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A good week in Germany sets the tone to knuckle down and make the Open

After the hype of the Irish it was back to business again in Germany.  I wanted my own bed for a night and we made it back from Cork with only one stop for Erin in 5 hours.  Monday was a haircut and packing fresh clothes for the drive down to Dublin to overnight it and take the 7am to Dusseldorf. 
Bev dropped me to Dublin and we watched Holland win their game, had some dinner and she went up the road.  I could not believe how busy terminal 2 was at 530am. I had only flown out of the new terminal to Dubai at 1pm when it's quiet but this was insane.  There must have been at least 2 thousand people at the Aer Lingus check in, with no priority for bag drop only. The flight was late as a result and quite a few of us were on it, Shane (Lowry), Peter (Lawerie), Simon (Thornton), a few caddies and a manager; standard demographic for any flight to tour!
The transport is good this week.  They have good cars, obviously and German efficiency in timings.  Our drivers were waiting for us at arrivals.  We went straight to the course, had some really good food in the players' lounge.  At certain events the lounge is much better than others; this was one of those weeks like Wentworth where BMW put on a good spread.  I went out and was enjoying how I was hitting it, higher ball flight than the Irish as it's a longer softer golf course and played 12 holes.  2 years ago I missed the cutt by 1; I wanted a better show this year.   Gerry and I did some work on the putting and a few flop shots from the thick green side rough, then I went to see Shane (Physio) and went back to the hotel in Dusseldorf.  I was sharing with Simon Thornton this week for a bit of company.
I wasn't in the pro-am on Wednesday; they select based on last years' money list, not the current rankings. I don't mind as it's a long 5 hours, the Germans tend to be more determined to finish everything out than some other nations.  On Challenge Tour I had a 6hr 30 pro-am years ago with the guys finishing out for 12s etc, it was painful!  Gerry and I walked 9 looking at the potential tucked pin positions and where not to short side yourself.  Martin Kaymer said hello to me by name, I was impressed, I've only played with him once, nice of him to remember and shows how grounded he is, I know a few others who would have blanked me!  We spoke to Sergio's cad, originally from Belfast but moved to South Africa young, they finished tied 2nd in the US last week for over half a million!  The range was jammed on Wednesday as per usual and it was hard to get a spot and do any focused practice, that's why it's better to do your work away from events as it's a bit of a circus. I putted quite a bit on the ruler and mirror managing 20 in a row.  The stroke has to be good for this there is no short cut so it's easy to leave the green more confident.  I had another physio session and headed home.  Physio is important as the golf swings stresses your body and so it's great to be able to stay on top of it with Shane.  He also had Henrik Stenson, David Howell, Robert Karlsson, Zanotti and Shane Lowry to treat this week so booking a time with him was important.  There was a bit of fun afterwards, cars are available for test drive this week.   I always take out an M car and give it a good thrash as there is no speed limit on certain sections of the autobahn.  I took out the M6; it's a pretty impressive car, very fast clutch and tons of torque with the twin turbo v8, but I've turned to AMG now.  I think the AMG is more raw than the M sport and has larger naturally aspirated engines even if the fuel consumption is horrific!  One of the boys wrecked an M5 years ago so now they make us sign loads of paper work before we go out!
I was playing with Scott Jameson and Jeeve Milkha Singh on Thursday; they have both been struggling this year.  Scott said that since he changed the shaft in his driver he can't get the same feel and has been spraying it.  He continued with the poor driving but Jeeve was chipping in and scrambling well for 2 under.  I played really good, had good tempo and putted lovely for 6 under.  It's a couple of 30 footers going in which gives you the momentum that makes the difference.

We had our early start on Friday morning, 710 tee time.  I hadn't slept great and up at 5. I was still dopey. On my first hole I was in a green side bunker, lifted my head at impact and thinned it out into a bush just over the green.  I couldn't get 2 club lengths to it without going nearer the hole, so had to drop back in the bunker and it plugged.  It's one of the stupidest rules in golf!  I got it out and had 2 putts for triple.  It was a great bounce back with 3 birdies on the next 3 and a round of 9 birdies total.  It was good putting and demolishing the par 5s with high draw driver swings.  A roller coaster day but more exciting than a regular job.  Gerry used to be in the civil service and found that too boring he said but I don't think he's quite up for the adrenal golf I play.  Jeeve was sure he had made the cutt on 3 under but it went to 4, and he missed.  It's a killer; the standard is getting unreal good.  All 150 players each week are good and capable of winning now.  Simon had booked a flight on Thursday it was a good idea as he needed 8 under just to make the cutt.  I've done it before and have seen a lot of guys play their best when they arrive at the course with a suit case on Friday.  It kind of lets you play free wheel golf, the opposite of trying to steer the ball. It's amazing Martin Kaymer missed the cutt by miles, his ball flight is a little left to right and a lot of the holes here are right to left so that is maybe why he said he just can't see a low score round it.  Hard to believe after winning a major by 8!  I just watched the football Brazil v Chile.  Chile were unlucky hitting the bar twice, same as Kaymer missing the cutt, hard to believe that Brazil could miss 2 penalties and still win! 

I was with Dyson on Saturday.  It started to rain just as we teed off and we were called in for an hour.  We eventually got back out and finished.   It was a long day but I scored a decent 3 under.  Dys did the same so we knew we would most likely be playing together the following day and Paul Waring joined us on Sunday.  It was a u-draw because of the forecast bad weather in the afternoon. We were off at 740am, nice!  Paul Waring is a flusher, he hits it solid, he's been unlucky with injuries the last couple of years but I can see him doing well.  I couldn't putt early on, my pace was off, the greens looked slower because of the moisture but they still rolled quick.  I was drilling them past.  I only missed 1 fairway which was good and had a strong finish with 3 birdies in a row.  It kept me in position but it was playing easy and at this level you can't afford a slow start if you want to contend.  Dyson is great the way he plays fast.  It means it's hard to get in your own way and overthink things.  He can get on a roll, but you need to be prepared for a real sprint around the course.  My worst nightmare being drawn with him and Rumford, Gerry and I would need the oxygen out just to keep up!  A lot of slow players are over analysing things and could do with more instinctive golf.
I didn't see the playoff as I went back for a nap to try and get ready for next week.  In fairness to Fabrizio he's a really good guy and has tightened his swing with good coaching the last couple years.   The highlight of my evening was watching Holland win again, impressive!
The flight options weren't great to Dublin or through London to Belfast so I decided to stay and save energy by flying directly to Paris on Monday morning.  It meant I could get 9 holes in while it's quiet.  It's a busy week; a lot of guys are going up to Scotland for 36 holes for the Open qualifier on Tuesday and then fly early Wednesday back to Paris.  It's not great preparation for such a big event so I chose not to go.  I can still get in the open by playing great either of the next 2 weeks.
It's a big run of 5 out of 6 or 6 in a row as Russia is after the Open and I'm defending.  It's an exciting time of the year around the open let's hope the weather gets back to summer. 

Congratulations to the Four Stoogies on their 72 holes at Galgorm on Friday, it was for a great cause!