After two weeks off it was back to the PGA Europro Tour and the 4th event of the year at Collingtree Park in Northampton.
Collingtree staged the British Masters on the European Tour in both 1995 and 1996 and it would provide a good test for this weeks event.
As usual I traveled down to Northampton on Monday morning and played a practice round in the afternoon. The course was looking in very good shape and with thick wiry rough surrounding the greens it would require a good short game to score well.
The course has a good mix of holes with a number of birdie chances on offer, which in the first round I managed to take advantage of.
Both the par fives and par threes are very strong holes and are potential disasters which can unravel a good card.
With the pro am being played at 12 on Tuesday there was time before hand to get out and play a few holes, which I did. It was a good chance to do some work on and around the greens.
I felt like I was fully prepared for my first round tee time of 9.05 and I gave myself good birdie chances on my opening two holes which didn’t drop and then a real roller coaster of a round started. I made bogies at the next two holes before picking up a shot on the par 5 14th, I then went onto bogey the next two holes to be 3 over through 7 holes.
A run of the birdies on 17,18 and the 1st got me back to even par. A poor tee shot on the par 3 5th found the water and I racked up a double bogey and was back at 2 over with four holes to play. Great shots into the next three holes were all converted for birdies and I was under par for the first time. A bogey at the last left a slightly sour taste especially after having a 7 iron in for my second shot on the par 5.
Despite the finish there was plenty of positives from the round, making seven birdies and fighting back from being 3 over through 7 and then back from 2 over through 14 to shoot level par and finish the day only 5 behind the leaders in 27th.
I then had a long wait to my second round which started at 2.05 and I opened up with seven straight pars, along the way I was giving myself some good birdie chances including putts of 10ft at the 1st, 6ft at the 2nd and 12ft on both 6 and 7.
My first weak shot of the day on 8 cost me a bogey after failing to get up and down, but I made up for it at the next with a two putt birdie from around 12ft after a 6 iron approach into the par 5.
Bogies on 10,11 and 12 pushed me back to 3 over for the tournament, but I drew from the positives from the previous day and gave myself birdie chances on the remaining holes, none of which would find the bottom of the cup.
So I came to the last hole still at 3 over and thinking a birdie might be enough to squeeze inside the cut line. My tee shot just missed the fairway on the left which then stopped me from trying to reach the island green in two, so after laying up I hit a wedge bang online but about 18ft short and it had to go in. I hit a perfect putt that found the centre of the cup and maybe, just maybe I had done enough to finish inside the top 50 and the chance to post a low number on the final day, but it would turn out to not be enough as I finished in 51st place and an early exit out of the tournament.
I now have regional qualifying for the Open on Monday at Mere followed by the next Europro event at Frilford Heath at the end of the week.