I landed at Heathrow on Sunday evening from Barcelona after the Spanish Open. A quick bus ride the to airport hotel, and I was in time to have some food and a couple of drinks while watching Rory Mcilroy's victory procession in the Wells Fargo Championship on the PGA Tour. I popped into the course at Wentworth to get a couple of clubs altered for the boss and then had a quiet afternoon at my hotel. Tuesday at Wentworth is normally chaos. It seems as if every man and his dog gets onto the range. Every coach, manager, physio, psychologist, sponsor, club fitter, PA, and general hangers on come out of the woodwork this week. It's the place to be and be seen, apparently. For this reason, Paul usually just comes down in the afternoon for a bit of practice, and then disappears.
The Wednesday Pro-Am is always great fun. Normally we get grouped with a celebrity. This year was very good...Ex Manchester United stars Peter Schmeichel and Teddy Sheringham, along with TV presenter Dan Walker. All three were great fun and a pleasure to play with. The course was a bit softer than it had been in recent years, and there wasn't too much wind forecast, so the scoring threatened to be low. As you may have guessed it, our three ball for the first two rounds was, yet again, Robert Karlsson, and Jeev Milka Singh. We were teeing off early on Thursday. On your early tee time you have to take advantage of the better greens, as they traditionally get very bumpy in the afternoons at Wentworth. Paul wasn't at his best from from the fairway, and his short game ,which generally gets him out of trouble , wasn't as sharp as normal. He struggled for most of the day, and a tightening in his groin wasn't helping. He played his best shot of the day on the 18th. A three wood from an uneven lie in the rough from 250 yards away, over water. Normally he wouldn't take this on, and two wedges would be the strategy, but as we were +8 for the day, there was nothing to lose. Bang!! A high cut shot sailed over the water and stopped within 15ft of the pin. The resulting birdie meant he signed for a 79 , leaving plenty to do to make the cut. Paul hit a few balls after the round to try and stretch his groin, but decided rest was the better option.
The next morning Paul text me to say his groin was more painful, and decided to withdraw. It was the right thing to do, as he would have needed to shoot at least 66 to make the cut, which would be impossible while carrying an injury. I nipped upto the course to pack the bag, dropped some stuff at Paul's hotel, then booked a flight home that evening. Bad luck for the week, but that's golf. I'll have a couple of days at home now before heading to Royal County Down for the Irish Open.... Better pack extra sweaters and waterproofs!!
Normally I travel to most tournaments on a Monday. It means I can be at the course early on Tuesday to walk the course, and get organised for the week before Paul arrives. For this tournament, there was a 7am flight on Tuesday morning from Glasgow to Belfast, which meant I could be at the course by 9am. Perfect. An extra night in my own bed. It didn't feel like it though, as a 4.30 alarm rattled my bones early & Glasgow Airport was chaos, as it was the first working day after the holiday weekend.
I arrived at the course, had a bite to eat, then headed straight out for a look at the links. It was pretty impressive. An old fashioned links, with quite a few blind shots. If the wind blew, it was going to be a high scoring week. And it certainly blew!!! We had the privelage of another celeb pro-am team. Goalkeeping legend Pat Jennings, a true gentleman with the biggest hands in the world, and snooker ace Dennis Taylor. Both local heroes, and great fun to be around. The pro-am weather wasn't too bad, but it was a little taster of the week to come.
You'll be getting bored of hearing this, but one of our first round partners was Robert Karlsson again. That's about four times this year, and it was at least 5 times last year. Roberts is a lovely guy, and a great player, but it's nice to have a bit of variety now and again. I'm sure he's sick of the sight of mine and Chippie's sour faces(I'm joking Chippie)our third was Ryder Cup Captain Paul Mcginley, whose caddie " Edinburgh" Jimmy is one of the biggest characters on tour, so it certainly wouldn't be a quiet couple of days. We played early on Thursday, and managed to avoid most of the rain, although it was pretty breezy. Paul's game was a bit up and down, battling away in the wind. He finished the day by bogeying our last two holes 8 & 9, which any tour golfer will tell you is SOOOOOOO frustrating. A +4 75 was the tally, which left us a couple of shots outside the cut mark, so it wasn't an impossible task.
Our afternoon tee-time the following day meant showers....Lots of them. Almost like clockwork, every second hole we played, it poured down for 5 minutes. Brolly up, brolly down. Waterproofs on, off. No big deal, put a general pain in the neck. The Chipster dealt with it easily, and with four holes to go we were on the cut line. However, a double bogey on the 15th, and a pulled tee shot on the next meant we were missing the cut. As normal on these occasions, within 15 mins of leaving the last green, the bag was packed and we were gone, and a few pints of the black gold was required. We have three weeks off now before the start of probably the biggest run of the year... the BMW International in Munich followed by the Scottish & British Open. Let's hope our luck and the weather improves.