It was nice to be able to spend a week at home after five weeks away in Europe with all the glamour of life on the road - lost bags, missed flights etc.
It was really good to catch up with friends and family, all be it for only six days. I even managed to fit in a walk around the Giant’s Causeway. It’s been a few months since I last managed to get a walk up around Runkerry in and I won’t be back again until Christmas so I was very happy to find the time to fit this in.
As I mentioned Cars on Demand let me drive a Ferrari 458 spider for a few days towards the end of the week, it costs approximately 220 grand and I was still buzzing from the experience. I probably didn’t rest like I should have as it was a full adrenaline rush! I was still tired from it when we headed to Portugal early Sunday morning.
We had seven bags with Erin’s stuff, my clubs and baggage for Australia after so I knew we would get hit hard for excess baggage even though we bought more weight online. The damage was hefty £190 but I’ve dodged quite a few this year and easyjet have been good and on time unlike some other airlines!
Gareth, Liz, Audrey and Reeve Maybin were also on our flight. We were all sitting beside each other at the front of the plane. Reeve is a few weeks older than Erin and a little more sociable, he was looking across the aisle trying to play but she still isn’t really interested in other kids yet. It was funny to watch though then I caught a cat nap trying to recover from getting up at 5.30am!
We arrived at the apartments at the course but were too early to check in so we dropped the bags off, changed into shorts and headed to the Marina for some food. We were starving and headed straight to McDonalds, a true guilty pleasure! We spent a lovely afternoon relaxing and watching the world go by it was a rest after the dragging all the bags through the airport. It’s not great for the swing but it has to be done.
Johnny Foster, who coaches Gareth and I, arrived out on Monday morning. He is a very good coach and I’ve only been working with him properly for a couple months. I’m starting to understand my swing and we focus mostly on my set up posture and understanding how this affects the swing. Johnny’s motto is “well begun is half done” and in my case that’s certainly true. We played nine holes Monday and Tuesday and then hit balls, wedges and did some chipping after.
I’m trying not to fiddle and experiment like I used to but it’s hard. All golfers find a feeling on the range which can be great for a few shots but it does not work consistently for a season as feelings change. I was previously a real feel player but with Johnny’s help I’m moving away from this. Johnny said if feel was real all coaches would be out of a job, it reminds me of another Harrington saying “if you make a change and it feels good then you haven’t made a change”.
The weather was amazing. It always gets me how with a short flight (2hour 30minutes) the weather can so dramatically change! Everyone always asks why are I’m living at home and why I haven’t moved to the sun in Portugal or Spain but believe me if nearly everyday is sunny and hot after a couple of months you generally crave some cooler temperatures and moisture! You also crave family and friends. Life on the road is lonely and you need to get back home to get grounded. Michael Owen and the footballers who move to play in Spain have said the same about the monotony of the sun!
I was a reserve for the pro-am thankfully I didn’t get in as it’s a very long day, minimum five hours so we just had an early 8am session to miss the crowds on the range. It gets jammed from 10am on a Wednesday with the Amateurs and all the pros as well. I was happy enough as I still had a lingering cold which has been with me since the Dunhill so the extra rest was good. I went for a swim and did some stretches in the afternoon and spent some time with Erin.
I got off to a nice start on Thursday - the putter was good and I was 5 under after 15 though my swing was a little out timing wise. I made a misjudgement on a long putt on my 17th for bogey after a very poor 5 iron into 7th left lunch tasting poor at 3 under. I knew the course was on for lower but I gave it my best.
I headed straight to the range for an hour and then hit a few putts after and things were feeling better when I left.
My friend Ryan Mcguigan caddies on Tour and he came over to the apartment for dinner on Thursday. He lives in Carnoustie now so it’s been a while since I’ve seen him. He now works for Richie Ramsay but previously worked with Danny Willet for a year and half, before that he worked for Mateo Manassero. There is an element of luck in the caddying game; you have to network with Managers and Players to get your next job.
Ryan is very professional, charts the course well each week and understands the game well, what shots to play and the psychology of when to encourage your player and when to stay quiet. Quiet is generally the best policy after a rubbish shot! It’s easy for folk to look at the top caddies but they are the exception and have worked hard to build a good reputation. Unfortunately you can be an excellent caddy but just strike a great player at the wrong time but they can also be very fortunate for e.g. Henrik Stenson gave his caddy 10% of recent Fed-Ex win which equalled 1.2 million dollars, its crazy isn’t it. I hope to be paying Gerry (my caddy) large amounts soon as this means I’m doing better. Like everything its super competitive the cads are younger and fitter hardly drink, not like the old days and a lot of them are good players or pros in their own right.
Friday was very hot and for the 2pm tee time it was windier and a rough day. My tempo was lovely, birdied the first then had a three putt on the 8th for a very clumsy bogey. The greens were quicker than they looked as they had baked in the sun and I was caught out several times! I hit a very poor 8 iron right into 11 which put me on the cut line. I knew it and I battled hard on the way in with my best swings of the day but another three putt where I was just too aggressive forcing the issue on 14 and a horseshoe on 15 for birdie meant making the weekend was a struggle. Two solid swings on to the 17th par five but a missed four footer for birdie killed me, the greens were churned up with the traffic and I just couldn’t strike my putts with complete confidence.
The round was summed up with a great drive down 18 which kicked hard left almost into the water and a crazy stance which I had to go for as a birdie was required, I played it well but the ball was two feet above me and floated in the wind short into the water. Game over! I was very disappointed. My parents had come out for a little late sunshine and I was hoping to play well infront of them, somehow I never manage it.
So Bev got on the phone and started changing our flights. I managed to change my flight to Australia for a small fortune and left on Saturday instead of Monday.
I headed back through London and have now arrived in Oz, unfortunately it’s 7pm here in Perth and I’m just starting to wake up when I should be winding down. The jet lag is gonna be tough but I should be better than the guys who made the cutt in Portugal and only arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Hopefully I feel sharper but you have to stay positive in this game and to be the eternal optimist even against evidence. I do believe my inconsistently is about to change though I’m determined to make it.
I’d also like to say congratulations to my friend Harry Diamond and his lovely new fiancée Katie, bout time is all I can say!