The final leg of the #desertswing and the final week of a four week stretch of events completed; it felt like a really long time away, but playing well sure made it feel a lot easier. I’d missed the family so much, so it was fantastic that they flew out to Dubai to meet me for the week at the Desert Classic.
Once the event in Qatar had finished I managed to change my flight to an earlier one, which meant I got to the hotel 3 hours sooner and not in the middle of the night.
I still walked through the door well past their bedtime, only to find all three of them sitting at the end of the bed waiting for me to arrive…What a welcome!!!!!!
Laura had actually arrived Saturday evening and had the Sunday at the hotel on her own exploring, so I was pleased to hear before I arrived that “daddy’s travel agent” had booked a really nice hotel!!
So Monday was 100% family day and my first non-golfing day in 3 weeks, time to switch off, be a dad and forget about the day job!!
We had a great day round the pool, on the beach and down to the Dubai Mall in the evening to see the amazing aquarium, Burj Khalifa and the fountains. I think Jess and even Olivia were amazed by the size of the buildings and all the lights on them, it is pretty spectacular!
I’ve been to Dubai a few times now with golf, but it was Laura’s first time and she was pretty amazed, as it wasn’t quite what she expected; for a major city it’s so clean, no litter, no beggars, and everything looks brand new or in the process to soon be brand new.
The service in hotels and restaurants is great, the people are so helpful, can’t do enough for you and I really feel Dubai could be the leader in customer service, they put America to shame for me.
You really feel they want you to come back and first impressions are everything out here!!
But my non-golfing day was soon over, and it was back to work! Jess and Olivia were so excited to get to the course and see their friends in Crèche, and Laura was looking forward to catching up with the many friends she has made on Tour, too.
We had both heard a lot about the Dubai Desert Classic, many players saying it’s the best event of the year…And straight away you can see why!!
Everything was laid on for the players, the courtesy car service was 1st class from Mercedes, the players’ lounge food and service were amazing, the on course food and refreshments were on another level, and the attention to detail was top notch!!!
I can’t imagine the cost of putting this event on…But it’s got to be well into 6 figures!!!
As a player, I can’t thank Golf in Dubai and the European Tour enough for the opportunity to participate!!!
I’ve not even got onto the world class golf course – the Majilas is quality, again like Abu Dhabi the definition is out of this world, the time to just prepare the fairways is mind blowing….
They were cut in checks all the way down, then at the landing zones from say 280 to 300 yards they were then cut in circles like a bull’s eye! I’ve never seen so much preparation go into a course layout….
In practice we stood in the fairway looking at the first green and couldn’t work out what was green and fringe/green surround… The surrounds were again cut in their own design to separate them from the green, it was impressive!!!
I played 18 holes and 9 of those with Jordan Smith, fellow MB Partners’ stablemate; he’s been playing some great stuff lately and you can tell why, his game is solid!! Big things to come this year from him, that’s for sure!!!
So to sum it up, the Majilas is definitely one of my favourite tracks from my 14 months playing on the European Tour, it’s special!!
This week #teamhanson were in full force; it’s great to have support at events and especially when so far from home, it sure makes the event extra special!!
My best mate Ben Johnson was out with Eddy Brown for five days to see Dubai, catch some sun rays, oh and watch me play golf too of course – is was great to have them cheering me along!
My sponsor David from DPPublicity, his family and good friend Gareth were also out to support me too which was great, I really can’t thank them enough!!
Then some more friends I’ve met along the way, Alan Birchall, Mike Kenyan, Neil Tempest and another MB Stablemate Nick Marsh, also made it onto the fairways to cheer me on!!!
So two great days of preparation completed in perfect weather, I was then ready for what the forecast said was going to be a tricky two days in the wind!!
Now that was an understatement, and I certainly got lucky with the side of the draw I was on! If you follow many golfers on Twitter you would have soon seen the uproar and disappointment from some players and caddies of how the Tour handled the weather conditions…
Many said it was one of the most one-sided draws in history! Maybe it was, but complaining doesn’t get you anywhere and it certainly doesn’t change the decision that’s been made….
My take is… I was lucky to be that side of the draw, but over the course of my career, like 99% of golfers, we have all had good and bad sides of the draw, it happens, it just depends how you deal with them!!
The biggest complaint was that the morning players on Friday felt the weather in the afternoon was equal to what they had played in… But from what I heard and read in the Tour’s defence was that five trees had blown down, the roofs of some camera towers had come off, and gusts had gone from 27mph to 35mph….
So it was mainly a health and safety decision, I guess.
Round one for me ended pretty average after making a good start; I was -2 through 4 holes and just made some pretty simple errors from there to end the day on +2 and shoot 74.
Disappointing, but not out of the event at all and actually holed out well on 16 and 17 to keep some momentum for round 2.
Scoring was going backwards in round 2 for most people, as I mentioned the wind was up, sand was blowing everywhere, people were taking shelter and golf balls were moving on the greens!
On 17 my playing partner raced his putt 5ft past to then see it blow 4ft back towards the hole – that’s helpful, ha ha!! Easy par save!!
We finished out on 18, our 9th, and then the klaxon went, that was it for the day, play suspended and back for a 7.30am on the course re-start!!
On return the following day I needed to make some birdies, probably two at least to make the weekend. A great sand save on the first and then a perfect birdie 3 down the next, I was in good shape.
A birdie chance down the next five holes and playing some good stuff – nothing dropped! Two holes to go to make two chances and see what happens….
A shocking swing off the tee down 8 and at best I found myself with an 8ft putt for par, I missed that, which meant a birdie down the tough 9th would give me an outside chance at best of making the cut.
It’s a pretty gut wrenching feeling when you know it’s kind of out of reach, but pride keeps you going and I’ve always said I would rather miss the cut by one than two!!
The best drive of the day and an 8 iron to 4 feet got me my birdie, a bit of self-pride but also the feeling that it was probably a pointless birdie…. In the end I did miss the cut by one and that was the end of my desert swing!!
Overall, it’s been a fantastic four weeks of golf, 26th in SA, 23rd in Abu Dhabi, 18th in Qatar and M/C by 1 shot to finish in Dubai.
In that spell I also reached a career high 300 in the World Golf rankings!
I’ve shown many promising signs in my game and as always highlighted some areas that need to become more consistent. I’m already looking forward to sitting down with my coach Mark, as we always do, and putting together a plan to make me a better golfer!!
Another special part of the Desert Classic is “Pink Friday” and the reception it gets is terrific, they turn the whole place pink – score boards, caddie bibs, players wear pink, everyone wears a pink ribbon, pink hats get handed out etc etc etc….
It’s just a great day for breast cancer awareness and a charity that is not just close to my family’s heart but many of yours too, I’m sure.
So there is no better time to announce the charity dinner/evening that my wife Laura, my caddy Steve and his wife Tracey, and I had already planned prior to “Pink Friday”.
The official launch of the dinner will soon follow with more details, but it would be amazing if any of you could support our evening either in person on the night, or be able to contribute in some way towards the event.
Tables will go on sale soon along with individual tickets and sponsorship packages for the evening.
The event will be raising a 50/50 charity split between Breast Cancer and BIG, British Inclusive Golf, the charity for whom I am an ambassador.
Friday 4th August 2017
The Venue, Bowers Mill
Welcome drinks, 3 course meal, live entertainment, evening games, raffle, silent auction and much, much more!!
As I said, more details will soon follow, but I just wanted to give my blog readers the ‘heads up’ before it is officially launched on social media and in the press.
If you would like any information in the meantime about the evening, please don’t hesitate to contact Laura on firstname.lastname@example.org
You’ve got a few weeks off before my next blog, so thanks as ever for the support over the last four weeks!!
My schedule now looks like:
Joburg Open, South Africa
Tshwane Open, South Africa