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Illness and storm delays eventually take their toll

Singapore is a great city, they call it the Switzerland of Asia - it's clean and expensive, with good food, hotels and nightlife.  Sentosa Island is a little like Singapore's Disney land and the Sentosa Golf Course is fantastic.  It's a great course, the field is always strong and the huge prize fund always makes for a great week!  The only problem is the weather, its monsoon season in Singapore this time of year and we've had storm delays for 8 out of 12 days golf over the last 3 years!


Our week off in Northern Thailand had been very relaxing and quiet, just what I needed but  I was getting bored and was ready to get back to work! We got off the flight at Changi airport, which has been voted the best airport in the world again, and I started to feel unwell.  I love swimming and had been in the hotel pool a lot during the past week, getting in the lengths underwater.  Unfortunately I've managed to pick up a few ear infections over the years swimming in the hotter water in tropical seas, never in a pool before.  Unfortunately the pool wasn't the cleanest and I think that was the culprit!


I went to the course at 10am on Monday to meet Jamie who was fresh in from China.  He was stood on the range sweating profusely and watching Anders Hansen hit balls in 93⁰ heat, with plenty of humidity.  My ear was feeling sore so I went to see the onsite Doctor, he looked at my ear and told me I had an infection in the ear canal and sent me on my way with some antibiotics.  I hoped I would be ok for Thursday but knew it might be a tough week ahead.


Bev and I nipped out for dinner into Singapore with some distant relatives from back home.  They now live in Singapore and have always asked me to meet up with them but I've never managed to fit it in before.  It was great food and fun to finally but faces to the e-mails!
I had just walked 9 holes when thunder stopped all play and practice at 12 noon on Tuesday.  I was feeling unwell and took the weather break as a sign that it was time to call it a day and go back to the hotel for a rest.  I went to bed and slept all afternoon, just grabbed some food in the hotel and went straight back to bed - a truly exciting day but I was knackered!


I got up on Wednesday feeling much the same.  I was due to play in the Pro-am in the afternoon.  The Pro-am can last up to 5 hours, even though we were due to play in buggies.  I sat down with James and Jamie and we decided it probably wasn't in my best interests to play in the Pro-am, so I went to see the Doctor and got my sick note.  This was the first Pro-am I'd missed all year, but the combination of the extreme heat, humidity and my illness convinced me it wasn't the best idea.  As it turned out the afternoon Pro-am was reduced to 9 holes due to thunder and lightning but the guys still had to hang around for a few hours just in case the weather changed.


I was up early on Thursday morning for an 8:20am tee-time.  I'd been drawn with Shiv Kapur and Yuta Ikeda the current king of Japan!  I know Shiv well, he'd played on the European Tour for years and had worked with Jamie, but I'd never played with him in a tournament before and I was looking forward to it.  It was a nice morning for golf, very hot but there were clear skies!  I played really solid.  They often say beware of the injured golfer and it was certainly true for me as it can help me take one shot at a time not  getting too excited or too disappointed.  Unfortunately the heat took its toll over the last 3 holes.  I had one bad swing on the 7th tee which headed straight into the Singapore harbor.  This par 5 is a tough hole at the best of times but sticking your tee shot into the water just makes it that much more difficult!  I made double bogey and watched all my hard work disappear.  The course is very tough and the rough was thick around the greens and the bunkers this year.  There are a lot of 4 & 5 irons for second shots and there are only 3 par 5s, with only 1 of them being reachable for normal players in 2 shots.  I was still inside the cut mark at the end of the day and retreated into the aircon.  I didn't come out again for the rest of the day!  The storm arrived at about 3pm as usual and there was hardly any more play.  They tried to get play started again but another storm closed in and some of the guys sat about all day for another 15 minutes of play.  I Think Michael Campbell's group played  1hole.  Eventually play was suspended and the first round was to restart at 7:30am on Friday morning.  I knew at this stage that I would be lucky to play at all on Friday, especially if there were any other rain delays.


I had just got changed and was leaving the hotel room when play was suspended on Friday afternoon.  I went straight back to bed and spent the day resting.  The highlight of my day being a short walk to a local restaurant which has 2 wave machines; I spent 15 minutes watching the surfers before I headed back to bed!


I turned up on Saturday morning for my second round and I played some of the best golf I've played all year.  The putter felt good and my swing was rhythmical and in-sync.  Shiv was also playing really solid, Jamie was happy as he coaches us both.  The TV cameras came to watch us finish strongly.  I shot a 66 and finished in 7th position, surprising myself considering how I felt.


Unfortunately all the effort took its toll and I was shattered after the round.  I honestly hadn't expected to play any more golf that day but the weather cleared and we were sent back out at 5:30pm for 4 and a half holes until it was dark.  My swing didn't feel like it belonged to me, my arms were weak and I hit some really clumsy shots.  I double bogeyed the 3rd and 4th holes which finished my tournament!  What a day it had been - one of the best rounds of my career to 5 of the worst holes I've ever played!  I was feeling very sorry for myself when I eventually got back to the hotel.  Thankfully Bev just gave me a hug, ordered me room service and sent me to bed.


We were up at 5:30am the next day and managed to fit in 31 holes.  I was running on empty, and I have to say it was one of the worst experiences of my professional career.  We had a 20 minute lunch break between rounds.  It was 9 hours in 93⁰ in high humidity.  All I could do was try not to give up, which was very difficult.  I managed pretty well apart from on one putt, it wasn't pretty and the scoring was awful but I got round.  I was really happy with my last hole, the 18th; I eagled it and moved from 67th to 62nd, the difference in prize money will pay for a few flights in the new season.  Everyone was knackered, even Simon Dyson, which is unusual as he is normally hyper.


Matteo Manassero was playing in a group 2 behind me.  He is such a good ball striker so much control with the irons.  The course set up really well for him as it's not a bombers course but it's a test of accuracy.  He's a really nice lad and I think he's very good for the game.  His caddy (Dave McNeily) is from Belfast and has 30 plus years on tour so it's a nice, but slightly weird combination.


Unfortunately my ear became really sore again just as we returned from the course.  I called the Doctor I'd seen during the tournament but we couldn't get through so after getting some room service I had to call the hotel Doctor out.  He was a nice man, but expensive and gave me enough drugs for 10days - more antibiotics, pain killers, anti-inflammatories, the works!  I decided the best thing to do would be to withdraw from the tournament in Hong Kong; it can be hot during the tournament and really draining with very early starts.  I want to be ready for Dubai this year as last year I turned up to Dubai tired and burnt out.  This year I want to be ready to compete; it's a massive tournament and can change your season in so many ways!