I thought I might have a chance to get into the European Tour event in Kenya, but expected it to be a very last minute phone call and a mad dash to Africa!
So to get the email at close of entries saying I was 5th reserve was pretty much a guarantee I would get to play. They hold spots back for top 10s the week prior and also winners’ exemptions, so I got online and booked my ticket with Air France through Paris to Nairobi.
It was a huge bonus to find out early I was in the field, I could plan a bit better, sort my visa, manage to find a roommate (Ben Evans) to keep the costs down, sort a local caddy from a previous year (Carlos aka Francis) and get my flight at a cheaper price too (£600).
It also made me focus my practice more, knowing that I had an event coming up sooner and not in 6 weeks’ time.
Prior to Kenya I made the journey down the M1 to The Grove to meet the guys from Wilson. I wanted to do some testing with my V6 irons, and also they were very keen for me to test both the new 2019 Cortex and D7 drivers properly with plenty of shaft options.
It was worth the trip down; I’m pretty sure following Kenya I will change to some softer shafts (I’m getting old); after some testing it was pretty clear that they were a lot easier to hit!
So Sunday was my travel day, a mid-afternoon flight from Manchester to Paris, then an 11-hour flight direct into Nairobi.
Or so I thought….
I woke up Sunday morning to this text msg….
A few panic buttons and a quick search on SkyScanner, but in the end that wasn’t needed, AirFrance had already moved me onto a fight with a different airline.
So Qatar Airlines through Doha, two seven hour flights, and connecting onto the same plane were most of the players who had played in Qatar the week prior. In total, a few extra hours of travel but it broke the journey up a lot better.
I’ve been to Kenya three times before, it’s an interesting place, in one breath it’s shocking for poverty and the way some people live on and around the streets, but then in another breath it’s pretty incredible!
Driving down the motorway back to the players’ hotel from the course, the road was lined for miles by a metal fence, on first glance I thought nothing of it. But all of a sudden something caught my eye.
It was the equivalent of driving down the M62 and replacing sheep and cows with giraffes and zebras!!!! The safari park was all around and that in itself was pretty special!!
How did the golf go….?
I felt my preparation was good even though I didn’t hit it great in the practice round, but teeing it up Thursday I was excited to play! Again, I was a bit cold, and not really match ready like most of the guys playing, but as ever I was optimistic about what could happen.
In round one I got myself on the back foot pretty early, and I just guess with not having played much it wasn’t a great feeling and I struggled to get the momentum back.
I somehow near the end found a couple of putts which clawed me back to +4 for the day and in with a fighting chance in round two.
As ever I was up for the fight; after a solid start I suffered a big setback making triple on the short 16th, I bounced back with birdie birdie and kept my spirits high!!
I knew the weekend was within my grasp with some good birdie chances coming up but a poor missed green on my 14th led to a double and it was then quickly game set and match!!!
I hate missing cuts, all golfers do, but when you travel so far they seem to feel even worse!!!!
I managed to start the journey out of there Saturday night so it was great to walk through the door 24 hours earlier on the Sunday and surprise the kids that daddy was home!!!
So I now have a bit of time to practise before heading away to Jordan for the first ever mixed Open.
It’s going to be interesting; 40 Challenge Tour players, 40 Senior Tour players and 40 Ladies European Tour players – all playing for the same money in the same event on the same course.
Each category of players plays from their own tees which is ‘fairly’ set on a percentage, so it’s going to be fun to watch how it unfolds!! I’ve already heard a few people moaning about the format!!
It’s their choice to play or not, so not too sure how moaning helps anyone!!
I can’t thank Richard and Angela Porter enough for their recent support towards my 2019 #JourneyBack.
Having spoken to them over the New Year, it was great to know they enjoyed seeing how I was going about my winter preparation and that they understood how important their support is at this point in my career.
It is massively appreciated and I’m excited to share #TheJourneyBack with you guys!!
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Located in Halifax, West Yorkshire, we operate from our purpose built premises containing a joinery facility specialising in the production and manufacture of bespoke products. Our reputation to deliver a quality project on time and within an agreed budget has been paramount in establishing the high percentage of repeat business we procure through partnerships and negotiation.”