Date: 18th - 20th November 2013
Can you believe that we're half way through November already?! I can't. I've been home for over 10 weeks now and I've been itching to get back on the road again. The nights are drawing in far too quickly and it's just a little too cold! Time to find a bit of warmth and get some competitive practice in before playing the last tournament of the season in Dubai. I wanted to get the competing juices flowing again, so I entered a LET Access event in Spain.
My friend Grace McLaughlin had planned to go out to Spain too for some warmer practice and happened to have a house about an hour from where I was due to be competing. So we teamed up and headed out to Alicante. It was 20 degrees when we landed! That's more like it :)
Club de Golf Font Del Llop (before you ask, no that's not a spelling mistake!) wasn't far from the airport, so we headed to the course first in the hope to get a practice round in. We eventually found the course, hidden up high in the rocky landscape. It was blowing a gale. Maybe after some lunch, it might calm down. Mmm, no such luck. We hit some balls on the range and decided it was probably better to walk a few holes instead. It was definitely worth a look, you wouldn't want to play this course without seeing it first. Dinner time, so we drove back to Grace's, an idyllic home away from home situated along side the 11th hole at Las Ramblas, in Torrevieja.
Saturday was my last chance to play Font Del Llop, so I left Grace to do her own thing while I sussed out a game plan for the week. I was going to need one here, it wasn't a course that suited my eye at all. Apart from the par 3's, there weren't many holes that you could stand on the tee and see exactly what you had to do. There were many large bunkers and lots of water hazards, oh and the fairways were undulated, which made it all seem very tight. It required careful planning and patience, lots of patience! It was great to be back in my competitive bubble and see all my friends again.
Sunday, the sun was out again and Grace and I decided to get some good quality practice in on the range. We then went out to play 9 holes at Las Ramblas, which was a lot of fun.
Monday was tournament day, Grace was on the bag and I was in a lovely group, paired with Marion Ricordeau and Caroline Martens. I got out the car and almost got blown off my feet, it was only 7 degrees, blowing a gale and it was freezing! I put on everything I owned and waddled to the range to warm up. I told Grace to stay in the warm, which she did! It was a real challenge to swing the club, not just because of the layers, but the wind was so gusty. It was a real battle on the course. A case of damage limitation more than anything. It seemed like every other hole someone needed a ruling, it was brutal. They even came out with hot soup half way round, I think they felt sorry for us. I made some incredible par's but it was very easy to make bogey too. I was missing putts from 5/6 feet, which is usually a formality. A frustrating day for everyone. I finished +10, it took 6 hours to go round and I was exhausted. Poor Grace, her first time caddying in a professional event, wasn't the greatest experience. At least it couldn't get any worse, or could it??........
Famous last words! Day 2, I gave Grace the day off. I arrived to stronger winds than the day before, they must have been 60+mph! I went into the clubhouse expecting to be told that there would be a delay. Nope, I couldn't believe it, this was silly!
Marion, Caroline & I were laughing on the 1st tee. Just keep smiling we said! As it turned out, we played 1 hole and got called in, play was suspended for 2 hours. We were the last group, so it was touch and go as to whether we were going to get finished before dark.
It wasn't much calmer when we got sent back out again. However, we eventually reached the Par 5 9th (our 18th), it was after 6pm, so visibility was poor. I asked the referee what the cut was, he told me it was currently at +14. I was +15 stood on the tee. I couldn't believe it, I hadn't made a birdie in 35 holes and I needed one to make the cut. I hit a good drive down the middle, hit a lay up short of where the fairway narrows and I had 148yrds left to the pin. I could just make out the pin on the horizon and I hit my 7i towards the green. I knew I'd hit it straight, but I had no idea where it had finished. It was good, I had about a 12ft putt, by this time it was pitch black. The green keepers had to drive up to the edge of the green with their headlights on to illuminate the green for us to see. I wasn't going to leave this one short. Boom, in it went! There was a lot of fist pumping! I couldn't believe it, so much so that I walked off to the Recording Office and forgot my golf bag. What a day! To think it came down to the last putt. I'm still stunned just writing about it.
Gracie was very pleased for me when I got back to the house and agreed to caddy for me in the last round.
As if this week couldn't get any stranger, I then found out that I was teeing off first playing by myself with a young Spanish boy for a card marker! Thank goodness Grace was with me for a bit of chit chat. I guess having the honour on every tee wasn't such a bad thing. It was an odd experience not being able to learn from others shots and not marking anyone's card, but it meant that I could go round at my own pace. I flew round in 3 hours and carded a 74. The wind was ever increasing as the day went on and having started the day at T21st, I climbed to T9th! What a result. I never would have expected a top 10 finish after such a disappointing 1st round. It certainly brightened up an otherwise miserable and challenging week.