There’s so much sport going on at the moment that I could do with a phalanx of tellies, a veritable mission control of screens, a bit like something the baddie in a James Bond fil(u)m would be using in their bid to take over the world.
World domination. There’s a thought. Why on earth would you bother? Especially since it usually seems to involve blowing up half the planet and exterminating as many of its inhabitants as possible. Couldn’t we just settle for the meek inheriting the earth? Not very exciting perhaps but infinitely less messy. Ah well, we can all dream. And I’m beginning to feel guilty every time I use the washing machine or turn on the tap. Not forgetting the conniptions (not so much rage as hysteria verging on panic) generated by the boiler (gas).
Perhaps that’s why I love sport. However complicated it becomes it’s generally a lot simpler than grappling with the complexity of day-to-day life. And sportsmen and women can go at it hammer and tongs and still shake hands at the end and behave in a civilised manner – mostly.
The picture at the top of this piece (credited to Getty Images) is of Tony Jacklin (left) and Jack Nicklaus on the 18th green at Royal Birkdale at the conclusion of their halved match that meant the Ryder Cup ended in a tie, 16-all (the format was different in those far-off days of 1969). Nicklaus had just conceded Jacklin an eminently missable putt with the words, “I don’t think you would have missed that putt but under these circumstances I would never give you the opportunity.”
Jacklin, the Open champion, the home hero, had holed a monster putt at the 17th to square the match and as they walked down the 18th, Nicklaus asked him if he was nervous. “Bloody petrified,” Jacklin said and they both laughed, with Nicklaus, in his first Ryder Cup (the eligibility rules were different then), admitting that he was also “feeling the squeeze”.
Sam Snead, the US captain, was, apparently, less than pleased at his man’s act of generosity but the Americans retained the trophy – although they allowed GB and I (as it still was), who had lost every match since their famous victory at Lindrick in 1957, to look after it for a year. I still don’t see why the holders should start every match with an advantage and keep the trophy if the match ends level. It should be a tie, nothing more, nothing less.The concession, as it’s known, has now morphed into something tangible – The Nicklaus-Jacklin Award presented by Aon, which will be awarded for the first time at this year’s Ryder Cup, at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. To quote from the official announcement: “The first-of-its-kind award will be given to two players – one each from the U.S. and European Ryder Cup teams – who best embody the spirit of the event: seeing the bigger picture and making decisions critical to sportsmanship, teamwork and performance at the Ryder Cup.”
The recipients will be chosen by a committee that includes Nicklaus, Jacklin, other past Ryder Cup captains and representatives from Aon, the PGA of America, the PGA of GB and I, Sky and NBC Sports.
Even in the middle of all the hype and the hoopla, the rowdiness and, sometimes, rancour, there’ll probably always be at least one player on each side that keeps a level head and retains a sense of perspective, the knowledge that, after all, it’s only a game……
The trouble is that, if you play as a professional, to make a living, it’s hard to think that it’s just a game. I’d never have had the nerve (overlooking the fact that I never had the game!) So, many congratulations to Heather MacRae who has just won the WPGA Championships for the third year in a row and a record-equalling fourth time.
The 37-year old Scot, who represents Gleneagles Hotel (where I don’t suppose her £1000 in prize money would go too far), had rounds of 69 and 71 to finish on 140, eight under par, at Kedleston Park. She was five shots ahead of runner-up Keely Chiericato, the only other player under par on a damp, gusty day.The men are playing for a bit more money – total prize fund $8,000,000 – at the Renaissance Club, near North Berwick, in Scotland, this week. It’s a good field, including Jn Rhm, the new US Open champion and world No 1, Jstn Thms, Rry Mclry, L Wstwd, Tmmy Fltwd and others. No sign of Hrvy, the young lad who ditched the vwls and made a frtn and wwd s ll n Stctly Cm Dncng….Thought he might have been asked to play in the pr-m.
As you can see, there’s a limit to this sort of thing but we’re all having a bit of fun – and taking the pss – because the title of the event is now the abrdn (NOT abrade as my computer insisted) Scottish Open. Heaven knows why but although this vowel void grates, it’s also great fun. And, why, one asks, did they not go the whl hg and call it the abrdn Scttsh Pn? We’d have worked it out eventually.
Anyway, luckily for you all, I’ve run out of room and won’t be able to go into the pros and cons of the booking system: to keep or not to keep? That’s a question that is exercising many golf clubs now that the COVID regulations are being eased . At WHGC it seems that it’s too close to call but the ensuing discussions could be a godsend for even the most wide-eyed insomniac…
I found this photo of Dad, dated 12th July 1948, hence its appearance here on the (near) anniversary of his getting his degree from Queen’s University Belfast.And, irresistible as ever, another McKenna special.