James Morrison: Wentworth revamp is exciting for golf

Golf News

NCG columnist James Morrison is looking forward to this week's BMW Championship and can’t wait to see the renovated Wentworth West Course...

by James Morrison

Thankfully the long-haul, stop-start part of the season is now over and we are into the pack-light weeks and the season proper.

Form-wise things are good. I’ve only missed one cut in eight starts and my worst finish is 31st. Every week I have appeared on the leaderboard at some point so it has been very steady and hopefully I can now kick on and capitalise on some of those good starts.

I particularly enjoyed Morocco. We didn’t play it off the back tees and it showed that if you’ve got some breeze and small greens then the scoring isn’t going to be that good. Nine under won it – I was three under and inside the top 15.

The big week this month is obviously Wentworth for the PGA Championship, a tournament where I have had some success. The first time I went there, aged 11, I had never picked up a club – I only started when I was 15 – and I clearly remember seeing Darren Clarke in some FootJoy Classic shoes and his gold European Tour member badge and I thought this was pretty cool. My first round there was actually with Soren Kjeldsen and Colin Montgomerie, and that was in front of all my friends and family, so that was quite an introduction.

I played the West Course a handful of times before the main changes took place in 2010. They have softened it a bit in the interim but now they appear to have made some big improvements so I can’t wait to see them. Some of the original changes seemed to have been made for no reason; the bunkers were too deep, the greens were too high and had too much slope and, while it looked great, it was too hard.

The back-right pin at the 16th on Sunday was so tricky and, if you found the back-left bunker, you would struggle to get it out and have to play away from the flag. It was too hard for the members to play and boring to watch us splash out sideways from fairway bunkers.

The eighth was one of the scariest approaches you would have all year with a raised green, deep bunkers, water on the other side and Wentworth’s swirling winds to deal with so that didn’t make sense. Back in 2012 I was leading by four at the halfway point from Luke Donald after rounds of 68-64. I then had an 81 and I could still talk you through every shot of that third round now.

It was a very warm and windy afternoon and the best score was something like a 71 so I should have just adapted to the conditions and not chased things so much. Even if I had shot 76 I still would have been leading but I made some bad decisions. At the fourth I tried to go for the green from a downhill lie in the rough. I pull-hooked it out of bounds and ended up making an eight. I could have hit two nine-irons and made a comfortable par whereas I tried to win it on the Saturday afternoon.

I had gone out in 44. You feel like you are in a fish bowl and everyone is staring at you but it is all part of the learning curve and all part of tournament golf – it’s not easy.

Standing on that 10th tee you think you could be in for a real cricket score so it’s then that you have to really trust all the hours you have put in and knuckle down. You have to retain your belief and get on with it.

I played with Ian Poulter on the Sunday, when I shot under par, and he tweeted me with some nice words the night before and Justin Rose texted me so that was all encouraging. Everyone has to go through these rounds, you just don’t know when they are coming. The best thing was to play the week after in Wales. I would obviously love to have that round over again now as I am now better equipped mentally but that is all part of growing up.

Wentworth is a funny old week. The local circus is a quieter place to be so I like to do as much of my away from the place as possible, hit a few balls on Monday there, practise at the Wisley on the Tuesday, play the pro-am Wednesday and get down to business on the Thursday. Still, it’s a great week with lots of good memories and I can’t wait for it to come around.

James Morrison plays on the European Tour, where he is a two-time winner and in 2016 was ranked 65 in the Race to Dubai. He is a Callaway staff player, plays Titleist balls and wears Lyle & Scott clothing with FootJoy shoes. Follow him on Twitter: @jimbogolf1

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