Englishman Matthew Morris instigated a new mental approach to his game at the Marriott Worsley Park Hotel and Country Club to inspire himself towards an outstanding opening round of seven under par 63 and take two shot lead after round one of the European Challenge Tour’s Morson International Pro-Am Challenge.
Despite playing in the early matches, which endured relentless rainfall for most of the morning’s play, Morris refused to let his spirits be dampened as he produced some of his best form of the 2005 season to assume a two stroke lead from South African Michiel Bothma.
England’s Daniel Greenwood and Gareth Paddison of New Zealand share third place on four under par, with Jorge Bartolome of Spain, Germany’s Christian Reimbold and Englishman Robert Rock a shot further back on three under.
Morris, 27, a Challenge Tour winner in 2004, began his first round amidst the constant, heavy downpours on the back nine, but managed to get to the turn in two under 33 after birdies on the 15th and 16th.
As he began the front nine, the skies began to brighten up to match Morris’s mood, and the Englishman’s sunny disposition just got brighter and brighter he nailed a 20 foot birdie putt on the first before holing a perfect wedge from 96 yards for an eagle two on the second – the second time has done so in as many weeks.
After signing for a course record seven under par 63, Morris admitted that it a small technical swing change, couple with a massive change of mindset that had inspired his low scoring form.
“I haven’t played well all season to be honest because I have been working on the wrong things,” said Morris. “I have had a technical problem with my downswing and I have cured it recently by reading a Butch Harmon book that has really helped.
“But the main thing that I have changed is my attitude. I have started believing in myself again and told myself to start enjoying my golf again this week. It’s all about the grey matter and it is unbelievable the difference that you can make by just talking yourself into playing well. If you have a bad attitude then you are more than likely going to have a bad score.
“I have just told myself to go out and enjoy it. I have won at this level before so there is no reason why I can’t do it again. It is so simple, but you have to enjoy being able to hit the ball square of the club face and not complicate everything and it is amazing the difference you can make just by believing in yourself a bit more.
“I played well today and the back nine – which was actually the front nine –kind of came out of nowhere. I birdied the first with a nice 20 foot putt and then I chipped in for eagle. That’s the second time I have done that in two weeks, the same yardage, the same club. I did it in Russia and now here, so long may it continue.”
Bothma may well be South African, but he feels very much part of the Worsley community due to the fact he lives in the area for four months of the year – sharing a house with his fellow countryman, European Tour Member Darren Fichardt.
“I know this course very well because this is my home for four months of the year, so you could say that I am almost a local!” said Bothma after signing for 65. “Myself and my fiancée, Jolandi, come over here and live in Darren Fichardt’s house in Worsley Park so it is so easy to come to the Marriott to practice.
“Darren is actually married to my niece, Natasha, and the arrangement we have is perfect because when we are over here, Darren and Natasha are usually away so we see them a couple of nights every week and then I have free board for the rest of the time so it actually feels like my house!
“So it was good to get a good start to the tournament here this week because I know the place well and it is nice to be able to play well and also having Steve Haslam, who is the former Club Captain here, on the bag worked out well. My fiancée usually caddies for me but Steve has been asking me if he could do it for a couple of years so we gave it a go and, as I said, it went very well.”