This is my first blog for over 3 months, so forgive me if I'm a little bit rusty...... Due to Paul's injury, we had a long lay off, so by the time we started back at the Spanish Open, both of us we're raring to go. After a 4.30am alarm call, a flight from Prestwick to Barcelona, then a hire car journey to Girona, I arrived at our accomodation. When we arrived at the course on Tuesday morning, it was chucking it down with rain, so we spent the morning drinking too much coffee, and catching up on the previous 3 months. By lunchtime the rain cleared, and we managed some practice on the range, and a bit of short game. We had an early pro-am on Wednesday, so Paul was breaking himself in gently. The pro-am itself was a long affair....5 hours and twenty minutes!!! Combine this with the course being hilly, and not having caddied since January, my little legs were on fire.
For our first round draw, we had Robert Karlsson(again) and Jose Maria Olazabal. Paul played nicely , taking advantage of the softer greens, shooting a 2 under 70. On Friday afternoon, the wind had picked up, and the greens had firmed up, making scoring tougher. Paul played nicely again, but struggled a bit with the putter, shooting level par. He asked Jose after the round if he had noticed anything with his putting. Olazabal told him what he saw, and a smiling Chippie came down to the putting green, desperate to try out Jose's suggestions. It seemed to make a difference, but the acid test would be the next day. Sure enough, Paul started rolling in a couple of 8 footers, then a six footer, then a 12 footer. Jose had been dead right about Paul's putting stroke. Unfortunately, he wasn't hitting the ball as well as the first two days, and a 74 was the result, however, with the course getting tougher and firmer, we only dropped down a couple of spots. Going into Sunday we were in 16th spot, and all to play for.
Birdies at the first and third got Paul off to a flier, but a couple of offline tee shots resulted in bogeys, and that was the tone for the day. Birdies and bogies. Paul signed off for a 73, which tied for 15th place. It had been a very solid week, and very encouraging after such a long lay off. Being the competitor that he is, Chippie was still ruing his dropped shots, but overall, it was a good return to action.
Unfortunately, the week had been overshadowed by the passing of our colleague Iain Mcgregor, who suffered a fatal heart attack while caddying in the Madeira Open the previous week. "Mac" as he was known to us all was one of the good guys. It was a huge shock to us all, and I'm sure everyone reading this is aware of the sad event as it was extensively reported in the worldwide media. On Thursday we wore black ribbons, and at 3.40, play was stopped for a minutes silence. He was a massively popular figure on the tour, and a very good friend. I roomed with him on several occasions, and we shared many a beer and even more laughs. He will be sorely missed by everyone, and his memory and stories will live long into caddying folklore way after I hang up my yardage book. Rest well Mac, we'll always be thinking of you.........