The Perth International was the first of the big Australian events to finish the year. Unfortunately my planned lead up was interrupted as I injured my wrist the week prior. This meant I needed to fly back to Melbourne for a cortisone injection and consequently withdraw from the WA Open. This was disappointing and I felt a little underdone heading into the Perth International. My limited preparation certainly didn t help and I ended up missing the cut by one shot, as I just couldn’t get the ball in the hole all week. I had to pick myself up quickly though as it was straight on a plane to China for the BMW Masters a $7m European Tour event which was played by all the European Tour top players. The event was held in Shanghai and I was extremely excited, as this was the biggest event I had played in my career so far. The course was really challenging and we played in strong winds, which added to the challenge. All week I remained in midfield and played well without having any luck with the putter. Rounds of 74,72,74,72 left me in a tie for 44th. It was a decent result and good to know I could mix it with the best when my putter is working a little better. One of the highlights of the week was playing with some great players. On the Friday I played with Thomas Bjorn and Brett Rumford before a Saturday group that included Henrik Stenson. On Sunday I played with John Daly and Graeme McDowell. They were all great to play with and had impressive games. I was especially impressed with Stenson who has an amazing ball flight while John Daly is one of the nicest guys I have ever played with. Unfortunately on the last day in China my wrist injury again flared up meaning that I had to withdraw from Japanese Tour School the following week and return to Melbourne instead. I did however get to enjoy a great day in Shanghai with my girlfriend. It is an incredibly busy city with construction going on everywhere. After a week off and another cortisone injection I was off to the Australian PGA on the Gold Coast at Royal Pines. It was a shame not to be back at Coolum a course I love but the atmosphere was great with Adam Scott returning from America. I played the first two rounds in the group in front of Scott so the crowds were impressive. My game was in good shape and I went into the weekend in a tie for 10th position on 4 under. I was playing well without holing many putts and was confident of a good weekend. Saturday was a tough day wind wise and I struggled early but came back to shoot 2 over par for the day. On Sunday I started really well but faded for a 72 and ultimately a tie for 22nd. An ok week but I definitely felt I could have played better. The signs were good and it was straight into the Australian Masters at Royal Melbourne. Playing a tournament at Royal has been my dream since I was five years old and as a result I was extremely excited. I have always played well around Royal and worked there for five years when I was in my early twenties? so I know it really well. With heavy rain on the Wednesday the course wasn t as hard and fast as I hoped but it was still playing really well. I got off to a solid start in windy afternoon conditions and ended up shooting 69. It put me in a good position and something I could build on heading into the second day. I made the most of the early conditions and got off to a flyer being 4 under through five holes. Steady golf for the rest of the round and a 6 under par 65 left me in a tie for 3rd heading into the weekend. Fortunately over the weekend I got to play with my good friend Nick Cullen. We also played the first two days together and often play well when we get paired together. It definitely helps when you play with someone who is playing well as you tend to feed off each other as Nick and I did all week. We also both enjoy a chat on the course and I find that helps calm the nerves that arise in a big event like the Masters. The whole weekend was a huge buzz with big crowds following us and the group behind including Adam Scott. Standing on the 18th fairway was something special looking at it lined with people. As for the golf, apart from a couple of poor holes I was happy with how I played. I got unlucky with a lie in the bunker on the fifth hole, which lead to a double bogey on Saturday before bouncing back really well to shoot 2 under. With a little bit of luck it could have been even better. I was still a chance though and only four behind the leader Scott. I needed a fast start but couldn’t get it and a double on the 4th really hurt my chances. I didn t hit a poor shot though and was half a foot away from a good birdie chance but the ball rolled back 30 metres and into trouble. A poor shot on 9 and I was fighting for a top 5 finish, which I held onto. It wasn t quite the weekend I was after but another step in the right direction. Congrats to Adam Scott on his wins in the PGA and Masters he is a champion and is playing wonderful golf. The great news is he is as good a person off the course as he is on and always says hello when he gets a chance. It is nice to see someone who has done so much stay down to earth and not get a big head as many do. The final event of the year was the Australian Open at Royal Sydney and most of the top Australians were back to play along with Rory McIlroy . My game felt in good shape but I have struggled in the past around this golf course and a back issue from the Friday morning didn t help. I was able to scrap into make the cut on the number with a couple of late birdies and capitalised on that with two rounds of two under par to finish in a tie for 24th. The crowds all week were incredible largely due to the Scott and McIlroy battle and well done to Rory on his win. It has been great to see Australian golf return to the front pages and have a big buzz around it again. All that brings an end to the 2013 year and it has been the best year of my career to date. I finished as the winner of the One Asia Order of Merit and finished 10th on the Australian Tour. Overall I have contended more and felt my game has continued to improve. All this makes me really excited about 2014 and what is ahead. Before then I have to have minor wrist surgery whilst taking a nice break over Christmas. Merry Christmas to all and I hope Santa brings you lots of presents and everyone has a wonderful 2014.
Author: Matt Griffin blog