Ben An Blog
Ben An – 2017 so far
Firstly, a belated happy new year to everyone at Wentworth Club; I hope you had an enjoyable break over the festive season. It has been great to hear about progress on the West Course at Wentworth and I cannot wait for that first tee shot in May.
My 2017 season started at one of my favourite events – the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championships. The Abu Dhabi National course is one I have a good record on, having finished 13th and 5th in my previous two visits and I was looking forward to the week. The competition is also very busy with media and sponsorship commitments; much of the filming for the year ahead is done in Abu Dhabi, which is always good fun!
On the course, my game was nearly there. Having chipped in on hole 10 for birdie in the final round to get within one shot of the lead, I misjudged the wind on the par 3 12th and a couple of visits to the water led to a quadruple bogey 7. My title challenge for this year was over and I had to settle for a tied 13th finish. Whilst the 12th hole was disappointing, I consider it as nothing more than early season rust and I left Abu Dhabi feeling positive about my game.
Managing a schedule across both the PGA and European Tours can be quite difficult but this year’s works well for me. My minimum requirement in the US is 15 events (including majors and WGC events) and on the European Tour, I need to play in a minimum of five extra events to retain my membership. This shouldn’t be too much trouble and means there will not be too much hopping across the pond.
That said, there are always one or two events that are difficult from a travel perspective and the trip from Abu Dhabi to San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open was one of them. I played solidly for the week and managed to play all four rounds but ultimately, the 12-hour time difference, plus the need to prepare on two new courses, was difficult and I settled for a tied 49th finish.
With jet lag out of the way, I travelled to Phoenix for the Waste Management Phoenix Open and what a fantastic event it was! More than 700,000 people came to watch over the course of the week with 205,000 on the Saturday alone! I’ve never quite seen anything like it.
I’ve always felt comfortable playing desert golf and, while 7,000 or so miles away from Abu Dhabi, the course had a similar feel to it. My game was good all week and I held the lead for most of the weekend but was eventually pipped by an in-form Hideki Matsuyama. My 6th place finish didn’t quite reflect my performance but it was a positive week overall and I am looking forward to being in contention again as the season progresses.
Next stop for me is Los Angeles for the Genesis Open at The Riviera Country Club.