Thought for the Day:
Some people would kill for a Nobel Peace Prize
Who’d a thunk it?
There are, just occasionally, moments in both sport and life when the world is tipped off its axis and history is made in a most improbable way. This morning is one of those moments because it represents the only time when the four pre-eminent team competitions in golf – the Ryder, Solheim, Walker and Curtis cups – have all resided on this side of the Atlantic. Team GB&I’s improbable win over USA at Nairn in the Curtis Cup is their first since 1996, and only their seventh in the 85-years over which the competition has been held. To describe our side as being underdogs is the biggest understatement since Tiger Woods first said that he rather liked blonde cocktail waitresses. Even more improbably, they seized victory after losing the opening series of foursome matches in a whitewash. They even won the singles 5-8 and as we know, in team competitions the Americans always win the singles.
In the wake of this magnificent result we can now confidently expect England to win the European Football Championship, and to do it with flair and exciting attacking play, beating Germany 5-0 in the final.
Have a bit of water with your wine
Pete Cowen recently opened his mouth simply to change feet. The golf coach who works with, among others, Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Graeme MacDowell, Padraig Harrington, Henrik Stenson and Louis Ooosthuizen, has chosen to wind up the Americans in advance of this year’s Ryder Cup. He caused a bit of a stir at the European Tour’s annual dinner while accepting a Special Achievement Award. He said that European golf was so strong that we could field two Ryder Cup teams, both of which would beat the Americans. Cowen is so proud of his nationality that he refuses to teach Americans but it’s a thin line between patriotism and xenophobia and he crossed it. In the process he seemed to forget that we barely squeaked a win two years ago at Celtic Manor and, while we still hold the top three positions in the world rankings, five of the top-10 are from the USA, and in the world’s top-50, Europe and America have 20 representatives each.
When Cowen made his statement there were sharp intakes of breath all around, particularly from European captain Jose Maria Olazabal. Even smart people say and do dumb things so perhaps we should just ignore Cowen’s remarks and attribute them to a little too much wine with lunch.
Worth the wait
Roger Chapman famously played the European Tour for 15 years and was runner-up six times before eventually landing his one and only victory, in a little-known event in Brazil, in 2000. He retired in 2006 and spent some time as a rules official before allowing himself to be lured back into competitive action as a Senior, but history repeated itself as he finished second three times among the round bellies without recording a win. So when he qualified for the US Champions Tour in 2010 not too many people bet their mortgage on him landing a victory – which is why his triumph in the Senior PGA Tour Championship just over a week ago is so welcome. Rounds of 68, 67, 64 and 72 gave him a 13-under par total and two-stroke margin of victory over John Cook and it is doubtful if anyone, even the men he beat, would begrudge him the win.
Tiger’s victory in the Memorial Tournament a week ago was his 73rd on the PGA Tour, putting him tied second on the all-time list of winners, alongside Jack Nicklaus (Sam Snead is number one with 83 titles). But although the win itself was impressive, it was the manner in which he achieved it that really struck home. In the final round he barely put a foot wrong and only missed one shot – a 7-iron that he pulled into a bunker on the 10th. More strikingly, he seems to have regained his flair for the dramatic, as demonstrated on the par three16th. Through the green in rough, chipping back to a fiendishly fast putting surface that ran downhill towards water, he had an area the size of an envelope on which to land the ball – so of course, he hit the exact spot and holed the chip. It’s too early to say if his rehabilitation is complete but he’ll certainly be favourite going into this week’s US Open.
But of course, Luke Donald will win it.
Quote of the Week:
I think I over-estimated my abilities and under-estimated my intestinal fortitude.
Jim Colbert (on not winning the 1974 American Golf Classic)