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After a short break its back down to business and a trip to Morocco

It was only a short week at home, the first since the Christmas break and 6 days later I was leaving again.  It can be hard to maintain relationships when you travel so much and it can throw you off, sometimes you feel abnormal like you don't fit in to society. 

I have great memories going to the Kings Course in Agadir, as I won it 2years ago.  It was the best golf I've played over 2days, shooting 65 65 to beat Damian McGraine on Sunday afternoon. The Tour put on a complimentary charter for players from Gatwick.  This was the best option for me as it was a 3pm departure and it meant I didn't have to overnight at Gatwick on the way out, but had to on the way back home.  It's not often we get a complimentary flight so it's always greatly appreciated.  Arriving at check in I was told I was business class; they were doing it on a basis of past winners and highest in money list last year, this was a bonus. Sitting up with us were Ryder cuppers Robert Karlsson, David Howell, legendary female golfer Laura Davies and young guns George Coetzee and Bernard Weisberger.  The organisation was really good, when we arrived in Agadir all 50 sets of clubs were taken off the plane within 10minutes.  They must have had a lot of man power, immigration was easy and 40 mins later we got to the hotel.  It's a nice hotel on the beach a little outdated but clean.

I felt like a top player this week with business class and an invitation to play a 6 hole mixed challenge on Tuesday afternoon as a former winner.  It's great to be playing alongside Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul McGinley and the Solheim cuppers Gladys Noceres and Laura Davies.  My partner was a young Indian glamour girl, Sharmilla Nicollet, she 5'112 like a model.  I told Bev she was too young for me, Bev's reply went along the lines of I wasn't cool enough for her, so she hadn't worried.  The younger lads were all asking about Sharmilla that night at dinner, as she'd been wearing the world's shortest skirt that afternoon! We played alternate shots over 6 holes and we were average.  The greens are severe and Sharmilla putted me off one, to the amusement off everyone watching.  I played a nice flop shot on the 2nd and Jose Maria applauded me.   Johnny Foster, my coach, who made the trip, said it was worth his while coming just to see the master short gamer approve!   We didn't finish until 6pm so it was a long day.  I had played 9 holes before the challenge and just had a quick dinner after it and headed straight to bed.
 
As a previous winner I was taking part in the Wednesday Pro-am at 12.  The greens are so severe that it was a long 5 hour day for the ams and demoralising, it's just too tough.  The lady I played with from the bank said, she reckons the event might be in Marrakech next year.  I've heard it's a very cultured place and I'd like to go and see it.  I wasn't my sharpest during the pro-am but managed a good look at the course and some good shots towards the end which is all you want from the round.  Johnny was helping me with setting the club better and tempo drills, all the same stuff we do at Greenacres so we aren't searching out on tour.    I had gone for a jog down the beach Wednesday morning before heading up to the course.  The sand is firm like at Castlerock and then I did my postural exercises in the gym, I always feel better after this.  We went for a curry Wednesday night, Shiv Kapur took us to a restaurant he knows and ordered for us, he knew the waiters. He got me a chicken bhuna and curries for Kevin Phelan and Johnny. The food was very good, but probably a bit heavy for late ish on a Wednesday evening.  I wouldn't have done it if I'd been playing early the next day.


I had a 1220 start on Thursday with Danny Willet and Chris Wood.  It's good to be in these TV groups again, right in the mix of it.  The more you play in them the more you get used to the cameramen and they aren't so off putting.  Chris was off his game a touch, the course is unforgiving.  Ice plants make up the rough, they are full of water and you can hardly get the club through it.  Chris got greedy and caught out.  Danny was in some discomfort with his back again, he had to retire early in South Africa and wasn't ripping the ball like he normally does.  I had a decent long game and was really sharp with my chipping.  I even chipped in for eagle on 17 and got the most outta my round.  It feels like you've taken the course, when normally it's the other way round.  What helped me win 2years ago was chipping close.  Physio Ian had 6 players, a nightmare for him to get us all treated; if we ran over he simply couldn't fit us in.  Unusually I kept my times; I tend to always run late.  Poor Ian was literally running around the hotel with his table sweating, and his friends think he's partially on holiday on tour! 

We played early on Friday and it was a lovely start from me.  I chipped in again for eagle on 15 and had a good tempo going, got me 4 under after 9 then I faded on the back.  I had a little cold all week and I just lost concentration for a couple holes, but I got TV time and was on the leader board briefly.  I was very tired and I went to bed and lay down for a while later getting the buffet at next doors hotel which was still 50 euro and average.  They have us at these hotels charging 10 times what they can in town. 

I was in one of the later groups on Saturday teeing off at 1140 with Robert Karlsson and Gregory Bourdy. It was 3 balls which disappointed us all as its so much slower, it changed play from 4 hours to 5 hours.  It was slow and it felt like forever to complete the round. Robert is a nice guy, very professional with his play and practice a model pro. Gregory was hoping France would win the rugby although we sorted that out, and he left every putt short, the greens were slow and bumpy in the afternoon.  I was riding the adrenaline though and managed 2 under early. Things were solid and then my tournament ended on the 15th.  I was in top 5 position and just off the green in 2 on the par 5 with a sticky lie in the rough and a big slope up to the pin.  The grass was lying against me and the shot didn't come out well and rolled back to me, then the same happened again.  I wasn't trying to get greedy it just played so tough, then I got it out to 20 feet and 3 putted a complete blow to the solar plexus.  I probably should have considered just hitting the shot to 30 feet past first time around but I took it on as I was chipping well.  The adrenaline left me and I limped home the next 3 holes. A very cruel game when you are a touch out.


It's tough to see any chance of a top 5 gone although the priority is to finish as high as possible and on Sunday I played really well tee to green, the putter let me down but I still shot 2under and squeezed top 30 outta the week which is better than finishing 50th as I've done many times in the past. 

We got into Gatwick at 1am and waited for the clubs for ages then headed to an airport hotel a few hours' sleep and caught the Belfast flight Monday morning.  The schedule isn't great it's 4 weeks off now but I haven't been back so it's a good thing. I've a week or two at home to catch up with everyone, and then head out to Dubai again at the start of April to get some practice in before the next long haul section of the Tour gets underway!