FIVE European Tour tournaments in 2005 and five cuts successfully made. Now I'm taking a well-earned rest this week to celebrate after my exertions in the Far East.

Bizarrely, I achieved my aim this time around, despite having a stiff back going into the first day of the Malaysian Open, and my opening round had to be completed the following day because of an electrical storm.

I have to be proud of myself for achieving a 100 per cent record and particularly when the past five weeks have been very tiring from long haul flights and massive changes in time, having moved from South Africa, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and on to Malaysia.

But I played some great golf and shot 69 and 68 last weekend to finish 14th.

I'm sitting a pretty 21st in the Volvo Order of Merit after pocketing nearly 70,000 Euros so far. What's even more pleasing is that I'm still not 100 per cent happy with my game and there's room for improvement.

The confidence is bubbling away and I'm looking forward to trying to continue my perfect start to my first season back on Tour at the larger events coming up - the Dubai Desert Classic in eight days then the Qatar Masters in Doha the week after.

THERE'S never a week goes by without a little humour to lighten the mood and Malaysia was no different - for the innocent by-stander at least.

It is hard to imagine unless you have been there, but wandering the Kuala Lumpur course are many monkeys and when Padraig Harrington - the very same Padraig Harrington who was in last year's Ryder Cup team - was playing in the pro-am last week he encountered a problem.

After using his range finder, a tool that measures distances, Padraig put it down while he took his next shot.

While his back was turned the cheeky monkeys pinched his finder and started to throw it between themselves until it landed on the floor and smashed.

The public and the rest of us on the course burst into a fit of laughter and, thankfully, Padraig lived up to his nationality and proved that the Irish are always smiling, although he must have bought a new one because he went on to finish two shots ahead of me on Sunday.

FOR those who read my column on a fortnightly basis, you will know one of my closest friends on Tour is Oliver Wilson. And, while I was having a disappointing time of things in the New Zealand Open ten days ago, I was Oli's biggest fan going into the final day.

We have a little agreement between ourselves consisting of whichever one of us wins a competition this year then they will pay for the week's accommodation, amounting to around £300.

So when Oli went into the Sunday at Auckland with a one- shot lead I thought 'Jackpot'.

Unfortunately he couldn't hang on. Never mind, I'm positive one of us will win, if not this year then maybe next!

THESE Tour events do not pass without controversy either and in Auckland we had to put up with animal rights protestors.

Three greens on the course were vandalised by protesters angry that a tame duck had been killed by the green staff accidentally.

The protestors dug holes in the greens and wrote 'murderer' in an oil which kills the grass. That obviously didn't go down too well.

ON Saturday in Auckland I went round with former Open champion Paul Lawrie and it turns out the Scot is a Newcastle United fan. Now considering my caddie, Steve Rawlinson, is a Sunderland fan it's fair to say there was more than the odd piece of friendly banter exchanged over 18 holes.

And the friendly jibes obviously had an effect on both of us because we both seemed to struggle on the last nine holes. Remind me to just talk about Hartlepool next time

Published: 23/02/2005