I was making myself a gin and tonic before settling down to this week’s blog when I realised that I was pouring the gin as though it were tonic. Whoops. Catch yourself on. Surely it hasn’t come to this just yet? It reminded me of a friend who used to glug down a g and t as though it were water and she’d survived several days hallucinating in the desert. In her defence, she was only a student at the time and soon learned that water was for thirst-quenching and gin was for sipping and savouring.
In my defence, I’d been distracted by the election leaflets that have started plopping into my letterbox. In this neck of Middle England we’ve just had parish and district council elections and now we seem to be having an “Election for the European Parliament West Midlands Region”. (I quote from the Labour leaflet.) Europe? Didn’t we in the UK vote to leave? (Helped by the fact that we’re separated from the dreaded continent by some water and thus have no truck with the thought that “no man – or woman – is an island”.) Mmmm. That vote was nearly three years ago, yet Europe still looms large in our lives. Funny that. That’s neighbours for you.
Anyway, the leaflets with the carefully posed “you can have confidence in us, you know you can” photos of party leaders are destined for the recycling box. Frankly, I think I have more confidence in Rory McIlroy’s putting – and given what I’ve seen of the first round of the USPGA Championship at Bethpage that’s saying something. I haven’t quite given up on politics just yet but at the moment I’m trying to simplify all areas of my life and in political terms that can be summed up concisely [Ed: You? Concise? Surely not. And isn’t that tautology anyway? Isn’t summing up by its nature concise?], if a tad negatively: If Nigel’s for it, I’m agin it. NFF, as he’s known here, where we dare not speak his name, is already in the bin. Others will follow.
Have I mentioned golf yet? Ah yes, Rory and Bethpage, that must count. And gin and tonic. And Rory has said that he’d like to play in the Olympics after all and represent Ireland. That’s not quite as simple as it sounds but it makes sense since he played for Ireland as an amateur – golf, like rugby and many other sports, is an all-Ireland affair. The added complication is that Rory, being an Ulsterman born and bred, could also play for GB (or whatever the official Olympic designation is). Don’t ask me to explain; there’s a whole library of books on this subject.
I had what I thought was quite a good idea for a theme coming in to this week but, as so often, themes tend to get overtaken by events, or musings, or whatevers. It was something to do with money and what people are playing for on the numerous tours at numerous levels all over the world. At Bethpage it’s US$11,000,000, which puts everything else in the halfpenny place. For instance, Leona Maguire, who’s on the Symetra Tour at the moment, won just over $11,000 for a share of second place (after a play-off with three others). Maria Parra, of Spain, winner of the IOA International in Atlanta after prolonged sudden death – she had an eagle three at the 5th extra hole – earned herself $22,500.Purses are now a topic for another day, so I’ll start with an amateur, Lily May Humphreys. The 17-year old from Stoke by Nayland in Essex, already a seasoned England international and Curtis Cup player, coped calmly with difficult, windy conditions at Co Louth (Baltray) to complete a memorable double, having just won the Welsh Women’s Open Strokeplay at Royal St David’s (Harlech). She has her heart set on a professional career, so let us hope that she, Maguire, Parra and all the other talented hopefuls can make a decent living from their passion.
Fellow Englishwomen Trish Johnson and Laura Davies have more than managed it. This week, the perennial pair, ever peripatetic, are competing in the second US Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles in North Carolina, just down the road from Pinehurst. It’s a place dear to my heart for many reasons, not least because of the hospitality of the inimitable Peggy Kirk Bell and because it’s where I played my first round of golf with Dai. It’s also wonderful golfing territory. Dame Laura is defending the title she won in Chicago last year.
We at WHGC (Whittington Heath Golf Club for our new reader) are learning that straightforward, old-fashioned strokeplay golf is not the only form of the game that professionals play. We’re now exploring the world of long drivers, who are, in many respects, a breed apart. All thanks to our own Jordan Brooks, a man of Tamworth, who’s up there with the best in the world. He’s not quite as celebrated – yet – as Dave Gilbert, also from Tamworth, who recently came agonisingly close to reaching the final of the snooker World Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield.
Jordan, who’s a rookie in long-driving terms, is just back home after competing with the best at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He reached the semi-finals and now knows that he can hold his own with long-driving giants like Kyle Berkshire, Will Hogue and Ryan Steenberg. Go Jordan.