Elle Georgina Donald was born on February 25, weighing 5lbs 1oz, having arrived one month early. She obviously couldn't wait to meet her dad!
Elle's early show came because we discovered Diane's blood pressure was dangerously high when she went for a routine check-up. Diane had Pre-eclampsia, and the only way to get the blood pressure down, without fear of the mother having any kind of seizures, is to have the baby. So an hour later Diane was induced and 19 hours after that little Elle was born. Both are doing great.
It's hard to put into words but now everything else, other than the safety and well-being of my wife and daughter, seems to pale into insignificance. Of course I will continue to work hard to be as successful as I can be, but having a child puts everything into perspective somehow. I'm sure, though, that fatherhood can only help with my golf.
Because of Elle's early arrival, I pulled out of the Honda. I may add Houston instead. I don't think it will change my schedule too much. I just think I'll be flying home between events more often so I can at least spend a couple of days with Elle each week.
I was very excited to renew the relationship I had built up with Mizuno. I love that Mizuno don’t have hundreds of players on board, and that way they can really concentrate on giving 100 per cent of their attention to each of their staff. Their irons are still unquestionably for me, the best in the game. Some pros who don't have club deals choose to play the irons for free because they are the best.
I'm still playing the MP-62s this year. I had a little go with the MP-68s, but as I was still not swinging it great in the off season, I decided to stick with what I knew best. It's the same with the driver. I did some testing just after Christmas down at the Bears club. But, as I'm working on this new leg action, I don't want to test too seriously until I feel I'm really swinging my best. That will be when my legs and arms are working together. Only then will I be able to properly compare equipment. This new leg action could take a few months, so I will go back to testing then.
I did put in some different wedges though, with a little bit of different look to what I had been using. They are the MPT10 wedges (with the quad cut grooves) 54 deg and 60 deg. Mizuno gave me 2 versions – a custom grind specifically for me and the standard factory one. In the end I preferred the standard one. Shows that the Mizuno guys have built a lot of tour feedback into their standard shape over the years. I'm currently second in scrambling around the greens and first in up and downs from the bunkers, so they are obviously working well.
I have had a positive start to 2010, with some strong finishes at the Northern trust and Pebble Beach and a reasonable Accenture. In Hawaii I really struggled with my game, driving it poorly. My irons weren't much better. It was frustrating because I was working very hard in the off season on both my game and my fitness, and I felt confident that good things were going to happen. Just before Hawaii, I got together in Florida with my coach Pat Goss and another guy called Dave Alred, who is a performance coach. We worked on lots of different ways to simulate tournament conditions.
After Hawaii, my coach and another teacher at the Bears Club, a guy called Darren May, had a good look at my swing. We decided I needed to work on my leg action more. I tend to get my hips working too up and forward at impact, rather than level and moving left, and when I started working on this, things just seemed to click. In the past, I'd worked hard on the position of the club throughout the swing, but if the legs aren't doing what they are supposed to do, then it's very hard for the club to get in the right positions.
I played decent at Torrey Pines, I just didn't putt very well, then went on to LA and played really nicely there. It was good to feel that pressure again. It was always going to be hard to catch Steve Stricker from six shots back, but hit a lot of solid irons under pressure. If I'd got really hot with the putter, I might have caught Steve.
I played well again at Pebble Beach. It was nice to go there again and see the course before this year's US Open. Other than a penalty shot for picking up my ball (don't ask!!) and hitting it out of bounds on the 18th on the final round, it could have easily have been a top five finish.
The Accenture was more evidence that my swing is really starting to work correctly. In my first match Graeme McDowell and I made 14 birdies in 17 holes. I played really solid against Robert Allenby, again reeling off five birdies, with no dropped shots. I didn't play my best when losing to Ollie Wilson in the third round but when I needed to produce some shots at the end, I was able to do it, making a great birdie on 17, and then sinking a 50 foot putt on the last to take it to extra holes. It shows that the work I'm doing with Dave Alred is paying off.
I did a lot of good work too with my trainer Kam Bhabra in the off-season. My goal was to put on some muscle mass, to build up my strength, so that when the season started I could create more speed in my swing and hopefully a few extra yards. I'm now 10lbs heavier than last season and my swing speed is up about 4mph.
My hopes are like every year, although I must say, I'm quietly more confident about this year than some in the past. When I'm at my best my golf is plenty good enough to win. It goes without saying that the Ryder Cup is on my radar screen. If I keep working like I'm working, the results will come to take care of my Ryder Cup place.
My new caddie John McLaren and I are getting on well. I still miss my brother but Chris has obviously fallen on his feet in style. It was great to see that Paul Casey, who was third in the world at the time, wanted Chris on his bag - even though his only experience was caddying for me. Chris had earned a good reputation and they have already had some success together, so things seem to be working for the best for both of us.