The Clara man (35) is playing the most consistent golf of his career and while it looks as though his brilliant run of form will never end, he confessed that the fear that his game might desert him overnight is what keeps him sharp and ready to compete in golf’s biggest events.
“You always have the fear; it’ll never leave you,” he said before setting off with Rory McIlroy, Séamus Power and Pádraig Harrington for a practice round ahead of his first start for three weeks.
“I actually play better when I am like that. When I am complacent and feel like I am going to play well, that’s when the game jumps up and bites you where it hurts.”
Without a win since lifting the Claret Jug in 2019, the Offaly star has hit the woodwork a few times this season, finishing second in the Honda Classic and third in the Masters and RBC Heritage — three tournaments he might have won.
“I am playing good but the best of my career, I don’t know,” he said, reminding this writer he won The Open by six shots just three years ago. “But yeah, I am playing well. I’d obviously like to keep it going.
“It’s definitely the most consistent run of my career. Why? Jeez, I didn’t know. Is there a bit of maturity there? Maybe it’s something along those lines.”
Power agreed, adding: "As a golfer that’s always the way. There are enough stories of guys who have lost their way a bit and so many unknowns in this sport. So it’s always at the back of your mind.
“But if you just use it the right way, it's a good thing. You can use it as motivation to say sharp and practice and get ready."
Southern Hills promises to be a long and demanding test with 20 mph winds forecast for tomorrow, and Power is hoping his love of a stiff examination will favour him after finishing tied 17th in last week’s birdie-fest at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
“Last weekwas about making 15 footers; this is going to be a different test,” Power said as he prepared to play all 18 holes after feeling too drained by the Texas heat to play on Monday.
“I’ve always liked hard courses. It’s a fun challenge seeing how well you can manage. I’d prefer it tough. I’ve always prided myself on my course management on the tougher courses. It feels like more of an advantage.”