2016 Nordea Masters
Having recovered from my drive home from Wentworth, I flew to Stockholm on Tuesday morning. I cadged a lift off Andrew Coltart to the course, unpacked the bag. Got Paul's putter re gripped, then headed straight to my hotel. This weeks accommodation was a bit different. We we're staying at a spa hotel. Not normal caddie residence, but the price was right, it was only 10 minutes from the course, and the scenery was awesome. We were right on the edge of a large lake, so I had brought along my fishing rod. I guessed it would be a quiet week, so I reckoned I would be a good way to kill some time.
The venue was Bro Hof Slott golf club, on the outskirts of Stockholm. We'd been here a couple of times before. It's probably the the longest course we play on tour. It's certainly the longest walk, with roughly 200 yards average walk between holes. This made for long rounds. Our playing partners were Alejandro Canizares and Joakim Lagergren. After announcing both our playing partners in their native language, Chippie looked at me smiling....."Does that mean I'm going to get a 'Fit like min'?"
It turned out to be even better than that.... "Ladies and gentleman, from Scotland, the one and only Paul Lawrie" Myself and Lagergren's caddie ( affectionately known as 'Daft Wayne' ) were buckled with laughter. Somehow Chippie composed himself and ripped his drive down the fairway. The day itself was a bit of a mixed bag, and resulted in a one over 73, which was just outside the cut line. Friday was a bit tougher, with a gusty breeze blowing. Paul rose to the challenge, birdieing two of the last three holes for a 69, and safely in for the weekend. Saturday was tricky again, and anything under par would be a good day. It was looking like a level par day, until an untimely double bogey at the last tallied to a 74. We only dropped a few spots, so a final round would make for a solid week. Sunday turned out to be the windiest day of the week. Again we had a bit of a mixed bag, dropping shots at the par fives when a birdie seemed more likely. Both times this was the result of a wayward shot with the 3 iron rescue, which had been misbehaving all week. On the par 5 15th, Paul's tee shot had nestled in the rough. "I can get that 3 iron onto the green!" I wasn't so sure, as the lie wasn't great, the green was surrounded by water, and the club's track record hadn't been good this week. Reluctantly Paul agreed, so we opted to play short of the green with six iron, which promptly flew straight right into the water..... The Chipster was livid.."Give me that ******** 3 iron" It now lies at the bottom of the lake adjacent to the 15th hole. It won't bother us again....
A birdie at the 17th perked the score, and we signed for a 73, and a tie for 30th place. It was a steady improvement on the previous two weeks, with some encouragement in the putting. We now have a couple of weeks off to recharge the batteries and prepare for four tournaments in a row, starting with the BMW International in Cologne. For the record, I fished for 3 nights in a row, and drew a blank each time.....
BMW PGA Championship
I drove down to Wentworth on Monday afternoon with Stephen Gallacher's caddie( also Steven) and we managed to avoid most of the traffic, cruising down in under 6 hours. I arrived at the course early on Tuesday and, as usual, nothing much had changed. The range was chaos with managers, coaches, advisors et all. Paul arrived just after lunch and we had some time tweaking a couple of clubs and trying to get some practice in without the usual distractions.
Wednesday brought the celebrity pro-am. This year our team had a slightly more cultured look..... Mike Rutherford- ex Genesis guitarist, John Illsley, bass guitarist with Dire Straits, and Liam Botham, ex rugby player and son of cricket legend Ian Botham. The golf wasn't up to scratch, but the company and chat was top drawer. It was interesting to hear two former rock legends talking about their lives, past and present. Onto Thursday, and we had an afternoon tee time, playing with Ross Fisher and Sweden's Kristoffer Broberg. Ross has a habit of calling Paul "Chip" rather than Chippie. It's not a name Paul is overly keen on. We walked onto the first tee and Ross was straight in...."Afternoon Chip" I nearly hit the deck laughing. Ross realised straight away from my reaction what Paul was thinking. He didn't call him Chip for the rest of the day!! "Chip" played decent, and returned a level par 72. The putter was misbehaving slightly, but it was a steady opening round. Friday got off to a slightly more adventurous start. On the 6th hole, Broberg, who was last to play, was waiting for a ruling in the fairway. Fisher's caddie (Woody) and I walked forward towards the green, while Paul and Ross hung back with Broberg. As Woody and I were chatting, we heard a cry of "Fore" instinctively we bend down, covering our heads...THUD!! A ball bounced of my back and ricocheted 20 yards back down the fairway. We hadn't been paying attention as Broberg played his shot, which he pulled towards us. Fortunately it didn't hurt( Strong Shoulders) and when it was apparent I wasn't injured, Chippie took his opportunity to play to the crowd.... " I quite enjoyed that" as he walked towards me, failing miserably to hide his grin.
It was a bit windier on Friday morning, and the closing stretch was playing tough. We knew the cut was going to be maybe +1 or +2. Every time we made a birdie , we seemed to bogey on the next hole. A bogey at the final hole proved to be our demise, as we missed the cut by a solitary shot. It was hugely frustrating, as Paul had battled hard for two days. On a positive note, it was an improvement on the previous week in Ireland, and gave us some encouraging heading to Sweden. We had to wait until late in the day to be certain we'd missed the cut, and I didn't fancy driving six hours through the night, so I left at 8am on Saturday for the drive back home. I had forgotten it was bank holiday weekend. The result was an 8 hour, 30 min drive back home..... Lovely!!
I reckon were due a break sooner or later. Hopefully it will come around soon.
2016 Irish Open
The Emerald Isle..... Always one of my favourite weeks. The golf courses are great, the people are friendly, and the Guinness is always pure. This year we returned to the K club after an absence of 11 years. I could hardly remember any of the holes. I met Paul on the Tuesday morning, and we played nine holes, then did some good work on the range in the afternoon. We had a late tee time for the pro-am on Wednesday....2.30 Lovely. Normally this wouldn't be a problem , but we had an early tee time for Thursday's first round, so it was a quick bite to eat then bed before an early rise.
Our playing partners were David Lingmerth of Sweden, who plays the U.S. Tour, and Andrew "Beef" Johnston, the recent winner of the Spanish Open. We teed off in torrential rain, but thankfully it subsided, and we just had a decent breeze to contend with. Paul played not too badly, with his short game keeping the momentum going, and a level par 72 was the result. It was a decent effort in tricky conditions. As it turned out, we had the rough end of the draw. The wind dropped in the afternoon, and the scoring improved, but we were still inside the cut mark at the close of play.
Friday was a different story. The morning was dry, and the early starters took full advantage. With an afternoon tee time, we weren't so fortunate. By the time we got to the fourth hole, the rain was starting to pour. The green keepers were out with the squeeges, keeping play going. Paul struggled early on, dropping a couple of shots, and it became an uphill battle, fighting with the elements. The weather never abated, and we signed for a 79. It had been a bit of bad luck, getting the rough end of the draw, but that's golf. After a four week break it was never going to be easy. I spent half an hour drying all the clubs,bag etc, packed everything up, and headed back to my hotel for a few pints of the black stuff, and an early flight home on Saturday. It gave me a couple of days at home before driving down to Wentworth on Monday for our flagship event.... The BMW PGA Championship. Let's hope for some better weather