And you got the wrong half of the draw?
I was a bit unlucky there but that’s what the Open is about isn’t it – part of it is the luck of the draw.
Then last year at Royal Troon was different to all your other Open experiences?
The big thing for me is that it was my fifth Open and I hadn’t made the cut so I didn’t want to miss another one after coming off such a good week before at the Scottish.
In the end it was such an amazing week, I finished in the top five and walking up 18 on the Sunday, with the packed grandstands, it was really loud and I got an amazing ovation. Walking up to the green I had goosebumps.
People will look back at that Open in the years to come and say that might have been the best Open ever and you’re in the top 5 players…
It was bizarre because normally when you’re fifth in the tournament you know you’re doing really well. But because Mickelson and Stenson were playing a different course and were so far in front, it didn’t actually feel like we were doing that well, it was weird.
Obviously when you finish and look at the leaderboard, you have to pinch yourself: I’d just finished 5th in the Open.
Could you try putting it into perspective how good those two were that week?
Just unbelievable. For me, I grinded a score that week. I think I had 10 birdies and dropped six shots all week and what did Stenson finish on, was it 20? So they were 20 and 17. The fact that Stenson finished 14 shots ahead of third, that’s just unbelievable. And Troon is renowned for being one of the toughest Open venues.
And then another top 10 two weeks later at the PGA…
I have played in two PGA Championships – I was 10th last year and 25th at Whistling Straits. That was the first time I had made the cut in a Major. Baltusrol was an incredible course, I think playing it was better than how it came across on TV and I actually preferred it to Whistling Straits. My favourite kind of courses are tree-lined.
Is 23rd in the world a good reflection of where you are at the moment? Only five members of the European Ryder Cup are now above you in the rankings…
I’ve obviously had a good six months and a good end to the year. I think the main thing for me now is to keep progressing and improving and to try to climb up the rankings as much as I can. I don’t feel like I was close to getting into the Ryder Cup, I didn’t ever think that I would be getting a wildcard pick, that’s for sure.
Some people were suggesting you though – you were one of the in-form players.
I’d had a good run. I went out and played the Wyndham in late August. It was a pretty tough week with the issues that I had with travelling out there and then I didn’t hole any putts and missed the cut. It was double Ryder Cup points compared to what they were playing for in the Czech but the reason why I played the Wyndham was that I was 128th on the money list on the PGA Tour and, if I’d had a good week, I would probably have got my card for this season.
Did you speak to Darren Clarke at all about the Ryder Cup?