A first tournament ace - I'll drink to that!
Firstly, I just want to thank the people who sent me such wonderful messages following my last blog from Ireland and Scotland. There have been times over the last few months when I haven’t wanted to write and that’s probably why a few blogs have been condensed into one.
But receiving so much support soon reminded me why I enjoy sharing my journey and life on Tour.
So, here we go again. I think we can say the back end of the season has started and it’s also safe to say that my back is against the wall.
So, what’s the plan?
Well I got together with my caddie, Steve, and my coach, Mark, over at Oulton Hall. It was like being back at school – a good old-fashioned de-brief with Mark standing at the front next to his chalkboard.
But it was great, I didn’t hit a ball in the first hour, as we went through some stats, exposing what’s been good, what’s been bad, how we are going to make the bad good and keep the good good.
You following that!?
It’s tricky managing your practise time, keeping a good balance and making sure you do enough of something without neglecting other parts of your game.
It’s easy to get in a circle…you may struggle for a bit with putting, so you spend more time to bring that up to speed and then your driving takes a hit, as you’ve devoted less time on that over that time. As I say, a tough juggling act.
So, it was Germany bound with a plan in place, and I’ve always loved a plan. I have a lot of trust in my team and I like to talk through my game with them., I’m pretty open in getting my thoughts off my chest, and I’m sure I answer a lot of my own questions but, that said, I tend to work best when I’m told what to do.
So, they’ve told me!! #GameOn
Unfortunately, though, Germany was another short week. I got there early Monday, had three great days of preparation and felt ready again for the week.
My best mate Ben made the journey to keep me company for the week, so we took advantage of the Porsche perks and went on their driving experience Wednesday afternoon. It soon became clear I’m not a very good driver, but it also brought home to me just how much I would love to own a Porsche one day. So, I better start playing well.
We did slaloms, skid pan, emergency braking, launch control, circuits and off-road driving and it was a pretty fun experience and I felt extremely lucky to be able do this at no charge.
Back to the golf. Round one went ok, there were some positives, especially the way I putted, and I ended the day on level par in around 60th position.
Conditions were trickier for the second round but somehow, 3 guys shot -7 in the wind and I just couldn’t see scores like that.
I was level through 8 holes after starting on ten and then made a few unforced errors. I was fighting again and felt I let myself down, as the Chris of the last two years turned those situations into a cut made and not a cut missed.
The missed cut meant Ben and I got back Saturday which meant I was now caddying for Ben in the Halifax/Huddersfield scratch event.
Strangely enough I was looking forward to it and decided that I wanted to give it everything.
Well, it poured down – a caddie’s worst nightmare- and I soon realised that they don’t have enough hands for the job.
You’re handing your caddie your glove, your club and then asking for some food all at the same time as he’s trying to use the yardage book, clean your club and hold the brolly. You definitely need to cut them some slack, even when you’re p***ed off you’ve just made bogey.
I gave it 100% for the seven holes we played before being called off, but I would like to think I helped Ben a little. It was fun but a seven-hole sample of life as a caddie was all I needed to want to get back to playing.
After two weeks odd I picked up a hip injury and I couldn’t quite get the reps in on the range I wanted due to the pain through the ball, but luckily it didn’t stop me working on my short game.
For the next two weeks in Sweden/ and the Czech Republic I had my good friend Adam Walker on the bag as Steve was on holiday. He came out to Spain early and we played some competitive games with the members at Los Naranjos and took each other on in good short game challenges.
The course in Sweden looked great on the and it’s pretty amazing how it has been carved out of the rocks and the hillside.
After nine holes I got the message that I was in the pro-am the following day, so I got off the course as I didn’t want to play 36 holes prior to the tournament.
I played nicely in the opening round in some tough weather as the wind swirls through the trees on some holes creating a little Amen Corner, so I was happy to shoot three under.
A double bogey start was not what the doctor ordered before a huge turning point came on the 5th where I made my first ever tournament hole in one with a 9 iron from 163 yards (and seventh of my career).
That helped me shoot two under for a five under total and moved me up to 13th but I failed to build on that finishing the week in 45th mainly thanks to making a 9 on the 15th after missing the green by just a yard!
Up next was Prague where last year the course in played very long and had thick rough due to the heavy rain. I was leading through 36 holes, so I have a soft spot for the course, but it was very different this year due to the hot summer
The bottom line is was that it favoured the big hitters, but I played solidly all week to finish 60th at one under but it was another four rounds under my belt and I headed to Denmark with a smile on my face where the girls would be waiting for me.
What was supposed to be a smooth and easy journey ended up being a nightmare. My 7 am Prague to Copenhagen was eventually cancelled after we called back off the plane after not boarding until 9 am.
With around 40 players and caddies on the same flight it was then a mad scramble to take another flight and €400 later I got another flight to Copenhagen and managed to get a lift north with some of the caddies finally getting there at 8pm, which was better than many more who didn’t arrive until the early hours.
Ahh, the joys of life on tour!