Cheats never prosper…

20 09 2015

Well, maybe the word ‘cheat’ is a little strong but what I witnessed this morning at the Solheim Cup left me shaking my head in sadness and disbelief. For those of you who don’t follow golf too closely, the Solheim Cup is a bi-annual competition between the best professional women golfers from Europe and the United States. As in its male counterpart, the Ryder Cup, the Europeans have had somewhat the better of things recently after years of losing and were looking for their third consecutive win at this week’s competition in St Leon-Rot, southern Germany.

Generally speaking these events are played in a sporting spirit (Jack Nicklaus’s concession of a two foot putt to Tony Jacklin in the 1969 Ryder Cup, which allowed the home team to tie the match after decades of defeats, is often quoted as one of the most sporting gestures in the history of golf). There are exceptions – the so-called ‘War on the Shore’ at Kiawah Island in 1991, in which the American team wore camouflage shirts to match a very aggressive attitude, is one – but there’s usually a spirit of competitive camaraderie between the teams. Well, today’s matches were bubbling along quite nicely, with Europe enjoying a handy 9-6 lead, when this happened at the 17th hole in the match featuring veteran Suzann Pettersen and 19 year old Charley Hull for the Europeans and Brittany Lincicombe and teenage rookie Allison Lee for the USA:

Because the Europeans hadn’t actually conceded Lee’s short (two foot) putt they were technically within their rights to claim the hole when she picked up her ball, assuming the putt was a gimme. Hull and Lee, the two rookies, were both in tears at the end of the match, but Peterssen was adamant: neither she nor Hull had conceded the putt. Morally, however, it was very questionable. The American captain Julie Inkster said tersely “You just don’t do that to your peers. It’s disrespectful”, but I think European golfing legend Laura Davies put it best: “The Europeans have won the point, but the Americans have got the moral high ground. I think they (Suzann Pettersen and team captain Karen Koch) will regret it for the rest of their lives”.

Well, it turned out that they regretted it a bit sooner than that. Pettersen and Hull went on to win that match on the last hole, leaving the European team with a commanding 10-6 lead overall with just the 12 single matches to come. But then, guess what? Fired up by what they perceived as a huge injustice, the Americans came back to win the singles by a margin of 8.5 to 3.5 and regained the Cup by a single point, 14.5 to 13.5.

I never thought I would say this, but “Yay USA!!”

Suzann Pettersen has been a wonderful golfer over the years, but I believe her actions today will have tarnished her legacy forever. I much prefer to think back to 1969 and that other two foot putt – the one that WAS conceded. Nicklaus was quoted as saying to Jacklin as they walked off the 18th green: “I didn’t think you’d miss that one, Tony, but I wasn’t prepared to give you the chance.”

What a golfer, what a sportsman. What a legend!

All da best.

Dave B.





Nigel Farage swings for Europe

25 09 2014

“Nigel who?” I hear you ask. Well, Nigel Farage is the leader of UKIP, a relatively new, right leaning, political party in the United Kingdom. The party’s main platform seems to be that it wants Britain to leave the European Community and has picked up a lot of support recently, gaining more votes than either Labour or the Conservatives in May’s European elections. Many people, myself included, wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot barge pole but opinion polls consistently indicate that Farage is by some distance the most popular party leader in Britain right now, including one which showed him to be ‘the politician most people would want to go down the pub with’.

Somewhat surprising, then, to see him appear in this pro-Europe commercial for Paddy Power, the Irish bookmakers:

I never thought I’d find myself siding with Mr Farage on anything, but on this occasion I guess I’ll just have to sup with the devil.

Go Europe (even though I kind of empathise with Jim Furyk’s swing)!

All da best,

Dave B.

 





Ryder Cup-itis

5 10 2010

I never played tennis when I was a kid growing up in England – except for a few days during and immediately after Wimbledon fortnight. So it must have been the recent golfing event that took place across the pond that influenced the Chief and me into changing our usual Tuesday morning stroke play game today into a do or die Ryder Cup style match play competition. There were, admittedly, one or two minor differences between the two events. For one thing we were playing in the warm embrace of a perfect autumn morning at Glacier Greens rather than having to endure the torrential monsoons they had to put up with at Celtic Manor; for another, the strongly pro European crowd of 35,000 or so was replaced by our fellow playing companions, Rod and Tony, who were playing their own, very gentlemanly match. On the other hand, rather than comments from the crowd being lost in the general hubbub, we could hear our companions’ comments all too clearly. After the second hole was completed I announced the score for the benefit of the imaginary audience: “Hole halved in seven. Europe remains one up”. I bet you didn’t hear that scoreline too much in Wales. A little later on, after I’d made what I thought was a frank but fair assessment of one of Adrian’s less successful approach shots, he responded with an even more cutting comment: “There may be no ‘I’ in ‘Team’ but there’s three U’s in ‘Shut the F*ck Up”. I’m so glad that relations between the two sides in Newport were more cordial. I was lucky enough to chip in for birdie on # 13 to go two up in the match and I did consider an Ian Poulter type fist pump or even a Jeff Overton “Boom baby. Oh yeah!”, but to be honest it would sound pretty daft in a Dorset accent. (Actually, to be completely honest, it sounded pretty daft in an American accent too). I just tried to put on my best ‘standard chip there, nothing that amazing’ serious face which of course fooled nobody. When the match was over (a 2 and 1 victory for Europe, by the way) and we had reached the patio I was able to savour my win. No doubt the Euros loved drinking that champagne on the balcony and spraying it on the crowd below as they sang “olé,olé, olé,olé” ad nauseam but I have to say that my coffee, bought and paid for by the Chief, tasted pretty darn sweet too…

One last comment on the Ryder Cup: I didn’t really know much about Hunter Mahan before this weekend. Hunter Mahan, DJ Trahan, just one of those cookie cutter highly-successful-but-not-a-megastar PGA pros, right? Now I do, and I am so rooting for him to come up big in a tournament soon. And kudos to Phil Mickelson and Stewart Cink for diving in to protect him from the savaging the media guys were trying to unleash on him at the post match press conference. I’m a Europe all the way chap when it comes to the Ryder Cup, but the American guys went way up in my estimation for the way they jumped in to defend their shell shocked team mate. Maybe I’ll even switch allegiances by the time the 2012 Cup comes around at Medinah, Illinois?  No,  probably not – but I’ll definitely be hoping that Hunter Mahan gets to play – and holes a chip just like my one on # 13 today. What is it Mark Middleton once said to me after I’d played a particularly lucky shot at Sunnydale? “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while…”

All da best,

Dave B.