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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Preparation key for US campaign
Brian Davis
By Brian Davis
European and US Tour pro

Obviously, I am disappointed that I failed to qualify for the US Open, but it was, as they say, just one of those things.

Brian Davis at Olympia Fields in 2003
Davis was five under after four holes on his US Open debut in 2003
I got food poisoning in the week of the Wales Open, which forced me to withdraw from that. That meant I only had a day of practice before the qualifier at Walton Heath. I then got off to a shocking start, shooting a five-over 77.

When you card a score like that, and don't feel too great either, it's horrible. You know you need a 60 in the second round to have any chance, and I knew that wasn't going to happen when I missed three putts in the first three holes.

After that, to be honest, I just tried to stay out of my playing partner Soren Hansen's way as he was right around the mark.

So I'm disappointed, but not too disappointed.

There was a strong field at Walton Heath and it's great that European players are now given the chance to qualify for the US Open without having to travel to America.

But there is a downside. When I qualified two years ago I went to America to do it and played on a US Open-style course.

You really have to bring your A-game - it is the ultimate test
Walton Heath is about as far away from that as possible. So from a preparation point of view, it's far from ideal.

There has been a lot of talk about why Europeans haven't had much success at the US Open and it comes down to the fact that we don't play US Open-style courses in Europe.

It is hard to understand when you watch on telly just how severe a test it is.

The fairways are very narrow, and the greens start off firm and get firmer with every passing day. The pin positions get tighter and tighter too.

If you miss the fairway, you're struggling. But even if you hit the fairway, you're struggling, because the next shot is so difficult.

If you miss on the short side, you have no shot - the greens are so fast you will be faced with a 25-footer for par.

Ernie Els at the 2004 US Open
Shinnecock Hell: Els was just one player to struggle last year
This means you tend towards caution. But even then you are giving yourself long lag-putts on lightning, sloping greens - not easy.

You really have to bring your A-game - it is the ultimate test.

And the conditions get harder every day, which is why you will often see somebody post six under on day one only for the winning score to be eight under. It's a mental challenge, as much as anything else.

What we're seeing now is more and more Europeans, like myself, going over to the US to acclimatise.

It's no good playing Celtic Manor (venue for the Wales Open) and the Dutch Open, both great courses, and then going over to a US Open, because they are completely different from what you're going to get in America.

It's like a racing driver practising in a BMW but then getting into a Mercedes for the race. You've got to get used to what you're going to play.

Now when I get back into the top 50, which is one of my goals for the summer, I'm definitely going to play in the US in the weeks before the American majors.

Luke Donald
There are lots of good Europeans now and I think playing out there more will help us win one - it's about time.

It's a shame I won't be there, but I made this decision to come back to Europe for three months and I've been a bit unlucky with my health.

It's not so bad, I have already achieved one of my pre-season goals - to have secured my US Tour card for next season - so now I'm going into the heart of my schedule refreshed.

My next goals are to get back into the top 50 - via a win in Europe or a series of top-10s - and to qualify for the Open at St Andrews, where I have a pretty decent record.

But I've got to get there first, so fingers crossed for Sunningdale (Open qualifying on 27 June) and I'll tell you next month about how many under par I am for the last five years at St Andrews!

  • Brian will be filing monthly reports from both the US and European Tour this season.

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    24 May 05 |  Golf
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