February 2016
Dubai

After the mad dash to the airport in Doha, , I made my flight by about ten minutes. It was a quick 45 minute flight to Dubai. I arrived at my hotel around 9.30 , had a quick shower and  went straight out for a few relaxing beers. As the tournament in Qatar finished on a Saturday, we had the luxury of Sunday off. This was a rare occurrence, and I took full advantage by having a lie in and an afternoon stroll round the Emirates mall. My roommate for the week was Robert Karlsson's caddie, Martin Gray, and we had booked an apartment for the week. We were both of the same mindset, given that this was my fourth and his 3rd week in a row..... Let's have a relaxing week. Our location was perfect, right next to the metro station which is two stops away from the golf course, so transport was easy. No relying on scheduled buses this week!! I met up with Paul early on Tuesday morning, and we nipped out to play nine holes before the usual morning rush. The course was in magnificent condition, with the rough just right, and the greens slick. After playing the back nine, we stopped for a bit of putting and short game, then some lunch, and then back out to play the front nine. By this time the course was quiet so it was a perfect time to play.

Wednesday is normally pro am day, but this year we weren't participating. Sometimes it's not a bad thing, as it means you can have a leisurely day, and plan your practice over the course of the day, or if you wish, have an early start and get done by lunchtime. Paul chose the latter, as Marian, Val and Alan Reid, and Audrey and Brian Morrison had flown in the night before. This gave me the afternoon off, so it was straight back to the apartment to put the feet up, which were now starting to give me a bit of grief after 4 tournaments in a row.

The opening round was a bit up and down as Paul's iron play wasn't up to his normal standard. It was a mix of birdies and bogeys, and a one over 73 was the result. With the cut looking like being at least one under, maybe two, we had some work to do. Paul played much better on Friday, but this time it was the putter that was misbehaving. A level par 72 was the final tally and we'd missed by a couple of shots.

As I'd been away for 4 weeks, I was ready to come home, and didn't fancy clicking my heels for another two days in Dubai (Tempting though it may sound) I rang Emirates airline to change my flight home from Monday to Saturday. Normally you can do this for a small fee, but Emirates had changed their pricing structure, and I had bought a super duper non flex extra cheapo ticket. I had to buy a new ticket to get home... As you can imagine, the air was blue. At over £500 for a new ticket it wasn't really an option to save two days. Then I had a brainwave( unusual for me I know) I contacted Paul's personal assistant in London, and enquired how many airmiles Paul had.... PLENTY was the reply. A quick text to the Chipmaster for a bit of grovelling, and I got a flight booked using the boss's airmiles...Thanks Chippie👊👍!!!

 

I landed at Glasgow airport at 9am the following morning. And was home for a roll and bacon by 10. Happy days. We now have a few weeks off before the next tournament, so it I'll be time for me to get in the gym. I put on a few pounds during the trip, courtesy of the excellent food provided by the sponsors at each tournament. For the record, I weighed in at 14st 12 lb, so the target is for the first number on the scales to say 13. Wish me luck... I'll need it!!!

Qatar Masters

We arrived in Doha without incident from Abu Dhabi. I unpacked, had a couple of beers then straight to bed.( At £7 a pint there wouldn't be many consumed this week.) As this tournament starts on a Wednesday, we were straight into practice on the Monday morning. We played 9 holes then spent the afternoon on the range, followed by loads of putting practice. Then it was straight back to the hotel for some rest. This is one of those weeks where we catch up on sleep. Most days it's an early start due to the lack of daylight. First tee time is usually 6.30am, so 4am alarm calls aren't uncommon. Due to the increasing traffic in Doha, it can take an hour getting to and from the course. Throw in breezy conditions which tend to be the norm each year and it all adds up to a tiring week. Every night the bus journey back to the hotel is full of snoozing caddies. Our playing partners for the first two rounds were none other than Robert Karlsson (that's three years in a row) and the ever colourful John Daly. Big JD was good company as usual, but was nursing a knee injury and struggled for two days. Paul played nicely and the putter was behaving itself. The result was an opening five under par 67 followed by a 66 in the second round. That was good enough for a one shot lead at the halfway stage. The third round was a windy affair. Gusts up to 30 mph made scoring tricky, but Chippie's resolve was strong, and he signed for a 70, and increased his lead to two shots at 13 under par. It's amazing how certain courses seem suited to players, and this was a classic example. I think I'd done 24 rounds for paul on this course and can only think of one, maybe two rounds where he has shot over par. The omens were good for the final round. The forecast was the same, with gusty winds. Our task was still going to be tough. Our playing partners were defending champion Branden Grace and Thorbjorn Olesen, who'd had good success here in the past. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. Paul struggled with the driver, and the putter dried up. Throw in some bad luck on a windy day and we were up against it. A 78 was the final days tally, and we dropped back to 13th place. Branden Grace came through to win, becoming the first player to defend the title, so huge congrats to him. It was a week to take lots of positives from, and is very encouraging for the rest of the year. As usual, within 10 minutes of leaving the course we were in a car to the airport. No messing about for Davy and the Chipster.....

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship - Jan 2016

I landed in Dubai on Monday morning after our overnight flight from Johannesburg and headed straight to Abu Dhabi to my hotel. I did some Laundry and had a little snooze in the afternoon. Chippie did have plans to take the day off but as he was staying at the hotel on the course, he sneaked down to hit a few balls in the afternoon. We met early on Tuesday morning for our practice round as we weren't in the pro-am on Wednesday. The course was in the best condition I'd ever seen it, with the greens very slick. The rough however was very penal. If you missed the fairway , unless you were inside 100 yards, you wouldn't be getting it on the green. After the round we had the obligatory spaghetti bolognaise in the clubouse ( it is epic), then spent the rest of the day on the range. Wednesday was another early start, and Paul put in another serious shift on the range. Our partners for the first two days were  former masters Champions Mike Weir and Trevor Immelmann. Both players had been returning to the game after a long lay off. We teed off early on Thursday morning in perfect conditions. No wind and clear blue skies. Chippie struggled off the tee, which made scoring difficult due to the thick rough. He returned a five over 77 which made things tight for making the cut. On Friday we had a fog delay in the morning which meant we wouldn't get our round finished before it was dark. We needed at least a 67 and just as Paul managed to get some momentum going with birdies at 7,9 & 10, darkness started to fall and we had to return the following morning to finish the round. There was more fog the next day , so we didn't restart our 2nd round untill 10.30. Unfortunately we couldn't finish enough under par, and a 71 meant we missed the cut by a few shots on four over par. It had been a better effort though, and stayed at the course all afternoon, doing more work on the range and putting green. We were due to fly to Qatar on Sunday evening, so we spent all day on the range before heading to the airport. It hadn't been one of Chippie's better weeks, but the second round had been better, and we'd done a lot of good work on the range, so we headed to Doha with some anticipation, and looking forward to a course where we'd had success in the past.