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A few weeks off and a welcome new addition to the Hoey household

I've had the last five weeks at home in Belfast.  I haven't played on Tour since the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth at the end of May.  I'd taken the time of to try and adjust to the dietary changes the Doctor in London had recommended I make, to follow up on a few other health issues and to get ready to be a Dad.  The original plan had been to play as much golf, and make as much money before the baby arrived but this season just hasn't worked out like that!  The dietary changes had left me agitated and disorientated, which is no state to play competitive golf in, so I'd had to take the time off.

It's always frustrating to be watching others play when you're a professional sportsperson.  It's always more frustrating when you're injured and others you know have been doing well.  It seems that most of the guys I'm friendly with on Tour have performed massively well whilst I've been at home.

Mikko Illonen started the run in Sweden, when he won the Nordea Masters, his third European Tour title.  Mikko has been playing really well this season, he's had a few fantastic results but it's always great to get a win!  21 under around the Bro Hof Slot course is serious golf!  The course is long and tough; it's a proper test of golf.  Mikko is a great guy, very quiet and dedicated to his family.  He had a few health issues a season or two back and I was so pleased for him and his wife especially as baby number two is on the way towards the end of the season.   Joost Luiten then joined in on the party in Austria, with his second Tour Title.  Joost is another car mad nut, he has a Porsche Carrera and Bev just loves when we play together as I always come back telling her about "my next new car". 

I was especially pleased to see Simon Thornton come through in St Omer, France for his first European Tour Title.  Simon is a really great lad and had missed keeping his Tour card last year.  The win ensures he gets to play in the remainder of the events this season and all of next season too.  The winner's cheques are always nice, but it's really the exemption and the improved category that everyone wants.  I am so pleased for him and Ciara as the exemption now gives Simon the luxury of being able to plan which events to play and which to rest.  It sure makes playing a lot easier, especially when you have a young family!

I've tried to keep busy over the past few weeks and to fit in a lot of golf as I adjust to life without gluten and dairy products.  I've called on Niall O'Connor to keep me entertained on the fairways.  Niall plays well, and we always play for lunch, just to keep things interesting.  We managed to play three courses - Shandon, Castlerock and Royal Belfast over the weeks.  All three were in great condition and were busy, which is nice to see in these depressed economic times.  I wish him all the best in his new position in Jersey, hopefully Bev and I can take a trip over to watch him play at some stage soon.

Life has also changed in the Hoey household, for the better!  I am now outnumbered 2-1; Bev gave birth to our first child on Thursday last week.  The baby was due to arrive on Monday of the Irish Open but we'd tried to schedule the arrival a little earlier.  Things didn't work out quite as we'd expected and Bev ended up having an emergency Caesarean Section on Thursday morning.  I was happy to be at the birth, not sure about in the operating theatre though.  I'm not a massive fan of blood etc. so I hid down behind the screen with Bev not wanting to watch what the surgeons were up to!  I was still a little unsure about looking when they pulled our little daughter out and I took some convincing to get up and walk past to go and make sure she was ok.  Thankfully I can report Mum and baby are doing well.  Unfortunately I missed them leaving hospital on Saturday morning as I'd already left to go to London for the Open Qualifier.  So we're still to have our first night in our home as a family.  The girls have been staying with my in-laws whilst I've been away, so I've missed out on the 3am feeds!

The IFQ in Sunningdale was a big deal for me this season, I've missed it a few times recently due to ill health, and I've never played well at it in all the years I've entered.  My aim this year was to use it as a warm up for the Irish Open as I've had so much time off recently.  I've also changed caddy again so it was a good chance for Gerry Byrne and I to get practice in together ahead of the Irish Open.  Gerry had last caddied for me during the 2007 World Cup of golf, Gareth Maybin and I had represented Ireland together, playing a qualifying tournament in Aruba and making the final in China.  It certainly was an experience!  I played well in the blustery conditions and was much closer to qualification than in previous years, unfortunately I finished both rounds bogey, bogey and slipped out of contention.  Had I pared the last two holes of each round I'd have been in a playoff and might be headed to Muirfield instead of Russia.  I guess a trip to Muirfield wasn't to be part of my season after all!  Gareth Maybin has qualified and I wish him all the best for the trip, I thoroughly enjoyed playing at Royal Lytham last year and fully intend to be taking part in next year's event!

I made the 6pm flight home to see my girls and headed back home to Greenisland without them for a nights rest before the madness of the Irish Open.  The girls arrived over to help organize me and see me on my way.  I'm really looking forward to this year's event; the Irish Open is always special to all the players from Ireland, North or South because of the atmosphere and crowds.  A friend of mine is arriving from Georgia for the event, and when I last played the event at Carton House he caddied for me in the Pro-am; this time he's on Honeymoon so I doubt he'd be so keen to be at the course for 530am!  I'm hoping for decent weather.  The course is long and exposed, and not much fun to play in the howling wind but I'm just glad to be back out doing my job and trying to compete