I see that the lovely Brandt Snedeker (the computer nearly slipped in the surname Sneaker) has had a 59 in the first round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. Well done him.
He holed a 20-foot putt at his last hole (the 9th) to hit the magic mark, to finish 11 under par. I have to admit that when I switched on the telly yesterday afternoon to have a look at the golf (NOW tv is doing one of its Sky Sports deals, so I was tempted in), I noticed that Snedeker, who was on the 9th hole, had a wee (-10) by his name. That can’t be right I thought, it must be something to do with his place in the FedEx Cup standings or some such esoteric thing. Even though one of his playing partners then had (E), for even, beside his name, I dismissed it and switched off! More fool me but at least I can console myself with the thought that I really was there, on the golf course, in person, when Annika Sorenstam had her 59 at Moon Valley, in Phoenix, Arizona, all those years ago. Snedeker has joined a distinguished and not all that long list on the PGA Tour but Annika is still up there (or down there) on her own on the LPGA.
Still, pride of place this week must go to Ali Gibb, a 51-year old, six-handicap member of Croham Hurst GC in South Croydon, Surrey. Last Tuesday, she became the club champion for the umpteenth time but, remarkably, in her 36 holes, she recorded THREE holes-in-one. That’s right, she HOLED IN ONE THREE TIMES in two rounds, twice at the 5th, 127 yards and once at the 11th, 160 yards.
Ali described the day as “weird….very, very strange.” She finished her first round with a 9, started her second round with an 8 and in the course of the day had every number from 1 (THREE TIMES!) to 9. “Our pro Adam [Aram] came up to me and said, ‘I’ve had one hole-in-one in 42 years, you’ve just had three in five hours.”
Well done Ali on the golfing achievement of the week.Congrats also to Iceland, who won the mixed team event in the European Championships on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles. Vladis Thora Jonsdottir, Birgir Hafthorsson, Olafia Kristinsdottir and Axel Boasson were the gold medallists, a shot ahead of the Great Britain 3 quartet of Meghan MacLaren, Liam Johnston, Michele Thomson and Connor Syme. The men’s gold was won by Pedro Oriol and Scott Fernandez of Spain and the women’s by Sweden’s Linda Wessberg and Cajsa Persson.
I watched a little bit of the Gleneagles golf, behind the BBC’s red button, because the main channels were devoted to the athletics, swimming, diving, cycling, all of which featured world-class performers. Golf’s main men and women were mostly elsewhere but I didn’t see too much of the USPGA either because we couldn’t get it on big telly. (I believe even those who are good with cables, streaming and the like also had difficulties.)On the wild west coast of Ireland, at Ballybunion, Scotland won the women’s home internationals – I remember them looking good, if a little inexperienced, at Little Aston last year when Ireland won – and England won the girls’ internationals. Further east, at Whittington Heath GC and probably a tad lower down the golfing scale, the mixed open was won by Darren Hall and Helena Rean, who is such an Aston Villa fanatic that she has it written into her contract that football takes precedence over EVERYTHING. To look at her, she looks quite sane and sensible….. Not that I’m upset that my partner and I were pipped by a point……
I don’t know if Renee Powell and Katharine Whitehorn, two formidable women from different spheres, have met yet but they’re about to be immortalised at the home of golf by the University of St Andrews, founded in 1413, which is giving them a hall of residence each. Renee Powell Hall, 205 rooms and Whitehorn Hall, 184 rooms, are due to open in October. Powell was given an honorary degree by the university in 2008 and in 2015 she became one of the first female members of the R&A. She was the second African American to play on the LPGA tour and is now a renowned teacher, specialising not just in golf but in life.Whitehorn, a CBE and giant of journalism, is a graduate of Newnham College, Cambridge and was elected (by the students) rector of the University of St Andrews in 1982, the first woman to hold the post. I nearly spoke to her once when I spotted her at a Women In Journalism get-together but my courage (always in short supply) failed me. After all, would she really want some gibbering eejit stuttering, “You’re Katharine Whitehorn. I think you’re wonderful, an inspiration. And Cooking In A Bedsit helped me through uni.” No wonder I bottled it.
But Cooking In A Bedsit, a small, battered, bespattered paperback that has departed this world (or at least my copy has), was a lifesaver, wherever it may rank in the great woman’s oeuvre.
Finally, I couldn’t resist using this photo for its sheer, unadulterated joy. The golf at the European Championships may have been a bit low key for most of us but it really mattered to those taking part. And that’s what counts.