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I can't wait for Hoylake - the Open always has a very special feel to it

It was nice to get into my own bed for a couple of nights after the French, the direct flight to Belfast on Sunday night was ideal and qualifying for The Open Championship was a bonus and exciting.  It was a whirlwind couple of days at home; unpacking, packing, seeing parents but there are many lows in pro golf and fewer highs so it's nice to get one.
 
The flight from Belfast to Aberdeen was at midday on Tuesday so by the time I got to the course, got changed and ready it was 3pm.  I hadn't seen the course before so there was a lot of checking lines off the tee and also admiring the old fashioned links.  I played with Ross Fisher starting on the 3rd and playing until the 14th then it was time to head home.  I hadn't seen the town before and had no idea where our apartment was, even though it was 730pm on a Tuesday.
 
Bev went to university in Aberdeen so she booked us near downtown walkable to shops etc.  The apartment was really nice but on the top floor with no lift.  Bev was sweating just getting Erin and her toys up the stairs so left me to do the suitcases when I arrived.  It's always a mad rush on a Tuesday if you travel and turns into a really long day.  The alternative is not to go home and travel Monday, neither is ideal!
 
I had to check the course again with Gerry on Wednesday and the wind direction was completely different, which is often the case.  We walked the 6 miles for an hour and a half and then went to get balls, try on gloves etc. in the Titleist truck.  I ordered a rain jacket with long sleeves as it was forecast to be cold in Liverpool.   I spent the rest of the day hitting balls under Johnny Foster's guidance.  It was really good and we were focusing on getting the club face and body alignment which sounds too simple to be true but I get the face open and hands ahead promoting the big draw.  We did good disciplined short game practice trying every lie possible from plugged bunkers to no stance in the bunker with everything from 8 iron to lob wedge.  As Johnny said good chippers go to the chipping area with lots of clubs and few balls, poor guys the other way round.
 
It was bed early and up for an early start on Thursday.  I had a good draw with Gregory Havret and Alvaro Quiros.  The front 9 played into the wind and it was tough; I grinded for 1 over.  It's not that bad a score and then the fireworks started.  The back 9 was down wind, the par 4s played short.  I drove it 420 yards for birdie on the 13th and 380 yards to 10 feet on 15.  I holed the putt for eagle.  I hit an 8 iron stiff on 17 and birdied 18 with 2 good swings.  It was ideal golf and 29 for 9 holes is a record for me.  The media were all waiting at the recording area and I had a few TV interviews after and some other media.   Quiros was not his best; he's not hitting it nearly as far as he used to and Greg struggled a bit but was putting well with the Kuchar method of shaft up the forearm.  Rory shot the course record which was impressive.
 
Friday was totally different.  It was downwind on the front 9 and into on the back.  I misjudged the wind a couple of times; we have been pampered playing in warmer locations on Tour that aren't as windy.  I had to think back to my Amateur days on the links courses up the North coast, it's been a while so I was a little rusty!  I dug in and grinded well in the end and was still in decent shape for the weekend.
 
Saturday started with a disaster on my first hole.  I was playing with Luke Donald.  I got a massive flyer from the rough for my 3rd shot, a 7iron which went 200 yards when it normally goes 165 and I'd allowed 15 for the flier but we both misjudged it and went into the only unplayable position it could over the back of the green.  I had to take a drop and then had 2 putts for a 7.  I later found out Paul Casey had taken a 9, but its little consolidation!  I fought back well with 3 under but then on the 13th I made double from 114 yards what felt like brain dead golf.  I hit a wedge into the wind, 135 over the back into the "munchy" rough and making double bogey.  I needed to remember that the wind doesn't really affect a ball from flier rough but Gerry and I were just not sharp and it cost us.  It was painful!  I birdied 18 with a long putt while Luke struggled hitting shots left and lipping out all day long.  He's good to play with, it shows the importance of short game which we all know but don't want to accept sometimes. 
 
I was with Paul Waring on Sunday.  He's a strong player from Liverpool and a good guy.  He rolled the putts in and hit it good for 6 under on a windless day on the links.  I got to 2 under after 6 then airmailed another green on the 11th with a good swing for a very frustrating bogey and lost the momentum.  It was painful but I tried on the way in, going over the back of 18 with 2 good swings for another bogey and a frustrating weekend.  We got some lunch at the course to keep us going at the start of the 6hr 30 drive to Liverpool.  We stopped at the Gleneagles Hotel for dinner and then drove on to the Lockerbie services to overnight and watch the World Cup final.  Messi was disappointing but the best side won and credit to the Germans, their calculated approach worked a bit like Martin Kaymer and Bernard Langer.   We had 3 hours in the morning and we got down to the course in Hoylake.  I went straight in for registration. It was very organised from the R & A and we got all our accreditation.  The Open has a special feeling to it, credit to the R&A they have kept true to the history of the event but have still kept up with technology in subtle ways.
 
We then drove to our house, it was only a short drive, you just need to invest in proper accommodation this week as even a crap hotel is 1500 for the week.  It was a long day on Monday unpacking all of Erin's stuff and getting settled. I was a bit tired after the road trip but am determined not to do too much practice this week, eat plenty and rest a bit before Thursday.