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Another top 20 finish was a good way to end what was a positive week

The players all look forward to this event, probably because there are a lot of attractive blondes in town and at the golf course. Golf is really popular in Sweden and there was a strong field; Henrik Stenson was the star player.  He had a chance to get to world no. 1 if he won so the anticipation from the home fans was high.
 
We flew from Heathrow to Copenhagen in Denmark; Malmo is close, just over the bridge a 30 minute drive.  Bev wanted to see Malmo, the nice architecture and to keep me away from the blondes!  So we booked an apartment which has more space for Erin and the ritual of dragging bags and finding our accommodation was over by late afternoon on Monday.  I even managed to walk a few holes of the new course.  It's the first time we've played here, its Sweden's home of the PGA; a bit like Carton House to the golfing Union of Ireland.  I wasn't happy I had withdrawn from the US Open qualifier which is always held at Walton Heath on the Monday following Wentworth, but I think it was a good decision to get the energy right for this week on a new course.  By all accounts the 36 holes in mostly rain wasn't fun apart from the few who made it.  Shane Lowry was the only Irish success, still riding the momentum from Wentworth.  I knew a lot of guys would give up with tiredness if they weren't having a good week in Sweden, this game drains you mentally.

I spent Tuesday following the usual routine of 9 holes, ball hitting, chipping and putting down the ruler.  It gets boring but I suppose every job does at some stage.  The course is big and long with a tough finish.  It's quite wide open and depends on the wind for protection; it can blow as it's a pretty exposed location.  Bev had gone into town to check it out.
 
 It was cold and windy on Wednesday, the event used to be in July and the weather and course were always great.  You forget Malmo is as far north as Glasgow.  Bev was certainly hoping the weather would change; she didn't have any warm jumpers and had raided the Titleist truck on Wednesday afternoon for warm gear before it left for Austria.  Wednesday was a wind chill of 5 Celsius, everyone was frozen in the Pro-am, a definite result to not be playing it.  Gerry and I walked the course checking out potential pins and where to bail out, sometimes you have the whole country on one side and water on the other and you just need to play safe, as negative as it seems, you kick yourself forever if you miss on the wrong side! Then I went to physio and did some exercise with the Pro Golf Health trainer Rob.  He is very good at golf specific training; it's all about using the glutes.  It sounds simple but all of us tend to be quad dominant, just from stomping around the course.
 
I played with Andy Sullivan, a star of the future and Gregory Harvey on Thursday.  Andy was wrecked from the qualifier and I could see that if he got frustrated he could throw in the towel.  He's so talented and he plays so fast that he sometimes rushes shots.  I was really solid driving good and putting well as the wind picked up my 3 under was top 15.  Greg was struggling with too much left to right shape on the ball, in the right to left wind he was losing distance.

 Friday was a tough day; the last few holes were into the wind.  The long par 4 (16th) and the par 3 17th had firm greens.  I was going good on the leaderboard but lost my rhythm.  I got too quick on both tee shots on 16 and 17 and paid the price.  It was a blow to the solar plexus but I managed a 6 footer for par on 18 to make the cutt by 1 as the wind continued.  There were a lot of disasters, including Andy who got frustrated on 18 trying to carry the water from the rough and then 3 putting to miss by 1.  He's too good a player for that, but I know the feeling.

I was paired with Matteo Manassero on Saturday, another seriously talented young man and a really nice guy into the bargin.  You forget he's only 21, especially when he chats away in English, one of about 5 languages he speaks!   He was surrounded by "paddys" on Saturday with his caddy Dave being from Belfast, me and Gerry (from Dublin).  He started great with iron shots all over the pin, and was 3 under after 4.  I thought he could have done 10 under but he misread a couple of putts and got frustrated.  That's how fine a line it is and how his last year has been going.  I put in a professional round, according to Bev.  She's been more than a little critical of my finish on Friday so to come out and have a round with no bogies and shot 3 under was great.  It's always nice to play well when you have someone special to show off in front of!  I played Friday's "disaster" holes in 1 under, which is quite a swing! The wind died and the course was on for low ones; Stenson was keeping the big crowds happy and it was good for the event.
 
We just ate in the apartment every night, getting Erin off to bed early, it suits me at tournaments. 
Sunday was a nice day, weather wise and again the course was for the taking. I holed a few putts early and got to 3 under.  I swung it good, finishing my backswing with the shoulder turn, setting the club but not over swinging or lifting my arms.  I chipped poorly (like a blind donkey according to Bev) and a couple of putts slipped by otherwise it would have been an 8 under round.  Julien Quesne did shoot 8 under!  He has a fantastic short game and is one of the best putters on tour.  We both played challenge when we were struggling and it's good to see hard work paying off for both of us.  I was happy with 5 under on a Sunday and another top 20 finish along with a decent cheque.  All in all not a bad week!
 
I've decided to play Austria; it was a last minute decision, as I felt I missed a week in Wentworth with the stomach bug.  Plus it's gonna be a lot warmer in Austria than back home; unfortunately summer hasn't started yet in Belfast. I'm in Copenhagen airport getting a late flight to Vienna as everything was full at late notice.  It's not the strongest field which can help, like Russia last year I felt like a superstar for the week.  Bev and Erin left at lunch time for a long trip home via Heathrow, she was really looking forward to getting home, she misses her kitchen amongst and all the other stuff for Erin.