Leopard Creek 2017 – 1 event down!!

So after my last check-in at Manchester airport, and the way they emptied my wallet over excess baggage, I was pretty tense in Dubai airport whilst checking in at 1am Monday!

But somehow I managed to get my luggage onto the plane and not get charged excess at all! Luckily this time I didn’t have my hand luggage weighed; it only looks like a normal rucksack but I’m travelling with at least 20kg in there as the Trackman I recently invested in weighs around 10kg on its own!!

On top of not being charged I managed to change my seat to an extra leg room seat, and at the time that felt like such a result!! 8 hours to Joburg with unlimited leg room!

So getting on the plane I made myself comfy, closed my eyes, only to wake up just after take-off to see the plane pretty much empty and to find out I had missed the opportunity of sleeping across 4 seats as most people were!

Anyway, I think I got 5 hours sleep in the early part of the flight, so on landing I didn’t feel too bad!

With the time difference it was around 11.30am when I left the airport, to then be greeted by Steve my caddy and Oli Briggs (Daniel Im’s caddy) and from there we headed off on a four-hour drive up to Leopard Creek!

Some players fly from Joburg to a town an hour away, but that makes getting away SUNDAY night tricky as the timings are very tight!!

On stepping out of the car at the golf club we were hit by the heat!!!

Over the course of the week it reached 41 degrees at times and with not much wind that felt like an oven, and made Dubai feel like a cold winter’s day at home!

I pretty much left straight away for the accommodation in a courtesy car and left Steve up there to talk golf with the caddies and head back to his B&B in his own time!

I was back at Kambaku Lodge; we stayed there last year, it is incredible, it’s on Crocodile River, which sits inside the Kruger National Park – the view is just amazing! And Leanne the owner looks after us like we were her own!

Tuesday was Pro-Am day, and for the first time I was 1st reserve ‘on site’, which meant I had to be around from first tee off until the last group had played nine holes.

If anyone withdrew before or mid round I was there to stand in…not ideal, as it changed my preparation plans and also meant I missed out on the par 3 tournament on the new course where you were playing for £10k 1st prize and top 30 players also getting paid!!

I did get €300 for the inconvenience which I guess covered my excess baggage problems but in an ideal world I would have played 9 holes on the Tour course, the par 3 tournament which would then have freed me up to only play 9 holes Wednesday, and stay out of the heat the day before the event.

But it then meant Tuesday was my constructive practice day where I went through my list of areas which needed some attention and plenty visits to the players’ lounge to enjoy the air conditioning – I did get everything done!!

Wednesday I was up early and played 18 holes; last year I probably didn’t give the course the credit it was due and I was probably distracted by the wildlife and the Kruger Park!

This year the course has grown on me tremendously or maybe I’ve just been more open to it! It’s fantastic, there are so many great holes out there, and the condition is out of this world!! I couldn’t wait to get out there Thursday in the event and play it again!!

But after witnessing the storm Wednesday night I was sure we wouldn’t be playing Thursday, but we did and with no preferred lies! The course held up amazingly, and then to have a repeat storm Thursday evening with hail stones the size of large marbles, it was again unbelievable how Friday was not affected!

Marble??

Marble??

Round 1 for me went nicely, I played really solid, and most importantly stayed very patient!

It’s hard not to get frustrated when you’re giving yourself plenty opportunities but sometimes in golf that’s just the way it goes, putting especially is such fine margins!!

In the end I shot 69 (-3) which was a nice start to the 2017 season and one I could hopefully build on!

Round 2…

I certainly did build on it in round 2… starting on the first I missed a really good chance for birdie, but I didn’t have to wait long to open my birdie account, I hit my best three wood of the year down the second onto the par 5 which set up a straightforward two putt birdie.

Three more birdies on 3, 6 and 9 and I turned in -4 and was cruising along nicely.

I played 10 and 11 perfectly and made two more birdies, then holed an 18ft putt on 14 to get to -7 for the round.

My game was pretty solid, and my focus was really good. I then got a little bit unlucky on 15 when my drive was slightly out of position and held on the bank of the bunker, a couple of poor shots later I found the water and made a great up and down from 100 yards for bogey!!

Sometimes bogeys feel like birdies and that one did, keeping my momentum.

An interesting and very unorthodox par down 17 but I followed that by a nice birdie to finish on the island green 18!!

Walking off the course and signing for my European Tour career low score was nice, and I think the lowest score of the day. It moved me up to T2nd and set me up for a fun weekend!!

Saturday was a mixed bag, but a birdie birdie finish was great! I also made it into the top 5 shots of the day with a 9 iron on the 17th to a foot!

Then I played the last really sensibly as a three shot hole to the dangerous flag position and made a great birdie, whilst watching George Coetzee make 9, as it showed with the pin position that disaster was lurking!!

So 68 (-4) to keep me in the mix at T2nd three back from the leader Brandon Stone.

So last round, last group, and it was great to be back in this position; a main aim this year is to keep putting myself in contention and knocking on the door, and then look forward to walking through it!!

This week it wasn’t to be; it was a little trickier with the wind and pin positions, but after a lost ball down the 2nd, and then a poor tee shot down the 4th I was soon on the back foot!

I played some good stuff in and amongst it and made three good birdies on the back nine, but with three bogeys and a poor one down 18 I signed for +4 and fell back to T11th.

  • I just realised I birdied the 10th everyday – always nice to have a full house!!

So putting aside the last round, it’s been a great start to the year, my game has shown so many signs of promise, and maybe the no ‘real’ golf for 4 weeks before SA took its toll in round 4….

Who knows, but I know where my focus is for this week in Hong Kong, and I’m looking forward to the new challenge in another new country!!!!

  • I must say a huge congrats to Brandon for the win, he controlled his game and emotions fantastically well all day and to collect his second title of 2016 and only at the age of 23 is pretty special!

On a totally different and very sad note, I mentioned a while back about the many caddies out on tour, the characters, the stories, the nicknames and for the first time this week I met ‘pin high Pedro’ – we shared a courtesy car back on Tuesday evening. He told some great stories on \Angel Cabrera and his life on Tour and seemed a really\s\ genuine bloke.

So to then see a text after I had played Thursday that he was found dead in his hotel room Wednesday evening after suffering a heart attack was nearly impossible to believe!!

My thoughts go to his family!! RIP

RIP - Pin high Pedro!

RIP – Pin high Pedro!

My ‘mini boot camp’ in Dubai!

My 2-day ‘Boot Camp’ has been fantastic and exactly what the doctor ordered!

The most important thing was that I kept it really constructive, and I can safely say I didn’t waste a minute.

On arriving in Dubai Friday night around 8pm, by the time I had got through customs, collected my luggage and hailed a taxi to get me to the hotel, it was 10.30pm and I was pretty much getting straight to bed!!

I just wanted to get some decent food in the system first.

Since Portugal I’ve made a huge effort to eat better, and I’m constantly questioning myself if what I’m eating is beneficial to my game!!

Laura will vouch for me when I say I’ve been pretty disciplined at home for three weeks with my food and it’s been tough…planning meals, packing lunches, watching my carb and protein intake, and staying off the sweet stuff!

Sugar is the devil!!!

Basically I’ve eaten lots of chicken, avocado, spinach, sweet potato, nuts, and salads and so on!

Sorry to go off on one about food, but that really is an area that’s tricky when travelling.

How many decent airport meals can you get when in transit…and how good is the plane food, etc etc etc!

I know some of you are still thinking, there’s nothing wrong with a good old Maccy D’s!!

So at the airport Costa coffee I tried my best…a granola natural yoghurt, a tub of fruit, a chicken wrap and a bottle of water…that was my best bet!!

And better than my normal choice of a panini, muffin and a large flavoured latte! Yummy, though!

So since my coach and fitness trainer gave me a little nudge on my diet a few months back I really have tried to plan ahead, and to combat the ‘crap’ food when travelling I pre-packed my own food for daily snacking and on course!!

But that kind of backfired when Emirates charged me £390 excess baggage for the amount of MaxProtein bars, nuts and on course energy gels I had tucked away in my case.

Ouch!!

All that airport stuff was soon forgotten when my 6.30am alarm went off and got me up to head to Jumeirah Golf Estates to start my 2-day ‘Boot Camp’.

And what a two days I had in store!

The range and the turf are fantastic, a great chipping green, two great pitching greens where you can hit up to 180 yards, and three putting greens to choose from.

And then there is the Earth Course where the Race to Dubai final was held.

And as I mentioned in my last blog, the use of this whole facility through the European Tour is free!!

I spent the morning on my own working through my practice check list and trying to set myself some competitive games to test where my game is at.

Then at 12pm myself and Lasse Jensen took on Bernd Ritthammer and Sebastian Heisele for 9 holes – and in the process lost €25 to them!!

But it was great to test the game under a little pressure, and from there we all went to the short game area to touch up on that area of our rusty games!!

It gets dark early in the UAE so on finishing my practice I headed to the on-site gym, which is Olympic standard, to go through my latest Dynamic Golf workout from Rachael Tibbs.

ETPI Gym

ETPI Gym

And that was day 1 complete, some healthy room service, sleep and back up to the course first thing Sunday to make the most of the facilities again and my last day!

Here’s my day 2 plan of action, skills tests, and check list of what needs to be completed.

Day 2 plan of action!

Day 2 plan of action!

Range

Range

It was again great to get to do some more media work off the back of keeping my card. Worldwide Golf magazine wanted to do a piece for their magazine and an instructional piece for the web, which was fun!

Hopefully I will have the link for it soon…

After lunch I set myself some ‘completion’ drills to try and add some pressure to my practice; for example, hole X number of putts in a row to move on, hole 6/8 three times from 10ft.

There are so many variations, but knowing you can’t leave until they’re complete adds pressure, especially when you know it comes dark at 5.30pm!

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t get to complete one of the games!!

So one last gym session, showered, changed, and packed up by 8pm.

I now had till 4.40am before my 8-hour flight onto Johannesburg.

I was starving after the gym so headed to the clubhouse to see what they had to offer, and to find somewhere comfy to get some laptop jobs done before heading off to the airport.

So to walk in and find they had an ‘all-you-can-eat’ Sunday carvery was music to my ears, a reformed golfing ‘athlete’s’ paradise!!!!

FullSizeRender 3

That was the end of my Jumeirah Golf Estates ‘boot camp’ and what a great idea it was to head out here first; I did more constructive practice in two days than I could in a week at home!!

After being kicked out of the clubhouse at closing time, I set off to the airport super early, which was not a bad thing in the end after spending half an hour on the middle of a 6-lane Dubai motorway!!

Quite a scary experience, but a great time to start writing this Blog as I’m no help changing a wheel!

But they do always say being a professional golfer is ‘life on the road’.

PS – I managed to blag my luggage through the flight desk which was a huge result!!

2017 starts now… NEW BLOG!

It’s been fantastic to spend some quality time at home with the family, walking Jess to school, picking her up, going out with the family for dinner, and not missing Olivia’s 2nd birthday!

But from a golfing perspective, it’s been a rather strange feeling!!

Having missed out on the event in Turkey by 5 places, which was part of the ‘final series’, that meant the end of my season.

But normally this time of the year I’m heading to Spain, either to start stage 2 or compete at final stage of Qualifying school.

So this year to be at home wishing I was playing the final series -but thankful I wasn’t at Tour School – was very different!

But I really can take a lot of inspiration from the position I find myself in, as again I’ve made a progression in my career, this time probably the largest!

As you know, I’ve improved my category on the European Tour for 2017, so I’m very excited to be looking forward and planning the year ahead!

And that starts with a trip back to Leopard Creek (South Africa), followed by a new event for me in Hong Kong the following week!

But my plan is to stop for two days in Dubai before I fly to SA! It’s a great opportunity to get a couple of quality days’ practice, which I will call my own mini ‘boot camp’.

Jumeirah Golf Estates, I hear, is one of the best practice facilities in the world, and an added perk of having a Tour Card is that you get free access to this facility!

Jumeriah Golf Estates

Jumeriah Golf Estates

The weather at home has been mixed, as you know, but we’ve not had much wind so it has been mild enough to practice…but you just don’t get chance to get on good surfaces on and around the greens!

So that’s my main focus for two days, along with playing as many holes as possible!

So what have I been up to in ‘sunny’ Huddersfield before heading out to the Middle East?

With only having a 3-4 week period to develop my game and keep my swing playable for the start of the season, it’s tricky to find the practice balance…but what I do know is I’ve worked hard!!

To get together with Rachael from Dynamic Golf and make some strength progress in this short period has been fantastic; I’m really excited to see the gains in my golf game throughout the coming year!!

With Jake Hamilton at Pure Fitness

With Jake Hamilton at Pure Fitness

Click here for some tips from Dynamic Golf!!

With Mark, my coach, we set out a plan for the 3-4 weeks, starting with some biomechanics; we wanted to find out how well and how efficient my golf swing is.

It highlighted areas we knew were weak, and we planned over the weeks to see an improvement in how my lower body works in the swing!!

We also set out a few technical changes for the ‘short stick’ – my path with the putter is good, but we feel there is room for improvement with how I rotate the club face!

Holing putts is down to face control, so I’ve upped the intensity with my practice but all the time making sure what I do has a purpose!

Following on from keeping my card, I’ve had a couple of fun media commitments which are great to do…this time I had ‘GOLFING WORLD’ up to Woodsome for an interview and to film some instructional pieces.

Hopefully you can catch these on Tuesday night on Sky Sports 4 and get to see them online very soon!

I also got together with Stromberg to shoot the new range for 2017; we did the shoot up at Fixby on a ‘nice’ cold day!

Not really so nice to be in a T-shirt and have Rick squirting water at you, testing the new fabrics of the trousers!! But, as ever, we always have a great laugh on the shoot and I can’t thank them enough for their continued support!

As many of you may know, I spent 4 years at Myerscough College and every year I go back to speak to the students about life on Tour, my experiences and about my 4 years at the college.

This year was no different – other than I had a lot more stories and much more inspiration for them, proving that you can play on Tour from studying at the college!!

It really has been a busy spell, so to catch up with Sponsors in person has been fantastic (DPPublicity, Abzorb) and also to create some new relationships which I mentioned in a previous blog!

A huge thank must go to Steve and Kelly at Selbie Opticians for their support and eye care, such an important aspect as a professional golfer; it’s been fun finally seeing the ball land – even if it’s not always where I would like it to!

Selbie Opticians

Selbie Opticians

SO WHATS NEXT?

A few weeks to start the season, a nice Christmas break and then a good run of events to start the new year – I look forward to sharing the journey with you all!!

1st Dec – South Africa

8th Dec – Hong Kong

12th Jan – South Africa

19th Jan – Abu Dhabi

26th Jan – Qatar

2nd Feb – Dubai

My 2016 round up!!

It’s time for my final blog of the 2016 season … and it’s a fairly mixed blog to finish the year on which hopefully sums up my amazing rookie year, my emotions, the highlights, the low points, explains more of how the Tour works, and includes plenty of fun facts and stats from the year!

So from gaining my ‘card’ back at Tour School in November 2015 for the 2016 R2D season, the biggest misconception for many people was that I would get to play any event I wanted…

For example, the PGA Championship at Wentworth, The Dubai Desert Classic, Abu Dhabi, The Irish Open … the list goes on!

And I remember back at my celebratory evening at Woodsome following Tour School, where one of the members kindly stood up and gave his congratulations and in that speech spoke about how I would be mixing with Rory week in week out…

But how wrong could that have been … I soon learned that having gained your ‘card’ at Tour School you then start at the bottom of the European Tour ladder and in the category behind the Challenge Tour graduates from 2015.

This means you play all the smaller prize fund events (eg Thailand, Fiji, Prague), many of them being last minute call ups! The only difference in my category was a ‘re-rank’ around June where the 28 players got shuffled into the order they sat on the OOM.

And that was a ruling which, thankfully, I made good use of! From gaining the 28th and last card at Q-School, I then re-ranked following the Lyoness Open to 9th in the list!

That move in itself got me into the three week stretch of Germany, France and Scotland, all of which were very large prize funds.

So, in the end I only played in one event that Rory did and that was only because of the re-rank! (French Open).

For some players the re-rank didn’t go to plan, they fell down the list, didn’t have much money on the OOM, and then had to make the decision to drop back to the CT in fear of losing status on both Tours…

Here is an example of Ben Evan’s events this year who finished the 2015 season 110 keeping his card for the 2016 season compared to my season from the Q-School category showing the difference in the events and prize funds  throughout the year.

MY HIGHLIGHTS

  • leading the Trophée Hassan II after 3 rounds following a course record 67 (-5)
  • Climbing to the top of the leaderboard in round 1 of the French Open around a notoriously difficult course
  • Top 10 in Austria (Lyoness Open)
  • Top 10 in Holland (KLM Open) – which then got me into the following week for the Italian Open
  • Leading the Italian Open
  • Final round 66 (-5) in the Portugal Masters to feel I had given myself a chance of keeping my card for 2017

TOUGH TIMES

  • travelling to Perth to be 1st reserve and then see two players withdraw after 1 round
  • to not get into the event in India when normally they struggle to fill the field – another event I had paid for flights and visas
  • to miss out on the Omega Masters at Crans Montana, an event people speak so highly about
  • the frustration of seeing players from my category receiving invites into events I couldn’t play
  • to not play in either of the English events

Despite these ‘lows’ which, looking back, now sound so trivial, I really hope you can tell from my blogs how pleased I have been with my rookie year, and the great thing about all those ‘lows’ is that with my new improved Category none of those will now be relevant for 2017!

It really can be a year of planning my schedule and a season where so many new opportunities will be presented to me!!! It’s such an exciting prospect and what a truly amazing experience it’s going to be!

MY PLAYING STATS

  • Events played: 22
  • Cuts made: 17
  • Best finish: 5th
  • Top tens: 3

Trophée Hassan II, Morocco

Lyoness Open, Austria

KLM Open, Holland

  • Lowest round: -6 Italian Open
  • OOM position: 109
  • Highest OWGR: 338

TRAVEL STATS

  • Air miles: 137,000
  • Time in the air: 193 hours
  • Flights taken: 41
  • Countries visited: 17
My 2016 flight diary!

My 2016 flight diary!

THANKS

As always, a huge thank you has to go to my main sponsors, DPPublicity, Abzorb, BetOptima, AZ Intec and Stromberg, as without their support this dream would not have been possible!

And as well as my main sponsors, without the support and sponsorship from so many other local companies, friends, members from Woodsome Hall and Crosland Heath, I wouldn’t be able to compete at this level with the travelling costs of being on the road more than half the year!

And I really have the most amazing team of people around me too!

So thank you Mark Pearson (Coach), Steven Tooby (Caddy), Lee Crombleholme (Mental), Rachael Tibbs (Fitness) and of course Duncan Maxim (Manager).

Without these people I would struggle to get from A to B, carry my bag, hit it straight, think straight and stand tall!!

Only kidding, they do so much more than just that, and most importantly they are all great friends!

I truly have a great team, but the closest team members are my family and close friends. They deal with the ups and downs week in week out, they are always on the other end of a phone and at times I’m sure it’s tougher for them!

They constantly remind me how hard it is watching live scoring … still not sure it’s tougher than playing though – ha ha!

YOUR QUERIES…

I always get asked about INVITES, and how they work.

Honestly, I don’t know! It was tough at times seeing players from my category and behind me in the list playing events off invites when I wasn’t playing, but that’s what happens to everyone at some point.

Some people know the promoters, sponsors, some management companies run events, invites are sometimes swapped between countries…

But all I do know is that if you play well it takes care of everything and you don’t need invites!

I also heard many players from my category say the Q-School category is a waste of time this year, events have been limited and you may as well not bother…

But I’m so pleased to say myself and 8 others from my category retained our cards for the following season and proved the ‘critics’ wrong!

And it is pleasing to know I played the least number of events out of the 9 of us and still finished inside the bubble…

Very pleasing stats from 2016!!

Very pleasing stats from 2016!!

THE BEST EVENTS

The French Open was everything I expected, after hearing so much about the course, and it didn’t disappoint!

Sweden was great, I had the family with me and the crèche, players’ hospitality and the set up was first class, the course was really fun too with a fantastic stadium finish to it!

I’ve played Denmark twice now and the effort that goes into the event is unbelievable, no stone goes unturned and the atmosphere is world class around ‘Himmerland Hill!’

The Dunhill Links was a really cool event to play, at the ‘home of golf’ around three world class courses, with so many family and friends up to watch – and to meet my amateur partner Art Moossmann and his wife Jacqueline was really special!

BEST PLAYER

I’ve played with plenty of household names this year: Howell, Harrington, Larrazabal, Willett, Hatton, Wattel, and Ramsay.

But the two stand out players for me were Bernd Wiesberger and Richard Bland. I think Bland goes so underrated purely for the fact he is yet to win, he seems all round a very solid player!

And Wiesberger was a very impressive ball striker, you only have to check out his results to see that … like Blandy, another top ten machine!!

So that’s another year of blogging, and it’s great to know next year’s blogs will again be from the European Tour!!

I really hope you’ve all enjoyed my journey around the world and if you ever have any ideas of what you would like to see on my blogs from ‘behind the scenes’, please do say!

The 2017 season actually starts in 4 weeks in 2016 … so it’s back to Leopard Creek for me in South Africa, followed by the Hong Kong Open, so there should be plenty of fun things to blog about then!!

Thanks as ever, Chris!!!!!

Present from David (DPP) printed exactly when it was confirmed!

Present from David (DPP) The OOM printed exactly when it was confirmed!

Wow #109 on the Race 2 Dubai – NEW BLOG!

It’s a funny time of year on the European Tour for many people and for so many different reasons…

A handful of players are trying to win the OOM, some players are on the bubble to qualify for the final series of events (top 75), and many people like myself are fighting to keep their playing rights for another year.

That number is 110 on the OOM but could potentially fall lower if some players do not fill their playing criteria (it ended up as 111).

I’m sure everyone is feeling different about being on the bubble of 110:

  • some players have been out here for ten years and to lose their card would be a huge change in their career, I think some would not find it easy going back to the Challenge Tour and I suppose many won’t do it!
  • some guys are back and forth between the two Tours each year and a visit to Q-School or another year on the Challenge Tour is not something they fear but probably frustrates them more…
  • some players are coming to the end of their careers or reducing their playing schedules and for them also it may not be a huge issue… they may just play a few selected invites, play on a past winners’ category etc, etc, etc…

But for me it’s an amazing position to be in!!

Twelve months ago, and pretty much to the day of writing this, I was looking at job options, thinking what on earth could I do with myself, I only knew golf!

I’d had ten great years playing this game but financially it was make or break time, it had caught up with me and I was struggling to afford to get myself on the plane to China for one of the last few Challenge Tour events and even enter European Tour Q-school.

But thanks to many of my amazing sponsors, they helped get me to these events and the rest is history!

From gaining the last card at Q-School to finding myself inside the top 110 with one event to go is pretty special and it’s been an incredible journey to date!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the blogs along the way…?

Whatever was to happen in Portugal, and wherever I was destined to finish, I will always be grateful for the support I received from sponsors, friends, family and my coach Mark Pearson for pushing me that bit further and believing in me!!

Sometimes in this game you feel so far away from your goals but at the same time you are so, so close!!!

So after being invited as a guest to Woodsome Hall’s annual dinner, which was again a great honour, I apologised and fled the evening early, as a 4.30am taxi to the airport on a Sunday morning was not ideal!

But it made perfect sense to be out in Portugal early, to get some really good practice in and not be rushing around flying in on a Tuesday!

Some nicer weather, some great greens/facilities and the luxury of staying at my good friend Bob Whiteley’s villa were also pretty good selling points.

Once again a huge thank you to Mark Pearson my coach, who made the trip out on the Tuesday to keep a watchful eye on my preparation, I can’t fault his commitment!!

So after 4 solid days’ of practice there was nothing else to tick off my to-do-list, I was ready for another challenge!

The draw this week was clearly ‘fixed’ as players on the ‘bubble’ were paired together, for example I was with Oliver Fisher and Jason Scrivener, both guys outside the bubble who went on to gain their 2017 cards! “Bravo lads”.

Another ‘bubble’ group was good friend Daniel Im playing with Eddie Pepperell and Craig Lee…

…it’s a hell of a sport and to hear Im’s caddy tell the story of how Pepperell hit it OB on the last and Craig Lee 3 putted the last to both miss the cut by 1 and pretty much forfeit the chance of keeping their card was tough to hear…

It is tough, the standard is high, especially with the cut falling at -4!!

I played solid for two days (-6) on what can only honestly be described as an easy and unfairly set up course… soft greens and virtually NO rough to be found on the course anywhere!!

A bomber’s paradise, with maybe only 3 holes where you have to really hit a ‘proper’ tee shot! (7th, 14th, and 18th).

Not my cup of tea, as you don’t get the reward for driving well… but for once I got my head around that and dug in making enough birdies to see me through to the weekend!!

That was the first challenge, it’s been a tough month mentally… I could not go a day without someone asking “have you done enough to keep your card…?”

Or “is that 2017 wrapped up…?” I really had no idea!!

It was also a pretty much 50/50 split of people thinking and saying I had already done enough with the other half saying one more cut and you’re safe!!

So after missing the cut comfortably in Germany and Scotland it felt as though Portugal was my last hope to hang on…

An interesting mindset to deal with, and one that was totally new to me!! Hence me turning off all social media and contact with the world this week until Sunday afternoon!

Except my wife of course!! Ha ha!!

I spent a whole week like many others watching the scores from the British Masters and counting pennies of who could pass me and what people needed to do… I was number mad and it was driving me and my family crazy!

This week I shut off from it all – no leaderboards, no scoreboard watching, and no talking about what I needed to do!

As I all needed to do was control myself, what everyone else did was out of my control!!

So good golf from me was my only hope!

For two days our group played some great stuff, both Oli and Jason played some fantastic stuff, we really pushed each other along and had a laugh out there! Surprisingly it felt pretty relaxed!

I don’t know what then changed for me but Saturday sure didn’t feel the same… after a good start my game went backwards, I totally lost the pace on the greens, hit some poor shots, got frustrated and after shooting +3 I pretty much hit the bottom of the leaderboard in 75th position!

I NEVER GIVE IN!! And round 4 the only thing I knew was every single Euro may make a difference to the OOM, playing with Daniel I knew I had to stay ahead of him in the OOM… but again I could not control his score or anyone else’s, so I didn’t want to mentally get into a match play with him!

Getting set!!

Getting set!!

ROUND 4….

To ‘smoke’ my drive off the first and walk off with bogey wasn’t the start I was after!

But from then on I probably played the most positive round of golf of the year…

I holed out for birdie from 15ft on 2 and 4…

A two putt birdie on the par 5 5th followed by a 20ft birdie on the 6th! I’d bounced back from my start, got the pace of the greens and the bit between my teeth!

Two solid birdies on 11/12th and I got to -5….

I got out of position on 14 and compounded my error from the fairway bunker making double – I mentally took it amazingly well – and then made three great birdies in a row to stand on the last 6 under! #bounceback

Have any of you played the 18th?

It’s a horror! Off the back tee it’s 460 yards, we played it Sunday in a strong cross wind off the water down the left side…

The fairway banks off to the water, and then miss the fairway right you can find some of the only rough on the course and a couple of big bunkers!

Really, if you miss the fairway you’re not making par as you’re then playing over the water to the green!

I blazed it miles right into a trap (it wasn’t going left) and was pretty happy to chop it down the last and make 5!!

If you did watch the coverage you would have seen how that hole can get you… Graeme Storm made bogey down there to lose his card by €101… a very harsh ending to his valiant fight back over the last few events!

I walked off the course really pleased with how I produced a score under what was a totally new pressure for me…

I then had the 5 hour wait to see how the scores panned out… and three of those hours were sat in front of the TV watching it unfold!

I’m not going to lie… the first hour I was pretty chilled, I’d played good, was pretty happy thinking I had a chance… but then I think it sunk in… it may or may not happen now… and after the amazing year I didn’t want to see it not happen and be back to Q-School….

I wanted another crack at it in 2017!!

I sat in the caddies’ lounge with Steve, it was pretty quiet but everyone was doing the arithmetic, and I can honestly say I felt my heart pounding in my chest… I’ve never had that on the course never mind off the course, but it sunk home how much I wanted this and it felt like it was possibly going to be taken away from me…

“What if Hansen wins… or Lawrie… will that knock me out…?” There were so many scenarios!

I ended up leaving the course for the airport with a few hours of play to go… it probably helped getting away from it… and then finally I got the confirmation from my caddy Steve as I walked through security at the airport!

A huge feeling off relief sank in… but it never hits home until I speak to Laura and the emotions then flow out of us both!!

It’s been an incredible year – to share it with her, my children, my close family and friends has been truly amazing!!!

And then to write these blogs and get the unbelievable response to my ‘life on Tour’ makes it even more worthwhile!

There really are too many people to thank, and I would be scared to miss people out! But you all know who you are and what part you have played, it’s been a #teamhanson effort and without family, friends, coaches and sponsors the dream wouldn’t be remotely possible!!!!!

One of the best pieces of advice I was given when I started out was…

“surround yourself with good people who believe in you and who you believe in”

And I’ve done just that!!!!

A HUGE THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!!! 

PS – thanks to all the Crosland Heath members, Woodsome Hall members, friends from the Yorkshire area and new friends from this week who walked the course supporting me, to have you cheering me on all the way was fantastic!

And again a huge thank you to my good friend Bob Whiteley for letting us use his amazing villa at Pinheiros Altos, it sure helped keep me and Steve relaxed!

  • My 2016 ‘End of season’ blog to follow…..

*COMPETITION TIME*

To win the amazing prize below… all you have to do is answer the following question and email your answer to hansonprogolf@googlemail.com

Q: How many birdies/eagles did I make in the 2016 Portugal Masters….?

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 13.45.11

 

To read more about the prize follow this link – click here…

The Porsche Open – Germany!

After what felt like such a long week in Italy with four alarms before 5am and so much waiting around throughout the week, I was pleased when I opted for the late afternoon flight Monday to Munich!!

On completion of play Sunday, the Tour had arranged a bus for any players/caddies flying from Malpensa, which was one of the other three Milan airports.

I had booked into an airport hotel, and also arranged for a late checkout! That was exactly what I needed, a nice meal Sunday night, a lazy morning Monday, a good breakfast, a session in the gym and then head back to the airport for a 4.30pm flight.

No one was too sure what to expect in Germany after receiving the below email and some pictures which players were sending around…

The course was totally flooded and closed Monday, Tuesday and, in the end, Wednesday for practice!

I’ve played there three times on Challenge Tour and had my best finish here too (T3rd), so not playing the course felt like no huge issue for me, but to many others that may have been a problem.

The course is built alongside a few rivers and the banks had recently burst after the unbelievable amount of rain they had in the area!!

And I’d also heard from the TV crew that they were not able to get out on the course with the buggies to lay the cables for filming…

My first thought was: No TV = not a happy sponsor – and will there even be an event!!

All I could guess was that it was going to be a long week, probably one with many delays again, and if we played 72 holes we would be very lucky!!!!

So two days spent on the range, putting green and short game area with a walk around the course Wednesday morning with only a putter in hand, I was all prepped and set for round 1.

I felt my tee times this week were as good as I could have asked for…first out in the afternoon wave (12.10pm) and first out again the following morning at 7.20am!

Those times meant I got to play the greens in the best condition possible each day… That helps with them being so soft!!

The weather had been perfect since we arrived so the course had managed to dry out the best it could… So no one expected a delay in tee times as the forecast was also very good!!

So after waking up Thursday morning and checking the scores it was quite a surprise to see they hadn’t started…

This time for fog! That delay ended up being 3hr 25mins, so again I wasn’t going to finish my first round on time!

But for me, as I mentioned with my tee times, I was first out Friday anyway so I wasn’t having to get up any earlier than planned!!

I birdied 12 in near darkness to end the day level par and take a little bit of momentum away with me to sleep on…

A pretty poor sleep with what seems a common golfer’s worry that your alarm is not going to go off so early… But it did! As it always does, and I was up to the course just before 6am to start my routine!!

After a stop-start morning of more delays we got back out to play our last 6. I made a great birdie down 16 and in the end a great bogey up the last after finding the water for two on what I’m sure must have played the hardest hole all week!!

We had an hour turnaround and went back out knowing that I probably had to shoot -4 to make the weekend. I knew I had played well the first 18 but just not got the ‘rub of the green’, so a big effort to stay patient was key!

Birdie, birdie start… That helped!! All of sudden the target in my head felt in reach!

But a mixed front nine of birdies and three putts meant a strong back nine was needed!

It didn’t happen and in the end I needed to find 3 maybe even 4 birdies in the last 4 holes!

So making bogey on my 15th pretty much ended my hopes… Then the double, double down the next two holes really doesn’t reflect my score for the day… I battled and battled and you soon know when the task in front of you is impossible!

I just had to keep myself out of the way of the two guys I was paired with, they were both on the cut bubble and I didn’t want them to have to look for my ball, or cause them any stress, they were focused!

So a tiring and disappointing end to the week, but three weeks on the road where I have to look back on the bigger picture and realise the run of form I have had and the points I have put on the OOM is a huge achievement!

As ever though, you walk off the course after missing a cut, feel pretty sorry for yourself, annoyed with your performance and then your mind jumps forward a bit…now I’ve got to go to Fiji!

How, when, how much, can it even be done…?

But first I tried to change my so-called Easy-jet ‘flexi’ ticket to get home early…but that ticket wasn’t so ‘flexi’ with the Saturday flight full!!!

But Singapore airlines came to the rescue with a really early flight Saturday morning which got me home in great time, extremely tired but in time to get to a good friend’s wedding!!

Things were getting better!!

“Ping, ping” another email then came through…

“Mr Hanson, the Tournament Committee at the Alfred Dunhill Championship have granted you an invite into our event, could you please confirm you would like to play?”

Now the big question… Do you fly 30 hours around the world to play a co-sanctioned event in Fiji for a prize fund of €1 million or do you travel to Scotland to play an event I have watched on TV and dreamed of being part of at the Home of Golf since I was a boy…?

And there is also the slight increase of 5 million dollars in prize fund!

Shall I let you guys answer that one….?

The magic invite list!!

The magic invite list!!

You guessed it……. I drive up to Scotland next Sunday!!

The Italian Open in Monza!!

A quick turnaround at home, but so worth it to watch Jess walk into school, and to be there to pick her up after and then hear about her day!

I walked through the door at 10.45pm Sunday night, and walked back out the door 4am Tuesday morning to head to Italy via a quick stop off in Brussels!

And it was a quick stop in Brussels, it wasn’t the scheduled 1hr stop after a delay taking off from Manchester, it ended up being a sprint through Brussels airport to catch the next flight by a whisker!!

Phew!!!!!

Again, it was great that my coach Mark Pearson joined me for the first three days! Even better that he picked me up en route to the airport! Thanks coach, top taxi work too!

As you may have read in my last blog, I ‘top tenned’ it in Holland to get the exemption to play in Italy, if that hadn’t have been the case I would have been 1st reserve as I boarded the plane Tuesday…

That would again have been a very frustrating position to be in, now I knew I could board the plane and know I was preparing for the event!!

As first reserve on site Tuesday afternoon there is always that 50/50 chance you may get to play, two players withdrew from last week’s event on the Wednesday so it does happen…

But if you flashback to Perth in Feb, it didn’t happen for me that week!!

You just never know…

And the painful thing for the guy who was 1st reserve in Italy was that if I had finished 11th in the KLM then he would have been playing and not me!!

(He did get to play in the end, but with only 20 minutes’ warning as Patrick Sjoland withdrew with a bad back).

Last minute problems…

The only frustration about getting into an event late is the planning. I had booked into the ‘caddy’ hotel months ago but when it looked like I would not be playing I cancelled it before the cancellation policy could kick in!!

It was perfect too – €55 a night with breakfast and a bus to the course each day!! So straight away I tried to get back in that hotel Sunday night!!

It wasn’t happening! But I had a back-up plan – Stu Manley was 3rd reserve and travelling so he had the room booked too and if he did not get into the event by Wednesday I would take it on…

So the next problem was finding some suitable ‘digs’ in a good location and at a decent price! That was the tricky bit!!

In the end I got ripped off, €240 for two nights to stay in a really average hotel… Stu Manley ended up staying another night due to the delays so I had to move again…

This time €95 and the hotel was worse!

So I checked out again Thursday morning and then finally got in to the caddy hotel for the last two nights! It was lovely!!!!!! And trumped both the previous hotels for only €55!!

ABOUT THE ITALIAN OPEN…

There always seems something a little bit extra special playing an ‘Open’. I think playing for a country’s national title means a lot, so for Joost to win last week in Holland and to do it in such a fashion must have been incredible, and around his home course too!!

I’d heard great things about the Italian Open before the week – the cars, the quality of the food, the hugely increased prize fund (€3m), a top quality field and a great old school kind of course!!

And it didn’t disappoint, it was very different to anything we have played all year! It’s very narrow in parts, trees that must be well over 100 years old lining every fairway! But unfortunately that didn’t help the course, no light to greens, combined with rain, isn’t great for growth, so the greens’ surfaces weren’t fantastic and the surrounds were very patchy in places.

But there is that good old saying as many of you will know “it’s the same for everyone”, so I planned to just get on with it as I heard too many players already complaining about it!!!!

Practice went well again – having Mark with me really helps, as he keeps it extremely constructive but most importantly it’s always relevant to the conditions and the challenge that is set out for us each week!

Just for example… there is no point practising 50ft putts (which were needed in Holland) when in Italy the average green is only 25yards long!!

For me personally too, the work I can do on Trackman is fantastic, to be able to put a swing or a feeling to the numbers on the screen is a huge help and for me a great learning tool!!

The more I write and talk about a Trackman the more I want one!!!!! Argh!!!

So I was all set for round 1 at 2.00pm and after seeing the forecast we were set for a day with lots of rain!!

ROUND 1… or should I say DAY 1?

There was not much to say about Thursday… we waited, waited and waited!! It rained for most of the day with scattered thunder showers!

I got to warm up around 5.30pm and ended up going out for two holes making par on both!

So straight back to the hotel, some room service and bed, ready for a 5am alarm to get up to the course for a 7.30am restart!!

DAY 2…

We managed to get out and complete our 1st round, I played really solid too… I opened my account with an eagle on the 14th my 4th hole… and in the end went on to shoot 66 (-5) and make a charge at the leader board!!

Then after a 40 minute turnaround we were back on the course to start round 2!

We managed 12 holes before the hooter went again…

But it was a nice start, a birdie down the 1st, followed by another on the 3rd after holing from 25ft!!

One blemish on the card but followed that up with a great 5 iron to 4ft on the next and it was cancelled out straight away!!

Solid birdie down 9 after finding the green with 3 wood and then pars around to the 13th tee where thankfully we got called off for a torrential down poor and electricity in the air!!

So everyone was now off the course and the second wave of players were getting ready to start, for us waiting to return to play the tour have a time limit where they don’t have to allow us a warm up!

So, while tucking into my cake and biscuits we then got the surprising call that we had 15 minutes to get into position!

I hadn’t hit a ball for nearly an hour and we had a ten minute walk at least!! No one was ready! But they had to try and get us out playing if there was any hope of a 72-hole tournament!

As we were about to tee off, the hooter went again and we were back in without hitting a shot!!

Another hour passed, which felt like three, and we were sent out to warm up this time!! Then as we were loading up the buggies to head back out, John Paramor announced there will be no more play and we had to resume at 7.30am the following day!!

For me that felt like the best decision!!!

I then checked into my third hotel of the week… the ‘caddy’ hotel! It was spot on!! And what a different environment to a ‘players’ hotel, just so nice and relaxed, they all know each other so well, so many characters, some quality nicknames and so many stories to go with them; many of these guys travel week in week out living together in each other’s pockets and have done for years!

Players tend to have their own rooms and more often than not in luxury, and it’s not quite that for caddies!

For example my caddy Steve was in a hostel sharing with total strangers, but at £60 for the week he’s then making the most of his wage!!

ROUND 3…

Well, it started Saturday afternoon but it sure didn’t finish, for me it was a 5.10pm tee off and we played till it was dark!!

With the wet forecast predicted through the night and most of the next day, no one knew what was in store for us!!

After a couple of pull hooks down the first, a nice break back onto the fairway helped, and I made par… I then played pretty steady for nine holes making a great birdie 2 on the 3rd and then a great chip and run on to the 9th to set up a 10ft birdie putt!

I converted that in the dark – I guess the hours in the dark as a kid putting at Crosland Heath finally helped!! Ha ha!!

So 9/9 greens in regulation and two birdies meant a solid nine holes in 2 under!!

Back again Sunday morning first thing to hopefully get some more golf played!!!!!

Three pars to start, and steady enough, then after a great tee shot down 13 I hit probably my worst iron shot of the week, short siding myself in the bunker!!

A bogey there, and a couple more down the closing 5 holes, I ended the day +1 and fell out of contention!!

We had an hour turn around and were straight back out to play again…

My last round was with David Lipsky and Romain Wattel, both great guys, good company and solid players!!

I played scrappy through the first 4 holes… but made another birdie down 5 and got some momentum back!

Plenty pars, a stress free birdie on 14 which surely was the easiest hole of the week, and one more at 17 to get to -3 for the day!

That score felt better than how my game felt! A sloppy drive to finish down 18 and a bogey to leave a sour taste in the mouth to what had been a great week!

But to get in contention, play in the last group in round 3 was great and to then post another top 20 in an event I had to qualify for is a huge bonus!!

Let’s just say the Italian Open was an extremely fun but tiring week, and to get 72 holes in was amazing with the conditions we had to battle – the European Tour sure know how to run events!!!

Bravo!!!!!

For me I now fly to Germany for the Porsche Open and a course I’ve visited on Challenge Tour numerous times!

It’s head down, work hard and I’ll give it my best shot again!

KLM Open, Holland – My NEW European Tour blog!

After a solid week in Denmark it was a real shame not to get in the event the following week in Crans, Switzerland!

Of all the events on the schedule this year, that was probably one of the most talked about events, it just sounded and looked spectacular!

So to be 5th reserve on the Wednesday felt agonisingly close! And again it’s frustrating to see invites being handed out to players in similar situations to me and getting the opportunities to play, whilst I have to sit back and watch the leader board for another week.

But that’s how it works, and hopefully I will still get a few more chances to play this year!

Last week I played the KLM in Holland – as you now know it was a great week, coming T8th! My aim was to achieve a top ten finish as that would ensure my place in the Italian Open this week (I would have been second reserve and planned to travel anyway). So I travel early Tuesday knowing that I’m definitely in the field!

Then next week I am certainly playing the Porsche event in Germany!

After a short break it’s the final three events before ‘judgement day’, when the top 110 in the OOM are finalised!

Alfred Dunhill Links

British Masters

Portugal Masters

I’m really not sure of my chances of playing the above three events, the closing date for entries is 3 weeks before, so you have an idea then…

But even with the Dunhill having a large field as it’s played over 3 courses around the St Andrews area, many of the field are invites…

Then the British Masters and the Portugal Masters are reduced fields due to daylight so I may struggle to play – it may depend on who has already guaranteed their card for 2017 as they may choose not to play…

Who knows? All I know is I will be ready and waiting to play and if there is an opportunity I will take it!

So, back to the KLM Open in Holland – it was a quick flight to Amsterdam, followed by 1 hour in a courtesy car to the course!

My coach Mark Pearson came over for three days this week which is always great; to have his watchful eye over my preparation and keep my swing in shape before the final stretch of the season really helps!

With flight times as they were last week, I played 9 holes Tuesday and 9 holes Wednesday, also I had a wedge fitting with Titleist to fine tune the set-up of my Vokeys!

Tuesday went great, apart from jumping in the hire car with Mark and getting a little lost en route to the course, the practice was fantastic! I played the front nine, it felt like a really good layout, my game felt good and the course was in great condition!

The facilities are really fantastic too, so the back nine Wednesday and lots of productive practice was in order!!

ROUND 1

9.40am start off the 10th which was the last out of the morning groups – I was playing with fellow Q-School graduates Nino Bertasio and David Dixon.

I started off really solid, played my first 4 holes tee to green great and just had to keep patient on the greens…

The next hole was one of the tour’s new initiatives, a short par three which got the fans involved! The three of us hit our tee shots, then a spectator came out of the stand to try and beat us!!

If they do, they win two KLM tickets to fly anywhere in Europe!

For us, though, John Morgan the Sky commentator took the challenge so they could show it on TV!

Thankfully I took him down, hitting mine to 6ft and rolling it in for my first birdie!! :-)

A good birdie down the next and I was on the move!

In the end I signed for 66 (-5) with 7 birdies and two bogeys, one on the tough 2nd and another on the 9th, my last hole, from a slightly out of position tee shot…

But a great day overall, and one my coach Mark was very happy with!! The post-round de-brief did not take too long!!!!

ROUND 2

Last out at 2.40pm – the hardest thing about those tee times is passing the time in the morning! Especially as I’m not one for staying in bed all morning…

You don’t want to sit around all morning, but you don’t want to kill it in the gym or do anything too tiring.

It was Jessica’s first half day at school back home, so I got to hang about in the hotel and speak to the family on FaceTime, they even faced timed me from the school gates so I got to see her there, which was nice!

Technology is a blessing!!

I then had a late breakfast and got the 11am bus up to the club, did my pins in the yardage book, loaded up the bag nice and heavy for Steve, ate more food and chilled!!

At 1pm my routine starts which includes the physio bus before any actual golf preparation, so by 2.40pm I’m raring to go!

A par, bogey, birdie start and things were ok… It felt like a missed opportunity down 6 but I guess level par never really hurts you!

Then the fun started… Down the next I hit a poor 4 iron off the tee into the rough, followed that with a hack up near the green before nearly playing table tennis backwards and forwards over the green!

Let’s just call it a chipping incident to forget! A triple bogey 7 there and a bogey down the next, I was back to -1, on the cut mark and 4 over for the day!

I was on the back seat!!

I missed a great chance down 9, lipped out from 15ft on ten and it felt I was already running out of chances!

The 11th is ranked stroke 1!!! After a decent three wood off the tee which left me a little bit back of where I would have liked, I then crushed a three iron from 230 to 15ft and rolled it home for birdie to give me the boost I needed for a charge!

And that charge came with three on the spin from 13 to 15 to make the last three holes a lot more comfortable and meant I lived to fight another weekend in T20th position!

ROUND 3

Bogey free is always pleasing on Saturday ‘moving day’ and to add 4 birdies to that to shoot 67 (-4) is a great day!!

ROUND 4

Starting the day in T11th I knew a top ten finish would get me into next week’s Italian Open, but that also meant a good score was needed!

I drove it pretty poor all week, but never too far out of position. I holed out from 35ft on the second for birdie and my day was up and running!!

A great two putt birdie on the 6th to finally birdie the easiest hole of the week and I was cruising along nicely.

I struck again on the hardest hole of the week (11th) hitting a 6 iron to 3 feet! And from then on my game seemed to up a gear but the putter cooled down a little!

A few missed chances and a long range three putt on the crazy 16th green, I now knew a couple of pars to finish stood me in a great position to grab that top ten!

I left myself a smelly 45ft putt on 18 up a big slope, but rolled it up to 2 feet and tapped in for par!

What a fantastic day, and to play with Bernd Wiesberger too, who was leading for much of the day, it was a great experience to be back in that position!

And then it was home to walk Jessica to school for her first full day, and now an extremely early flight out to Italy on Tuesday morning for the ITALIAN OPEN!!

As ever, a huge thank you for the hundreds of amazing emails throughout the week! Pictures of your TV’s at home on Sunday, tweets and Facebook msg’s… It really is appreciated!

FLASH BACK – After spending a week with Steve Selbie, fellow Woodsome member, in Prague (Selbie Opticians) a few weeks back, we got onto discussing my eyesight, and the trademark squint I always do when struggling to see the ball down from the air!!

He got me in for an eye test on return from Prague, confirmed I’m short sighted and sent me away with some trial contact lenses!

Round 1 was my first competitive round seeing the ball land – now could that have made a difference?  And even just 1% difference could help me at my level…

But I admit we don’t know as it can’t be measured… but maybe, just maybe it’s worth getting your eyes checked again too :-)

Thanks, Steve!

www.selbieopticians.com

‘OCT’ machine (ocular coherence tomography) – this was a scan of my retina which can only been seen through one of these machines… Only three in the Huddersfield area!

NEW BLOG: The famous ‘Himmerland Hill’

Of course it was great to play four rounds last week in Prague…especially when many aspects of my game felt average at best!

And it’s great to know that I can still compete and get myself into some good positions with my game feeling below par… but I know I shouldn’t be letting some of the shots slip, which I am!

So knowing that things were getting better as the week went on, I was hopeful for a good showing in Denmark, an event which I have played before!

Having been before I knew what I was in store for and what a fantastic event it is!

The famous ‘Himmerland Hill’ is something you can never forget!

So last week I ended up flying Monday morning from Prague to Copenhagen… and then drove 3.5 hrs to pick up Laura, the kids and my out-laws (sorry, I mean in-laws) in Aarhus and from there we all drove across country to Himmerland Golf Club and our woodland lodge! (sounds a lot more glamorous than it was).

Our wooden lodge!

Our wooden lodge!

This was a typical Danish summer house, but this one was pretty un-used!

For £900 it was very damp, had more creepy crawlies and frogs than you could imagine but it was a mile from the course so that was its selling point!

Pros and cons for sure, as the players’ hotel was 40 minutes away in Aalborg which was certainly not ideal!

Tuesday and Wednesday, as most weeks, were standard practice days for me. I’ve been training pretty hard in the gym recently too with the programme Rachael Tibbs (Dynamic Golf) has set me, so some hamstring treatment on the Tour Physio bus afterwards was really needed!

On the physio bus post round!

On the physio bus post round!

It’s an unbelievable facility and service that the Tour and the European Tour Performance Institute provide and many injured players would not play some weeks if it wasn’t for their help and expertise!

So I was all set for another week on Tour and luckily for me after a week of moaning about self- inflicted early starts last week, I got the two perfect times to be able to rest up for this week!

1.50pm round 1 and 8.50am round 2!

As my stats proved for the week my game is in a good place, I’m just not capitalising on the many chances I’m creating each round!

Patience has to be key and I know I will get my reward in the coming events!

After two rounds of 69 I was -4 and around 18th position; I followed it up with another 69 which moved me up to 10th.

In that round I was bogey free until the tough 18th took its toll…but overall a great position to be in as I expected that if I could push for a top 10 it would possibly get me into Crans the following week!

The fans at the ‘Made in Denmark’ event are incredible; 80k came through the gates for the week and at times fairways and greens were 4/5 people deep.

Especially up around the 6th green which seemed to get the better of me for the week, even when it was a hole most people were making look easy!

For example, Martin Kaymer went birdie, birdie, eagle, eagle…

Me… I made a scrappy par day 1, a shocking bogey day 2, then salvaged a par day 3 after pulling my 3 iron left of the green!

On leaving the club face I knew it was heading for trouble, but second thoughts were if it hit my mother-in-law I would surely get a bonus point…

On shouting “fore” the crowd scattered, only to see it miss Linda by a whisker!

After a grovelling apology and that scrappy par save I think it was soon forgotten… and finally in round 4 I made birdie!! But that was a hole I definitely gave a lot up on the field!!

For round 4 they forecasted shocking weather, so they got us all out early in a ‘U draw’ and it was a good job they did… after 9 holes we then spent 4 hours inside sheltering from a huge downpour… luckily we got back out and somehow stayed dry until the end!

Rain delay....

Rain delay….

Round 4 I had a fun group, Jaco Van Zyl and Eduardo Molinari…Jaco ended up shooting -6 and made it look pretty easy but my game wasn’t far behind him tee to green, he just took his chances and made a few nice par saves along the way!

That’s golf!! And it’s a funny game and one with far too many frustrating fine lines but that’s something you have to learn to deal with if you want to get to the top of this game!

So in the end I finished the week T18th, scores of 69, 69, 69 and 71 for -6 total!

As always I found plenty of positives and came out with a new career high ‘World Ranking’ of 416, so I have to be pleased with that!

I can’t forget to mention ‘Himmerland Hill’ – if you watched the event on TV you will have an idea about what we had in store… but until you’re there you would never fully appreciate the atmosphere!

The hole at the weekend played around 90 yards, over a valley to a small, extremely undulating green with an amphitheatre-like banking which seated approximately 3000 people, where most of them had squeaky rubber ducks!

I made a mess on day one but gave myself three great birdie chances the next 3 days!

After a spine-tingling Danish clap on walking to the green I failed to convert any of my birdie putts, meaning I never got the famous squeaky duck treatment for making birdie!

Squeaky ducks!

Squeaky ducks!

It’s quite a surreal experience, for a hole that is so short and should be so easy, I think just the environment it’s set in makes your knees shake and all of a sudden it becomes one of the hardest holes on the course!

Again, a fun week on Tour with plenty going on, and even more for some players with a little player fisty cuffs in the locker room and also a caddy sacking his player mid round, leaving him out there with his bag – it was all going on! (No names mentioned from me, sorry!).

So a week at home now, and then it’s the KLM Open in Holland where I get another opportunity to put some points on the OOM!

I’m already looking forward to blogging again soon! Thanks as ever!