I landed in Dubai after our overnight flight from Johannesburg fairly well rested as I managed a few hours sleep on the plane. As Paul had flown first class, we had an Emirates car waiting for us for the hour long journey to Abu Dhabi. So far so good. Unfortunately our driver didn’t know where he was going, even though we’d already asked him. The result was we ended up in a building site rather than Paul’s hotel. The Chipster was nae a happy chappie. After we asked a few people directions, we eventually got there. The driver then attempted to take me to my hotel, but I got out and flagged a taxi. I didn’t fancy another wild goose chase!
As we were in the pro-am on Wednesday, we had a morning on the range, working on a few things and tweeking some clubs and shafts. This was very fruitful. And Paul was much happier with his equipment. We went onto the course to try them out and all was well. Happy days....
Our pro-am was a quick affair, playing in the afternoon. It was ideal as our tee time on Thursday was at the same time, 12.30, so it was ideal preparation. We had a good draw for the first two rounds......Darren Clarke whom Paul gets on very well with, and , you guessed it …...Robert Karlsson!! We had Robert 5 or 6 times last year and the trend was continuing. Not a bad thing though, as Paul tends to play well when paired with Big Rob. This proved to be the case again as Paul cruised round in 68, 4 under. Friday wasnt quite so easy, and a 73 was the result, but we were safely through to the weekend. Saturday’s weather was perfect, and the scoring proved this. Paul played lovely again, shooting 67, but this only moved up about 12 spots, such was the scoring.
On the final day we had the company of Oliver Wilson and James Morrison. A good draw as both are nice guys. They were a bit taken aback as Chippie ripped a drive 25 yards past them down the first, and continued to do so the rest of the day. He arguably played his best golf of the week, reaching the turn in 3 under, then missed a host of chances on the back nine, with good putts burning the edges of the hole. Paul was getting upset. Young James Morrison(who is a huge fan of Paul’s) was a bit surprised. “ I’ve never seen him get that upset” “That’s nothing “ I joked “You should see him when he really gets going” Anyway, Chippie played the back nine in level par, returning a 69 which was good enough for 20th place. Maybe not the week he was hoping for but the signs were good, and it was a huge improvement on the previous week. After the round it was a quick bite to eat, shower and change, then back to the airport for the 7pm flight to Qatar, which is a week I always enjoy as the hotel is always first class, and the course is in fantastic shape every year. It also brings back great memories for both Paul and I. Let's see what this year brings.
It's been 3 months since my last witterings, so please excuse me if I'm a tad rusty. 3 months at home in the Scottish winter meant it was a bit of a shock when I landed in Johannesburg. Sunshine every day and too warm to wear jeans!!! We were staying at the excellent Emperors Palace resort, not far from the airport. It is a casino/hotel resort, with loads of restaurants to choose from. We were going to eat well this week
I landed a day earlier than Paul, which gave me the chance to look at the course before we played it. I was very impressed. An old fashioned type layout, with fantastic bunkering meant there were different options on most tee shots. Combine this with thick juicy rough, and we were in for an interesting week. The pro-am was on the Tuesday for some reason, which gave us the luxury of a relaxed day of practice on Wednesday. We also had the top draw for Thursday and Friday, playing with local favourites Charls Swartzel and Richard Sterne. This was a bit of a surprise .to Paul, as he was expecting a lesser draw, due to last year being below expectations. " I canny get a good draw when I'm playing well, and I get the two best players" ....We weren't complaining!! All three players got on well and it was an enjoyable group. Sterne even complemented Chippie on his hearing when he asked him to be quiet when over the ball. Sterne, who was 40 yards away seemed surprised. " your boss has exceptionally good hearing" he said to me after holing out. " He can hear the grass grow" I replied. He looked at me in shock "really???" Of course I was only joking but for a minute he thought I was serious.
Paul was a bit out of sorts, having not played competitively since October, but battled away and managed to make the cut on the mark, which was hugely important, and allowed us two more days competitive golf. We celebrated by having dinner on Saturday, where Chippie treated myself, and my two caddie friends Dominic and Magic to some of South Africa's finest fillet steaks( He's not a bad lad). I actually think he was just in a good mood as Aberdeen had won their 8th game on the trot to go top of the Scottish league.
Over the weekend Paul played better, hitting a few more fairways and giving himself a few more birdie chances. He ended the round strongly on Sunday, with a 3,3,3 finish. This put us in 55th place which may not be what he had hoped for, but was a steady start after such a long lay off. We went back to the hotel, packed the bags and headed to the airport for our overnight flight to Abu Dhabi. The 2015 season was off and running........