Sunday evening was a mad race to Marrakesh Airport by car for the Ryanair flight back to Dublin after the Trophée Hassan II. Almost as soon we left the course though the three-hour time window for check-in was breached and so it would be hit and miss whether we got there in time – given all the security. It also took time to peel off the rain sodden wet gear and dry off in a guard’s hut on the course before jumping into our waiting Moroccan Maserati. This the less glamorous side of being a tour pro, or indeed a caddie. These heart stopping moments that require composure and calmness no matter the difficulty up ahead and the thought of unwanted overnight in an airport lounge if the wheels fell off. A good summary perhaps of our day’s in Rabat perhaps.
Those unseen could have been moments when putts lipped out, chips fell short or the driving which made the Royal Golf Dar es Salam Red Course a tough place to be for those final eighteen holes. And despite the score card Peter Lawrie’s golf was not bad over the weekend as he continues to strike the ball better and better. But those facts don’t jump off the page and the card signed in the recorders hut is the one that forms the statistics that ultimately matter. In that sense the fourth round 78 paled against Friday’s newsworthy four under 69. Although funnily enough the driving, putting and pitching did not really vary as much as the score suggests. Rather the misfortune of the weather, the roll of the ball and precision of some pitch shots proved more marginal at times – and we got punished. Whereas on Friday putts dropped and the ball ran better on dry fairways.
As a coach there was little to really worry about through Saturday or indeed Sunday. As a caddie you are as close to the action as is possible – bar playing. So it allowed me to spot any looseness in the swing or a lack of confidence. In all those areas there was little that needed attention. In fact the driver was looking better for Peter all the time. But perhaps Saturdays opening bogey was one moment where it set a tone for the first nine holes which ended with a double bogey on the par 3 ninth. Despite a beautiful 5 iron at the flag which fell short and the putt was missed – as was the tap in – and so we headed to the turn three over par. Really without doing too much wrong.
In terms of the first hole it was a half a club short and then the ensuing pitch was didn’t go as long. But no major errors off the tee box all day.
Indeed, throughout Sunday it was the consistent story of the day. Albeit the 5th required some Houdini work when a 4 iron rescue didn’t just quite travel – leaving the putt for a par. Then the sixth was a drive down the middle and second shot on to green that was finished with a good up and down. And another par on the card. The following seventh and eight were drives into the fringes and so in the rain distances became more crucial. But that three over par at the halfway was still movement in the wrong direction.
A pulled tee shot on twelve was followed by a second shot left Peter 58 yards with a good putt lipping out. And then became a double bogey. Hole 16 was a great drive but the second shot with an 8 iron went into the bunker. A good hit out of the upside offered a par save though. On the next a 4 iron rescue to within 15 feet saw a birdie chance lip out. The eighteenth also seeing a great drive but when the 6 iron shot plugged into the upside of the bunker it looked like more trouble. However, a great bunker shot from rain soaked sand got Peter to 10 feet from where it was holed out to hold us three strokes over on the back nine. But threw up no birdies
In effect it was another four rounds completed on the main Tour that showed signs of a sharper game and the competitive edge having returned when reaching -5 on Friday at one point – and sharing second place going inti the weekend.
After playing two challenging courses in very differing conditions the trip to The K Club for Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is looking good for Peter. Albeit it is a longer course than Valderrama or Royal Dar es Salam which throws up its own challenges it is now to be faced with a positive outlook. The weather perhaps one of the main challenges again as it is set to be mixed with the usual Irish May rain showers that are forecast for the weekend.
Although securing two top ten finishes over the past events – in 2013 and 2011 – there was a missed cut last year at Royal County Down. But the weather on the first two days tested the mettle of even the world’s best – including Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia – who also missed the cut. In the short term The K Club offers another opportunity for Peter to ply his trade and me mine as I resume my coaching chores next week. The first objective of the team being to make the weekend.
After all the work over the past few weeks there is a new chance to chase another pay cheque and so with increasing confidence. But as Lee Trevino once said: “The putts get real difficult the day they hand out the money” and none more so at the home event.
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open runs from May 18 -22 next.
See you there!