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Early omens are not good ahead of Tshwane

Bev and I had a mad dash to Dublin on Tuesday morning; we'd left the house by 8am to get down to the Indian Embassy by 9:30/10.  I need a Business Visa to travel to the Avantha Masters in the middle of March and this was the only time I could actually go and get it underway.  Bev had filled in the paperwork (there are 2 forms), got the bank draft, made sure I had some passport pictures taken and had collated the various letters I needed to support the visa from the European Tour and the Indian Tour.  Most players get their manager to do this sort of thing for them, but as we look after things ourselves now it's up to us to sort all the paperwork out.  The only other visa I've applied for myself is the American one and the experience in the Indian Embassy in Dublin is nothing like the experience in the American Embassy in London!  As we were early I only had to queue for about 20 minutes and then we were in the car and headed back up the road to Belfast.  We popped into Templepatrick for a bite of lunch and to change our clothes and then headed straight up to Glenariff Forest Park.  The park is one of my favourite areas.  You always feel exhilarated by a walk around it, and you generally feel like you have the place to yourself.  I love it in all conditions!  We had a lovely day on Tuesday for our walk and could see for miles.  Unfortunately my favourite path is closed as the forestry service are trying to control the fungus on the larch trees but we made up for it and were back to the car just before the park closed. 


I'd a call with my psychologist Mark Elliott in the evening and then headed up to the Jim Baker stadium with my father in law and James Drummond for some indoor bowling.  I'm still not that confident but it's great fun and reminds me a little of putting! 


It was another early start on Wednesday and another drive back to Dublin, thankfully only to the airport this time.  Bev dropped me off at 11am and I was through security and in the lounge by 11:15!  Unbelievable!  The flight also took off on time; it's a bit better than flying through Heathrow despite the drive as your flight does tend to leave on time.  Unfortunately when you arrive in Dubai, unlike the Heathrow flight, you tend to circle a lot before landing and then park miles away from the terminal.  It can take about 15 minutes on the bus to get back to the terminal!  Having said that my clubs and bags arrived and the car was waiting to take me back to Ras Al Khaimah.  I was going to spend a few days with Robin and the Korean kids again. 
I joined them about lunchtime on Thursday, having caught up on some sleep in the morning and had a great day just hanging out and practicing.  Robin, myself and the Club Pro (Simon Payne) decided to play in the weekend competition on the Friday morning so it was another early start.  The craic was mighty and the golf wasn't too bad either!  Afterwards I held a session for some of the kids, taking them into the gym with me to show what I was working on and going through the bits and pieces I go through with Mark as well.  I always find sessions like that useful for myself as well as I remember some things I've forgotten.  Simon and the Tower Links Golf Club organized a Korean BBQ for the team that afternoon and I gate crashed it.  Korean food wouldn't be my favourite, it's a little fatty compared to the stuff I normally eat, so I slipped off to get something more substantial in a bit.  Unfortunately I managed to leave all my brand new hats at home so Bev spent Thursday morning trying to get them out to me in Dubai, no joy and she ended up sending them out to South Africa instead!


I headed back up to Dubai and was staying in the area close to the airport but went out to explore the area, and to have a look at the Tennis Venue.  Bev and I had been there the week before for the rugby and it was interesting to see another sports event in Dubai.  I was surprised to see the same sort of sponsors and attendees as we get at the golf events.  I also bumped in Caroline Wozniacki in the hotel lobby.  I didn't go and say hi as I've only met her a few times and she was busy with folks, I doubt she'd recognize me anyway.  It seems it's the same old circus surrounding the tennis and the golf.  I popped in for a quick massage near the Irish Village pub as my physio Shane isn't travelling to South Africa this week; he has a training course in America between the 2 WGC events.  I didn't manage to watch any of the golf from America during the week, Bev and her family were sending me updates every day.  I was surprised by the result in the Shane and Rory match, Rory was the obvious favourite but Shane can play some awesome golf too.  Shame all the guys from here had to draw each other in the early rounds; it would have been great to see one of them make it all the way to the final! 


I'd a daytime flight to Johannesburg on Sunday and was surprised to see a few of the other lads aboard, generally they travel Monday.  I got to the airport and my Emirates car was waiting to take me to the hotel, this being Africa it was a small BMW and my clubs didn't fit in.  I had to take out the woods to get the travel bag in the front seat of the car and put the woods in the boot with my case and rucksack.  Halfway down the motorway to Pretoria we get a flat tyre and instead of stopping the driver just kept hammering along!  We were on run flats so it wasn't disastrous but the speed was still frightening.  When we eventually got to the hotel they told me they were fully booked - apparently the Tour are using several very small guest houses on the outskirts of Pretoria this week as the official hotels.  Only one of the hotels is to be serviced by transport and it isn't mine, the main reason I stay in the official hotel is to have easy transport up to the course.  I think it's going to take at least an hour in each direction this week and I imagine folks will be missing their tee-times because of it.  I think it's going to be a long and frustrating week, and it's only Sunday night; not a good omen.