My Scottish Open Blog!

Firstly, thank you to everyone who made my Golf Day at Woodsome on 4 July possible!!

I really hope you enjoyed the day, and congratulations to everyone who picked up a prize!

The day concluded around 7pm and myself, Laura and the kids were on the road by 8.05pm starting the long drive up to Inverness for the Scottish Open.

After an hour both the girls were asleep and after two short stops en route we made it to our accommodation for the week at 3.10am!

Straight to bed and 5 hours’ sleep later, the next day had started!

I had some extra amazing support with me!! My mum, Laura’s Mum and Dad, her brother Chris, Steve’s wife Tracey, two other good friends Bob Whiteley and Arthur Batty, all made the journey, and once again my coach Mark Pearson was up for two days.

And at one point during round 2, I did actually witness my own personal Mexican wave!

So Tuesday morning the girls headed off to Loch Ness for the Tour families’ day, which of course was a boat trip searching for the hidden monster!!

And I got up to the course for some light practice and played 18 around the fabulous Castle Stuart!

It’s very picturesque!! You play the first 3 along the shoreline of the Moray Firth, and then 10, 11, 12 along the shoreline in the opposite direction!!

I’ve probably not played links golf since the Open in 2014, and being honest I’m not the biggest fan of it! People will not like me for saying that as it’s the ‘true’ form of golf and a lot of history is tied to links golf…

But it can be so unfair! Every single shot you need some luck or a good bounce. Sometimes you can hit the ball great and shoot a worse score than if you had played bad!

But with links golf you have to be more patient than ever, and accept bad breaks; if the course beats you up walking down the first after you’ve climbed out of a pot bunker then you have no chance for the next 17!!

Pot bunkers and golf balls seem to act like homing missiles, sometimes off the face of the club you just can’t miss them!!

You have to have a great imagination of what you ‘think’ is going to happen too, as you never really know on this terrain, and some people really like that!

You might think I’m been a bit soft saying I would rather a ball land and stop with a 3 iron from 200 yards but personally I think that in itself is a hard enough skill!

In practice we played the course dodging a few showers but overall it wasn’t too bad, the wind was fine.

So to then play last out (2.30pm) in horrific wind and at times rain, was not what we had ordered for round 1.

I managed to hang in there, birdie the last two and shoot 75 (+3); it kind of felt repeatable! But then when you see the stats that the morning average was 74 and the afternoon average was 77 it gave me a great confidence boost!

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I was feeling pretty rough that week, fully dosed up with medicine, and it was a tough early start to get up there in the morning and warm up for a 9.30am tee time.

I managed to play solid though throughout the day and felt in control! It was nice to shoot 70 (-2) – I knew I was safe to play another weekend in a big event!

But there wasn’t much to shout about over the weekend! The wind had totally changed direction which made the course play so differently!

I played with Pablo Larrazabal and we both shot 75 (+3). I knew it wasn’t a great score but then I had the opposite feeling from day 1, when I realised everyone was shooting under par…. it now felt a really poor score!

I dropped down the pack to nearly bottom, and that meant day 4 was to fight to get off the bottom, as no way did I want to finish bottom!! Even though technically you’re not, as another 90 players had already missed the cut…

Day 4 the wind returned to normal and I played steady enough; I drove the par 4 3rd, 10th and 16th which always helps when you’re two putting for birdies…. I shot level par and left plenty of chances out there!

What I learnt about this week… When you’re tired this game is so much harder, losing focus when the weather is beating you down leads to poor mistakes and ones which prove very costly!

Also I need to improve on slow greens, something I never thought I would say….my putting has improved so much in the last 7 months but on fast greens.

Saying that, it’s rare we play on slow greens so I could just write off last week…..

But my ‘old’ technique was suited to slow greens, I would hit putts all the time which works when there is no pace to them….

But after hours of lengthening my swing and not hitting putts, to go back to slow greens certainly threw me!!!!

Overall though, another week on the Tour, another weekend played, a fantastic event to be part of and another week where many lessons have been learnt!!

And of course more points on the OOM!

I am getting better, and I know all the things I’m doing are the right things!!

So patience and good preparation are still the key, good things will happen and I can’t wait to write about them soon!!

Regards

Chris

The 100th Open De France! New blog!

So, as I mentioned at the end of my last blog, I received the email to say “Chris, you are now in the French Open, will you be travelling?”

Probably one of the easiest questions I’ve ever had to answer, especially when my flight to France was already booked! Laura, the girls, and Steve’s wife Tracey had also started the long drive down from Yorkshire!

So after a few delays, me and Steve landed in Paris and after a few hours we were at the accommodation with the girls!

This week we were in a ‘lodge’ and Steve and Tracey were ‘glamping’ on the same holiday park as us!

(On leaving we found out it was infested with mice … not good!)

It was ideal really (despite the mice) – a little restaurant on site, a heated pool, and a small park for the kids…but 6 nights was going to be enough!

Location wise it was great, a couple of miles outside Versailles and within close range of the players’ hotel (once again nicely priced at €220 a night).

‘Le Golf National’

I’ve heard so many great things about this course, and with the changes in preparation for the 2018 Ryder Cup, it sounded even better!

The only difference this year was that it was soft, and normally plays firm and bouncy!

Anyway the practice round did not disappoint!

About the course….

Every tee shot was like last week in Germany, you had to hit the fairway! Semi rough was not an option as you weren’t going to get to the green! It’s as it should be, there is a huge reward on hitting fairways, which then gives you a massive advantage going into the greens over everyone else who’s not on the short stuff!

You really had to plot your way around and be very patient! And to finish off, it probably had the best 4 hole stretch you had to navigate your way around!

I loved it!

So Tuesday/Wednesday were normal prep days apart from having ultrasound on a recurring pain in my left knee…

Nothing major to worry about but a slight tear in the cartilage, it’s manageable with ice, elevating it and not putting any extra stress on it!

It only hurts when I squat to read putts, so in my swing it has no negative effect!

1st round!

Wow, I played good for 11 holes, not far off my best! I was cruising… Then two great par saves down the next two holes kept some momentum!

Up 14 I missed a short birdie, then holed a monster on 15, made a meal of 16 in the water but made a world class birdie down 17!

To sign off with a 5 down the last was no drama. Basically if you miss the fairway you make bogey… simple as that!!

But a great first round 68 (-3) and I was in the mix!!

Round two I played ok, but it was eventful! The double up the 9th, my last hole left a sour taste but that wasn’t half of what went on…

Down the 13th, I pulled my drive left, shouted “fore”, it then took one bounce and smashed into a spectator’s chin! One big bump and some claret dripping off his chin unsettled me a bit as that was a new experience!

But I battled on, so did he, as five holes later he reappeared for a photo of me walking off a green!

I just hope he’s not preparing his law suit!

Round 3…

The only highlight was playing with Padraig Harrington, as we both dragged each other down and played poorly!

He was a great guy, we really enjoyed his company and you can see how he has so many titles to his name!! He knows his own game!!!!

Round 4…

That’s as good as I’ve been all year, I did not hole a lot but my game was solid!! It’s really nice to sign off with a good score (70, -1) and move up the scoreboard to T45th.

What a fantastic week!

68, 75, 77, 70 (+6) T45th

And now some more good news….

I’m into the Scottish Open! BRING IT ON

The BMW Championship – Germany!

If it wasn’t for the re-rank last Monday following the event in Austria, I wouldn’t have been playing this week….

At close of entries I was well down the reserve list, but Monday morning after the re-rank I comfortably jumped inside the ‘red’ line you see on the Tour website and into the event!

What a great feeling! One of my mini goals this year was to climb as high as possible on the re-rank. So to go from what was technically 28th to now 9th was a huge jump and I’m sure it was probably the biggest in my category!

I couldn’t ask for much more, and it then gave me a realistic chance to get a start in the French and Scottish Opens which are much larger prize funds on the schedule.

Fingers crossed!!

So last week it was the well-established event on the schedule in Germany, Dusseldorf!

The BMW Championship!

The last time I played in this region was back in 2007 when I managed to receive a random invite to a Challenge Tour event where I made the cut, with good friend Toby Garrett on the bag!

 

So to be back in the area (different course) with a European Tour card in hand is something I can honestly say back in 2007 I probably never thought would happen!

Good positive thinking there Chris!!!

Having a week at home has been great, my children are mad as a box of frogs, so much fun, but non- stop!

But with our new improved back garden, we’ve spent endless hours playing out, afternoon tea parties, hiding in the Wendy house and as you will now see by the pictures, sneaking some extra practice in on the newly installed green!!

Thanks to European Golf!

One thing I also managed that week at home was to watch some golf, and the biggest thing I noticed from watching the best in the world play was that my game is very similar to theirs! And more importantly, my course management and patience on the golf course are starting to mirror the best in the world!

I’m learning, and over the past 6 weeks I’ve learned a lot quicker!

At a golf course like Oakmont (US Open) you have to be patient, play to 40/50ft at times on the greens, accept you’re going to have tough two putts – but doing that takes away the big numbers of missing greens in the wrong places!

Par is, a lot of the time, a great score and chasing birdies can lead to disaster!!

You will get plenty chances on par fives when you get wedge in your hand or get around a green in two!

I admit it’s taken me a while to buy into this style of golf – boring, conservative some may say – but that is what the best in the world do, even if you don’t think that from watching the golf on TV.

And then the days they putt well, and hole a few outside chances, they compete/WIN!!

So the week in Germany gave me another opportunity to improve as a player, challenge myself and really enjoy playing another week on the Tour in a fantastic event!

Tuesday was the standard long travel day, and thanks to my brother in law I got a nice early 4.30am pick up to head to Manchester, a quick flight to Germany and then straight to the course – lunch, practice, play!

Long days but the key is trying to keep it very constructive, don’t waste any minutes out there as you don’t have enough hours in a day to be wasting any!

Wednesday I had a few ‘jobs’ to do; I picked up a few bits off the Scotty Cameron rep, some fresh shoes off Footjoy, some new Kangaroo leather grips off Taylormade I am looking to try, and then a 3 iron/driving iron off Mizuno which I’m looking to put back in play which I used to use a few years back!

It’s like Christmas every week on the Tour, and as sad as it sounds it’s something I dreamed of with my friends when aged 12 practising 30 yard spinning sand shots off the green keeper’s car park at Crosland Heath!

Again, this is also how the main tour is so different; I’ve mentioned it before how the hospitality is outstanding… But BMW took it to another level! WELL DONE!

By Friday night I still hadn’t had my hand in my wallet (you can insert your Yorkshire joke here about having deep pockets and short arms); other than paying for my flight, hotel and caddy I’d not needed to spend a penny, there is a constant supply of food, drinks, snacks, fruit, course snacks, and BMW courtesy cars on tap!

And like I say, they really do try to make it as easy as possible for the players!

I just really hope that the guys who have been out on Tour for years appreciate the efforts that go in to make their job easier…

– Food

– Drinks

– Cars

– Equipment trucks

– Yardage books

– Fitness truck

– Doctors

– Physio

– Referees

– Tournament staff

– Sponsors

– Courtesy cars

– Shuttle buses

And most importantly the Volunteers; I find it amazing how many they round up at these events! And if it wasn’t for the ball spotters many players including me at times would be shooting a lot bigger scores than they do!

Me personally, after 5 years on the Europro and 4 years on the Challenge Tour, I sure appreciate the opportunity I have, and the effort that goes in to running these great events!!

I also got the privilege of test driving the M4 and the i8 down the autobahn which was a cool experience, they just give you the keys and say “have fun”, see you in an hour!

 

ROUND 1

So a 7.30am tee time Thursday was perfect! It doesn’t sound it with a 4am alarm but to get fresh greens for nine holes is luxury. That’s because they were super soft as they have had so much rain out there, so late afternoon they are a totally different surface.

2.30pm would not be an ideal time unless the weather man has his say!

In round 1 I played pretty solid, if you drive the ball well round here there are chances on every hole with it being so soft!

But miss the fairways and you’re hacking it out, even from the first cut of rough, I did this three times hence my bogeys/doubles on the card!

But in the end I signed for level par (72) which ended the day in 62nd position (top 65 make the cut).

ROUND 2

I got off to the perfect start, 3 iron, wedge to 6 inches for a tap in birdie.

I played nicely for the rest of the front nine and got it to -4 which was a great move and safely inside the projected cut line of -1.

But then I felt the brunt of the German rough on ten and hacked it from right to left and walked off with double!

Then back to back poor bogeys set me back to level par and struggling to make the cut with four holes to go!

15th was my best chance, I hit an ok drive, then an ok 3 wood and it scrambled onto the green, and I two putted from 60ft! That was one birdie back…. Now on the cut mark with three tough holes to go!!

I got it back on 17, after a great approach to 15ft and a perfect putt!!

Rock solid par down 18 and I was safe for another weekend’s work!! :-)

ROUND 3

Waking up to torrential rain is never a good start to your morning as a golfer!

Neither is warming up in the rain, teeing off in the rain and playing 9 holes in the rain…

We then got called off the course, and three hours later got the message that there was no play for the day!!

 

That only meant one thing… Sunday was going to be a long day!!!!

For the first time in a long time I felt a little under the weather, I got to sleep by 8.30pm and didn’t wake up feeling much better…

Those last 9 holes of my third round Sunday morning were tough and I dropped too many silly shots to shoot +3 and drop down the board!!

After another breakfast I re-started my warm up for round 4 – and again got off to the perfect start down 1! 3 iron, wedge, birdie!

I missed a short birdie putt on two, then birdied 3 and 5 to be cruising at 3 under!!

A couple of bogeys around the turn but then two perfect shots on 13 followed by a 12ft birdie putt was enough to turn the round back into a good one!

In the end I shot 67 (-3) which was one of the day’s better scores and moved me back up to 38th.

Again a solid week, more money on the board but a week which just made me want to do some driver fine tuning for my next event!!

On the European Tour there is such a premium for driving the ball straight!!

GOING FORWARDS….

I had a golfing dilemma now… It’s Open Qualifying on Tuesday which after 2014 was of course something I wanted to do….

But this week it’s a massive event on Tour, the French Open; before the last round I was 6th reserve… And with the way entries work they hold spots back for anyone finishing top ten the week before who is not exempt….

No one managed to finish top ten…. So then I had to wait in hope for the email to say I’m in the French Open and I can prep and plan for the week with no distractions from Open Qual!

A tough call to make, and there is a good argument for both playing and not playing, but me and my team have made what we feel this year is the correct decision!

I hope you have enjoyed another insight into my life on Tour, it’s been a fun journey so far, hopefully there are many more great weeks to write about!!

Also a huge thanks to Tim Bickmore for this message I received last week! This is exactly why I write these blogs!

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– just to add to this latest blog, I did get the email I was waiting for and I’m now in the 100th French Open this week!!

The Lyoness Open – Austria!

So, after leaving Manchester airport around 9am last Monday, I then walked back through the door at Manchester airport  5am Tuesday!

But this time heading for Vienna!

Having that day at home can sometimes make the difference – a day of normality, see the family, chill out, just be at home, and then off to a fresh start for the next event!!

Sometimes going week to week can feel like a slog as you end up spending every day at the course as you’re already there, and then don’t get that ‘time off’ which you need!!

My coaches Mark Pearson (swing) and Mark Baber (mind) came out for two days to help me prep!

Pearson would keep an eye on my swing, check some numbers, and then Baber had the challenging job of dealing with my head – ha ha!!

 

I played this event two years ago, so remember the course quite well. Even though I didn’t make the weekend, I remember it being fun … it helped though that my good friend Michael Appleyard came out to caddy for that week!!

Hence his Twitter profile saying (@veggie) ‘Ex European Tour’ caddy, which is just a fun private joke!

I had my standard Tuesday/Wednesday practice days with the only difference being some filming with the Tour media for a feature on how my year is going!

 

So, after some good work with my team (or ‘entourage’ as some players called it, poking fun at me having my 2 coaches, manager and caddy walking round with just me in practice!) I was ready for another week on Tour!

But having great people around me who I believe in only gives me more belief and confidence in what I am doing!

Round one I played pretty steady, nothing too special, and had a pretty quiet day on the greens!

I shot 71 (-1) which was around 28th position and a few shots inside the cut mark.

We had it pretty windy in the afternoon but the morning starters had no wind … So of course we hoped for a fair draw the following day…

That wasn’t to be… We had strong winds from the start but thankfully it lasted all day!!

When you know it’s going to be a long day and a tough grind, you automatically feel a good start is key!

Round 2…

So after an ok tee shot down the 1st, I had 230 from the semi going for the ‘semi’ island green par 5.

A slight miss-hit out right and splash! Not to worry, I just thought, take your drop, chip it ok, and you have a chance for 5 still!

I was dropping the ball within my two club lengths but on a banking, after two drops and then placing the ball on a nice tuft of grass, my exact words to the ref were “it’s still moving” and his response “no it’s in play”.

I walked 5 yards away to my bag, turned around only to watch the ball roll back in the water!! So another penalty for what felt like nothing….

I dropped it again and proceeded to duff it back into the water! Oh!!!

Another drop, a pitch to 12ft and a single putt 8! Believe it or not that felt quite good!

I then went birdie, par, birdie, and bounced back lovely!! The rest of the round I was solid and closed for 74 (+2) and in the end comfortably make the cut which fell at +3.

As you know, Saturday is known as ‘moving day’ and in perfect weather I made my move!!

The key last week was patience! And I really was… I was -3 after 16 holes and the last two holes are no push over with 17 playing stroke 2!

So then to hole out from 20ft on 17, and then 45ft on the 18th to nice applause from the crowd, was great!!

67 (-5) and up to 12th!!

It was also great to play with 2 experienced campaigners in David Howell and Richard Bland and see where my game is compared to how they play!

You can just tell from watching them that where my game has improved the most is exactly what they are so good at!

Course management, not going at silly shots, playing safe at times, accepting that 20ft is sometimes a great shot… Being patient, not wasting shots, never shooting a massive score and when you putt well you score well!

To be fair Mark Pearson has told me that for 6 years but have I listened….?

Round 4 was more of the same, but after a night of rain, and rain on and off all day, the rough was now juicy!

Get it out of position, and you’re hacking out and trying to save par… Again a day for patience!

The highlight of the day was holing a gap wedge from 125 yards on the 15th! Brucey bonus!!

Result = 71, 74, 67, 70 (-6) T10th

This week was the end of my 7 week trial with the new Scotty Cameron I picked up at Valderrama!

And I’m pleased to say it passed with flying colours! That week I made a commitment to stick to the same putter, routine, technique, grip and process for the next 7 weeks before I changed anything at all…

And following my stats and seeing the results there is no way we are changing anytime soon! We are onto a winner with this one! Plus Steve would hang me if I told him I was going to change!

The last bit of good news I’ve been aiming for, which some of you know about, was the re-rank in my category!

Before this week I was number 28, bottom of the Q-school cards… After this good run of form I’ve now moved up to 9th which gives me a much more realistic chance of getting into more events this year!!

I’m delighted! And with this week’s result too, here is my updated and new highest world ranking of 439!

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P.S – a massive thanks to Richard and Donald Stirling for coming to watch and also to my German friends Helmut and Manuela for driving down for the weekend!

It really is appreciated!!

Chris Hanson

The Nordea Masters! T25th

What an event Nordea put on for the European Tour’s Nordea Masters at Bro Hof Slot!

From getting off the plane the hospitality and player support was world class!

This week Laura and the children were out with me and landing in Stockholm we actually had two cars waiting to collect us! One for our luggage and one for us!

The luggage had to slum it in the new BMW 4 series whilst we cruised to the course in a new X6!

It was only Monday, so we all headed to the hotel mid-afternoon, unpacked, chilled, had a swim and got our bearings!

We were the only golfers in our hotel, as the official one was so expensive once again, and I had managed to find what felt like a good ‘Yorkshire’ rate in Sweden where everything is so expensive!

So Tuesday for me was a full day of practice, whilst the girls had other plans!

This week the Tour/Sponsors had arranged a family day on Tuesday and a wives’ day on Wednesday (this was all paid for too by Nordea).

So Tuesday the girls headed off to ‘Junibacken’ and had a wonderful time!!

It’s like a fairy-tale wonderland with all Swedish characters such as the Moomins!

I had my standard long day up at the club, did some driver testing, and some work with Trackman just checking my swing numbers.

Steve arrived at lunch time then we went out and played with Mark Foster, finishing around 7.30pm.

Wednesday was just a practice day, so a day of putting games, and keeping the good swing feelings from the previous day on the range.

Whilst I practised, Jess and Olivia were in the Tour Crèche, which they provide most weeks on Tour, again another fantastic service which is free – they really try to make it accessible for families to travel.

This meant Laura actually got to watch me this week, hence all the action shots!! :-)

The same day Laura went off on the ladies’ day to Stockholm with a group of wives and mums. They had a great time visiting:

– The King’s Palace

– The Grand Hotel for a Smorgasbord lunch

– And some shopping

This was all VIP for them, guided round for the whole day!

Every day the BMW cars picked us up and shuttled us back and forth from hotel and golf course, it was a half an hour journey but they made it so easy!

We also became good friends with Anders who drove for us most of the week, it was like having the friendliest guided tour of Sweden every day, and we learnt things you never normally would when at an event!

About the course…

Firstly, on the eye it was amazing! Very impressive, especially as you drive into the course and see the vast amount of water surrounding it!!

But it was one of those courses that you play in practice and think, “wow, it’s going to be really tricky”.

I say that due to the length but more so the slopes on the greens … But in practice you always tend to do crazy putts the full length of the green and just think you are going to three putt everywhere.

But when the tee positions slightly change through the week, the wind blows and helps on many holes, it’s not as long, and then you play into segments of the greens and some pin positions all of a sudden become really easy ones as the ball always feeds down to them!

But it’s a great test – I’m just glad we didn’t play it from the back tees which measure 8000 yards, which is just crazy!

My golf…

It was the first week this year that I’ve known the guys I’ve played with in the first two rounds – and I knew these two would not finish last! (Like in Morocco).

I don’t mean to sound nasty, but it sure helps when you’re all playing ok and drag each other round.

Joel Sjolholm shot -4, Zander Lombard level, and I really did scrap it round for level par!! (72)

I was surprisingly very poor off the tee, but my putting held my game together and a birdie finish down 9 gave me a boost to go into round 2.

Round 2 I played lovely, birdie, birdie start always helps!! And I pressed on and got it to -4 after 15 holes!

17 is the famous island green you see in all the pictures, it’s a great last 4 holes to finish and the last two are in an amazing amphitheatre!!

I left myself a tricky long putt and three putted … Then parred the last and was pretty happy to sign for 69 (-3) and move up to T26th.

A good day’s work!

Saturday for round 3 the weather changed, it was pretty cold, the wind had really picked up and all of a sudden it became a really tough test!

I played really solid, managed to post 70 (-2) and moved up to T12th which was very pleasing! A light afternoon of practice, some fun with the kids and it was back to our hotel for an early night!!

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Round 4 the weather was similar, if not windier!! I bogeyed the first after a mis- club into the green but then plodded around really solid not making a birdie until the par 5 9th.

I played the next three holes well and after birdieing 12 I moved into the top 10. I was confident, my game was good and there were still some good chances!

The 13th is a great risk reward hole, I hit a really nice tee shot, and it gave me the opportunity to cross the water and go for the par 5 in two!

I hit 4 iron straight at it! I called it early too: “Steve that’s perfect”, so to then see it drop out of the sky maybe a foot short and splash was a big shock!

I walked forward 30 yards and then flew the green with a 6 iron, it bounced into the deep trees and in the end I was very grateful to make 7!!!!

It didn’t shake me too much, I was 1 over and that was never a bad score…

A good par up the next, then onto 15 – another risk reward hole! I killed it off the tee, then hit a ‘worldie’ of a three iron from 260 through the back of the 90% island green…. Played a great chip and unfortunately failed to convert the birdie and that probably annoyed me a little!

A three putt bogey on 16 and 18 from long range sandwiched a double bogey 5 on the island green 17th after myself and Tyrell Hatton both found the water!

Very disappointing but a day that showed a lot of promise in many aspects of my game!

In the end, and after the way the first round felt… T25th is not a bad overall result! It’s more weekend golf under my belt, more money on the OOM before the re-rank, and lots of positive vibes to take into Austria this week!

But away from the golf it’s been a fantastic week too! Being able to relax with my family, and for it not be non-stop golf like a normal week is a breath of fresh air!

Even if the kids are totally crazy at times!!

But to be hitting balls on the range Saturday afternoon, and look across to the crèche at the end of the range and watch Jessica having a golf lesson at the same time was pretty sweet!!

Then we headed home together, and I fly straight back out for the next event in Austria where my coaches Mark Baber (mind) and Mark Pearson (swing) are joining me!!

It should be fun!!! :-)

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Windy & wet in Mauritius!

There were not many options for getting to last week’s venue, no quick options and certainly no cheap options!!

But there wasn’t a route that was going to stop me getting to Mauritius after the successful week in Morocco.

After landing at Gatwick 6am Monday morning, feeling pretty tired after slim to no sleep on the flight from Morocco, we then had to hang around for 14 hours.

Thankfully my manager, Duncan Maxim from MB Partners, lives quite close by Gatwick, so he looked after us for the afternoon which sure made the wait a lot easier.

So we had a 12-hour night flight direct to Mauritius, where it was crucial I got a good sleep. That’s never easy, but I think I did pretty well!

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After arriving in ‘paradise’ at 11.30am, we got the transport and headed straight down to the course for an afternoon of light practice and some physio on my sore shoulder!

Wednesday was my only chance for a practice round, but you had to tee off before 8am if you wanted to play 18 – so not the lie in I was hoping for!!!!

The course was pretty long, a lot less demanding on the eye compared to Morocco, but with a 30mph wind at times it was a severe test, especially with lots of cross winds!!

The greens were also so different – big slopes, lots of grain – and combining those with the wind we knew it was going to be tough!

My swing felt good and off the back of last week I had some confidence, but I’ve played this game for long enough to know that it can bite you in the a**e when you think you’ve cracked it!!

 

Round 1 I played solid enough, a very strong wind all day and some flash showers made it tricky … But I got it to -2 on the 17th tee which was a very good position!

On the score card this hole looks simple, 157 yards, a few bunkers surrounding it … but nothing too daunting and it looked pretty spectacular really!

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But when the wind gets up to 40mph off the sea and you realise the green has no flat points it soon becomes tricky…

… and you soon see why guys are making numbers on there!!!

I hit a shocker out right, hit the cart path, got stuck behind a tree, had to play my hybrid club left handed and in the end made an ok 5!! But a bounce back birdie on 18 and the round felt OK, I guess, shooting level par!!

That put me in around 24th place … In round 2 it was a similar story, some decent golf, but again a double bogey set me back after a torrid time with some volcanic rocks and I signed for +1 (73).

The average score in round two was 75.5.

Surprisingly that moved me up the board to 17th … And then even more surprisingly in round 3, I shot +2 and moved up again to 14th

It was tough although round 3 felt slightly easier but the scoring obviously proved it wasn’t!

Again, I made my compulsory double bogey and apart from that played a lot of good golf, especially down the stretch which plays very tough!

Hopefully in round 4 I was going make a leader board charge and keep the mistakes off the card!!!!

FullSizeRender 4

FINAL ROUND:

I didn’t keep the mistakes off … Again it was tough! But a shocking double bogey down the 4th set me back and I struggled to find any momentum!

Thankfully some decent golf down the stretch again and a birdie on the last meant I shot 76 (+4) but this time dropped down the leader board into a tie for 34th!

In the end an average week but overall I have to look at the bigger picture and say what a fantastic three weeks it has been!!

To set my stall out in Madrid as a bit of a warm up and finish 4th on the CT, and then have a great week in Morocco, and add more money to the OOM this last week is exactly what I needed to do!

And with the re-rank in my category looming after the Austria event, it has already done me a world of good!!

Challenge Tour Madrid T4th

European Tour Morocco T5th

European Tour Mauritius T34th

Mauritius life and travel …

When travelling the world playing golf it’s sometimes very not to get a taste of the life in each country, you go from airport to hotel, hotel to the course and that’s it!

But this week was maybe a little different, me and Steve really saw Mauritius on both sides of the spectrum!

The official hotel was €230 a night! And that was a deal … I’ve been told it’s normally $800 a night!

But being typical Yorkshiremen we weren’t paying that!! Our money was going to last!!

We found real ‘luxury’ – well not quite – we found a bed at £45 each for the WEEK! And only 15 minutes from the course …

You soon got the feeling that Mauritius is a very poor country and if it wasn’t for tourists then not a lot of money would come through the island, bar the sugar cane trade!

 

Again, thanks for all the messages throughout the week, it’s been fun! I now have two weeks at home as my category won’t get into Ireland or Wentworth … But I will then be back in action for Sweden and Austria for which, after a few sessions with my coaches Mark Pearson, Mark Baber and Rachael Tibbs, I will be raring to go!!

Bring it on!!!!!!

Trophée Hassan II – career best finish!!

Well, it was back on the European Tour last week in Morocco for the Trophée Hassan 2 … Sure you will agree it has quite a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?!

Flashing back 6 months I’m not sure when I thought I would be saying the above, if ever… So to finally get the opportunity to play a season on the European Tour is amazing!

It’s a feeling that only fuels the fire greater to want to stay on there and say one day I am a European Tour winner.

After a fun week in Madrid (T4th) the week before, where I felt my preparation was really good, it was time to do it all over again, with some slight changes as the course would certainly play different in Morocco.

When playing on the European Tour you soon notice the difference in the hospitality and the corporate side of things … and last week the bar was raised yet again, especially with security!

With it being the King’s event, there were guards and police everywhere, the shuttle buses were escorted through traffic back and forth from the course … And on arrival a group of us stood at the entrance with golf clubs and cases (looking very ‘golfey’) and were told we could not enter without the correct credentials!

You’d think Gary Shuttleworth of Kings Security was running the show!! It was safe!!!

The Ladies’ European Tour were also hosting their event at the same resort, it’s a 36 hole complex, and both events took place over Thursday to Sunday! So hopefully some good crowds would turn up to support both events.

Luckily for me and Steve there was a 1pm flight Monday from Madrid to Rabat in Morocco, so that gave us the opportunity to get in some afternoon practice on Monday.

On landing, we headed straight to the course, got showered and changed and did a few hours of short game practice … As I mentioned, there would be some difference in prep, and straight away the difference in the grass was very noticeable and for me personally made a big difference when chipping!!

Some photos from the week below – click to enlarge

Tuesday was my chance to play the course and what a brute it was!

Driver, driver, driver… There are not too many choices off the tee unless you want to be hitting 3 irons into small greens!

It’s long (7,700 yards), the rough is thick in places, so there really was a big reward for finding fairways!!

Again Wednesday was practice only for me due to a large pro-am, but to have my coach Mark Pearson fly out for a few days meant it was more productive than ever.

As Mark always says, your development time at events is limited as a lot of it is just fine tuning and maintenance work, so to have his watchful and honest eye there really does help my preparation!

Round 1:

9.20am, last out of the morning groups and the forecast was looking wet! Thankfully we got lucky and just a strong breeze picked up to make it even more challenging!

After a slow start on the greens I really tried to stay patient and from then on I had my best round on the greens for quite some time!

Anyone who understands ‘strokes gained’ would know that me recording +2.8 in putting today is a pretty high tariff of putting! I was delighted, it kept me in the game.

Round 2, I was last out at 2.10pm, again a pretty tricky wind so a good chance the cut was going to go nearer +3 (it fell at +4 in the end).

I missed a great chance on the 1st, so to then chip in on the 2nd soon made up for it! I played solid, did not hit it too close but never really in trouble!

We then had an interesting one down 3 though … After deliberating over a 7 or 8 iron for some time, the decision fell on the 7 … So to reach in the bag and not find it was surprising to say the least!

So I hit hard 8, made par and off we went … Luckily I didn’t need it over the next few holes, and down the 5th I asked a ref if anyone had handed one in …

He replied “yes a Taylormade one was left on the range last night”.

Oops, that will be mine then, and I thankfully got the club back off the referee on the 7th fairway!!

I’ve not pulled Steve’s leg about that one much … But I’m not sure who doesn’t know about our little error!! The world of Twitter sure found out … Ha ha!!

I finally got my reward for being patient again by birdieing 12, the par 5.

I then made my only bogey down the next after a massive flyer from the rough and just hung in for the rest of the round making a great par save on 16 and 17!!

So 71 (-1) and I moved up the board to T17th which was a great position for the weekend!!!!

Round 3, “moving day” as they call it! And for me it was moving day!

I shot the joint round of the day (67 -5) and equalled the course record to move to the top of the pile on -6!

It was again a very tricky wind, but I managed my game well, stayed very patient and really enjoyed the whole day!

Playing with Clément Berardo helped too, he shot 68 and we just seemed to bounce off each other shot for shot!

That sure helps, as the guys I played with in round 1 and 2 finished last on +20 and +18! There was definitely no ‘bouncing’ between us in those rounds!

I did some light practice afterwards just to cool down, some smooth 80 yard pitches, keeping the good swing feelings going and just relaxing!

Then it was back to the accommodation with fellow professional and Huddersfield golfer Nick Marsh.

Thanks to everyone for sending me the photos below after completing round 3 – amazing support!!

Round 4: 

So a new experience for me and one I really felt ready for; I slept pretty good which I did not expect … Normally play bad I sleep bad … Play good I sleep worse!

But my phone was going mad, and I embraced it this time! In the past it’s been overwhelming but this felt different.

All day Sunday I felt relaxed, I enjoy the challenge of wind, but rain normally sets me back! But some good chats with Mark Baber, and all I said was I was going to smile all day in the face of adversity!

Focus on each shot in front of me, one at a time and then accept the result!

Hopefully that’s what came across all day apart from the foul language down 6 which someone managed to lip read! Sorry about that one!

I played pretty solid all day, made a great chip in birdie on 6 and felt very comfortable!

A decent drive down 8 even though it found the right rough, then a nice little squeezed cut 6 iron under the tree was perfect, a great swing rehearsal but the execution climbed an extra yard and hit the only branch to hurt me … In the end I compounded the error and made double!

But some decent golf from then on, a bogey down the hardest hole (11th) but after a great drive down 12 I capitalised and made birdie!

I stayed aggressive down 15, found the fairway trap and a poor approach down there and 16 led to two bogeys! A real shame as I was still in with a shout at that point, but I smiled it off!

On 17 I hit a great 5 iron to about 12 feet, just missing another chance, overall it was a very quiet day on the greens!

But the 18th was always a chance, but it needed two good hits … I smoked driver up the right side, the only way you could attack the green, but it still needed a 20 yard draw from 260 yards to find the green.

Me and Steve, as we did all week, talked through the shot and both came to the same decision, rescue, ripped, turn it off the trap and try find the front edge of the green…

For those watching, that’s the exact shot I played, and a two putt birdie from there set me up for a T5th finish and a career high finish on the main tour by 34 places!!

Overall an amazing week, sleeping on the lead after 54 holes, the media attention, the Twitter and Facebook madness, a tied course record (67) and to go out and play what felt like decent golf and really feel at home was something I’ve worked very hard for.

So far, a really good two weeks for me finishing T4th and T5th and now we move onto Mauritius for the next event.

With the added bonus that the players finishing top 10 got upgraded to business class on the European Tour charter flight to Gatwick at 3.35am, I was hopeful I would get some sleep!!!

It only now leaves me again to thank everyone for making this possible! You all know who you are, and to everyone for the kind messages and well wishes, it really does mean a lot!

I really have the belief I can win some of these events!!!

Please keep following and reading as the journey is going to be fun!!

Chris

And the last bit of interesting/fun but pretty pointless news is…. I’ve now past Tiger Woods in the golf world rankings haha!! (click to enlarge)

Challenge de Madrid

So after getting back from Spain in the early hours of 23 April with #TeamHanson, it was a quick turn round before I headed back out to Spain on my own, this time to Madrid!

But what a fantastic few days at home it was!

Saturday we had a conveyor belt of family and friends calling round to say ‘hi’, so we had a really fun but busy day whilst I tried to pack again for three weeks on the road and Laura finalised Jessica’s party.

Sunday was Jessica’s belated 4th birthday party and she was so excited! We could really tell she had missed her close friends after four weeks in Spain.

I’m sure many of you have seen/heard of the Disney film Frozen, and like most four-year-old girls Jess loves it too; so it was a Frozen-themed party with a special guest appearance from ‘Elsa’!

Even the parents loved singing and dancing away!

Following the party, close family joined us back home and it was great to see everyone together! At times like these you really do miss the family members we have both lost! They would have loved to see Jess and Olivia growing up so fast!

I’d probably just spent the longest stretch of time together with Laura and the children, so then to fly off and leave them for three weeks was going to be tough.

But that’s how the schedule has worked out and I really plan to make it count! Madrid on the Challenge Tour followed by Morocco and Mauritius on the European Tour.

Tuesday 26 April started at 3am for a 3.30am taxi to Manchester airport … Slight shock to the system as I haven’t done that for a while!

But something that never changes is the fun of trying to check in too much luggage with RyanAir.

Staff : ‘Sir, your golf bag is fine but your suitcase is 2kg over weight, that will be £10 per kg’.

Me: ‘Ah, ok, I will take the 3 dozen golf balls out and put them in my hand luggage’.

Simple, walk round the corner with clubs to drop off at oversize baggage and put the 3 dozen balls back in your flight bag … Beating the RyanAir system always feels like starting a tournament birdie, birdie, birdie!

Back to the golf – to finally get into a run of three tournaments and hopefully get some momentum was great, I was really looking forward to putting all the practice to the test – and especially implementing the quality work I’ve recently done with Mark Baber (Mental Coach) who is the latest addition to #TeamHanson.

TOURNAMENT ROUND UP…

Day 1 was an early start, 8.20am, pretty cold but it turned out to be a really nice day. After a lovely start I got it to -2 but some below average putting through the back nine led to me finishing the round +1 (71) and down the leaderboard in around 67th position.

No panic, I knew my game was pretty good, so it was an afternoon of practice and re-set for round 2.

So to walk off the 18th green after round 2 having made no bogeys was a great feeling, I’ve not done that for a while and around a tricky course that was pleasing. I shot -4 (66) and moved back up the board to 17th and in the mix for the weekend!

Day 3 changed … a really cold start to the day with a frost delay, and easily a 2 club wind!! It was tough, a really great challenge, and one I was ready to embrace after being beaten up at Valderrama.

I battled well, really committed to my shots and targets and ended the day -1 (69) moving up the board to T2nd.

That set me up for a fun Sunday on the Challenge Tour, final group, in contention and one off the lead – bring it on!

Round 4 – bogey, bogey start was a setback, the weather was pretty good so I was chasing from the start but I rallied well and four birdies later I was back in the mix…

I managed my game well, and hit some very good shots down the stretch, one being a quality shot into the 15th from 170 yards to 6 feet (putt missed, argh!!). But two 3 putts halted my challenge and in the end I finished T4th for the second year running in the Madrid Challenge.

T4th, 71, 66, 69, 70 -4 total

So overall a really pleasing week – to feel like I got a reward for the effort I have put into my game recently, the ball bashing, the constant chipping and putting and then to get into contention felt great!

And the main thing is that it’s great preparation for this week on the European Tour in Morocco!

Time for some more fun!!!!!

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as El Escorial, is a historical residence of the King of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres (28 miles) northwest of the capital, Madrid, in Spain. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school. It is situated 2.06 km (1.28 mi) up the valley (4.1 km [2.5 mi] road distance) from the town of El Escorial.

Link to website…

 “A huge congratulations to Rochelle Morris who has been selected for the Curtis Cup which is to be played against America this June in Dublin. After seeing the hard work she has put in at Woodsome with John Eyre I was delighted to see her make the team – good luck Roch!”

Brutal Valderamma!

So, back on the road after what was a disappointing road trip half way around the world (Oz) and back with no competitive golf and many other ups and downs!!

But this time it was to what feels like our second home! Myself and my family uprooted to Spain last year in February and it was great, so we decided to do it again!

But April was the perfect month for it this time – a week’s practice, a week playing on the MENA Tour at La Reserva, the third week playing the Spanish Open at Valderrama on the European Tour, and then some more practice before heading home.

A big thanks must once again go to one of my sponsors, David Pitts of DPPublicity, for giving us the opportunity to base ourselves just outside Puerto Banus, and so near to the fantastic Los Naranjos golf club. It’s a great facility/location and you tend to bump into many other pro’s practising in the run up to events.

I had a great first week, getting some good work done in perfect weather, but more importantly on pure Spanish grass – that seems to be the main difference to the UK at this time of year, as you can’t get the quality of practice back home and you can see the main advantage many European players have over the British and Scandinavians.

It was great timing that there was a MENA Tour event the following week; to get some match practice in before Valderrama could not have come at a better time. I played on the MENA Tour a few years back in the Middle East and it’s a Tour that’s really improving all the time.

La Reserva is a very strong test, too; I played a European Tour event there a few years ago (The NH Collection) and it was brutal, so it was again going to be a good test of patience and my game.

The MENA events start on a Monday, so I headed down there Sunday for an early practice round and met up with my caddy Ryan from www.golfstattracker.com to get ready for the week.

It’s a good course, but being so high up it’s always windy, and the greens are probably too severe for the general weather conditions … and that statement proved true playing the first round in 20mph winds and torrential rain!!

In rounds 2 and 3 the conditions played very similar – just without the rain! Not fun prep but still a great chance to test the game, which showed to be very rusty, especially on the greens!

I ended up shooting +1, +1, +2 to finish T13th, so not bad in the end but a double bogey on my 17th  left a sour taste to the drive back to Marbella!

A huge thanks must go to Ryan for the three days carrying the bag, he was a huge help and did an outstanding job on day 1 in that rain!! Also many thanks to good friend Carl Johnson for the support watching during the week, and Chris my brother-in-law for much needed ball spotting on a few occasions!

So, it was nice to tick off a competitive round; I then had a few days’ practice and a few days off to spend with the family and my best friend Ben and his wife Lucy, as they came out to visit us and share my elder daughter’s 4th birthday.

We had a great few days showing them Spain – the lights of Puerto Banus, and then up into the historic town of Mijas for some real Spanish life.

Then it was back to work, and what an exciting week ahead it was!!

To have my wife Laura and the children with me to share the week makes playing on the European Tour even more special; most weeks on the Tour they put on a crèche for the players’ children, so this was the first week since the Open that Laura had been able to watch me actually play.

So, Valderrama for the Spanish Open on the European Tour, it doesn’t get too much better than that – such an iconic golf course, an amazing setting and probably the most brutal test of golf I have ever experienced!

This may sound bad but unless you have played that golf course, and even then until you have played it in those conditions, I don’t think anyone could appreciate how tough it actually was.

The stats for the week show it was the toughest round on the European Tour for 9 years, and to see established names barely break 90, and the winning score be over par, just shows how challenging it was!

My preparation for the week was fantastic – I played Monday, then Tuesday I was joined by my coach Mark Pearson and my mental coach Mark Baber. We had another great practice round and followed that with a really constructive day of practice on Wednesday.

Round one I battled well, I missed plenty of greens but that was so easy to do and something you had to accept. My short game was as good as it’s been in a while and after birdies on my first two holes I made the turn in -1.

My first real un-forced errors then came on my 12th and 13th but I kept it going and it was a shame to bogey 18 to finish the day over par (72 +1).

Once the day concluded I was in T23rd position which was very respectable, but I felt my ball striking needed to improve for the second round.

Day 2 … my ball striking didn’t improve and it let me down, I ran out of good recovery chips, and the wind picked up to 30mph at times. Taking everything into account I missed a cut that I feel I never should have, but I didn’t manage my game well enough and shot 82 for a +12 total.

The cut fell at +9 and that always makes it worse looking back and thinking “what if”… everyone does it and it’s hard not to, but I gave it 100%, tried on every shot and failed to post the needed score.

What’s good about days like this? … not much really! … other than the fact that you can take as many positives as possible, you can learn from the experience, and of course you get to try and make up for it pretty soon after in your next event.

So another week over and again a huge thanks to Mark P and Mark B for their team contributions this week, a huge thanks to Steve (caddy) for giving it 100% as always, and thanks for the support through the week to Duncan (manager) Peter, Ryan, Gerry and his wife.

In this blog I have added a photo gallery which I hope you find interesting, as it shows some different images from the week, and some behind the scenes stuff.

It was then a few days’ practice and back home to celebrate Jessica’s birthday with the family before heading out to Madrid for Challenge Tour and then the following week back on the main Tour in Morocco.

Time to keep getting better!!!