I had the Sunday at home after the Dunhill Links, and then it was off to the airport on Monday morning. Paris was the destination this time, and from there I would head to Versailles for the Seve Trophy, which is a team event where continental Europe take on Great Britain & Ireland. I hadn't done his event, so I was interested to see how it would compare to the Ryder Cup in terms of competitiveness and intensity. I was pleasantly surprised. GB & I had five Englishmen, four Scots, and a Welshman in the team.....that's if you can call Jamie Donaldson Welsh!!! There was a great mix of youth and experience in the team( I'll let you guess the most experienced member) Our captain was Sam Torrance, Ryder cup veteran, and winning Captain from 2002. His opponent was Jose Maria Olazabal, who needs no introduction. It was going to be a great match.
Sam had told Paul and Stevie Gallacher that, barring disaster, they would play every game together, so they started in the opening fourballs match on Thursday morning, against Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez. By coincidence, it was the four oldest players in the tournament playing together...and Chippie wasn't the oldest!!!! Stevie and Paul dovetailed beautifully, seeing off Thomas and Miguel 3&2.Three birdies from the 14th finished the game. That evening, current Ryder Cup captain Paul Mcginley took all the caddies out for dinner to a very posh steakhouse in Versailles. The food was top notch, and the red wine was flowing. I don't think the waiter( or the other customers)could believe his eyes or ears at the end of the night, watching twenty caddies singing Bohemian Rhapsody. We were very well looked after all week, and this was the icing on the cake.....thanks Mr Mcginley.
Back to the serious business of the golf, and on Friday morning, we played against Nicolas Colsaerts and Gonzalo Fernandez Castano, who had been eleven under the day before in winning their fourball match. They promptly carried on that form and gave Chippie and Stevie a 6&5 trouncing...ouch. On Friday night, GB & I were a bit behind, but Saturday was going to be a big day, with two rounds of foursomes to be played. Chippie and Stevie played Gonzalo and Nicolas again, coming back from 3 down to gain a half. If that wasn't enough, we were drawn against them again in the afternoon, but the jocks had the momentum, and won't the game 2&1. It had been a very satisfying day, and the scores were now level at 9-9, but my wee legs were on fire!!! 35 holes in one day on a soft hilly course meant it was an early bed on Saturday before Sunday's singles. Paul was drawn in game number 8 against Mikko Ilonen of Finland. He was never down, and eventually won the game 2&1. Unfortunately, the European team were just that little bit better on Sunday, winning the tournament 15-13. It had been a fantastic week, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. The competitive edge was very strong, but it was played in the right spirit. Hopefully the tournament can continue, as it is an ideal learning event for future Ryder Cup hopefuls
Having arrived home at about 9pm on Sunday night from the Seve Trophy, it was an early bed, then up again early to repack the suitcase, before heading to Prestwick airport for my lunchtime flight to Faro, in the Algarve. The Portugal Masters in Vilamoura is a great venue for a golf tournament. Almost always perfect weather, a great golf course, and the Marina at the sea is one of the finest in Europe, with restaurants and bars aplenty. We had a little bit of stress on arrival, as the villa we had booked for the week wasn't as had we had expected. There were 5 caddies meant to be staying in the house, two of which had arrived on the Sunday. They had grabbed the best rooms, leaving the rest to the other three of us on Monday. Two of those three bedrooms where in the basement garage!! Not good. Also the aircon didn't work, there was no wifi, and the tv was all in German, so we had to drag the two early arrivals out the pub on Monday( they weren't happy, at all) to repack their gear.... We were moving out. Fortunately we found a perfect townhouse at the old village in vilamoura, for about the same price...... all was well. Phew!!
I had my usual scout round the course on Tuesday, in preparation for the pro-am on Wednesday, which had a very interesting team member for us.....Luis Figo, Portuguese football legend. Sometimes when you get a famous person in the pro-am, it can be a bit of a let down(remember the fim star in china earlier this year). In this case it was a breath of fresh air. Mr Figo was the ultimate gentleman. He as actually almost humble, playing in the company of a tour professional. He chatted away, enjoyed his golf, and had no airs or graces whatsoever. I was pleasantly surprised, as on tv on the pitch he looked very moody and unemotional. I remarked to Chippie how easy it was to get people wrong just by watching them on tv, then followed that by saying he was probably the exception the the rule....lololol " That's no' funny" said Chippie, diving in straight away." Aye it is" I replied, and it got funnier for me by the minute!!!
For the tournament proper, Chippie got off to a solid start, shooting a 2 under 69 in a decent breeze on Thursday afternoon. He followed that with a 66 on Friday to be nicely in the frame for the weekend. He'd been struggling with a bit of a cold since the Seve Trophy the previous week(wee soul) so it had been a good effort, and when I arrived at the course on Saturday morning, he was on the putting green early, looking forward to the day. He played nicely, and actually putted well without holing anything. Lip out's, burning the hole, short in the jaws, the ball just wouldn't go in. A 73 was the result.That combined with the round taking forever( over four hours for a two ball) and he wasn't best pleased. We did half an hours putting after the round, and after he had washed down a coke zero, he was back to normal.
An early alarm call for Sunday, and I was at the course at 7am. Paul zipped round in 68, which moved us up a few spots. I went back to our house to pack and head to the airport. As it happens, I am writing this while on the plane back to Glasgow, as my blogs have been a bit late recently, so this would should be on time for a change.....
One of the most popular, and biggest events on our schedule, the Dunhill Links had been blessed with good weather in recent years, and this year was no different. From the first tee time on Thursday morning, not a drop of rain fell on any of the courses, and there was hardly any wind to speak of.....the scoring was going to be low. I had a walk round Carnoustie on the Monday, which, as always , was in great condition. On Tuesday we played nine holes on Kingsbarns, then we drove down to St.Andrews to play a few more. Wednesday was spent hitting balls, chipping and putting. We were ready to go. Our amateur partner for the week was Martin Gilbert, chief bummer and general top man from Paul's long time sponsors, Aberdeen Asset Management. Martin has played in this tournament on several occasions, and certainly helps provide the entertainment during the week, on and off the course. Not known for throwing his cash about, anytime we tried to find him, he was generally found hanging around the manufacturers trucks, looking for the odd free club or some gloves and balls. During our first round, we played with Rich Beem, who's partner was Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatley. I asked Martin if Flatley was wealthier than him " I'll ask him" he came back five minutes later. "He's just above me on the rich list, but not by much" you had to laugh. Anyway, Martin kept us going during the week, which was important, as the Chipmaster was growing increasingly frustrated. At Carnoustie, he had six great birdie chances in the first seven holes, and converted none of them. A poor tee shot on the 8th resulted in a bogey, and double bogey followed on the ninth. The poor victim in all this was Paul's six iron, bent at the hosel after it received a flying pitching wedge thrown at the bag. When I informed Chippie that the club was out of action he said, " Ach, we'll no be hitting many six irons anyway....... Alas, only four times out the last ten holes was it a perfect six iron.. Typical. Paul rallied on the back nine birdieing the 17th and 18th for a 73, +1. We now had work to do. At Kingsbarns the next day, there wasn't a breath of wind, and tee to green, Paul played some of his best golf of the year, but , with a different putter from the previous day, couldn't get the ball in the hole. He shot 68(-4) which felt like +4. The scoring was excellent, due to the calm conditions. The cut was going to be 8 or 9 under, so we required at least a 67 round the Old Course on Saturday. This was looking good for a while, as Paul reached the turn in 3 under, going on six, however we came unstuck at the 14th, and the battle was all but over. Fortunately, Paul managed to keep his spirits up, and we had the Seve Trophy to look forward to next week. This would help not to dwell on a rare missed cut, and get back into the thick of things asap. After the round, I popped into our apartment for the week, grabbed my clothes, and was home for 6pm, in time for tea and the x-factor( aye right) Lol. Still, it was nice to get home at a decent hour, so I suppose every cloud has a silver lining. Seve Trophy here we come.....