Irish Professional Neil O Briain sets his sights on 2017
For me the 2016 season began back in November of last year where myself and my coach, Chris Jelly had a sit down to discuss the progress gained in 2015 and where we would like to be in 12 months. We outlined clear goals and targets, which we both believed to be attainable. As we prepare our sit down for the analysis of this year, I am delighted to say that most of them were achieved
Golf, is golf, and a golf swing, is a golf swing. We strive to improve the technical aspects of my swing without taking away the natural finesse required to play the game. We keep the swing on the range and deal mostly with numbers when analysing the “How” and “Why” of tournament golf. The most significant of all numbers is stroke average; if we can lower this, then naturally my game will have improved. Thinking of the original goal, “how will we lower my stroke average by a shot, from 71.7 to 70.7”, I began to have heart palpitations. “A full shot? How am I going to do that?” Again, when we looked at it from a numbers perspective we found that if we can improve every area of my game by .1 of a shot and the weaker parts of my game by .2 or .3 then with some hard work it is attainable. As the season drew to a close on the PGA scene I was happy to see that this target was reached, dropping my stroke average from 71.7 to 70.7. There is still tons of room for improvement but it is satisfying to know that by breaking down a very difficult task into many smaller ones, targets such as these can be reached- with a little hard work, obviously!
Improvements in stroke average obviously led to improvements in my performances throughout the year. I won the PGA Irish Assistants Championship, PGA Southern Championship, PGA Ulster Championship as well as 8 other professional events. This saw me qualify for the end of year PGA Playoffs, which was contested in Saunton GC in Devon, England. It is a field comprised 24 players; the top 3 Order of Merit players from each region (21 players from the 7 regions in Great Britain and Ireland) along with 3 exemptions. I received the final spot in Ireland due to David Higgins’ exemption (thank you David!). There were a number of European Tour and Challenge Tour players, past and present, competing for exemptions into European Tour events and Challenge Tour events. After finishing 72 holes at 3 under and a 2 hole playoff win against Philip Archer I eventually finished 5th which will exempt me for next years BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth along with a number of Challenge Tour events. The only exemption I failed to earn was for the European Tours’ British Masters, but considering my game was not 100% for the week I was very content