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!!!!

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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!!!

An Aussie disappointment!

This is not what anyone expected…the Perth event last year went all the way through the list…If you entered, you got to play, they could not fill the field!!

Normally players don’t want to travel round the world for one of the smaller prize funds, the jet lag, and the expense…me, on the other hand, will go anywhere “have clubs, will travel” and I see every opportunity as a chance to progress and fulfil my dream!

On the European Tour the close of entries is three weeks prior to tee off, so to get the email on a Thursday at Oulton Hall whilst having a lesson with Mark that I was 35th reserve, was a pretty big shock!!

Especially when I had all my flights booked!

As crazy as it sounds I was slightly hopeful I would still get to play…this is what tends to happen: everyone enters all the events on the schedule and then they pull out as the time gets nearer. It’s a pain in the butt as guys on the reserve list can’t plan even though they expect to get in… but that’s the way it is, and was on the Challenge Tour for 4 years!

But then what happens is you end up paying more for flights and it’s harder to source accommodation, especially when you’re travelling around the world to Australia!

‘Fines’ – if you pull out after close of entries you lose £80 (your entry fee); if you pull out after the Saturday before the event you lose approximately £250, but this still isn’t a big enough fine to stop people pulling out late!!

For me, the £80 fine makes me think about when I need to pull out of an event, it all adds up, but for guys with millions in the bank £250 is a drop in the ocean.

So it got down to the Wednesday the week before; 8 days until ‘tee off’ and I was 11th reserve, it had dropped 24 spots, and the Tour always hold back 4/5 places for ‘top tens’ from the event the week before, so I knew it was to drop more…

The other 6/7 places is just a case of keeping your fingers crossed that guys decide not to play, maybe because they did well in Malaysia the week before or played poorly and want to go home…

…and if I don’t get into the event it’s a serious week of practice and training before hopefully getting into the event in Thailand two weeks later!!

Mammoth of a journey…

If any of you have ever travelled to Australia you will know there is not really an easy way to do it.

My schedule of events for 4 weeks was, hopefully, PERTH, THAILAND, INDIA and then home!

So I booked three return flights around Bangkok to make the trip cheaper….

Manchester – Abu Dhabi – Bangkok / RETURN FLIGHT

Bangkok – Perth / RETURN FLIGHT

Bangkok – India / RETURN FLIGHT

So two sets of return flights are sandwiched between my Manchester-Abu-Bangkok return flight!

Make sense…? It’s quite tricky to plan, and that’s where a management company help take the stress away from a player and just send you the itinerary and off you go!!

It really feels the season is about to kick off now though (or I hoped), I’m actually only home for 5 days in the next ten weeks!!

So what’s Perth like…?

Having been to Brisbane before Christmas and found it to be nothing like the picture in my head, I wasn’t too sure what to expect in Perth. Again, like Brisbane, it had quality beaches, but nowhere near as built up, plenty of great golf courses (of which I played 2), and wow it was hot again!!!!

But the biggest surprise was how many English folk are out there, I really think I spoke to more English than Aussies last week… and the family I stayed with, who are friends of my caddy Steve’s, only seem to have English friends.

I found it quite strange, it’s not as if there is a language barrier! But I guess everyone is happy with their surroundings, as they are certainly in no rush to return to England.

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The Golf…

Well, there kind of wasn’t any…so from 11th reserve on landing, the list slowly moved down, then the spots held back from Malaysia came out, which I mentioned, and I was down to 4th reserve.

Bjorn Akkeson then had a visa problem and couldn’t make it…that let Nino Bertasio in, and then it was too late for the 3 guys in front of me to travel.

I was now 1st reserve on Wednesday morning UK time…that was pretty good all of a sudden. But Wednesday soon passed and then all that was left was a full day of waiting around Thursday (Round 1) to see if anyone was to withdraw injured.

I got to the course for 5.30am, warmed up like everyone else in case someone was injured…and then waited…all day!!!

It didn’t happen, but what did happen was S. Gallagher and J. Parry played 18 holes and then cried off injured, bit of a kick in the teeth it felt at the time, but I appreciate these guys wanted to try and play… most would feel the same unless they really couldn’t hit a shot!

So that was it…I prepared for the week as if I was going to get a game, had a great practice round Monday around what is now one of my favourite courses, and felt my game was in good shape to compete.

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To clear my head I nearly polished off a half marathon around Joondalup lake!

But my attention then moved onto the next event, I’m just not sure when it will be…Thailand is extremely unlikely and even the event I had banked on in India is now looking doubtful!

Gutted, but I have to stay positive and know I will get my chances to compete again soon, it may just be on the Challenge Tour first to keep my game match fit!!

Thankfully someone from the Tour Media department put me in touch with a few local golfers and I teed it up Saturday morning around Western Australia in the monthly medal – it was a gem of a course, pretty short, but again the condition was fantastic!

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Western Australia Golf Club

Tshwane Open & Woodsome Prize WINNER!

So, back to South Africa again for the Tshwane Open in Pretoria, but this time I was returning with more experience of how different the golf is out there.

Having played at a similar altitude in Joburg a few weeks back, it would be a pretty straightforward adjustment, but the biggest challenge would be from having three weeks in the cold and only playing once off English turf, to heading back to 30 degrees, with dry green grass!

Even though when I did play it was at the fabulous Hillside GC, where it was bone dry and world class for the time of year, the grass in South Africa as I mentioned before is nothing like the UK.

At times it makes people look silly (even the local players), you can so easily go straight under the ball when chipping from the rough, it’s wiry and the ball nestles down to the roots where the ground is firm.

Or you can chop through the long rough thinking it will come out soft, then bounce the sole of the club off the firm ground and send the ball way past the flag, or get one too good and you miss it!

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Day at Hillside in 30mph winds with Andy/Brian from AZ Intec and John from F&G

I had a pretty long journey out to Joburg: a decent flight time Sunday from Manchester (9am) but a connection through Istanbul with Turkish Airlines of 8 hours before flying onto South Africa in the night.

Not the best flight path, although certainly the cheapest, but the best flight for getting into SA Monday morning for three days’ practice before the first round.

I’m not too sure, but I think I managed around 5 hours’ sleep on the second flight…that’s enough to head straight to the course, shower, lunch and get out and play 9 holes!!

The course is very old school English in the way it plays; quite short and tight, but a big reward if you hit it a long way…but that came with risk! At the end of the week, Charl Schwartzel was the runaway winner and after watching the TV coverage, he and plenty of other local players hit driver a lot more around the course than nearly all the Europeans I spoke to.

The practice round really gave quite a false impression that the course was easy and scoring would be low, but it sure showed its teeth once the swirling wind picked up!

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Par 3, 16th hole, 185 yards

My preparation for the week was great; I have some new putting drills and games I have been playing and I really enjoy them. They really help as it keeps me interested and motivated, as sometimes you end up just going through the motions with no real purpose!

That’s when you stop improving!!

I played pretty solid in the first two rounds, but I seem to keep making simple or silly errors…but I feel I know where these errors are coming from and a key part to my development as a player is improving my course management and becoming a more patient player!

At one point in round 2, I actually fell outside the predicted cut mark by two shots (+4) and again needed a late charge to make the weekend. I knew scoring was tricky and the average score on day two was +2, so I knew to hang in there – and I certainly never give in!

I birdied the par three 5th from off the green, then gave myself a great chance on 6, 7, and 8, missing those was tough but 9 was always a birdie chance if you got the tee shot in play, so I was slightly confident.

I’ve really started to see a distance gain, and down 9 it showed and helped; the water down the right was a 280 metres carry, the hole played slightly down wind and I bombed it 310 metres – so around 340 yards. That then left me a 6 iron into the green from the semi rough which left me 40ft for eagle.

I felt a two putt birdie had me safe inside the cut mark, so to then hole it was a huge bonus and in the end I cruised the cut by two shots and was in 28th position.

I was up for it over the weekend, my game felt good, and I was very positive!

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 We can now practice in shorts!!!!!!

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After a perfect tee shot down the first I left myself 6 iron into the green. Playing safe into the heart of the green I slightly pulled it, but seeing it pitch on the green I was sure it was safe.

So to walk up there and see that it had bounced off the green, down the bank, over the path, through the rough and finish an inch from a 12ft wall was very disappointing.

I tried to play it off the wall like the famous St Andrews ‘road hole’ and ended up making a triple bogey seven!

I eagled the 9th again, but ended up shooting +3 and falling down the leader board to 52nd!

So one more round before heading back home, and I had my mind set on shooting a great score knowing that anything under par would shoot me up the board. My best finish on the Tour was back in 2014 when I finished T39th in Denmark, so I thought that wasn’t a bad target!

Cruising at -3 through nine holes everything felt great, a bogey on 10 but a birdie on 12 kept me going, but with a three putt following up 13 it set me back and stalled my momentum!

Then after using up all my luck in round 3 on the 15th it came back to bite me big time in round 4…

A poor iron off the tee left your typical nasty lie in the South African rough, the grass is thick but I felt I could get an 8 iron up near the front edge of the green… but how wrong could I be, the ball came out low and left and flew maybe 70 yards nose diving into the water!!!

A double bogey 6 and back to level par, and that’s how the round finished, parring in for level!

71, 70, 73, 70, for a +4 total.

I left the club in around 50th position, so on arriving at my friend Wally’s house prior to heading to the airport, it was great to see I had moved up another 10 places which probably earned me an extra €1000, and I ended up one place off my best finish.

I will get it soon!!

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So overall another successful trip to SA. I’ve played 5 European Tour events in SA and 4 in this Race to Dubai season making the cut in all the events. That’s a pretty good record but it sure would have been nice to convert a few of them into higher finishes!

A huge thanks as always for Steve’s help on the bag, and to Wally and his family for their amazing support again during the week!

 

WOODSOME PRIZE DRAW – WINNER!

And the winner of a night for 2 in the new Woodsome Hall Dormy House and a round of golf is…

ROSS ANDREW!

Congratulations from everyone at Woodsome!

www.woodsome.co.uk

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The winning entry was drawn by Dave Carlisle (manager) and Adam Durie (professional) at Woodsome Hall

Abzorb PRESS RELEASE & Woodsome Hall competition!

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Huddersfield European Tour golfer Chris Hanson has joined forces with local communications company Abzorb for the 2016 season!

Chris is back in action next week on The European Tour in South Africa at the Tshwane Open, after recently having a successful two weeks in Johannesburg at the start of January.

An exciting year ahead awaits, visiting over 20 countries around the world in what’s set to be an exciting Race to Dubai.

Chris commented, “Without the support of companies like Abzorb my dream would not be possible. I really can’t thank them enough for their support and look forward to sharing the journey with them.”

Abzorb is an SLA led, top performing customer focused business. They are a growing business, a national supplier, based locally, and employing local people. They recognise that one size does not fit all and have delivered self-care branded solutions to some of the top universities in the UK.

Abzorb allows businesses to have conversations with all of their stakeholders, whatever the medium including, Phone – Email – Text – Instant Messaging – Social Media etc. Customers utilise their services to communicate and share information.

Steve Beeby of Abzorb added, “We are a company that are proud to support local teams, charities and foundations. We are very excited to support Chris on The European Tour and really look forward to following his progress!”

Steve and Chris 5Chris with Steve Beeby of Abzorb

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Chris with Steve and Kev from Abzorb at the Huddersfield Town Foundation ‘School Breakfast Club” which Abzorb are huge supporters

To read more about Abzorb please follow the link below to their website:

www.abzorb.co.uk

And to follow Chris’s year on the European Tour check out:

www.chrishansongolf.com or follow him on twitter @hansonprogolf

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COMPETITION TIME!! 

*Win a night’s stay for 2 in Woodsome’s fantastic Dormy House & play 18 holes before or after your stay!*

In 2015 the club converted a cottage, which sits proudly behind the 7th Green, into a fantastic Dormy House. There are eight twin rooms, all en suite, furnished to a very high standard, with a separate drying/store room.

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The Dormy house view over looking the 7th green

The club offers packages that can be arranged to suit your party and golf is easily added to your stay; it really does offer terrific value and the breakfast is amazing.

Through my attachment with the club, Woodsome Hall are delighted to offer a prize of a twin room plus golf for two people, all you need to do is answer three simple questions…

These answers can be found on the Woodsome Hall website…

Please send your answers to me, (hansonprogolf@googlemail.com) and I will forward them onto the club where they will complete the prize draw….

The winner will be announced on my blog following the Tshwane Open in South Africa.

Good Luck

THE QUESTIONS!!

1. What is the name of the signature 17th Hole?

2. Within the Hall’s magnificent Dining Room, whose name is inscribed on the enormous beam over the fireplace?

3. How much does it cost for two rounds of golf, plus accommodation sharing a twin room with a fabulous English breakfast? (free if you win the competition!)

www.woodsome.co.uk 

…is a great place to start looking for the answers!!

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Entries to: hansonprogolf@googlemail.com

Entries close: February 11th

Winner announced: following the Tshwane Open

Joburg Open & DPP News Flash! 

So, a poor weekend finish in the SA Open, after what was such an exciting finish to my second round!

I then had chance to build on that result straight away the following week in the Joburg Open. Again that week I was staying with Waleed and his wonderful family, and ‘Wally’ is actually a member at Royal Johannesburg, so I had a bit of home knowledge!

The forecast for the week was not great again, rain and thunder storms, so it was essential to get straight back to work Monday morning to try and beat the weather, and for the Joburg Open you had to play two practice rounds as the tournament was over the East and West courses.

History also shows that the cut at the Joburg Open also tends to be quite low, the West course is a little shorter and scoring is good, but also there are 210 players in the field so the depth is much stronger!

I played 18 holes Monday, had the morning off Tuesday, practised that afternoon, and then played 18 holes on the other course on Wednesday.

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I was set to go…I’d done some more fine tuning on my driver with Taylormade, just to check the altitude and a few of my swing numbers such as face, and angle of attack, and they were spot on!!

This week there was also the added incentive of a spot in The Open Championship, the top three players not exempt got their spot…so on the first tee sat the famous Claret Jug!

After already spending a week in SA before Christmas, and another week prior to the Joburg Open, you soon realise what a huge advantage the local SA players have…

  • they are in the middle of their Sunshine Tour season
  • most Europeans have not played for the last month due to the weather (and when they have played the conditions were shocking)
  • the altitude is so different, experience counts for a lot, it’s hard to trust it
  • the grass is like nothing in England, your technique needs to change, theirs doesn’t!

I know this works in reverse when they head to Europe, but it’s great to start your season off in your own back garden!

And just to support to my theory (well, everyone’s theory), in the SA Open there were 10 SA players in the top 12!

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So how did my golf go…

For the first two days, it was the best I had played tee to green in a long time; I drove it great, distance was good, and I controlled my irons really well. Also a discipline I have been trying to improve is my course management – when to attack pins, playing to safe spots, more of a patient percentage play, it was a really good two days’ play, I was happy!!

I shot 70, 69 for a -4 total and the cut fell at -3, so I was safely in for the weekend!

It helped having another purple patch in round two with 4 birdies on the spin from the 6th to the 9th!

Again, though, it was a similar story to the SA Open where I went backwards over the weekend – I finished birdie, birdie in round 3 for +3 and shot level par in the final round.

Throughout the week I dropped 15 shots which is far too many; the golf course was not too tricky, but I did get caught out on the greens far too many times – work to be done!!

I ended the week T61st…

Again, I must again thank Wally for another fantastic week on the bag, he has been a huge help on and off the golf course, and as I said last week, I’ve been treated like one of their wonderful family, it truly was home from home!

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Spending time with their family was great, I got a real taste of their SA life, rather than the normal week to week routine of hotel to golf course.

The biggest thing you notice as an outsider is how the country is run, the race issues they still have, the corruption, the crime stories and what financial changes have recently developed. The country’s financial minister recently opened his mouth on Twitter saying ‘why does South Africa need to worry about the dollar/pound and euro’ to then see the South African rand drop from 15 to the pound to 24 to the pound.

It’s incredibly cheap for a European to travel to SA but even cheaper if you’re from the UK; a nice meal out for a steak will cost you £5, a beer £1, a huge house for comfortably £100,000.

Life is pretty laid back, but from inside secure walls!

The South Africans are great people, very friendly and welcoming, but like all parts of the world there is violence and trouble, it just seems easier to find in SA…

For example, on an evening in many areas you don’t stop at red traffic lights, just make your way sensibly through them unless you want someone to ‘smash & grab’ from your car window, as some players so nearly experienced.

There is also the well-known ‘Rolex’ gang in the local area who target tourists in shopping malls, and two players actually had a face to face experience with them, and after having a gun pointed at their chest they promptly handed over 3 very expensive watches, one which had just been purchased from the Rolex shop, along with two wallets and two iPhones…. tip off…? who knows…but a pretty scary moment for them!!

On a happier note though, South Africans love their sport and I got to experience some world class sport at its highest level!

I’m no cricket fan, but thanks to Wally and his connections I got to watch England comfortably beat South Africa in their own back yard in the Test match – that was pretty cool, and in corporate hospitality too.

Again, thanks, Wally!!

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Overall it’s been a pretty successful two weeks on the road, to play both events in SA, to make both cuts, and to keep adding to my Race to Dubai standings is all I can do…hopefully a big week is around the corner.

I’ve got my plan/process in place which I believe in, and I know my time will come!

I can’t wait!!

But to finish the week in SA, I couldn’t go without snatching the Big Easy for a photo, what a legend of the game and what a fantastic guy he is, he really does have time for everyone, and the love the South Africans have for him is amazing!

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I’m now home for three weeks as my category will not get me into any of the events in the Middle East, so it’s a great time to see the family, catch up with many of you, and get some productive practice done before I fly back out to SA for the Tshwane Open, Pretoria, in February.

Bring it on!

NEWS FLASH

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DPPublicity continue their sponsorship for the 2016 season!!

DPP PRESS RELEASE

Having had the support from David Pitts of DPPublicity (DPP) for the past two seasons, and to now gain promotion to the European Tour, has just shown what an amazing help David and his companies have been!

Without their support this dream would not have come true!

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So for them to have committed to continue their support as my main sponsor for the 2016 season is fantastic news for me, enabling me to fulfil my lifelong ambition to win on the European Tour.

Keep your eyes peeled on the European Tour for the DPPublicity logo on my Stromberg clothing and Taylormade bag and hats!

I really can’t thank them enough!

If you would like to find out more about Wakefield based DPP then please follow the below link…the company tell me they are always on the lookout for energised people to join their full service ad agency, from web designers to client managers. DPP were established in 1988 and are leaders in their field of automotive marketing, part of their package with me includes a car which is quite appropriate!

www.dppublicity.co.uk

BMW SA Open & Twitter madness!

So 2016 is up and running and that three week break at home sure went quick!

For me, over the past 9 seasons my golf finished around the mid November time at Q-School and then, bar a couple of events, it normally didn’t get started until the end of April!

That usually meant 4/5 months’ of quality time with the family and a great time to develop my game!

This year it’s been very different and for all the right reasons!

The three weeks have been great, though! The clubs were left in the flight bag for a week and untouched, which meant some quality time with the girls!

Jessica and Olivia are growing up so fast and now Olivia is running round everywhere, trying to attack her older sister – it’s quite a mad house!  I couldn’t really take any more time off than a week though, and with the Christmas period taking out a few days too, I headed over to Oulton Hall to see my coach Mark Pearson.

We had a great catch up – I’d not actually seen him since gaining my card at Tour School, so a big man hug was in order!

A lot of people have believed in me for a long time, and Mark’s certainly kept me very motivated and kept me believing when times have been tough!

So three sessions with Mark, and two with Rachael Tibbs (my fitness coach) to burn off the Christmas chocolate, I felt ready to get to South Africa for two weeks’ work on the European Tour!   Well, that was the plan…but there was a slight worry when, at close of entries, I was 14th reserve for the SA Open but exempt for the Joburg Open the week after (larger field).

I was entered into the qualifier if I did not fall down the reserve list in time, but thankfully I did! The Friday before, I got the email I wanted saying I was now in the field!

So getting on that plane knowing I had got my spot made the 15 hour journey a whole lot more fun!

Arriving at the course Monday morning in the chauffeur driven BMWs is always a nice touch; so after signing in, a quick shower and some lunch, I was ready to start my working day!

I had three great days’ preparation, the main focus being on trying to adjust to the altitude; with the course 1600 metres above sea level, that is at least a 10% increase in how the ball flies through the air!

   Round one I played ok, putted pretty nice and scrambled it round for +2!

It wasn’t so much the altitude that caught me out, but the combination with the wind that did!

I used a metres book instead of a yardage book, so it’s all pretty much converted for you (10%) but down the 16th I had 125 metres to the flag – with the help of the wind and my misjudgement, I flew it 130 metres and over the green (bogey 6); that was a wake-up call, but it’s hard to get your head round actually hitting a gap wedge 143 yards when you normally max out at 120 with that club!

So back for round two and in the back of my head I felt I had to break par to make the weekend!

6, 6 start! Double bogey, bogey was not what I had planned!

But I stayed upbeat; my caddy Waleed was fantastic and he too is so positive, and with his help I bounced back with two birdies!

The forecast for the afternoon was grim, and on the 6th tee the clouds, thunder, rain and lightning came in…

It was a strong par 3 over water and I would have loved them to call off play prior to hitting the shot, as maybe the wind would have dropped off when play resumed!

But I had to hit the shot anyway, and it ended up being the shot of the day! I hit a 6 iron to a foot before the klaxon went and we were back in the clubhouse just in the nick of time!  Going back to my caddy – I’ve been so lucky this week… Steve Tooby, who many of you know, had already booked a holiday this week thinking he wouldn’t be working, but last year at this event he became great friends with Waleed who lives at the course and has caddied many times for South African player James Kamte and they’ve won events together.

He’s passionate about his golf, a great caddy, and his family welcomed me into their home for my two week spell in SA!

I really can’t thank them enough! I’ve been treated like one of the family and actually attended two Indian wedding functions during my stay which was an amazing experience!

500 guests at the wedding, I don’t even know 500 people!!!!

So back on the course Saturday for a 6.30am restart to finish round 2.

I tapped in my birdie but soon gave it back on nine after a weak three putt from distance!!!

So +1 for the day and +3 total, with the cut in the back of my mind at +1, I needed to charge!

I missed from 7ft on 10, and 8ft on 11 for birdie, and that’s tough to take when you’re chasing birdies – but Waleed kept me patient!

I had a 10ft chance on 12, and holed that – a massive boost and a relief that I made one… The 13th was then a great chance – down wind par 5 – I bombed my tee shot and was going in with 3 iron, but it took one hop on dry land before it came back into the water!

That was the birdie cancelled straight out!

But then the fun began …

- 9 iron to 3ft on 14th = birdie

- par 5 15th, 3 iron to 30ft = eagle

- wedge on 16th to 4ft = birdie

- 5 iron into the par 3 17th to 6ft = birdie

- 15 yard short of the last green = pitch in for birdie!

I played the last 5 holes in -6 and that moved me up to 20th in the tournament!

What a stretch of golf, and my Twitter account went crazy after the European Tour tweeted my finish!  We didn’t have much of a rest and we were straight back out on the course!

But the next two rounds were a battle and I gave away too many simple shots. It’s hopefully another big lesson learned and one I can take into the event next week!

Overall, though, another positive week on Tour, and it’s time to keep working hard and look forward to the Joburg Open!!

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NEWS FLASH: AZ INTEC 2016!! 

I’m delighted to announce that AZ INTEC have committed to continue their support for the 2016 season.

The support from AZ INTEC last season was fantastic, and it showed by having my best year to date on the Challenge Tour, and then going on to gain my European Tour card at the end of the year!

Without the support of companies/friends such as AZ INTEC my dream would not be possible.

I can’t thank Andy and Dianne enough and I’m delighted to be wearing the AZ INTEC logo on my collar for my rookie season on the European Tour!

AZ

To read more about what they do, please follow the below link.

www.azflowtech.com