2012 BMW PGA Championship
“Somebody call the fire brigade, Chippie’s on fire”…….What a week!!! In term of prestige and kudos, the PGA Championship at Wentworth is second only to our Open Championship on the European tour. It’s a massive week for all concerned. Every player knows a good week here can transform their season. In Paul’s case, it simply reaffirmed how well he has been playing for the last six months, and rocketed him into the top 30 of the world rankings!!
The course this year was much firmer than last year. Too bleeping firm if you listened to Ernie Els comments!! However the challenge was there for all to tackle. We had a good draw for the first two rounds, playing with Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter. 3 under par 69 got us off to a good start . This was marred slightly by a freak accident on the 11th tee. Having pulled his drive into the gorse, Chippie calmly placed his driver back in the bag and lo and behold, the head fell off it!! And if you believe that, I’ve got a full head of hair!!!!! Fortunately, the Taylormade truck was still on site, and we got a new shaft after the round. Only one problem! It was blue….. Rangers blue!! Haw Haw!! That’s the price for racquet abuse..! Chippie followed with a one under 71 on Friday which was an excellent effort, as we got a bit stuffed by the draw, with winds gusting to 30 mph on Friday afternoon. Poulter made the cut by a shot on level par, while Harrington suffered around the greens, missing by several shots. This never dampened his spirit or enthusiasm however, and he never stopped smiling for two days. Chippie couldn’t get his head round this. “Look at him. He’s miles over par and he’s still smiling. I’m going well and moaning my head off” Sigh….. It’s nae easy being a professional golfer!!!
Anyway, we made the cut comfortably, and played with Gareth Maybin of Northern Ireland on Saturday. He is without doubt, the quickest player I have ever seen. If we played first, our ball had hardly stopped rolling before his was in the air….A breath of fresh air in these slowcoach times of professional golf. Saturday was similar to Friday, with strong winds, and the scores rocketed. Chippie finished strongly with three birdies for another 71, which put us on 5 under, and in 4th place going into Sunday, right in amongst it. We played with Richard Sterne of South Africa, who is a modern day Ian Woosnam… A pocket rocket who hits it miles. Sometimes on a Sunday the scoring can be good but this never seems to be the case at Wentworth. Anything under par generally moves you up the leader board, and boy did Chippie deliver. An eagle, five birdies and only one bogey tallied to a 66. The highlight of the day being a ripped 4 iron to 12 feet at the perilous 18th hole. What a way to end the week.
He finished in a tie for second place which was a another big cheque , great world ranking points , top five in the Race to Dubai , and a step closer to the Ryder Cup. He has now finished top ten in 7 of his last 12 starts. Within 30 minutes of leaving the 18th green, I was in the car and heading for Wales. I had Richard Sterne’s caddy, Elvis, for company. He had finished in 6th place, so it was a happy car belting along the M4 to Newport. I’m sure even Chippie cracked a smile on his flight home……
2012 Volvo World Matchplay
It’s the that time of year again. One of THE best tournaments of the year. Last year was my first experience of the World Matchplay and I was blown away by the hospitality afford to us by Volvo. This year was no different. Accomodation and travel was taken care off and we were spoiled for food every day. Volvo even booked out a local restaurant for an evening and we had a caddy only night out. It doesn’t get much better.
However, we were there for the more serious business of playing golf. Good world ranking points, a healthy prize fund and a chance to improve our order of merit position whet the appetite for what turned out to be an exciting and close to amazing week. The format of 8 groups of three players was the same as last year. The difference this year was that being seeded we didn’t have to play two rounds in one day which was a definite advantage (Chippie is nae spring chicken!!) Our first round match was against Peter Hanson – a toughie to start with. It was a bit of a scrappy affair and Paul was never up until the 16th, he then promptly stiffed his tee shot at the 17th to win 2 & 1. On Friday we played Camillo Villegas. You could almost see the strain on Chippie’s face as he watched Camillo do his spider act while reading putts. Don’t try it at home folks..!!! A halved match was the result and we were safely through to the knockout stages…lovely
Saturday morning and we were up against Thomas Bjorn. It was a strange match as one of my best mates on tour; Dominic caddies for Thomas and all of us know each very well. It was potentially a great match but Thomas was a little of form and Chippie was solid as a rock = a 5 & 4 drubbing. On to the semi finals in the afternoon against Retief Goosen. By this time the wind had got up, the greens were getting quicker and trickier. Goosen wasn’t quite at the races and Chippie played even better than in the morning carding no bogeys, thus Goosen was safely dispatched 6 & 5. Bang ….. through to the semi finals
Sunday at the Matchplay…..right where you want to be. Nicolas Colsaerts stood between us and a place in the final. We were so close you could almost taste it. After four holes Paul was 4 up. The best possible start….However matchplay is a fickle game and by the turn we had been pegged back to 2 up. Birdies by Colsaerts at the 13th and 14th levelled the game. Chippie won the 16th with a solid par to go one up then we had an untimely rain delay. Typical just as we had gained some momentum!! When we returned we halved 17th in par 3’s and Colsaerts took advantage of his long hitting, birdieing the par 5 18th to take the match into extra holes. The 17th was halved in 3’s again and yet again, Colsaerts who is the longest hitter in the field , birdied the long 18th to win the match….!x!!?@!xx
It was a sore one to take having been well ahead in the game, but that’s golf. Chippie was none to pleased as any press or media guy who watched him battle his way the clubhouse would have agreed. Within ten minutes of leaving the course he was heading to the airport…raging.
He later apologised for not speaking to anyone after the round…..It even made the Scottish news (that twitter has a lot to answer for!!!) I told him there would be something very wrong if he wasn’t angry at losing. Any sportsman will tell you that!!! Still it was another great week and experience. It was Chippie’s fifth top ten in ten starts this year. Not a bad ratio !! I flew home on Sunday night had a quick change of the suitcase before heading down the M6 to Wentworth for the flagship event of the European Tour; the BMW PGA Championship on Monday.
You just gotta love these big events……..
Now and again , no matter what your occupation is , there are weeks or days when nothing goes right for you , and no matter what you do , it doesn’t work. This was one of those weeks. Even before he arrived in Seville , Paul was having problems. He missed his connecting flight by 15 mins , and had to spend 7 hours in Madrid , and didn’t get to his hotel till 2am. To rub salt into the wounds , his suitcase didn’t arrive. He sent me a text to say he would see me at midday. Unfortunately , It didn’t come through until I had boarded the 7am bus to the course. Doh!!!!
As it was a public holiday , all the shops were closed , so Chippie couldn’t even buy himself some new clothes. Therefore Tuesday was a write off (The European Tour don’t let you practice in jeans and a hoodie top) and by the pro-am on Wednesday , Chippie had managed to procure some clothing from the Wilson tour van. This was a bit of concern ,as Paul’s clothing has sponsors logos , which should be displayed when he plays in tournaments. However the problem was solved by the weather. During our first round , the rain pelted down , so Paul wore his waterproof jacket , which was suitably emblazoned. I mentioned how our luck was out this week. Normally I have a bit of a dig at Paul , due to his belief that he is the unluckiest golfer on tour. On Thursday , he was. …. The rain was on and off. When it was Chippie’s turn to play , it was on… heavily. On the fifteenth hole , Just before he was going to hit his tee shot , the heavens opened.. The ball flew straight right into the water hazard. The next shot did the same , resulting in a quadruple bogey eight. This set the tone for the week. Chippie struggled from tee to green , and then on the green . Poor fitting clothes , designer stubble , (he had no electric razor) , different golf shoes and rotten weather all contributed to a rare poor week at the office. Strangely enough , when our playing partner , Jose Maria Olazabal was playing , the sun was always shining. Must be a perk of being Ryder Cup Captain..!!! Walking down the sixteenth hole on Friday , after a wayward tee shot into the water had put paid to any chance we had of making the cut , Chippie glanced over towards Olazabal and said “ I guess I’ve nae chance of a pick after this performance” At least he could see the funny side of a week to forget…
Once we came off the course , I quickly packed the bag , jumped on the bus back to my hotel , and booked a flight home for Saturday. I was home by 6pm. Lovely.. This will be our last week off before a big run of tournaments. The World Matchplay in Malaga , followed by the PGA at Wentworth , then the Wales Open , where Paul is a past champion. Let’s hope the golfing gods shine on us a little more favourably this time…