I had a 4.30 alarm call for my flight to Copenhagen, then another flight to Aalborg, then a quick taxi to my hotel. I was there by 11am and fortunately was allowed to check in straight away. I went straight to bed for a little nap, then went out for some food with Robert Karlsson's caddie, Damien. Aalborg is a great little town, and we found a perfect spot outside a local bar and watched the world go by. A perfect afternoon was had. I managed a long lie the next morning and met Paul in reception before getting a courtesy car to the course, which is 40 minutes away. We did some practice, had lunch, then played nine holes in the afternoon with Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke, and Paul's fellow vice-captain, Thomas Bjorn. It was meant to be a quiet nine holes, with most of the discussion about the Ryder Cup. It turned out to be pretty much a slagging match, with Thomas on the receiving end of most of it, much to everyone's merriment!!
The pro-am passed without incident, and we were all set for Thursday's opening round, playing with Shane Lowry and local hero Soren Kjeldsen. Paul played fairly steady, without setting the heather alight, and returned a one under 70. Friday was a better day, with Paul taking advantage of his good play, and a 66 was the result. This put us just outside the top ten going into the weekend. After the round, Chippie and I went to the local Irish bar for sausage and chips and a pint of the black stuff. Just the one mind.... We were here to work!!
Our playing partner for the third round was Ritchie Ramsay, Paul's fellow Aberdonian. They both played well, Paul particularly so, but couldn't capitalise on his ball striking, and a one over 72 was the final tally. To say he was annoyed was putting it mildly.
The weather forecast for Sunday was poor, so the final round started early, in an effort to beat the thunderstorms which were forecast. Chippie got off to an absolute flyer, and was 4 under after 6 holes. A bogey at the tenth halted the progress a little, and then on the 11th fairway, the heavens opened. Within 30 seconds, the horn blew to stop play. By the time we'd walked back to the tee to get transport to the clubhouse, we were absolutely drenched. Fortunately because we started early, there was still plenty time to finish the round once the storms passed. The only downside was that most people missed their flights..... Never good. After the restart, Paul played the rest of the round in one over, and we signed for a 69, leaving us in 15th place, which was a very solid week, especially from tee to green, as Paul had led the greens in regulation for the week. I booked into another hotel for the night, booked a new flight, and headed straight out to the Irish bar for more sausage and chips and certainly more than one pint of Guinness.....Sometimes after a hard day you just gotta do it......!!
2016 Aberdeen Asset Paul Lawrie Matchplay
I had a very enjoyable two weeks off after the British Open. It's nice to get a break in the middle of the season, especially as the latter half will be very busy for us.
I drove up to Archerfield on the Monday, and had a quick wander round the course. It was very good. I had played it 7 or 8 years ago, but had no recollection whatsoever of the course. I met Paul on Tuesday morning and we played the back nine, then after lunch we did some work on the range. It's a difficult week for Paul, as he has so many commitments and responsibilities, not to mention dealing with requests of all kinds from the players.
The Wednesday pro -am was a fun affair, as we played with Eric Herd of Farmfoods. Eric is huge supporter of Paul and his foundation, and great company on and off the course. He is also extremely competitive. A shake of the head and a strut off to the next tee when one of our team missed a putt let you know how he felt. We had a great afternoon, and it set us up nicely for the first round on Thursday afternoon. Our opponent was Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark. He has a reputation of being a big hitter, who can blow hot and cold. During the match Paul was two up very early in the match, and played solidly from there onwards, never giving Lucas a chance to get into the match. A lob wedge to 3 feet at the 16th was enough to win the match 4 & 2, and we were into round two, where we faced the Australian left hander Richard Green, a very experienced campaigner.
Similar to our match against Bjerregaard, Paul got off to a quick start, and held the lead throughout the match. With 3 holes to go we were two up, but a bogey on the 16th and a birdie by Green on the 18th took the match into extra holes, where Green holed for birdie from 10 feet, after Paul's putt from 12 ft had lipped out. All of a sudden we were out. It had seemed unlikely as Paul had been in control the whole day, but that's the beauty of matchplay. Green went onto to play the eventual winner, Anthony Wall in the third round. Wall defeated Green in extra holes, and in the final, he won on the 18th hole against Alex Noren. It had been 16 years since his previous victory, and " The Great Wall" as he is known on tour was understandably emotional.
For me it was back to our accommodation for the week, a quick pack of the case and I was home in just over an hour. We have a week off now before the beginning of a big run, starting with the Czech Masters. See you all in Prague.
2016 D+D Real Czech Masters
We hadn't played this event since 2014, so I was looking forward to returning. The course was about 30 minutes from town, so we all stayed in the city. Prague is a fantastic place, and not too expensive. The weather was great and the course was in magnificent condition. We were looking forward to a good week. Paul wasn't flying till Tuesday, so I had a quick scout round the course to reacquaint myself. There had been a few changes to the 1st, 10th and 12th.... All par 5's. They had added water hazards to all three of them, making them a much more difficult proposition, and this was shown in the scoring.
We had an early pro-am, and as the course was 30 minutes out of town, it was an early rise... 4.30 to be precise. It was a decent day, and we spent a bit of time on the range afterwards, before heading back in the afternoon. Our playing partners on the first day were Robert Karlsson and Rory Sabbatini, who had just come back from injury. Paul played nicely on the first day, cruising round in 3 under 69. It was a decent effort, as the wind was picking up in the afternoon. Friday was a different affair, as Paul struggled with his ball striking through the middle of the round, and finished with a four over 76. We were right on the cut line, and had to sweat it out to see if we made the weekend. Fortunately, we scraped through on the mark. We played on Saturday with Matthew Baldwin and Nacho Elvira, who sounds more like a wrestler than a golfer. Nacho played nicely, shooting 67. Paul played decent, but didn't hole much, and returned a level par 72. Myself and Baldwin's caddie get on well, and we pent most of the day chatting, which was mentioned by the Chipmaster on more than one occasion. "Do you two ever shut up." "No!" Was our answer . Quite often there isn't much chat on the golf course , so it was nice to have a bit of a gab. His name is Andy, but goes by the nickname of P.D. , as apparently he looks like a plastic duck!! Just another tour caddie handle that has stuck with him.
We woke up on Sunday to rain and wind.... Right up Chippie's street! On with the waterproof jacket, and he cruised round in 68 in the worst of the conditions. This jumped us up over 30 spots to 35th, which in the end was a reasonable finish, as we hadn't played much since the Open. I stayed in Prague overnight before another 4.30 alarm call on Monday morning to catch the first of two flights to Aalborg, in Denmark, for our next event which was the Made in Denmark Open, which attracts huge crowds every year. I was just looking forward to a long lie...