Thursday 31 May 2012.
Woke with a start at 07.00 almost too late for my 07.50 tee time. Rushed but returned from my car when I found no blue bag in the boot and packed the bag with a change of clothes. I wasted no time and got to Athenry golf club on the stroke of 07.20 in plenty of time. Incessant rain throughout the round. I wore my European Tour jacket of the wet suit I bought off Pat Hoey years ago over my white Ralph Lauren semi-polo white golf shirt with long sleeves. Black 42” slacks with turnups, fawn Ralph Lauren golf socks, tan and white Icon shoes, white Nike golf cap, glasses. The rain was of the soft variety and falling straight down with very little breeze and although I was wet to the arse all the way round I did not feel cold and I struck the ball brilliantly on many shots, with irons, 3-metal, rescue club and last but not least, the Mizuno driver. However my putter let me down. I used the BullsEye putter today instead of the “Richie Blackmore” mallet headed putter I used yesterday. Same difference. I was extremely thankful for a pair of all-weather gloves I bought off Robert Giles months ago. “Keep them in your bag. You would never know when they might come in useful,” he advised then. The first time I ever used them. I was also thankful for my brown braces especially when I saw my saturated playing partner Raymond Smith trying dolefully to hitch up his slacks in the trees by the 18th tee. Towards the end of the round he could not cope with the conditions and registered an NR. I signed for 92. Raymond had allowed my card to disintegrate in the wet but the teller cheerfully filled my score into a fresh dry card in the scorer’s office. I had kept note of the scores on an old Craddockstown card I found in my bag at the start. I struck a fine drive on 16 and a brilliant quiet 3-metal to within yards of the green. However chipped and 3-putted for a 6. The story of my life. I hit a brilliant 6-iron slightly short onto the right of the 17th, par 3, and 3 putted. Knocked down my second shot with the rescue club on 18, my only miscue of the day. Recovered with a high 6-iron dead straight over the flag at the back of the green. My shortish downhiller wandered to the right but I converted for a 5. Mission accomplished. Stripped in the locker room, took a hot shower in the cubicle Raymond had occupied before me, put on my blue Pierre Cardin shirt, clean underpants and socks, grey Robbie slacks, brown two-tone zipped soft boots. Felt I was playing well all along and when I was worried I generally hit a good shot. The lesson Robert Giles gave me a week or two ago pointed me in the right direction. I drank solo a pint of iced water in the bar and a mug of coffee (€1.50). Chat with Tom Tyrrell and his wife Mary. They were passing me in the bar on their way out to the course. Tom seemed in very happy mood despite the weather and I complimented him on how well he looked. Checked my score on the board 90 + 92 = 184. At that stage my total was the worst in the clubhouse. However there were 7 or 8 “Withdrawn” and “No Return.” It turned out that mine was the worst overall score in the end bar 1. But there were 11 competitors who did not complete the 2 qualifying rounds. In the end Seamus McParland finished second last of the qualifiers. Garth McGimpsey was 6th. Adrian Morrow won. The 2 Rossmore men acquitted themselves well and Tom Tyrrell had 3 good rounds. Frank helped me to put my clubs in the basement room to dry, I hung drapery around my room, spread my green bath towel on a bar in the bathroom; took my Canon, Powakaddy umbrella, white FootJoy golf jacket and set out towards Loughrea to find Tom Daly’s grave in Clostohen. The sat nav was not much help to me getting there. Found the grave exactly where the undertaker had helpfully explained to me it was when I phoned earlier. Took a few snaps with the Canon from underneath the umbrella in the drizzle. Struggled a little because the camera was on a delayed release setting and I had to correct that. The sat nav got me back to Raheen Woods Hotel without any delay. I had spoken to a couple sitting at table in a house opposite a graveyard and church I encountered a few kilometres before I reached Clostohen. They were friendly, gracious, took pains to explain the way to Clostohen. Satiated myself on chowder, pasta carboneri, a pot of tea. Ate so much I was uncomfortable the rest of the evening. Exchanged texts with Rosanna who plays with Emily in Greenore tomorrow evening against Banbridge in The Miele Cup. Sent a text to Dessie who rang tomorrow evening. Met Bryan Malone in the bar again this evening. He had come down from his room for a glass of ice and not long in was still wearing the (wet) clothes he had been playing in. Like me he was cheerful although his score was high. Exercised, with difficulty and a full stomach, took a shower, retired to bed; not long after 22.00. Raymond and I were the first out this morning. I told the personable young pro before setting out on the course this morning that the shower was cold yesterday. I thanked him afterwards. “Was the shower ok?” he asked. “It was red hot,” I replied gratefully.