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Flight from Geneva to Schiphol was something I will always remember

The Champions flight from Geneva to Schiphol was a nice surprise; a press conference at 30,000ft and Joost and Miguel putting down the aisle.  Not your normal flight! I want to get the pics for memorabilia. The older I get the more I'm getting into this kind of stuff, so the tour isn't just a blur, which it can feel like. We also got to keep our warm blue KLM jackets; I'm thinking it's perfect for winter at home.  I never wear enough clothes when I'm at home especially over the Christmas holidays, I end up freezing and the temperature change is crazy from 95degrees in South Africa or Asia.

It was the first time ever I've taken a flight without baggage, just my on board backpack, it was pure luxury not having to wait at the carousel. Gerry had kindly taken my suitcase and clubs on the 14 hr drive from Geneva. They had bad road works to Zurich, so didn't get in till midday Monday.  Harrington got caught in it trying to get the late Dublin flight on Sunday night, just the 6hr 30 drive!

As I had no bags instead of waiting for the bus transfer with everyone else I headed off on my own!  It generally takes the golf bags approx. 45mins so I decided to take the train. In typical Hoey style I went the wrong way from Schiphol and ended up at Ajax stadium. It was impressive and to think of all the class players from here over the years!

I eventually got the right one to Amsterdam Central and actually went for a brief walk about outside the station. It's always a tourist attraction; you could smell all the legal stuff being smoked down the streets and watch some dodgey characters! Back on the train to Zaandfoort, it was only 30mins and then a 10 min walk to the NH Hotel which seemed refurbished since I last stayed 5 years ago.  

Johnny Foster (my coach) had been playing The Hague, another "linksy" course and agreed to join me for dinner. We found a wee place in Zaandfoort and he mentioned being picked as Irish coach for boys' champs in Hungary, a new thing for him! It was a long travel day and I didn't rise too early Tuesday but it took me 1hr 30 doing this article in the morning, before emailing to Bev to check and send to Richard.

It was then up to course for midday rub from Shane (my physio). The shoulder had loosened up lovely but my backside was tight from sitting around. I went out for 9 holes, I didn't hit it great but Johnny reminded me about the feeling of a firm base with the spikes in my right foot in the ground. It something all good players like to sense as you start the downswing.   The only way to get mobility is from stability! You can't fire cannon from a canoe!  I hit 9 irons and wedges from the sand, opening my upper body or sternum really helps the strike and I was remembering back to the British Amateur, many years ago I chipped great like this.

The pro-am was on wed afternoon but there was space for 9 holes before it so I played with Maybin, Richie Ramsay and Kevin Phelan.  Johnny walked to keep an eye on Kevin and myself and the craic was good. Richie hits it incredibly straight with the driver threading it down the middle almost every time, very impressive. I then wanted to see exactly how far the ball was going back at sea level again so I hit on trackman for a bit in the afternoon. The range took 20 mins to get to, it was awkward and the only poor thing about the tournament. Trackman showed my yardages were close to what I thought they should be, apart from the 54.  It was a bit weak so I bent it a degree to get 4 more yards.  It wasn't ideal as the wind was into and left to right, if you drew the ball it would take yardage off, fade would add yardage. It was a long day and I probably did too much in my quest to be thorough.  That night I slept for 12 hours and still wasn't the sharpest in the morning. On the way to the course we discovered that Fabrizzio Zanotti had been hit in the head by a golf ball.  It was a full driver downwind and he was in hospital recovering but play had been suspended whilst he had been treated.  My tee time was delayed by 2hr 20, meaning golf till dark and a very early start to finish the round in the morning. It was a parallel fairway and the guy teeing off couldn't see anything but should have shouted fore, it could have helped but his shot was 70 yards offline so it's still unlikely!

I started good, my new Scotty Cameron face balance putter worked well until I lost concentration but I played 14 holes in 1 over.  Then we were called in as it was dark. It was straight to bed after a bite at the club.  There was a 1hr wait for room service and I was up at 530 for the 6 am bus. I started in the worst way with a poor drive and a clumsy chip to 50 feet and then a 3 putt.  I didn't birdie the par 5 and then after a great drive on 9 my 2nd shot spun off the green with a 9 iron which was crazy since it was 6 feet from the hole but Brett Rumford's did the same.  Neither of us could get it up and down over the 2 tiers to finish 3 over and miles behind!   It was 30 mins rest before teeing off again and I started badly, making 2 bogeys with short irons but I did manage an eagle on 7 to give myself a chance as we thought the cutt could be 2 over and that's what I was. A bogey on the "go to space hole" sealed my fate, between clubs I made a legsy swing right behind a clump. Still a birdie on 17 and I thought birdie 18 might be enough but between clubs again my lob wedge spun off the green! Game over.

In the end the cutt was level which I thought was really tough and makes you feel better missing by 2 or 3 instead of 1.  Some weeks the cutt seems easy to make others it seems so much harder, it's mad. Our whole group missed, it was a terrible atmosphere all dragging each other down. Brett lost his temper which I've rarely seen him do on the 10th he was club throwing.  This game can make you lose it! Jin Jeon, who won in Perth, last year struggled a lot.

It was a quiet Friday night. I was so tired that I went to bed early and was up at 6 for the Belfast flight and 3 days at home resting and trying to do very little to get ready for Celtic Manor and the long slog of a course.  It's about a 10,000 yard walk, but I'm looking forward to the challenge of it, its work after all.

 Rory seemed to be flat last night, after his great end of the year he played 4 weeks in a row, people don't realise that's 20 rounds with pro ams, 7 miles a day with heat, concentration, media and swinging a heavy weight. Scheduling is important.