Of all the weeks to get a bad back, Alfred Dunhill Links in Scotland was not it. It’s right up there alongside my favourite times of the year and I wasn’t able to take full advantage. Well, on the course at least.
And citing a fitness problem is not an excuse for my play, which like the area just around my right shoulder, went from bad to worse as the week progressed. Tuesday and Wednesday were ok, but Thursday and Friday were eminently forgettable.
But if I was ever in danger of feeling sorry for myself, I found the perfect cure at 10.44am on Saturday morning. There I was at the home of golf standing on the first tee alongside the reigning Open champions of both Great Britain and America.
To be able to play alongside Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy at St.Andrews, well, it just doesn’t get any better. So I just said to myself, how many people will get this kind of opportunity. And Rory’s dad Gerry is a delight to play with as well so we had a great fourball.
I had been delighted to accept Simon Dyson’s invitation to play a practice round with me on the Tuesday and both Gregory Bourdy and Romain Wattel took great pride and no little amusement watching my warm-up techniques and swing on the range. As usual there was plenty of banter all week... and it nearly had an excellent ending for Rory.
Eventually he came up just short, but what a run he gave fellow Ulsterman Michael Hoey with a fantastic final round. I feel certain Rory will win at St.Andrews one day.
We did get a winner, however at the weekend, and I could not have been more delighted to see Matthew Baldwin cross the finishing line first at the Challenge Tour’s Fred Olsen Challenge in the Canary Isles.
Matthew showed just how much he has learned from a few previous close shaves and now he will be playing on the main tour next season. It was a massive win for the former England international from Southport and now he will join Danny Denison as a challenge Tour graduate.
Congratulations also to Marcus Trescothick, who once again collected player of the year honours, showing that although his Test career was cut short he still managed to keep on top of the county game.