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No time for a break as time off turns into a whirlwind couple of days

It was a long journey home from Morocco and it took me a few days to recover from it.  Bev collected me on Tuesday morning in Dublin after I'd been travelling for about 25 hours via Dubai.  When we'd booked the flights we'd intended to have our base already set up in Dubai, it hasn't really worked out that way and so I ended up taking the flights to get the air miles.  It seemed to make more sense rather than cancel the return legs as you don't get much of a refund.   We drove home, stopping for some lunch at Sprucefield; I ate a lot but didn't make all that much sense!  I was shocked to see all the snow as we came up the A1; it was a little freaky to be thinking of avalanches in the Mournes!  I managed the rest of the day ok but was in bed early that night, the first proper sleep in 2 days.  I'd had a nap in the "snooze cube" in Dubai airport; it's a great invention!  You book yourself in by the hour to a sound proof room, with no windows and a small bathroom within the terminal; it really does let you relax on a long lay-over! 

Thankfully Wednesday was a nothing day so I could just lie in and relax!  Then the appointments started!  Bev books me up well in advance, it means I get through a lot when I'm home which is needed but it can be a little dull sometimes!  I did manage to fit in a few rounds of golf too though.  The first was at the Hilton in Templepatrick; one of my favourite winter park land courses.  The greens are generally the best of all the park land courses at home this time of year due to the sand base they installed and the fairways tend to be drier than a lot of the others due to the drainage. 

Unfortunately Ian and I didn't win the money; we split it with my brother in law, Rodney and his friend Ross.  Ross holed two 20ft putts on 17 and 18 to split the money!  I then played Castlerock with Ryan McGuigan (Danny Willet's caddy) on Saturday.  Ryan had been over home for a few days helping Danny and 30 friends hit the north coast for Danny's stag do; by all accounts it was a fun but messy affair!  Ryan has moved to Dundee and this was his last game at Castlerock as a member, so it was nice to be there to see him off.  Unfortunately the rest of the day wasn't as much fun, I went home and tuned into the Ulster game from London.  It was a little disappointing to see the boys play that way but Saracens were amazing.  Its games like that, which make me happy I don't play rugby, some of those tackles were brutal!

Sunday was the first day I managed to get out a walk on the North coast.  We walked from Portrush to Portstewart, I had the world's biggest fry and then we walked back to Portrush and collected the car.  It was awesome, but there weren't that many waves - the colours up there were just fantastic though and it's always great especially when you've been in the desert for a long time!  I was out there 6 weeks this time and it's a little depressing after a while when nothing lives without irrigation and the only green areas are golf courses; it certainly takes a little getting used to!
The second week off was a little busier.  Monday was a gym and physio session with Shane in Dundalk.  I'm so lucky that he lives close by; anytime I need a treatment I can just hop in the car and get it sorted!  Tuesday was taken up with a few business meetings and house renovation type projects.  We are moving back into our old house in Greenisland following the renovations.  Hopefully everything is sorted for our return from Spain, and then we'll simply need to move in!  Wednesday and Thursday were spent in London.  I've been struggling a little with energy levels on the course and had gone to see a sports nutritionist about it a few years ago, lately I've felt things slipping again so we headed off to see a specialist recommended by Shane (the physio) in London.  It also allowed me to drop my passport into the Chinese Visa Application centre Thursday morning for the upcoming Volvo China Open, to do a little sight-seeing and to do a little shopping.  All in all a very busy 48 hours and we were knackered as we got the 21:15 flight back from Gatwick.  I'd also had to fast from 9pm Wednesday night and as usual my appointment was late so I didn't eat again until after 4pm on Thursday, approximately 19 hours later, a record for me if I'm not ill!  Bev had tried to eat only when I wasn't looking but she'd succumbed to the emergency ration of mini eggs in her handbag when I'd been in with the nutritionist!  Can't say I blame her; think I'd have done the same!  I spent the time at the airport checking the scores from the Masters.  Although I have decided to watch less golf on TV this year there is something truly special about the Masters and I was as eager to hear the scores as everyone else!  I was backing Adam Scott and Peter Hanson for the win.  Golfers and Caddy's aren't allowed to bet on the golf as part of the contract we have with the European Tour but I was interested none the less.  I was also interested in how Rory, Graeme and Alan Dunbar would perform.  I was especially hoping for a good performance for Alan as it's such a magical place and to get to play it as an Amateur is truly special.  I still think about playing it in 2002, especially getting to stay in the "Crow's Nest" on site, now that was truly something! 

I headed round to watch the Friday night coverage with friend and golf coach Johnny Foster.  It can get a little technical when we get together to watch the golf and the Sky plus is definitely put to good use as we rewind the good and bad swings for a closer look.  We watched it to the death and then I headed back to Templepatrick to bed.  I was up to watch the Sky Sports Masters breakfast show, reviewing all the previous days play, including Tiger's drop.  Johnny, Andrew Snoddy and I debated it all day until we found the official ruling.  Andrew is a PGA tournament official and knows the rules better than both Johnny and I, so it was great to hear his thoughts on the ruling.  It certainly seemed to divide opinion, especially when contrasted with the young Chinese amateur's treatment the previous day.  It also reminded me of being disqualified at the US PGA last August, something I wouldn't wish on anyone!  Bev watched the Saturday night coverage with me for a while; she was cheering for Fred Couples, shame he finished off poorly.  I have to say I didn't quite make it to the end of coverage but it was interesting viewing especially with Couples and Langher being in the mix! 

The finish at Augusta was incredible, and I think everyone would agree not just die hard golf fans!  I was shrieking at the TV, you couldn't have written a better finish if you'd tried!  I thought it was all over when Jason Day birdied 13,14 and 15, then he bogeyed 16 and 17 and let the others back in.  It looked a little like he'd taken the wrong club on 17 but when your adrenaline is pumping on the final holes it can be a little difficult to judge the clubs correctly.  It'll have been a painful experience for him.  I couldn't believe it when Cabrera went for the green from the trees on 13; it was a little unnecessary at that stage of the event but he recovered well with birdies on 16 and 18.  His 2nd shot on 18 was amazing; I think it was a 6 iron he hit up the hill to a few feet to force the play off.   It looked like Adam Scott thought his putt on 18 was enough to win outright but he regrouped well and made quality swings in the playoff and a great putt to win.  He was the first Aussie to win at Augusta and I was pleased for him, especially when everyone had him written off after the Open last year.  Quality players like him always bounce back!

I'm off to Spain this week; I'm looking forward to working on my swing again and to seeing James (my caddy).  This season has been a little disjointed for us, and will only get worse schedule wise.  I've a week in Spain, a week off and then the tournament in China, then 2 off before Wentworth.  It's not ideal but you've got to make the most of it!  I've heard a lot about the course in Spain.  Apparently it's right on the coast so it should be really enjoyable, and a bit like playing up the North Coast apart from the temperature!