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Little Merc's timely arrival brightens a dull weekend

Unpublished article

It's always a long trip home from China.  I took the 8 hour Emirates flight to Dubai on Sunday night followed by the 7 hour flight to Heathrow.  Both flights were on A380s, my favourite aircraft. It's so spacious and quiet making the journey a little nicer.  A few other players were sitting in the lounge in Dubai chatting between flights.  Montgomery was telling us his schedule.  It's still hectic even though he plays fewer tournaments these days.  I guess it's all about planning when you reach a high level in the game.  He is such a nice guy and really good fun.  The public haven't really seen the best side of him as he can get a little irate with the game.  I arrived into Heathrow feeling tired and disorientated due to the time difference and the 15 hours flying time.  I knew it would be tough for a few days; the jet lag is always difficult going either way.  I hadn't even realized that Ben Curtis and his caddy from Portrush, Ricky Elliott had won whilst I was travelling home.   Ben and Ricky are a great team and have been working hard; I'm really pleased for them both!

Another huge surprise was to follow though!  My brand new car was delivered at 330pm, just after I'd got home from Heathrow and had a cup of tea.  It was a little surreal - I was sitting on the sofa when a car identical to the one I ordered last year drove past on a little lorry.  I thought a neighbour had bought an identical one!  I had been expecting it in May but Mercedes had moved the manufacture up.  I couldn't believe it!  I had to go for the world's shortest drive just to make sure it wasn't a dream.

The first few days back are always tricky as you wake up so early.  Your body just can't quite figure out when to sleep or eat.  I just couldn't resist taking the car for a few very early morning spins, before the rush hour traffic started.  You don't get a lot of sleep these few days, but I sure did get a lot crammed in - lots of practice at the Wisley with Bev acting as Jamie's apprentice and a few gym sessions with Rob the trainer, then a whistle stop tour of England.  It was a proper road test for the new car, being super careful in the horrendous rain.  The first stop was Leeds on Thursday afternoon, for a meeting about designing a website and getting some help with all things media related.  It's a 3 and a half hour drive from Ascot, so 2 hours into the drive I had to let Bev loose behind the wheel.  Then it was off to Preston for dinner with the Sister-in-law before finally stopping in Southport for the night in preparation for a session with my putting coach, Phil Kenyan in the morning.  Phil has a great putting studio at Formby Hall Golf Club, close to Southport.  The SAM putting system he uses measures tempo, alignment, path, centre hit all very precisely and can compare to previous stats to ensure you're improving.  It's fascinating stuff but is ultimately just basics.  It had previously shown my stroke gets too long in the back swing and that I stand too close to the ball aiming a little right.  I had slipped back into poor setup during the weeks in Malaysia and China, but Phil got me rolling it good before we left.  He goes to most tournaments so we keep the formula consistent.  He works with Darren, Ross Fisher and Westwood (start of this year).  Darren attributed a large part of his Open win to Phil's help.  Anyone who knows golf knows that putting is almost everything.   Our last stop on the tour was to see my brother, Eddie and his family, in Birmingham on the way home.  It's important to catch up with family and friends when you're away so much.

Saturday was a very wet, lazy day, in the Hoey household.  I was tired from all the driving.  But we did manage to watch Ulster beat Edinburgh - what a game and what a great result for Ulster.  Ruan Pineaar is a legend!  Glad we bought those tickets for the final last week!  Twickenham here we come, another family day out!  Sunday was a day for final preparations for Spain despite the rain.   I managed 9 holes and 1 hour practice between the showers.

Early flight on Monday morning to the Spanish open,  the circus continues!