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Getting the Champion's Treatment in Morocco

I was just congratulating myself for not having picked up Delhi belly during the tournament when I made a bit of a school boy error at the airport.  I was starving by the time the Emirates car had transported me from the hotel to the airport and the smoked salmon, salad and curry in the Emirates lounge were just too much to resist!  Unfortunately they left me feeling a little green Monday and Tuesday in Dubai.  Memo to self never eat buffet food in the airport in India!

I'd always planned on being in Dubai for this week to practice.  Initially we had hoped to rent a villa for a few months to try Dubai and see if we liked it as a winter base but the timing wasn't great this year and it was better for Bev to be at home instead.  This was the first week I was to look after myself in a self-catered apartment.  I managed most of the week just fine, figuring out the washing machine and getting the shopping in from the supermarket, it doesn't sound a lot but it all takes up time.

I spent most of the week up at the Butch Harman Golf School with Justin Parsons and his team. using the practice facilities and their gym.  It really is a very good facility; the turf on the range is cut down just the way they do out on Tour so it mimics the practice facilities I'm used to now.  I also bumped into a young Danish golfer, Andreas Harto, who was out in Dubai practising before heading to Morocco.  Andreas and I had played the Ponte Vechio Challenge in Florence back in 2010, so I knew him a little and we spent most of the week practising together.  I took the money around the Els Club and he got his own back the following day at the Jumeriah Golf Estates Earth Course.  It was good to get some competition in as well as hitting the range hard.  I was mainly working on my distance control, chipping and putting so it was nice to get out on the course and hit a few full shots as well.

The weather was perfect and the week was going very well!  I still wasn't feeling the best but just had put it down to a slightly upset stomach after the food in India.  Unfortunately that wasn't the case!  The norovirus which affected so many folk in Belfast over Christmas had finally caught up with me!  I now have the upmost sympathy for my Aunt Audrey and Cousin Susannah who missed out on Christmas dinner because of the bug!  I can honestly say I've never felt so ill in all my life!  Even after 48 hours I was still feeling unwell when I caught the smell of food.  It really did curtail my practice sessions as I spent all of Thursday afternoon to Saturday afternoon curled up in bed feeling very sorry for myself.  Being ill and being far from your own bed is really not fun, especially when there is no one to look after you!  In many ways though I was glad Bev wasn't with me as it probably would have been worse for her and the baby should they have caught it from me!

Thankfully I recovered sufficiently to catch my flight to Casablanca.  At one point on Friday I was ready for home, and I didn't think anything could have made me decide to fly to Morocco!  I was travelling Sunday as the flight from Dubai to Casablanca is 8 hours; I then had to hang about the airport for about 4 hours to catch the 1 hour flight to Agadir.  It was a long trip and I thought it best to get the travel out of the way early this week as I'll have a lot of extra stuff to fit in this week being defending Champion.  I'd already done a few preview interviews and Bev had lined up a European Tour weekly interview for Monday plus I'd have to take part in the Tour press conferences as well.  It is sure going to be a different experience for me but one I am very much looking forward to. 

Even the arrival into Agadir airport was different, last year we were trying to hire a car for the week, having to max out our credit cards for the deposit!  This year the tournament had supplied my own limo, the rest of the boys had to jump on the bus the event had laid on to the hotel.  I could get used to this every week!