I had a very relaxing break after our marathon week at the British Open. On the Monday morning I headed up to Aberdeen for the inaugural Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay. The venue was Murcar Links, just north of the city. I had played the course about 20'years ago in the Northern Open, but couldn't remember anything about the layout. I was looking forward to seeing the course, as I'd heard so much about it. Myself and few more caddies walked round together and we were all of the same opinion.... It was very tight!! What was even more amazing was that they had cut the rough back just for this week. I can't imagine what the css was on a regular medal day. It was a perfect course for matchplay, with different options on almost every hole. Everyone person I spoke to, both players and caddies alike, loved the course and the prospect of one to one matchplay.
Tuesday was a fairly quiet day. It was very windy, so we hit some balls on the range and played a few holes. Paul had the draw to do live on Sky sports in the afternoon, so we finished around 2pm. We also had a dinner appointment that evening in the Marcliffe Hotel. Both Paul and the tournament promoters, 4sports Management, had brought John Daly over to play in the tournament. The big man was attending the dinner as special guest, and after some fine food, both he and Chippie took centre stage to do a Q & A which lasted almost two hours. It was hugely entertaining, and a great insight into his life after he famously won the USPGA back in 1991, and The Open at St.Andrew in 1995. Fortunately, we were playing in the afternoon pro-am the next day, so the lie in was very welcome. Our pro-am partners were Alex Salmond( no introduction required) , ex Aberdeen football legend Willie Miller, and recently retired Aberdeen football club captain, Russell Anderson. It was a very windy day, so the golf was great, but the company was good, and everyone finished with a smile on their faces.
On to the serious business of the first round matches on Thursday, and our opponent was the Frenchman, Romain Wattell. It was another blustery day, and Paul showed his intention at the very 1st hole, driving the green for an opening bridie, and from there he never looked back. Romain was struggling in the wind, and Paul didn't give him an inch. A 5 & 4 victory was the result. It's nice to get an early victory in a matchplay tournament, as it keeps you mentally fresh for the rest of the week. Our second round opponent was fellow scot Chris Doak, who had come from four down in the first round to defeat Anthony Wall. In contrast to our first round, it was a scrappy affair, with neither player really taking advantage. Standing on the 18th tee, we were one down. Paul's drive hooked to the left, almost on the 2nd green, while Chris's went miles right, almost ending up in the tented village. As Doaky said after the match, you could've built a Tesco inbetween the two drives. As it worked out, the hole was halved in 4's, and Chris won the match. Not the result we had been hoping for, but it had been a busy week for Paul, with lots of off course commitments that come from being Tournament host. The week overall had been a great success, with spectators, golfers, caddies and media all very complimentary about the whole set up. Mike Loggie from Saltire Energy has signed up for another two years, so I'm sure next years event will be just as good, if not better!!