Sunday 21 July 2013

Sun, golf and cricket

With Sharon away at conference and the boys nearing the end of their extended holiday in Ireland, I had a great weekend of cricket and golf. With the hot, dry spell showing little sign of breaking, I took Friday afternoon off to play golf with Richie Brown, who'd driven up from Warrington in the morning. Richie is fairly new to the game but persevered around Broomieknowe in the blazing sun. I had an up and down round, 50 out and 40 back, with a couple of birdies on the back nine, finishing with three consecutive drives that were almost 300 yards through the hot air and along the baking fairways.

Then it was home for the "biathlon" - the second Ashes Test on the telly with the Open golf playing on the laptop alongside it! The kind of set-up you can only get away with when your wife's not home! Paul Last and Ian arrived later to stay over. We were up early on Saturday, breakfasted and then headed in the car to Drem to park for the Open. There was an efficient shuttle bus service to take us to Muirfield which was coming alive as the morning haar rolled away and the sun came out once more. £75 was a bit steep for the entry but we had a great day. We sat at the first green for a while then followed Garcia and Harrington for three holes. Next we sat in the stand at the 12th green, which some players were able to reach, down hill and down breeze. Jason Dufner had a torrid time in the bunker, taking three to get out. We moved up to the stands facing the 5th and 11th greens which afforded some shelter from the cool easterly breeze and a great view of the action.

Ian was finding it a bit hot so we moved on after a while, meandering back towards the first tee where the leaders were starting to head out. The circus arrived as Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood, the penultimate pairing, took to the first tee. We saw them hit and saw Tiger birdie the second, but the crowd was too deep for Ian or us to see much of the action so we headed back towards the 11th. Unable to get across, as there was no break in play, we settled by the 13th green, with a great view of the bunker and hole, and watched all the leaders come through. Schwartzel was unlucky not to hole a bunker shot that stopped on the lip. Finally we headed towards the big stands by the 18th until the close of play, Westwood finishing the round with a two shot lead over the field.

The return to the car park was predictably more arduous than our outbound journey, with a massive queue awaiting the buses. We waited about 40 minutes. It still was a far better, quicker and cheaper option than the train: people had to queue for a bus to Drem and then queue all round Drem, waiting a further hour for the train. After a 12-hour day, we'd earned our fish and chips (me) and kebab (Richie). Paul headed home with a very tired Ian.

On Sunday morning, Richie and I headed down to Innerleithen to play the nine-hole course there. It was delightful, with the sun breaking through and shining down on a scene that was like a mini-Rockies, the course snaking alongside a river, bisected by a B-road and dotted with pine trees. Richie almost took out a car with his first drive, the look of horror on the driver's face as the ball skipped off the tarmac and whizzed past the windscreen all too vivid. There were some great driving holes and only one quirky par three. I holed a 35-yard chip for a birdie in my six-over par 41. It was a thoroughly enjoyable nine holes.

We drove north, past a number of wild campers, to eventually join the A7, then headed for lunch at Kingsacre, resplendent in the sunshine. The leaders were teeing off at the Open, so, as Richie headed on to Paisley, I headed home to watch the golf. Unfortunately Lee Westwood didn't play well enough to break his major duck as Phil Mickelson surged home to win the Open for the first time.

On the cricket side, England pulverized a very weak Australia team by 347 runs to take a 2-0 lead in the Ashes for the first time since 1986/7. So, the Westwood disappointment aside, it was a perfect weekend of weather, sport and company. Now it's time for the family to re-unite!

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