I had prepared for our first journey to the states this year by investing in a new Satellite Navigation system, for using with hire cars. It was for use in both Europe and North America, so this was its first outing. I picked up my hire car at Phoenix airport, plugged it in and set off. I had never used one before, and was looking forward to being told where to go rather than try and read google maps while driving…… I heard the wifey’s voice tell me what to do a sum total of three times on the 100 mile journey to Dove Mountain golf club!!! Turn left out the airport, first right onto the motorway, then after 95 miles, take a right off junction 246 and it was a straight road to my destination. Hopefully my investment will prove more worthwhile throughout the season.
We had two good days preparation on Monday and Tuesday, playing with Stephen Gallacher both days. Chippie took enormous pleasure in taking 50 dollars off Stevie on Tuesday. He even posted it on his website, not that he was gloating…..Much!! Everyone was in good spirits. World golf events are always up there in most people’s list of favourite tournaments. We all get well looked after & the prize money is fantastic. On the range on Tuesday, Ian Poulter came over to say hello. It was his first tournament of the year. Guess what he and Chippie’s topic of conversation was…..Fashion!!!! Chippie was wearing some of his new clothing collection for the year, along with a white belt!! Poulter approved, and Chippie returned the compliment on Poulter’s new shoes. I mentioned that the boss had threatened to wear white trousers to Poulter, and he was literally beaming with excitement. I almost thought they should change the name of the course to “Brokeback Mountain” rather than Dove Mountain, there was so much manlove in the air…hawhawhaw!!!
On Wednesday, the serious stuff was to begin. We were drawn against America’s Scott Piercy. A late developer and an expert in desert golf, hailing from Nevada, the neighbouring state. On Tuesday I had been slapping on factor 30 suncream. Not today. Icy temperatures and a cold wind meant that waterproofs and a woolly hat were the order of the day. Paul hit some putts after breakfast then retreated to the clubhouse to stay warm until we had to go to the range. We were 5 minutes from heading to the range when the hooter sounded……It was snowing!!!! Can you believe that? We knew the forecast wasn’t great, but snow? Apparently , Stevie Gallacher’s caddie, Damien, saw a different forecast to the rest of us. He was third match off, at 7.45, and looked dapper in his checked shorts. Unfortunately the PGA tour doesn’t allow checked material for caddies, so he got his fingers rapped for that. He then got chilled to the bone on the course for the next 3 hours until the hooter went!!
3 hours later we were heading back to the hotel. Play had been cancelled for the day as the snow was lying thick on the ground. After more delays the next morning, we eventually got our round under way at 1.50 on Thursday afternoon. We were under the cosh early on. Chippies driver cracked slightly on the first tee shot, and wasn’t allowed to be replaced, then Piercy eagled the next. Two down after two, we had a battle on our hands. Paul then played nicely, hitting his approach shots in closer than his opponent several times. However, Piercy showed great prowess with the putter, holing his putts first, forcing chippie to miss his birdie chances. This was the way the match finished. Three down playing the 15th, Chippie had hit his wedge approach shot to 5 feet, with Piercy 12 feet away. We were looking like getting back to two down. Piercy then rolled his putt home, and Chippie’s slid past the right edge, and we were beaten 4 and 3. It’s such a fine line in golf, and even more so in Matchplay. You can play great and get thumped, or struggle and win. I changed my travel arrangements and flew home on Friday night, arriving home on Saturday. I’ll have a week at home before flying back out to Miami for the next WGC event of the year, The Cadillac Championship. Incidentally, I found my way back to the airport without the need for my Sat Nav!!!