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Matt Nixon: Manchester Evening News
Article posted: 30 August 2018

It’s not from a lack of caring but I’m playing with the freedom and belief that I play with in practice.

- Matt Nixon

Ryder Cup qualification finishes this week so here in Denmark there will be a lot of pressure on the people that are in contention like Thorbjorn Olesen, Matt Fitzpatrick and Eddie Pepperell and players hoping for a captain’s pick.

Made In Denmark is normally a great tournament, with passionate fans and lots going on around the event, and we’re playing at the home course of Europe’s captain Thomas Bjorn so this should be even more special. 

Tommy Fleetwood is one of my best mates and he’ll be playing against the United States in Paris next month, so the Ryder Cup will be a bit different for me this time and I really want him to do well. 

In terms of my own year, it might look like a season of two halves from the outside, with the first half a bit rubbish and the second half really good, but I think it’s been progress over the past year. 

Twelve months ago, I’d got into a lot of bad habits and my game was really bad. When it’s like that you just feel a million miles away. It’s a game of inches and you just feel like you can’t catch a break. 

A couple of things got me on the right track. 

My ex caddy Sam Matton put a lot of work into getting me back to my best and I had a chat with my old psychologist Lee Crombleholme in Oman in February. He got me to focus on something small to change my mindset, to stop me overthinking and be able to play carefree, which is something I’d never really been able to do in tournaments before. 

I’ve spent the last eight years feeling like every shot I’ve hit is under pressure, I’ve cared so much about every single shot and tried so hard.

It’s not from a lack of caring but I’m playing with the freedom and belief that I play with in practice. As I’ve got older maybe I’ve realised there’s more to life than the golfing bubble and maybe that’s allowed me to get out of my own way and free up.

If I was in this position in The Race to Dubai a few years ago I’d have been panicking, overthinking, stressing and probably just worrying about making a cut to earn enough to cover my costs for the week. 

There have been times this year that I’ve been skint and it’s mattered more than it ever has before but I’ve managed to stay relaxed. Now, I’m aware of where I am, I know roughly what I need to do and how many events I’ll play but I’ll enjoy it and if I play well in one of those tournaments, it might be enough. 

You have to drive it well here and it’s not overly long so on paper it’s a course that should suit my game. I’m playing nicely and feel in control of my game and my emotions so let’s see what happens.

Matt's column appeared in the Manchester Evening News on Thursday August 30. Matt, Tom Murray and Haydn McCullen will be appearing once a week in the MEN.

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