Hi, anybody who has ever been lucky enough to play Valderamma will really understand the challenge it presents – tunnel like tee shots, swirly winds, sloping greens, a mix of brilliant and ‘funky’ holes and a real test of course management. These were just some of the examinations given to the pros last week! Like it or love it, the course’s tradition is to be respected especially given the quality of player who wins there.
Last week was another step on the steep learning curve for Paul Cutler, who was making only his 3rd European Tour start. Luckily we had experience on our side in the form of Paul’s caddie Ryan McGuigan, so all 3 of us plotted the course as best we could and assembled a game plan that we thought best could tackle the challenge ahead. Our goals were for Paul to position the ball on the correct sides of the fairways and greens as much as possible and to remail patient during the rounds. It’s a bit like a major in that respect as you know the winning score won’t be especially high, so in and around par will be competitive.
As well as this on Tuesday and Wednesday we did some good work on chipping from heavy lies around the green, controlling the spin on the distance wedges, playing plenty of simulated ‘shot shape’ drills on the range and pace control on the putting. Phil Kenyon was also kind enough to have another quick look at Paul’s putting which had disappointed him at The Dunhill Links. This I’m certain will be a relationship that will pay dividends for Paul in the future.
Paul finished on 153 (76,77) which contained a lot of good ball striking and composure, but highlighted the need for a razor sharp wedge game and putter at the top level. But we were all philosophical as we headed back up the AP7 for Malaga and agreed that it was a very beneficial learning experience and one that only cemented our plan for Paul’s development. Valderamma was always going to be a daunting challenge but one that needed to be met head on and Paul did that admirably. It was also a productive trip as Paul got to play and learn from guys like Dave Horsey, Gareth Maybin, Niclas Fasth, and Shane Lowry. There will be a lot of good days ahead!
Sergio made it back to back wins in his homeland with an impressive display of trajectory control and local knowledge – two vital ingredients at this venue. Having watched him practise both the long and short game during the week, I got a sense of his charisma and athleticism. He certainly has that ‘X Factor’ and I hope he goes on to fulfill his ambition of a major.
That’s all for now, report in again early 2012.