Dyson earns his spot in front of U.S. fans

Simon Dyson during Round 2 of the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Simon Dyson during Round 2 of the WGC-HSBC Champions.

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SHANGHAI - Simon Dyson is a mystery to many U.S. golf fans. The Englishman, who has not played full-time on the PGA Tour, has made only 13 appearances in majors or World Golf Championships in the U.S.

He’ll add to those starts in 2012. With two victories (Irish Open, KLM Open) in a six-week span this year, Dyson has moved up to 32nd in the Official World Golf Ranking to merit invites into next year’s majors and WGCs.

“Couldn’t get in,” Dyson said of why he hasn’t played more Tour events. “Every time I’ve had an opportunity to play in the U.S., I play.”

For the first time in his career, that will include stops at The Honda Classic, the week before the WGC-Cadillac Championship, and the Shell Houston Open, the week before the Masters.

Dyson also is open to playing more in the U.S., should it fit his schedule, but his focus will be in Europe, where he made tremendous strides in 2011.

Dyson, 33, points to the week before the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, when he brought a friend who also is a personal trainer, as a seminal moment in his season.

Dyson said something clicked in his game as well as his physical preparation while working with his trainer.

“We did a bit of work that week, and I really liked it,” Dyson said. “I felt good that week.”

Dyson tied for ninth, his best finish in a major since a T-6 at the 2007 PGA Championship at Southern Hills, his only top 10 in the U.S.

The week after St. George’s, Dyson went with his wife to see a friend who is a nutritionist, and she worked on changing Dyson’s diet, which included dropping salmon, carrots and carbonated drinks from his daily intake.

“It’s tough,” Dyson said of cutting some of his dietary favorites. “Lots of times, you sit in your hotel room and that’s all there is to eat, so I don’t think I’ve ever drunk as much water in my life.”

The upside has been that the combination of the new fitness routine and different diet has allowed Dyson to feel good about his game and the prospects for this week at the HSBC Champions, thinking that he has done everything possible to play well.

Judging by his recent results and ninth place on the European Tour’s money list, the changes are paying off.

“The first week, I won Ireland and I felt great,” Dyson said. “Mentally I felt better, so physically I felt better and I played the best golf I’ve ever played in Ireland coming down that stretch.”

Dyson’s swing plane naturally was inside-out, producing what Dyson called “quite a big draw.” Dyson changed his swing path to more of a out-to-in, creating a baby fade. With his enhanced fitness, the ball carries far enough for him to compete.

“My iron play has really stepped up,” Dyson said. “The six-week spell where I won twice, it’s as good as it’s ever been. Even my caddie (Guy Tilston) said it’s the best he’s ever seen. I was just taking dead aim with 6-iron and in; didn’t really matter where the pin was. I was going at it.”

With a Ryder Cup year on the horizon in 2012, Dyson is looking forward to making his first team. With his game relatively intact he knows that a September trip to Medinah is within reach.

“Ryder Cup is huge,” Dyson said. “I’d be disappointed if I didn’t, but I’m not going to think about it.”

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