In this week's Player Blog we speak to Lee Slattery about a new addition to his family, football rivalries on Tour, that second round in Prague and much more...
I haven’t played Valderrama much, in fact last year was the first time I’d played it, so this week in Spain will be interesting. Patience is the key, though. It’s a course I’d love to play more and more. You have to just take your medicine if you miss the fairway and don’t take on stupid shots. Bogey isn’t necessarily a bad score this week, it’s just keeping the doubles and trebles off the card. If you’ve had a couple of weeks off you can sometimes do a bit of rehearsing for a week like this one. I’ve been on a long run coming into this tournament and I’ve got my family here this week. They deserve a holiday because it’s been a tough few months for them. It’s a relaxing week for me and whatever I get out of it will be a bonus.
Away from the golf we’ve just had our second child, which was incredible. When I was out in Prague at the D+D REAL Czech Masters my wife hadn’t given birth yet. It was probably the most famous baby in the UK at that point! Luckily it didn’t happen that week. I knew I was playing well at that point heading to Switzerland and it’s hard to take a week off. It ended up happening when I was at Crans-sur-Sierre. Even though I saw it on Facetime I was still teary. We had a great internet connection at the house I was staying in and I just rushed over from the restaurant that night and watched it all.
On the Sunday in Prague when I nearly won my third European Tour title it turned into a match play situation. When I look back on it, Haydn Porteous played the last six holes in two under par, which is just a great effort. In my previous wins I felt like no-one had really pushed me. In Russia I made a nice chip-in at the right time, but, again, nobody really pushed me. Fair play to Haydn, he pushed all the way and he managed to pip me.
I wasn’t aware of how good my second round 65 was in Prague. You always expect that somebody out there will shoot a good round every day. The conditions were tough and I did wear my three and four-iron out. I didn’t realise how good it was until I got to eight under par with two holes to go. I walked into the players’ lounge and almost had a standing ovation!
Once you get on the golf course we all want to beat each other. We have a way of just switching off, whether you’re thinking about something at home or not. We’ve almost trained ourselves to do it and I think the guys that have been out here longest are even better at it. This is my 14th year and I feel like I’ve learned how to do that. Whilst my closest friends are back home, I also have good friendships out on tour which is essential for the amount of time spent on the road.
We have a lot of Liverpool supporters out here among the players and caddies. There are some Everton and Manchester United fans as well, so there’s a bit of rivalry there. Football is huge out here on the European Tour. I’ve only got to turn a corner and there’s a Liverpool fan and I can find out what the score was. We’ve got some great players within the Liverpool squad, but I’m still not sure about that back four. It’ll be interesting to see what happens, because he’s had a chance to change the defence and hasn’t done it. I do think Jurgen Klopp has done a great job, though, and everybody likes him.
At the back end of last year I had a couple of problems with my wrist. I played in Turkey and South Africa at the end of the season and was in quite a lot of pain. I thought that I had to play those events and if I’d skipped those events I’d have dropped 20 places straight away. I felt I had to go, but was never comfortable. I needed three cortisone injections during the winter months. By about February to March I was able to hit a lot of shots again. The pain has gone now, but still gets a little bit stiff every now and again. I feel freer than last year. The hard work has started to pay off.
There’s no question I’ve learned a lot about myself being a golfer. When I was a kid at school I never really had the confidence that most kids had. I was always middle of the class in every subject and then golf became my life at the age of 16 or 17. Once you turn professional, which I did just before my 19th birthday, you’re on your own. Every decision you make is yours. You’re travelling all over the world and don’t have your family with you. As a result you become a much stronger person.
I could play anywhere in the world now and it wouldn’t worry me, but if you’d have said that to me at 15 I’d have been frightened to death. I think it’s a great sport to find out about yourself.
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