It was a short career as a caddy I suppose by normal industry standards anyway. Yet one tainted with some exotic memories of foreign travel and a modicum of success in the two events we contested in recent weeks. The first being the Open de España at Valderrama and the second in Rabat for the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco – missing the cut in neither and keeping the no claims bonus in place. So having bought some duty free on the way back from Marrakesh Airport it no longer made sense to add the Irish Open to my CV. Especially as the legs, back and arms were in now agony and needing an NCT.
The trials and tribulations of being a Sherpa showed me how the other-half lived and gaining much respect for their on course work. My next role back to walking inside the ropes and monitoring the work of the past five months with Peter Lawrie as he plays another European Tour event.
The plan at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is to continue that progress as Peter then faces trips to Sweden and Austria in the slipstream of the K Club event – and a US qualifier immediately after the BMW PGA Championship. All of us happy with the current form and myself somewhat more relieved to hand over the 22 kgs of custom fitted clubs, oodles of balls and diverse pieces of clothing – disguised as a golf bag. No doubt, with a round of 69 fresh in his mind from ten days ago at the Royal Golf Dar es Salam, Peter can put it all into practice on the banks of the River Straffan this week. With even the local weather also going to have a familiar feel as rain is forecast for the end of the week as it was in Morocco in our final rounds. And with two top ten finishes at the Irish Open in the past five tournaments it hopefully bodes well for another pay-cheque.
Albeit historically the Irish contingent have fared poorly at the home event.
Only John O’Leary, Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry have been able to master their national event, with a 25-year gap before Harrington could even match the landmark made by O’Leary in 1982. That breakthrough eventually came at Adare Manor in 2007 with this week surely more names in the mix as Lowry, McIlroy and McDowell all show form on the PGA Tour – albeit on different days – at TPC Sawgrass for the Players Championship last week. At the K Cub the field reflects the strong state of Irish golf as there are a number of others who will seriously contest on home soil this time around. Suggesting an Irish winner and a break of that run of the past five winners; last year being Dane Soren Kjeldsen at Royal County Down; the Finn Mikko Illonen in Fota Island year previously; Paul Casey at Carton House in 2013; Welshman Jamie McDonald in Royal Portrush and then Simon Dyson and Ross Fisher at Killarney in consecutive years.
That last famous Irish occasion being Lowry at County Louth in a playoff in 2009 when he was still an amateur. How the time has marched on since that rainy day
For Lawrie last year was a missed cut in Newcastle County Down. Where like many others, the weather ended any campaign and made an already challenging course almost impossible the first two days. At Fota though in 2014 Lawrie made the cut and finished T33 in what was to prove his tricky year as he battled to hold on to his card – right down to the final event in Perth. At Carton House the year prior a T10 finish saw him sign for rounds of 72-71-67-71 on the Montgomerie Course to finish five places behind fellow Irish players, Shane Lowry and Gareth Shaw. But alongside Danny Willett ironically who this year has leaped into Ryder Cup contention with his win at The Masters in Augusta last month.
At Royal Portrush rounds of 73 and 74 ended the visit and in 2011 at Killarney a second round 67 pushed him up the leader board for a share of eighth place – and the top Irish player that year. Indeed, a season later Peter finished in fourth place at the BMW PGA Championship on the West Course at Wentworth proving his ability around tougher courses – even remodelled by Ernie Els. Again courtesy of low round 66 on the second day. This week some of that Moroccan magic would be the perfect recipe as consistent driving off the tee is a must on the Palmer Course at The K Club. A part of the game that Lawrie has regained confidence in since the final day at Valderrama. And more so again in Rabat.
So the Irish Open course should not offer too many impediments if the swing stays steady this week and we make the vital cut. Having played some great recovery shots in the Trophee Hassan II with a 4 wood recovery it will be something that will be called on this week more than once. As will some of the bunker shots out of wet sand. One in particular on the eighteenth on Sunday in Rabat proving magnificent from an almost impossible plugged lie in the top side of the bunker. But with a deft touch Peter flipped it out to ten feet and held the putt.
If that form carries through to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, then my caddying days are truly over and the work moves on to focusing on the positives. Those shot making memories that any coach wants his pro to call on the heat of battle as they help execute the shots with more confidence. In truth this though is another long week on the journey of regaining his playing rights on the European Tour with a number of holes yet to go. However, I have clearly seen from up close and personal that the ball striking is enough. Now it’s a case of watching at The K Club this week and seeing the progress translate into scores. That sometimes also requires a sprinkle of magic dust.
But then again we brought enough back from Morocco for this week at least,
*Peter Lawrie tees off from 1st @ 08:50hrs on Thursday with David Drysdale and James Busby