple of weeks. My goal this week was to eliminate them. It is not a demanding course tee to green. A lot of chip irons to get it in play on the front nine and a wide open back nine. So the plan, the goal, to go bogey free.

It lasted four holes until I three putted a par 3 for bogey. Two holes later I made another 3 putt bogey. I offset these with two birdies and turned in level. Unfortunately that was the easier nine. I three putted my 10th and 15th holes for more bogies and finished with two sloppy drop shots. They were really brought on through frustration. 77 (+4) to open. 35 putts, not great when averaging 12.5 feet from the hole in regulation.

dolomiti 16th
The 16th, a beautiful par 3 with a view..... there is a church every 2km surrounding the course.... a fair sound on the hour!

Day 2 revealed much of the same. Birdied 1, 3 putted 2, birdied 4 and 6, bogied 5 and 8. Out in level. Three putt bogey on 13, birdie on 17. I missed two greens and shot level. I hit it close all day but to try and read the grain combined with the slope seemed impossible. You had to try and guess how much the grain would move the ball at certain speeds coming from all different directions. Not easy, you need some good fortune and it was not there for me this week.

dolomiti planner
Not the most professional yardage book on a sub par week.....nice hole too!

I missed the cut by two. Six three putts in two rounds. Zero hold putts from outside of 6ft. Sixteen putts missed inside of 10ft. Pretty good on a week were you are trying to eliminate the mistakes! I played with Emmanuelle Canonica the first two rounds. He made one bogey playing solid, sensible golf. He used all of his 20+ years of experience on the main tour. I tried to learn from the way he managed his game.

Next stop Madrid. Well, not quite. We flew into Madrid but drove an hour and a bit to Burgos. I arrived on the Monday for a Thursday start. Very early for me but I was rewarded on arrival, the practice facilities at Lerma Golf are world class. Two big putting greens, a great chipping green and a massive, flat grass range. Monday and Tuesday became full practice days and Wednesday the pro am.

The nice side of Burgos....

This is a good course in pretty good condition. The weather was perfect too. So hard to make excuses this week! Not an ideal course for me as it was fairly long and wide open. It was tough to get your ball in trouble. The course was designed well though and was very fair. This weeks objective was to keep it simple and to stop over thinking. Just let the birdies flow. Hmmmm, easier said than done!

burgos 7th
7th, a driveable par 4.... a good hole on a good course

Day one was a perfect day for golf. I was out in the afternoon. Burgos is still pretty hot this time of year so they water the greens heavily each morning to make sure they do not die during the heat of the day. This had taken its toll. The morning starters had left their mark. Footprints and scrapes everywhere. I played nicely. 15 greens in regulation but again a poor putting day. 35 putts including two more three putts. A 72, level par was the outcome.

The strangest thing happened on the 8th green on day 1. I hit a great 5 iron from 232 yards to 5ft and had a putt for eagle (that’s not the strangest thing!). As I was lining it up I got stung by a bee on my leg, right by my right pocket. It hurt but I was ok. As I set up to the ball, trying to focus I got stung again right next to the first sting. I manned up and made the putt but my leg felt dead and numb for the next two days.

Not the nicest picture..... the bee stings on my leg!

Day two and out early in search of the good greens. Better greens is what I found, eventually. I say eventually as it took a few to find the first green! I took a rescue club for my first shot of the day from the tee on the par 5 10th. I proceeded to hit it 274 yards into a water hazard I was trying to be short off. Nice start. I dropped a ball, hit a driver off the deck into the trees on the right, called a referee, dropped from an animal scrape, chopped it on to 60 ft and eventually two putted for a bogey. I topped my tee shot with a driver off the 11th! This lead to another bogey.

Fortunately things got a little better after that. I did not miss another green. I birdied 13,14 and 16 to go out in -1. I picked up further birdies on 1,3,4 and 8. I had another eagle putt on the 8th from 7ft put completely miss read it this time. I shot 68 (-4) after a poor start and snuck through to the final day in 31st.

The last day was another horror show. I had one option, to go low. I started off with a good birdie but then bogied 3,4 and 9. A three putt from 16 feet on the 4th and a missed birdie from 4 feet on the 6th really got me down. I birdied 10, 3 putted 13 for bogey, birdied 14 and hit my drive into the water at the last for another bogey. 74, a very poor final day score. I finished 39th on -2. I slipped down to 9th in the Order of Merit.

burgos 13th
13th, par 3 with a tree in the green!

Those three weeks were poor. I hit it ok, I worked hard, I thought well for the most part. I did a lot of things right but the putter has really let me down. In France it was not too bad. I made a lot of midrange putts, sort of 8-20ft but missed a lot of short ones. In Italy I made nothing, I had no clue or answers. In Spain I had lost confidence. I did not make a putt outside of 6ft in 2 rounds in Italy and 3 rounds in Spain. In my last five rounds I have averaged 34 putts and a whopping 2.4 three putts per round. My first putt average in the five rounds is 14.5 feet. It is pretty clear what has been going wrong. The average US Tour player averages a three putt once every 32 holes. Luke Donald, the world number one averages one every 83 holes. Donald has 13 three putts on the US Tour this year and is on a run of 396 holes without one! Putting on very different surfaces each week has not made it easy and the greens at Wentworth have not been great to practice on in between.

Last year I putted great and hit it poorly but it felt great. You inevitably make the most of every round and it feels good. Making the worst out of every round does not feel so good. I know I am a good putter, I am streaky but good. Confidence is everything. You need to see and trust. You can’t fake confidence, you need to build it. In practice these two weeks I have been hitting a lot of putts from 2 feet just to see the ball go in over and over again. I have also switched back to the belly putter and it feels pretty good. I generally make less ‘bonus’ putts with it but am much more solid on the short ones and that is what I need at the moment.

The proof will be in the pudding this week. I travel to Marseilles at 06.40 on Sunday morning for a Thursday start. The greens were great at Pont Royal last year and I want to get as much time on them as I can before we kick off. I have two more events left on the Alps Tour this year and I need to win at least one of them to get into the top 6 and guarantee a Challenge Tour card for next year. I know when I do the simple things well and think well I can win, so that is what I am going to do.


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