The putting guru Dave Stockton once told me that my goal at the start of a tournament should be to be the player who makes the most birdies.
He wanted me to be aggressive with my game and take on the risk of dropping shots in the pursuit of lower scores.
The hard part of golf is making birdies, but when you manage to do that you will have chances to win.
When players are coming into form they will have tournaments where they are making lots of birdies and bogeys and finishing down the leaderboard.
But when they work out how to eradicate those dropped shots, they become very dangerous players.
If you lead the birdie count for the week, you are never normally that far away.
That is why I think Rory McIlroy is trending in the right direction ahead of next month’s Masters at Augusta.
The Northern Irishman set a career best of 29 birdies at the Zozo Championship at the weekend, but still finished tied 17th.
That was as a result of the eight bogeys and three double bogeys he made at Sherwood Country Club in his last tournament before teeing up at Augusta.
He will head into the major once again knowing he needs that green jacket to complete the career Grand Slam.
The world number five would become only the sixth player in the modern era to win all four majors if he is successful on November 15.
It bodes well that he is signing off after a tournament in which he made lots of birdies.
Augusta at this time of year should suit him because the course will be playing longer because of the colder weather.
It is a course that clearly suits his eye because he has had a few near-misses there over the years, including five top-10s.
To have 29 birdies at a tournament, a golfer has to be putting very well and hitting lots of greens in regulation.
Rory hasn’t been doing that recently but this shows his game is getting closer to where he expects it to be.
He admitted he has struggled to practise at times during this year, particularly during lockdown, which is completely understandable.
But the Masters is the tournament he craves and I’m sure he will be working very hard to fine-tune his game in time for next month.
He knows every time he makes that trip down Magnolia Lane it is an opportunity for him to join an illustrious group of golfing greats.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Rory in with a chance going down the stretch on the Sunday.
197 yards ➡️ 2 feet.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 25, 2020
There are a couple of other Europeans I fancy to join him at the top of the leaderboard – Tyrrell Hatton and Jon Rahm.
Hatton has one win (BMW PGA Championship) and three top-fives in his last five events.
Rahm was runner-up at the Zozo Championship and has already won twice this year. He also has the game to play himself in contention.
The defending champion Tiger Woods didn’t have such a great week at the Zozo Championship, finishing tied 72nd in a 77-man field.
But he has won five times around August and it would be foolish to write him off.
Implications of that Bryson howitzer
Bryson DeChambeau has revealed he has broken the 400-yard barrier.
The American posted a picture of his driving data which showed one of his drives had more than 403 yards of carry and his swing speed of 211mph was more than 40mph faster than the PGA Tour average.
.@B_DeChambeau's mission for more distance continues. 👀
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 23, 2020
I’m not sure how the USGA and the R&A will feel about that. If players start hitting drives of 400-yards then courses around the world would start becoming obsolete.
It could prompt them to set new rules on the golfing technology.
Good start for Lewis as he doubles up
Tom Lewis has become the latest British golfer to commit to the PGA Tour, finishing second in the WGC Fed-Ex St Jude Invitational in Memphis.
It can be very tough for players to play on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. Some players have really struggled to get the balance right and the travelling can have a negative impact.
To do it right you have to commit to one of the tours and Tom will hope this decision pays off.
He is a talented player and he clearly feels his game is more suited to playing in America.