Golf Australia

Matt Griffin blog: Close calls and injury niggles

Matt Griffin
Matt Griffin

I think my last update finished with me heading off to New Caledonia for the South Pacific Open. This is the event I won last year and I was exciting to get back there as I love the course and the place is just beautiful.

My week started slowly with a one under round but I followed up with a 64 to move into a tie for 1st. I started well on the third day but nothing went right and an even par round saw me fall 5 back of Brad Shilton. My form on the last day was great and I eventually just finished 2nd and one shot back.

It was disappointing to finish 2nd but great to make a good title defence and also good to see Brad Shilton win. From there I had to make the long trip to the Dunhill Links and St Andrews.

It is always a great week and I was looking forward to playing, as my form was great. I really felt I could contend until my wrist started to hurt midway through my practice round on the Wednesday.

After some physio I was confident it couldn’t get worse although the pain was quite strong. Heading to the tee on day 1 I would have pulled out had I been home but had to see what would happen.

I actually played quite well on day 1 and shot an even par round although not what I could have had injury free. I was really struggling into the breeze but battled on and halfway through my 2nd round at St Andrews got it to 3 under and in the tournament.

A double on my last really hurt and I would need a big last day at the toughest course Carnoustie. I started great and moved inside the cut mark after 8 holes but just couldn’t hold on and missed the cut by 3 shots. It was disappointing but I was proud to finish and not pull out given the pain. I just had to hope it wasn’t a serious issue.

I flew in Tuesday morning and was fortunate enough to see the specialist that afternoon. He determined that I would require a cortisone injection and needed a weeks rest. I had the injection for an injury called intersection syndrome, which basically is an inflammation of the tendon in the lower wrist. This causes pain when putting on the glove at address and in the swing. The only problem was the week after is the Perth International and the Australian Tour's highest prize money event.

After the week off my wrist felt pretty good and went in confident to the event. Unfortunately I had one of those weeks where anything that could go wrong did. Plenty of shots were almost good and around Lake Karrinup small misses get punished badly. It was disappointing not to play well as it was a big opportunity to play well and make a good move up the order of merit with it being a $2 million event.

The following week it was the WA Open at Royal Perth and my form was pretty good leading in. The green where nice and firm and a solid couple of first days had me sitting on 6 under par and in contention. Frustratingly I played well early on both Saturday and Sunday but didn’t finish my rounds off and shot 1 under and 3 under to finish 13th. A name to watch is definitely Oliver Goss a young amateur who won and has massive potential. I played with him on the Saturday and was really impressed.

It was then home for a week and a bit before US Tour School stage 2. With my wrist feeling good I gradually stepped up my practice and all was going well until the pain returned. This was really concerning and I went straight back to the specialist luckily he saw me in the Bushrangers change rooms and I had another injection. We hoped this would again stop the pain and inflammation but would mean I had to rest for another 5 days!! Not ideal preparation.

A little hit before I left felt good and I arrived in the USA on the Thursday evening the 8th. With my psychologist we had put a plan in action to stay relaxed prior and on the Friday night went to a NBA game in Orlando, which was a lot of fun. During the days I practiced with Ash Hall at Saddlebrook Country Club at the BannLynch academy over here. The game felt great and the wrist was going well too. On the Sunday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were playing in Tampa against the San Diego Chargers so we went along to that which was a great experience. A lot of stopping the game but great entertainment.

Monday came around and practice was available at Southern Hills the course for the 2nd stage. My game felt great and when the event started I got of to a nice 3 under par start and was in a great spot. With a few putts dropping it could have been even better but that was the end of the good stuff. I battled hard all day 2 but had no luck at all and ended up with a 1 over par round and a couple outside where I needed to be.

Day 3 started well and I was a couple under through 9 but my back 9 was just horrible. Nothing went right and each hole a slightly off shot killed me. I came home in 41 and was in a state of shock. My game had felt so good but I had played my worst 9 of the year and had worked hard on each and every shot. I needed a miracle on day 4 but played solid for 1 under but it wasn't enough. It was good to see Ash get through though and hopefully he plays well at finals.

So that is now 4 years in a row failing at second stage. I have tried everything to get that week right but it has never happened. Golf is littered with stories of players failing a Q School but it is hard to put a finger on why. Frustratingly I know my game is good enough to compete over here and I just need the opportunity. Nothing I can do about it know though and I guess I just have to get better and try again.

My goal now is to finish the year strong and win the One Asia order of merit. If I can do that my Australian ranking will ensure I get to final stage and wont need to play second. My schedule will be the NSW PGA, Australian Open and finally the PGA at Coolum that are both events I have played well on in previous years. Also hopefully the wrist can get through and I can avoid an operation.

I will be then time for a well-earned rest, as thankfully we don’t have an event till late January this year.

Matt Griffin is a former National Squad member, OneAsia winner and current member of Golf Australia's Rookie Professional Program. This blog can also be found at his website Follow him on Twitter @MattGriffinGolf

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