The best year of my life

Our Tour Life columnist reflects on a great year, on and off the golf course

The 2018 season is now finished and I am back home in Orlando – jet-lagged, slightly sleep deprived and with our one-month old daughter napping next to me. This is my new happy place.

I used to think executing a perfect golf shot under pressure was the best feeling in the world, but it doesn’t come close to the feeling of being her dad. Away from the golf course, 2018 has been the best year of my life with the arrival of our little bundle of perfection – although when Ella won’t stop crying in the middle of the night that feeling of joy wanes slightly!

On the golf course, 2018 was special too. I finished 53rd on the Race to Dubai while only playing 17 events rather than my typical 25-plus. I chalked up my first win in January and won Player of the Month.

It has been another year filled with priceless lessons. I learned that I can win on the European Tour, and go head-to-head with a world-class player while doing so. I learned that I can play some top-class golf. This may sound brash, but I was just about the best player in the world for a month, and for someone who is the first to doubt themselves, that period was huge for me. I proved to myself, and some of the doubters, what I am capable of.

The middle of my season was poor. I only made three cuts in 13 events (including my PGA Tour and Tour events).

Looking back, I really wasn’t playing that poorly, but at the time I was in a panic over the state of my game. This turned what should have been a couple of missed cuts into 10! It really hit home how important it is to see things for what they are. If you look at things logically and unemotionally, you see the solution so easily, but when emotion and panic set in, things can spiral out of control. I found some form towards the end of the season which was highlighted by a top 10 at the Nedbank Challenge. It wasn’t quite the magic of January, but I played some great golf in the last few months of the season.

Going into the 2019 season, I am raring to go. I have already been in contact with my team discussing what went well, what didn’t, and what we need to do to make 2019 even better.

It was encouraging to see I led par three scoring, was second in strokes gained putting, top four in both sand saves and scrambling, 13th in stroke average, and second in bogies per round. The exciting part for me is that I feel there is so much room for improvement and an abundance of motivation. I have a great team and family around me so I’m in no doubt that I will keep improving for many years to come.

Thank you all for the support throughout the year. I hope you have enjoyed the ride so far as much as I have.