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Four weeks on the road takes its toll in Dubai

Many of the guys left Qatar on Sunday night but we decided to spend an extra night and leave at lunchtime Monday.  I'm not great at getting up early to fly but late Sunday night we decided to try and change to the 9am flight.  We were travelling with Emirates and since I hold their highest traveller loyalty status they tend to be very helpful.  I managed to get us onto the 9am flight for no charge and we were off.   By the time we got to Dubai, hired the car and found Arabian Ranches it was well past lunchtime.  We'd planned to watch the Andy Murray - Djockavic final from Melbourne but only caught from the end of the second set.  Carry out Burger King in front of the TV whilst cheering Andy on was a real treat.  Sadly the result didn't go our way!  As soon as it was over we headed to the supermarket.  Things stay open late in Dubai, even in the suburbs!  We grabbed the basics for the week and headed back to the house to have our first home cooked meal in 4 weeks!  Pure luxury!  The pro golf health physio team were staying with us this week as well so Bev had bought all the healthy food, no chocolate or biscuits in site!

We were up early on Monday morning to get me to a medical for my residency visa in Dubai.  Our map was a little on the basic side and the fog was so thick we could barely see 20 yards in front of us.  Eventually we found the office I was to go to (only 20 minutes late even though we'd taken the longest detours!).  It was located down near the Mall of the Emirates so Bev popped into the shops whilst I went for the medical.  Top of her list of purchases was a Sat Nav system and more food!   Thankfully the medical went well - it's just some x-rays, bloods and finger prints and I was back by 1230.  The queues were huge so I was thankful my guide was able to skip them!  I spent the rest of the day relaxing and catching up with the boys as they arrived into the house, it was nice to have some banter in the evenings.

I was meant to practice with David Drysdale on Tuesday morning at 730am.  We left the house on time, but a combination of Sat Nav error and roads not being opened meant our 25 minute journey took closer to an hour.  David had already teed off so I went out and played 9 with David Horsey instead.  David's caddy (Ricey) and mine (James) were rooming together this week so it worked out well.  Bev only took 15 minutes to get home from the course - she was off to complete my tax return but she still struggled a little to get back in to collect me in the afternoon.   The road network is fairly incomprehensible!  Everyone also drives at break neck speed so it's not for the faint hearted!  Bev has driven pretty much everywhere we go so is fairly happy on the "wrong side" of the road now, it wasn't like that when she first came out.  I did most of the driving back then but now she does most of it - going back and forwards to the club and to get food for the house; our glamorous lifestyle!

I knew a few of the guys had withdrawn from the event and that I would be close to getting into the Pro-am field, I'd checked on Monday afternoon from the Mall by phone and sure enough got the call Monday night that I was part of the field.  Thankfully I was the 7am start.  It's always better to get the Pro-am over and done with early in the day, if you don't it can take up the entire day and leave you feeling tired going into Thursday morning!  It was still a long day - 5 hours on the course, but thankfully it wasn't too hot and I had fun with the guests of Omega.  I played nicely but we didn't threaten for the prizes!

I was looking forward to Thursday as I'd played well during the Pro-am but something just didn't feel right when I got up really early again on Thursday morning.  I was a little forgetful and agitated which are never great feelings to take to the golf course!  My parents were also out to watch for the week.  They are 40 years married later this month and my brother and I treated them to a trip out here to break up the winter.  I am always a little more nervous when they watch!  The outcome wasn't ideal, I didn't hit the ball that well but I scrambled a 1 under par score together.  I just felt totally shattered when I'd finished, which I hadn't really expected.  I'd been getting better for the last few days and so was a little surprised by the set back.  I didn't even head to the range to try and fix the problem in my tee shots, Bev and I just headed home instead!  I had a nap which lasted 2 and a half hours and only got up to eat dinner, then headed straight back to bed!  I think the 4 weeks in a row is a little too much golf.

I felt a little stronger on Friday and that showed off the tee.  I find it easier to concentrate on the fade swing when I'm feeling stronger and it always shows in the driving accuracy.  The scoring was really low over the two days, something which always surprises me as I don't find the course that easy but the guys seem to tear it apart!  Richard Sterne shot a 10 under 62 on Thursday and several other players got close on Friday.  It was unbelievable scoring and it's tough not to be disheartened when your already 9 shots behind after 18 holes.

You had to be shooting 3 under per round just to hold position.  You never want to miss the cut but sometimes when you see the scores on Saturday you know it would have been hard work just to pick up 50th place money and cover the expenses.  That was how I felt this week.  Lee Slattery and I had played together on Thursday and Friday again this week and he'd been nicely positioned going into the weekend but didn't manage to score well on Saturday and fell back.  He's a quality player and if he just got the putter working slightly better he'd benefit from a much higher ranking.  I'd also played with Victor Dubuisson who shot 4 under Thursday and started poorly on Friday.  He'd collected himself round the turn but he finished bogey, bogey to miss by 1 and then broke his putter on the 9th green; the frustration coming out.  We'd been badly out of position from about the 4th hole (our 13th of the day) and had been accompanied by a referee the whole way in, that never helps you find your best game!  I knew I was on the cut line and a sloppy swing on the 7th par 3 dropped me back to 2 under.  I played 8 and 9 well but the long putts didn't drop, and I missed the weekend.
I really enjoyed my day on the sofa on Saturday, the only problem being we couldn't find the rugby and I didn't want to have to leave the house to watch it!  We got updates from my sister-in-law by text as she was watching from Liverpool.

I watched the final few holes on Sunday.  Richard Sterne hit the ball so well and it was great to see him up there!  If he holed a few more puts he'd be inside the top 50 in the world.  His wife is also expecting a baby in June so I think he's planning on getting as much golf in before then as he can!  The only way to describe Stephen Gallagher's performance this week was inspired.   I can't believe he's only won twice on tour.  He's such a good ball striker; sometimes it's just your week no matter what you or anyone else does!  He definitely had the golf gods smiling on him this week - he holed 3 shots and made 5 eagles, that's a little unusual to say the least.  Gareth Maybin did well, a 12th place finish and back where he should be.  Johnny Foster's coaching has paid off they have been working together a lot this winter.

I have a few weeks off now, a week here in Dubai to practice, a week at home in Templepatrick for media stuff and relaxation and then another week back out here in Dubai before I head to Tshwane, in South Africa.  I am looking forward to the break!