We arrived at St. Andrews , slightly worse for wear, due to our Ryder Cup celebrations. After two flights and a night at Heathrow airport, I arrived home on Tuesday afternoon. A quick change of suitcase, and I was back on the road to the home of golf. Normally for this tournament, Paul plays with Martin Gilbert of Aberdeen Asset Management, but this year, he was partnered by his son Craig. I met Paul at Kingsbarns on Wednesday morning at 7.30, and it was cold, wet and windy. Talk about being brought back to earth with a bang!!! We played a few holes then Paul had to fly to Gleneagles in a helicopter to hand over the Ryder Cup for 2014 (private jets are just too much hassle nowadays..lol) Once he arrived back to St. Andrews, we played a few holes on the Old course, then Paul had some more media work to do. Both of us were pretty much done in by this time, and I was looking forward to a little afternoon nap…Unfortunately, Chippie had other ideas!! He reached into the bag to find his car keys…..Nothing there.. we searched the whole bag ten times…nothing. “They must have fallen out of the bag on the course” claimed the boss. So off Craig and I trudged, retracing our steps over the holes we played on the Old course…. Nothing to be found there either. We returned to the clubhouse to break the bad news, but fortunately we had a little bit off good fortune. I spied a Wilson tour bag in the corner of the clubhouse, belonging to Steven Webster. “Surely not” I said to Craig. But sure enough , the keys were in the top pouch of another players bag. Chippie had just seen the bag and popped the keys in. When we broke the good news to him he said “That’s amazing”- Craig and myself weren’t so sure…lol
We started our campaign at Carnoustie on Thursday. The weather was kind, but the golfing gods weren’t so generous. Still a bit jetlagged, and on a bit of a comedown from the Ryder Cup, Paul struggled to a 3 over par 75. Fortunately, the two easier courses were still to come. Friday at Kingsbarns was a slightly windier affair, but Paul played much better, missing lots of chances for a 2 under 70. Craig played great that day, going round in 69 , and outshining his Dad. I mentioned this walking down the last hole , which brought a broad grin from the proud Father, although I was sure there was a sign of a grimace in there too….Hehe.
On to the Old Course on Saturday, and we knew no less than a 66 was required to make the cut. From tee to green, Chippie played as good as he had all year. Reaching the turn in 2 under, it could easily have been 4 or 5 better. Birdies at the 11th and 12th put us within touching distance of the required score, but a bogey at the 14th halted us in our tracks, and we ended up missing by two shots. A pity really, as it was good fun having Craig for company and watching him play (no offence Martin) and on any other week , Paul would usually have contended on this sort of form, but it was probably a week too far. The Ryder Cup had taken a lot out of him and it was time for a rest. Our next trip is two weeks in China, but we have a fortnight off to rest and recover, most of which will be spent watching repeats of the Ryder Cup – Did I mention that we won??? YeeeeHaaaa!!!!
Just when we thought the year couldn’t get any better , along comes the biggest event on the golfing calendar to completely blow your mind…….The Ryder Cup has seldom failed to provide us with excitement of the highest order ,and boy did it deliver…!!!
I arrived in Chicago on the Sunday before the event. I was chauffer driven to my hotel, where I found a large suitcase full of clothes to wear for the week, along with lots of other goodies… I was beginning to like this tournament already… I went downstairs to the hotel bar/restaurant to meet some other caddies who had arrived that day, where I was informed of the house rules, or rule…” Don’t pay for anything in here, sign it all to the room” …This was my kind of hotel!!
I walked round the course on Monday, as Paul was arriving later that evening, and on Tuesday we had our first official practice round with Graeme Mcdowell, Rory Mcilroy, and Sergio Garcia. It was a lengthy affair, lasting six hours, and we were all dead on our feet by the end of it. Straight back to the hotel for our first team meeting of the week at 6.45. I had 45 minutes to get showered and changed. I made the fatal mistake of lying on the bed for a wee rest, and fell asleep, waking up at 6.40…. Oh dear… I rushed downstairs, and walked into the room , where Olly was in full flow. Talk about embarrassing!!!My apologies were accepted , and Captain Olazabal continued, shedding a tear as he spoke about his own Ryder Cup memories with Seve. He had us all at it….. we were now beginning to realise how much this week meant to Jose!
On Wednesday we played the front 9 with Nicolas Colsaerts, Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari, then on Thursday the back 9 with Peter Hanson, Colsaerts and Westwood. By this time, everyone was chomping at the bit to get going, and everyone wanted to play. Unfortunately, four players had to sit out the morning foursomes, and we were one of them. This wasn’t surprising, as the opening foursomes more or less picked themselves.
We were all present on the first tee on Friday morning to watch the opening shot, and the atmosphere was nothing short of electric!!! The noise was deafening until Graeme Mcdowell stepped up to hit the opening tee shot, and all of a sudden you could hear a pin drop…..Gulp! Talk about pressure! Thankfully he made good contact. Jim Furyk followed him, and you could see the relief on both their faces as they walked off the tee… job done!!
In the afternoon we played with Peter Hanson against Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson…Only the current US Masters and US Open Champions. We knew this would be a tough match, but weren’t expecting the barrage of birdies they produced. They were 8 under par after 9 holes, and 11 under after 14, dishing out a 5 & 4 defeat to us. As if the defeat wasn’t bad enough, Chippie was even getting grief from the spectators! He did’y wear a hat to start with, and by the time we got to the first green, the American fans decided to poke fun at his apparent lack of colour in his hair…”Hey Lawrie, your hair’s so grey it’s unrepairable. We’ll see you on the Champion’s tour soon. It’s coming”… “Give me that hat back “ Chippie cried…You had to laugh! After day one, Europe were 5-3 down. Not a great start. We sat out the morning foursomes again on Saturday morning, which was slightly surprising, as Paul had played pretty decent the day before. In the afternoon, we played with Nicolas Colsaerts against Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar. This was a proper battle, with both Chippe and Niclolas missing chances to get ahead. On the 17th, Johnson holed a 35 foot putt to go one up, and the 18th was halved, meaning we lost the match. The day hadn’t gone well, and Europe were trailing 10-6 going into the Sunday singles matches. It was a huge mountain to climb, and everyone had all but written off the European chances. However in the team room on Saturday evening, we had other ideas. Ian Poulter’s amazing birdies on the final five holes on Saturday evening had given everyone a lift, and we knew if we could get some momentum going early on Sunday, things might change in our favour, and change they did!!! Chippie was game number five behind Poulter, Rose, Garcia and Mcilroy, playing against Fedex Cup winner Brandt Snedeker. A tough opponent with a putter that was red hot!! Nae problem for the Chipster…A chip in at the 4th set him on his way, and he was never behind , shooting 6 under for fifteen holes, and crushing Snedeker by 5 & 3. The first four games also went Europe’s way, and all of a sudden we were 11-10 up. I raced back to the clubhouse to drop the clubs off, then went straight back out to watch the remaining games… I watched Peter Hanson narrowly pipped against Jason Duffner, then arrived at the 17th green to watch Martin Kaymer go one up against Steve Stricker with one to play… This comeback was actually going to happen.. As Kaymer lined up his putt on the 18th to win his match, and retain the cup, we could barely watch. In it went and all hell broke loose… The release of emotions was like nothing I’ve ever experienced… We had actually done it…The biggest comeback on foreign soil. It took a few minutes for order to be restored, so that Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari could finish their match. Molinari won the last hole, halving his match, and it meant Europe had won 14.5 to 13.5…. Unbelievable!!! History had been created and everyone had played their part. Chippie’s victory was the best golf of the day, and I can only try to describe the feeling around the team that night. We partied into the wee hours of the morning, and there were a few rough faces at breakfast the next day. It was a small price to pay, as I’m sure Paul will tell you. This has been a fantastic year, and this just topped it off. As far as achievements go, this is way up there, maybe even at the top.. We will have memories from the week to last us a lifetime, and I can’t wait to watch it on Tv from start to finish. This week will be talked about for a long long time, and I for one will never get bored of doing the talking!!!!!