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Keeping Good Company

Brendan Mcdaid

banner_golf2011Since the Irish Open at The K Club it has been non-stop for Peter Lawrie – who headed off to Walton Heath for the US Open qualifier – and at Carr Golf Centre in Spawell it was business as usual for his former caddy. A week was full of lessons which were of a more productive kind than those Peter got served, as a tough 36 holes made him unable to repeat our feat of 2012 when he earned a place at the Olympic Club for the US Open that year in San Francisco. Instead it was the Nordea Masters last week in Sweden followed by the Lyoness powered by Sporthilfe Cashback Card at the Diamond Country Club in Austria this week. Last Sunday he ended the 72 holes with a 45th place finish – just behind Michael Hoey – with Paul Dunne failing to make the cut at Bro Hof Slot in Stockholm. A good result following a run of misses. However this week it was a miss in Austria after posting rounds of 75 & 76

At this level golf is all about the company you keep and making the weekend is where professionals always want to be – and need to be – to ensure some income. No different with teaching and the company we have been keeping in recent weeks includes KPMG, who arranged a series of sessions for their company golf society. This has become increasingly popular at corporate level and before Christmas it was a similar group from The Law Society of Ireland that koine me. With more companies offering incentives to employees for sports or other activities, I have been fortunate to develop a number of links with some bigger companies.

It offers a great opportunity to teach people from many parts of the world all now living in Dublin. The skill levels range from the novices to some lower handicaps and all are divided into a series of groups. The KPMG programme lasted four weeks, took some time to put together, but proved fruitful for all involved. At this level the challenges are no different to corporate life and so the discipline to attend the sessions is often half the battle.

With the Curtis Cup in this week I am reminded of my sister, Ellen Rose McDaid, and her role in Chattanooga in 1994 when the trophy was retained on US soil and so I wish GB&I the very best this week in Dun Laoghaire. The Irish players involved are Olivia Mehaffey, Maria Dunne and Leona Maguire. All three talented golfers who will be tested by a strong US team but favoured with the advantage of home soil in the shadow of the Wicklow foothills. It should prove an exciting few days and hopefully add to the achievements of our up-and-coming youngsters to match those on the men’s side from the last winning Walker Cup team; Gavin Moynihan, Paul Dunne, Cormac Sharvin; Gary Hurley and Jack Hume who starred in the equivalent event, The Walker Cup.

Clearly the strength of the amateur game in Ireland has never been so good. Yet the step always remains to ensure a steady flow of players make it to the professional grade and survive to earn a living there. Some who passed my way reflect those mixed fortunes that the sport throws up – with Lawrie now the one battling for his card – having enjoyed over ten years trouble free. Another was Michael Mc Geady who has battled tour school on numerous occasions and never made the cut to the main Tour. However, he calmly won the Irish PGA Championship in 2013 at a time when he probably least expected. Gary Murphy enjoyed a number of good years on Tour and is now an able commentator on golf on Setanta Sports and RTE. Also Colm Moriarty who is back in search of success on the Challenge Tour once again and his decade long quest for the Tour.

On the Ladies side there was Karen Delaney 2007 Irish ladies champion and Kate Gallagher the Irish Girls Champion 2007. So I have fair idea what lies ahead for all the Curtis Cup team once their week is done and dusted. Finishing in Dun Laoghaire Golf club as winners would be a nice turning point for some of those considering playing professionally. In the meantime, to ensure the production line continues the teaching of the game still remains a most important starting point. Getting boys and girls to at least try the game at a young age so as to have a flavour of it when their minds are still open. Too often it’s a sport that comes later in life and then all of a sudden the five-hour time of a round competes unfavourably with 90 minutes of soccer, 80 minutes of rugby or 70 minutes of hurling and football.

Ten years ago in the USA, when the golf course was a playground for the professional set and a young Tiger Woods was the world’s best player, golf looked like an unassailable national undertaking, and corporate players were champing at the bit to get involved. But in 2016 TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, the world’s biggest maker of golf clubs and clothes, saw product sales nosedive by 28 percent indicating an underlying decline in the game.

“A decline in the number of active players … caused immense problems in the entire industry, and as a market leader, this hit us particularly hard,” Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer said at the time of the results were released.

On this side of the Atlantic the R&A announced in April the introduction of a nine-hole championship which will be played at Royal Troon, the weekend before the 145th Open. The inaugural nine-hole championship, open to men, women and juniors, will feature 30 players with a series of qualifiers being held at 13 R&A affiliated venues in the UK and Ireland. An initiative that has the backing of Padraig Harrington, an R&A working for golf ambassador:
“People who want to play golf are increasingly struggling to find the time to play and so positioning nine-hole golf as a legitimate alternative makes a lot of sense. I’m really pleased to see The R&A taking the lead in this area.

“For regular amateur golfers to be able to play the Open venue in championship condition immediately before the best players in the world is a fantastic initiative and I’m sure this new competitive format will encourage more people to get out on the golf course and play nine-hole golf.”

In every company time is a constraint and people are busy. That’s the nature of life these days. As our programmes are tailored for such needs and we believe it’s about the company you keep and our work with KPMG proved it can be done.

“If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball.”
Jack Lemmon

Natural Born Golfers at The K Club

Brendan Mcdaid

GOLF Irish_1_3At the K Club there were a number of good news stories around The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open that made it another very memorable event. Not least an Irish winner in Rory McIlroy finally breaking his own hoodoo and lifting the Waterford Crystal trophy. The win arriving after a number of difficult years where more off course events distracted him and delayed the world number three a rightful place alongside other Irish golfing greats. With a date that suited his schedule this season it allowed him arrive to Kildare playing well. In 2009 McIlroy was on hand to see Shane Lowry seize a historic home win and little did he think it would take him seven years to equal that feat.

In the shadow of his year win came inspiring other stories with Mathew Southgate recovering from illness to finish in the top ten; rookie Russell Knox posing the winner trouble on the final stretch and Welshman Bradley Dredge finishing second – for the second time – albeit nine years apart having regained his tour card.

Dredge qualified through European Tour school in 1996 securing playing rights to the Challenge Tour and after a victory at the Klassis Turkish Open earned a card for the European Tour proper in 1998. The following year Dredge finished inside the 100 of the Order of Merit – the precursor to the Race to Dubai – and remained there until 2012 when he failed to regain his card at Qualifying School. Three years later he finished 81st in the Race to Dubai – with two back to back second places – to make a return to the Tour. Since racking up four top ten finishes this season with the Irish Open securing him a cheque for over €300K. On Sunday was to see a golfer at ease with his game once again and the eighteenth seeing an eagle chance just slip by.

A few groups ahead of the Welshman saw Matthew Southgate reach the 18th and celebrate a fourth place – a result that triggered much emotion. His name and history virtually unknown since he had popped up on the leader board a couple of days earlier in the week at The K Club. A result coming on the back a cancer diagnosis last year that never stopped his battle through all stages of Qualifying School to earn a card. No surprise therefore at the joy with which his fourth place finish at the Irish Open was celebrated as he clung to his £150,000 and a Tour card for next season. The 27-year-old Englishman missing the cut in five consecutive tournaments earlier this year before claiming a top-20 finish at the Shenzhen International, and only arriving as first reserve for the event hosted by Rory McIlroy.

His top five finish qualifying Southgate for the BMW PGA Championship this week.

Peter Lawrie has had different woes in recent years after losing his card around the same time as Dredge. It has been a battle over the past two seasons to regain those automatic rights and it is proving a less successful venture even on home turf at The K Club. A setback in terms of the of our work this close season as progress last Friday was the minimum target we expected. As it had been at Valderrama and Royal Golf Dar es Salam.

Things were looking good on Thursday with Peter just seeing an eagle three chance slip by on the eighteenth green after playing some good fight back golf on Thursday in the tougher weather conditions. A one over par finish though was to prove insufficient as the leaders moved away at the top of the leaderboard as that half of the draw benefited from more benign weather. On Friday Peter was struggling to stay inside the cut line in his afternoon tee off time dropping a few shots either side of the turn. As I was not on the bag felt a bit helpless as he fired a few stray drives and thankfully clawed back a couple of strokes with a few birdies. But in the end he went on to finish +3 for the day and unfortunately two strokes outside the cut mark. A missed objective.

Next week it’s a US Open Qualifier followed by two European Tour events – the first in Sweden and the following week in Austria. At this stage a lot of our work has been in progress and another tune up ahead of 36 holes at Walton Heath next Monday might make sense. But qualifying for Oakmont will bring its own headaches and challenges. However, first things first as in the short term we need to deal with the Irish Open aftermath and review a few things together.

Russel Knox just over six months ago was an alternate for his first World Golf Championship and had to scramble to secure a Chinese visa to make the event in time when he received a late call. As things happen in life the Scotsman arrived and then won the HSBC Champions building on that success to the point he almost won the Irish Open on Sunday. In fact, was leading McIlroy with three holes to play and forcing two shots that will be talked about for years from the world number three — onto the 16th green for a two-putt birdie and to 3 feet on the 18th hole for eagle – to finally lose out.

“I got beat by two of the best shots I’ve ever seen in my life,” Knox said Monday night from the BMW PGA Championship.

“To find a man’s true character, play golf with him.”
P. G. Wodehouse

Lawrie heads off to The K Club

Brendan Mcdaid

Peter+Lawrie+Irish+Open+Previews+iE-DWLAhlorl“Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course – the distance between your ears.”
Bobby Jones


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

The Caddie Chemistry

Brendan Mcdaid , , , , , ,

Caddy-of-Peter-Lawrie-fro-008Some of the more common questions about caddies on the Tour:

Q: What is their work schedule?
A: It lasts for as long as a golfer will have you, and for as many tournaments as he or she plays. But the average is about 30 weeks a year, although some caddies will tote for other golfers to pick up extra work. So, what about the other 22 weeks of the year?

“Whatever comes up,” said Joe Skovron, Rickie Fowler’s caddie since the 22-year-old went pro two years ago. “You take care of things at home that maybe you aren’t able to take care of on the road. Maybe play a little golf.”

Q: What does their typical tournament week entail?
A: Tournaments are usually six- or seven-day weeks. They walk the course on Monday or Tuesday, confirming yardages. Tuesday is typically a full practice day, including a round of usually nine holes. Wednesday is often a professional-amateur round (not at Bridgestone), and the four-day tournament starts on Thursday.

Q: How much do they make?
A: As independent contractors, caddies and their bosses — the players — negotiate their pay. On average, according to Dennis Cone, president and founder of the Professional Caddies Association, caddies make about $1,000 per week while on tour, plus a share of the winnings. Caddies generally earn 5 percent if their player makes the cut, 7 percent for a top-10 finish and 10 percent for a tournament win.

The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational pays the winner $1.4 million, meaning the man lugging the bag potentially pulls in a sweet $140,000. Finish at or near the top consistently and a caddie can find himself in rarefied air. Steve Williams, former caddie for Tiger Woods and now caddying for Adam Scott, is reportedly a million-dollar man.

By the way, last place at Bridgestone paid $30,750 last year. Five percent of that is about $1,500. Not shabby for a week on the golf course, but caddies usually cover their own travel expenses, lodging, meals, insurance and other fees. So, for every Williams there’s a Williams wanna-be.

Q: How much does that bag weigh?
A: “Depends on how they’re playing,” said Damon Green, Zach Johnson’s caddie for eight years and a professional golfer himself. (Green tied for 13th in the U.S. Senior Open last week in Toledo.) “If they’re playing good, [the bag is] light. If they’re playing bad, it’s really heavy.”

A bag weighs anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds, with clubs and gloves, maybe a dozen balls, an umbrella, rain gear for each, drinks and snacks and first-aid items, such as bandages and pain relievers.

Q: What does a caddie do besides carry the bag and towel a golfer’s clubs and ball between shots?
A: It’s more like, what doesn’t a caddie do?

“They could get anybody to carry a bag,” said Dan Weigand, editor of the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology and co-author of “Caddy-Talk: Psychology of Being a Great Golf Caddy.” “What we found is a caddie is very much an on-course psychologist, biochemist, nutritionist, physiologist, counselor, friend. It really depends on the what the player needs from the caddie.”



The Marrakesh Express

Brendan Mcdaid

Peter Lawrie Round 3 Trophee Hassan II Getty Images

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!


Moroccan Diary – Day 2

Brendan Mcdaid

Got up about 9am, had breakfast and relaxed in the apartment.

We then headed for the club about 10.45, which is a 20-minute drive. When we arrived Peter hit balls for 40 min, then we had our lunch. Afterwards he hit a few pitches and then a few 7 irons and drivers.

With 15 minutes on the putting green and it was time for the minibus to the 10th tee.

On the front nine (back nine on the card) we didn’t miss a shot, and Peter hit every fairway and every green, bar the 17th. On the first one he landed a couple of feet off the green and about 15 feet from the hole.

His 10th just missed the fairway, but with a nice lie Peter hit an 8 iron to within 12 feet and duly sank the putt. The 11th was a 5 iron about 20 ft followed by a good putt that just lipped out.

The boss then made good pitch and putt par on 12th, only to play the next one poorly, and drop a shot. But sank a very good 20 footer for birdie on 14, on 15 from right rough hit a great pitch and run 4 iron to 10 feet. Peter just missed the putt which would have brought him back to -5

On sixteen 6 Peter cut the corner a little too much and hit a tree, so had to play sideways to get a shot. He then hit a lovely 3/4 eight iron from 150yds to 10 feet only to be unlucky with the putt.

On 17 drive hit right rough and then he hit a great 5 wood but just got a flyer so the ball went through the green. It was going to be a difficult chip. But Peter chipped to 3 feet and duly held the putt. It was that kind of day

The eighteenth was a nice tee shot to the middle of the green for about 20 feet reach to the hole. Peter rolled it to the hole all the way and sank the putt. So a good day’s work all around!

Michael Hoey, Cormac Sharvin and Rory McNamara missed out with Paul Dunne, Gary Hurley and Kevin Phelan also earning a weekend payday.

Peter Lawrie post round interview

“Played in Spanish Open two weeks ago and form was pretty decent. And was looking forward to coming here. Had been here in 2010 and know the golf course. Really enjoyed it out there.”

“The golf course here is superb. It’s very difficult. You have to drive it straight and putt well and luckily I have done that so far this week.”

“I have driven the ball great in the fairway the majority of the time wch has kind of set up me to shoot a half half decent score this week.”

“I have my coach on the bag so he’s been doing a great job. I’ve made sure he’s double jobbing this week so I am really happy and looking forward to the weekend.”

Peter Lawrie interview Round 2 Trophee Hassan II

Meanwhile on the Blue Course….

Brendan Mcdaid
06/05/2016. Ladies European Tour 2016. Lalla Meryem Cup, Royal Dar Es Salam De Rabat, Rabat, Morocco. May 5-8. Florentyna Parker of England putts from just off the green on the third hole during the second round. Credit: Tristan Jones

Florentyna Parker during the second round in Rabat. Credit: Tristan Jones

Florentyna Parker continued to lead the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco after a second round of one under par 71 on the Blue Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat on Friday.

At six under par, the 26-year-old Englishwoman was two strokes ahead of compatriot Liz Young and Frenchwoman Isabelle Boineau at the halfway stage. Parker picked up two birdies on the 11th and 18th against one bogey on the par-5 sixth hole.

“I was really pleased with my round as it was windy this morning,” she said. “I hit one really close on 11 which I bogeyed yesterday, so I was quite pleased and birdied 18, which was my ninth. There were some solid pars, a few up and downs and a wild bogey but other than that it was quite steady. It’s always quite hard to come back after a really good round.”

While Parker is aiming for her third Ladies European Tour victory following wins at the 2010 ABN AMRO Ladies Open and 2014 Italian Open, her friends Boineau and Young are both well placed to challenge for their first titles on the LET this weekend.

Boineau heeded Parker’s advice by purchasing a book showing the contours of the greens which she used during her second successive round of 70. The third year player from Marseille said: “I followed her smart idea and bought one and it worked really well. I’ve been putting really well from two metres to four metres and the book really helped for the long putts as well to get a good distance. The greens look really flat but there are a lot of slopes. They are really pure and roll perfectly.”

Young’s level par round of 72 contained two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine, with nine steady pars on the back. “It was a level par round, out in level, back in level, but I didn’t start off very well,” said Young, who is four months pregnant with her first child. “It took me until the seventh hole to hit a green so I was wondering what the day would bring. I managed to start striking it better but the last four holes I felt like I was crawling around the golf course and now I’m going to go to bed.”

Defending champion Gwladys Nocera, who won the title last year in Agadir, is one of four players who are two strokes further back on after a second round 69. She shares fourth with Nuria Iturrios of Spain and Finnish pair Krista Bakker and Noora Tamminen. Moroccan star Maha Haddioui is eight shots off the lead on two over par after a second round of 74.

While Parker leads on six under par on the Blue Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, Italian rookie Francesco Laporta leads the Trophée Hassan II on the Red Course by the same score.

Moroccan Diary – Round 1

Brendan Mcdaid ,

Peter Lawrie, Round 1 Trophee Hassan II Getty Images

Peter Lawrie finished Thursday in Morocco with a round of 71 after he carded two birdies but dropped a shot on the par four third hole. Although a little loose through the first six holes Peter began to settle on the Royal Golf Dar es Salam to finish one under par at the Trophée Hassan II.

At the halfway point we were just the one shot over having stayed level for previous six consecutive holes to make it in 36 strokes. The home stretch saw pars all the way with a pair of birdies on 11 and 18. With Peter also seeing two putts slide by which could have really rattled the score board in our favour.

But a good day none the less even if no repeat of the 66 last time out in Rabat. All around us the news was mixed.

Kevin Phelan signing for a two under par round of 70 to trail the tournament leaders by just two strokes despite a triple bogey on the third hole.

Gary Hurley signed for a one under after losing a birdie on the back nine.

Paul Dunne finished his day with a level par 72 after dropping a shot on the homeward leg at seventeen.

Cormac Sharvin finished one over par with a 73 after a steady round that just saw him drop two shots with a birdie three on his second hole.

Michael Hoey the 2012 winner in Agadir saw hopes slip when he rounded the Rabat course in 77 strokes. After missing two cuts in China in Shenzen and then Beijing at the Volvo China Open – in as many weeks –  Hoey would have been looking for inspiration in a return to Morocco.

Rory McNamara ended his first round +8 and signing for a round of 80.

Jason Scrivener and Francesco Laporta set the clubhouse target as golfing history was made on day one at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.

The European Tour and the Ladies European Tour playing at the same venue concurrently for the first time with the men playing the Red Course and the women playing the Blue Course 50 miles up the coast from Casablanca.

The European Tour was returning to the venue in Rabat for the first time since 2010 and the Red Course layout was proving a major test as Scrivener and Laporta carded four under par rounds of 68 to take a one-shot advantage over home favourite Younes El Hassani and Frenchman Adrien Saddier.


Trophée Hassan II leaderboard

Play it Again Brendan says Lawrie

Brendan Mcdaid

Trophee+du+Hassan+II+Golf+Day+One+I3en9btjIFzl (1)Peter Lawrie fired a round of 66 at the Trophée Hassan to help him on his way to share of tenth place at the Royal Dar es Salam Course in Morocco back in 2010. Following five years at Agadir the European Tour event returns to Rabat where it will stay for the next few years. The Dubliner returns to that same this week  venue in search of similar form six years, but armed with that memory, after missing the cut on four consecutive occasion at the Royal Palais du Golf in Agadir. Although in 2011 Lawrie carded an opening 64 to lead the event after day one which was eventually won that occasion by David Horsey.

Michael Hoey also returns to Morocco as a previous winner of the Trophée Hassan II in 2012 and is part of a strong Irish field that includes Cormac Sharvin, Garry Hurley, Rory McNamara, Paul Dunne and Kevin Phelan. Last season in Agadir Phelan finished in share of third place with Richie Ramsey winning the event on -10, with Hoey signing off in T34.

Lawrie carded an opening 78 and was amongst those Irish players who missed the cut. A group that included Damien McGrane and Gareth Maybin – neither of whom return to Morocco having lost their Tour cards.

This year the tournament will be held around the Red Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, and is a par-72 layout that stretches to almost 7,500 yards. With the kikuyu grass it actually plays even longer as the fairways and rough toughen the shot-making and with forecasts suggesting rain during the week
the weather might also play a role. Although the smallish greens might allow for some more aggressive shot making if they become softer over the weekend. Undoubtedly this will be a good scoring week for the players as in 2010 Rhys Davies won with a -25 on the card on the same course. The Welshman returns to the scene of his maiden victory on the European Tour also this week.

Over the past two seasons Lawrie has battled with results that  left him on the wrong side of the Race to Dubai rankings and finishing in 124th place last year – which proved insufficient to retain his playing rights. The trip to Q School last year at the home of his sponsor, PGA Catalunya, offered no reprieve either. Yet ironically  Lawrie fins himself more relaxed about the outlook for the season.

“Without a schedule I have had more time to work on a few things and get a sense of perspective.” said Lawrie, “The trip to Tshwane Open came too early in the season in February and didn’t deliver. But the Open de España a few weeks was good.”

Brendan McDaid once again is on the bag and Lawrie arrives fresh with the news of a sponsor’s invitation for Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at the K Club in two weeks,

“Having Brendan was helpful around Valderrama and making the cut was probably our main goal at the outset,” said Lawrie, “Once that was achieved on the Friday, in the tough conditions, we then focused on the weekend.”

“So it just made sense to continue that partnership in Morocco and we will look to continue that momentum.”

The Hassan II Golf Trophy is a golf tournament in Morocco hosted by His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid and is a tournament named for his father, Hassan II, who served as King of Morocco.

The event was held at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat from 2010 until it moved to Agadir in 2011. Previous winners include Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, German Marcel Siem and England’s David Horsey. The tournament has been played since 1971, but did not take place from 1986 to 1990, 2004, and 2009.

It has only been a European Tour event since 2010.

*Peter Lawrie is sponsored by PGA Catalunya and NewstalkFM

Brendan McDaid is based at Carr Golf Centre, Spawell

McDaid’s Caddyshack Days

Brendan Mcdaid


We flew out early from Dublin to Malaga at daybreak arriving in the Costa de Sol about lunchtime. On collecting the car, we headed to accommodation in Manilva, near the Real Club Valderrama Club and after settling in our new home for the week we travelled up to the course. Peter Lawrie then played nine holes.

This was going to be a different type of week for me. In fact, it was the first time I had ever caddied and soon it became clear this would be very different from walking the course inside the ropes in warm up rounds.

There were distances, then divots, and lots of the flag holding. With proper positioning about the greens also to worry about as well as ensuring all the necessary accoutrements were in the bag. Not to mention the weight of the professional bag which has to be sherpaed about the course.

I also realised it was almost three years since I last travelled with Peter to an event and that was back in 2013 in Wales. Where had that time gone?

However, it wasn’t that long since Peter and I had met as through the winter months we had started working on a couple of things – quietly – at the Carr Golf Centre in Spawell. Peter felt there was couple of things that needed a look.

The focus was really on getting a proper turn and doing so tighter into his right side, explains coach Brendan McDaid, in an effort to get stronger on impact.

So the Real Club Valderrama Open de España, Hosted by Sergio Garcia Foundation was to be the venue to put some of that work into practice. As Peter was a winner of the event some years ago he enjoys an exemption for the European Tour event and asked me to join him on the bag.”.


Up early and played second nine holes in peace and quiet with a second nine squeezed in after lunch. There was some putting work done on the greens to get a feel for the rough around the greens too. With some chipping practice as well. From what we had seen already the rough throughout the course was penal and the place was set up to give up very few scores.


It was a relaxing morning so to speak as there was no pro-am commitment for my boss and as we couldn’t use the range with a driver until after 5pm the earlier part of the day was spent again on the greens. Like with all these practice sessions you always find something and in my mind Peter was swinging well. Barring some kind of bizarre nightmare, I reckoned we would be working at the weekend.


It was an 10:05hrs start with Graem Storm and Grégory Harvet. A tough day and the first in full competition for a while for Peter. But it all started very well and my first ever official hole as a caddie was a birdie!

As Peter started on the 10th we went one shot to the good. Then followed it with a par on his second [the 11th] and suddenly this caddying was looking easy peasy. It was to become a bit tougher on the opening day though as the wind stiffened bringing three consecutive bogeys by the fifth hole and then two more before the turn.

Then on the front nine – Peter’s back nine – we picked up another shot only to drop another. The first day ending with a round of 77 making the weekend look out of the question at that point as the earlier starters took advantage of the lighter wind.


Given the later tee time we spent a little time on the range and afterwards on the greens for an hour before a break for lunch. Not too much work to avoid fatigue was the plan as it would be tough day. We could see that from the scores being posted by the early starters.

So it was crunch time on Friday and my job was to watch the leaderboard as Peter is not a score watcher really. Another thing added to my caddying list.

As the scores up front tumbled in the wind I could see our chances coming back into play – if we could remain steady. A birdie came on the 10th to help our cause and we reached the turn in a healthier two over par 38. But the wind was treacherous and swirling everywhere and becoming harder for me to work out at times.

On 17th Peter just failed to clear the top edge of a bunker after a good drive which left him with an awkward stance. The plan was to knock it out and then just to pitch close for a par putt. Peter duly did the business.

That save left us some room to breathe on the eighteenth tee box and a chance to stay within the cut even with a bogey. So hitting off the last I knew we could afford a bogey at worst and so did Peter. He had asked me for an update for the first time all day.

On landing just off the fairway on the right I counselled Peter to pitch up once again to his favourite range and then get up and down. He did and unluckily just missed the par!

But were through and as the last out we could see +3 round left us inside the cut mark. A breakthrough in my mind for Peter as these would be first four rounds for him since Italy last September


The pairing for Round 3 included Marcel Siem and Daniel Brooks. One quirk of the day was that on the bag for Siem was Brian “Bo” Martin who had caddied for Peter for a number of very successful years. And also Uncle of Irish Walker Cup star Cormac Sharvin.

The day started with a clutch of pars with dropped shots in the middle stage to go two over par at the turn. Round three was to give us no rewards though and the final score of 77 was birdie less. But by no means incomparable to those notched up by a very strong field all around us.

Ahead of Sunday therefore we were T59 and +15 overall with the leader Alexander Levy on +1. Thus far Valderrama was winning the battle.


This was a 10:10hrs start with Sven Benson of England and Spain’s Alvaro Quiros in the group. With the wind calmer we reached the turn level par. On the second nine we lost shots on 13th ,16th and 17th – with only the one birdie for a two over par day. However, we came close to being level had a just few other putts dropped for Peter. It would have been nice way to reach the clubhouse

Given the course and the conditions it was not an event for the driver as Peter can get the ball running long with a three wood. So we worked our way around Valderrama with certain caution after Thursday’s round.

It is too easy to get out of position on that course with any slightly wayward shot. So we chose caution as the better option. The valour coming with making the cut for the first time in three outings this season.

That night we had dinner and like any good Sherpa I rested a weary soul.


Flew home from Malaga to Dublin at Monday lunchtime with Aer Lingus and as we took off could just see Morocco out in the distance. Rabat here we come May 5-8 next!


*Peter Lawrie is sponsored by NewstalkFM and PGA Catalunya