Golf is a sport which can make you humble.
Yet the new US Open champion had already learnt humility the hard way.
In April, Rory McIlroy led a major championship for the third time in a row, starting the last day of the US Masters with a four-stroke lead. That was before a spectacular Amen Corner collapse raised doubts if Rory could ever win a major.
After all, his final round at Augusta only matched the score he had made in a gale at St Andrews last July, after opening up with a 63.
Scoring 80 twice when leading majors seemed to ask serious questions about Rory’s appetite for the fight.
Yet really, his fortitude should never have been in doubt.
The hotel may be still asleep, but by six o’clock a Scottish May morning is already in full swing.
Outside the sky is clear and blue, the lawns still dew-swept and the rhododendron in full flower.
At the end of the driveway, I turn right, and set course hard along the kerb. Any Aberdonian knows that the lethally fast South Deeside road is no place to play in traffic, but for now it’s quiet and a gentle mile is all I need.
A few minutes go by as I ponder the wonders of travel and the rewards of rising early. A long day in meeting rooms will pass more swiftly with an hour of energy spent before the taxi calls to find me.
On the other side of the road, the trees are opening up a longer view, and I step gingerly across the highway to take in the morning glory of the River Dee and the open farmland stretching far beyond.
The river is tranquil here, in the later reaches of its 87-mile journey from the Cairngorm Mountains to reach the sea at Footdee beside Aberdeen harbour.
The Celts worshipped the Dee as a goddess, and today she is blessed with diverse riches. Upstream from here lie some of the most scenic salmon fishing grounds in Britain, whilst downstream the waters flow into the busiest oil port in Europe.
This peaceful view alone has more than repaid my early alarm call, but the fast cars won’t be long in coming, and so I hit the road again and gratefully turn right, uphill and full on into the face of rural Aberdeenshire.
The Olympic torch is coming to Guildford in 2012 as its last stop before London.
The grass running track in Stoke Park was laid out again recently. It’s from here in Guildford that the Olympic torch will begin the the final leg of its journey into London for the 2012 games.
There’ll be an evening celebration in Stoke Park on Friday, 20th July next year.
The golden autumn grasslands looked benign enough in sunshine from our balloon flight at dawn today, but 600 kilometres into Asia Minor, and 1,600 years ago, life was hard here. So hard, in fact, that an entire civilisation went underground. Literally.
Cut up to 85 m deep in soft volcanic layers within Miocene to Holocene tuffs and ignimbrites, the underground cities of Cappadocia serve testament to how difficult life was for early Christians on these high and open plains.
Dangerous enough for whole communities of fifty thousand souls to seek refuge beneath the earth — at several places scattered around this part of northern central Turkey.
Life here is easier now than it was back then, but maybe not that much.
Avanos is a one horse town if ever I’ve seen one, and it’s clear the horse left quite some time ago.
‘Paradoxically, the very worst outcome [for oil prices] might not be a sudden shock, but a milder recession. If this were to create some temporary spare oil production capacity by depressing demand, … the urgency of the need to prepare for the impending peak could easily be forced off the policy agenda…
As the global peak approaches and the market tightens, any sudden interruption of oil production could [then] spark the last oil shock.’
David Strahan (2007) — The Last Oil Shock (p. 177)
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In early 2009, I described the dramatic rise and fall of the oil price associated with the financial crisis of 2008, and looked at the future oil price trends which might follow recovery through into 2010.
Two years on, economic uncertainty remains, and a return to growth is far from guaranteed. Yet across this time, the oil price has risen steadily. From a low of $40 in February 2009, Brent crude stands at well over $120 today.
The last time when the oil price was above $100, back in 2008, the economy was still booming. Three years later, during the long aftermath of the deepest global recession for eighty years, the oil price remains close to historic highs. How can this be possible?
It was always tense at the Libyan border.
It took a couple of hours to get through the melée at the best of times. All humanity was there. Migrant workers, goat herds, farmers, businessmen. And secret police, too.
Once, on the way in, we were questioned by a mysterious officer with Carlos the Jackal sunglasses and a pistol beneath his leather jacket.
It was hard to feel comfortable under interrogation with $5,000 in cash stashed secretly inside my socks — the only way to pay a Tripoli hotel bill back then, in those days of the UN embargo.
Another time across the frontier at Ras Ajdir, the driver went the wrong way around an oil drum and we had to go right back to the start of the queue and start our two hour wait all over again.
And getting into the country was just the beginnning. The five hour drive from Tunisia to Tripoli was easily the most dangerous trip I ever made.