Perhaps it’s living on your own wot does it but I spend a lot of time talking to – ok, shouting at – the radio and the telly. If it’s sport and something I’m invested in, there’s a lot of unedifying screeching, groaning and imprecations of an unladylike nature (the latter certainly a hangover from spending a few years sharing an office with a lovely, talented Scot called Dave Oswald, now an allotmenteer but still opinionated and, sadly, a Chelsea supporter).
Last Saturday, for an Ireland supporter, was sheer bliss. Up early to watch Ireland take on the All Blacks in the deciding test at the Cake Tin in Wellington, I was lost in admiration; blimey, when did we become so good? We were well-nigh perfect in the first half and I scurried up to the telly to snap the score: 3-22. That might never happen again, against New Zealand, away from home.
The second half was more nail-biting, necessitating a lot of pacing and anxiety as the ABs roared back but we (ha! my only ‘rugby’ was against a team wearing wellies but I did learn why players dived for the line – panic in the certain knowledge of pounding pursuers poised to pounce; sorry, couldn’t resist) held firm, scored another try and won, quite deservedly, 32 – 22. Wow. Wow. Wow.
South Africa in 1937, the Lions in 1971, Australia in 1986 and France in 1994 are the other teams on the illustrious list of series winners in New Zealand. It’s probably the holy grail of rugby union.
Chasing the holy grail of an Open win at St Andrews, Rory had a great Saturday, with a 66, six under par. Sunday, however, was, for Rory supporters, four and a half hours (or whatever it was) of hell. “Bet you’re enjoying the golf,” was the message from several friends. Wot? Enjoying? You must be joking!!! It was a brilliant, compelling last day – but not for those of us invested in Rory completing a fairytale victory. He hit a lot of good shots but there weren’t enough of his trademark twirls and he didn’t have a single one-putt green in 18 holes. When Cam Smith went turbo-charged, Rory remained stuck in neutral.
I was shouting at the telly again, though, because NO ONE (that I heard and I watched most of it) mentioned Kel Nagle. Come on! Come on! There was an obvious symmetry: Arnold Palmer, the people’s champion, favourite to win the Centenary Open at St Andrews in 1960, was upstaged by Kel Nagle, of Australia. Rory McIlroy, favourite etc, etc…The good news for some of us is that Arnie won the next two Opens…
Cam Smith, the new Open champion, also a very, very good golfer, is, apparently, set to take himself and the Claret Jug off to LIV, fronted – for the time being – by Greg Norman, a fellow Queenslander, twice an Open champion and golfing hero to many an Aussie and an inspiration, slightly dodgy clothing line notwithstanding. That would be a pity, especially since Cam has absolutely no need to do anything at all for the time being. He’s in the pound, or multi-million dollar, seats whatever happens. He – and his advisers – just have to sit tight, enjoy their win, smile broadly and contentedly and let things unfold. Let the chips fall where they may, so to speak…
Henrik Stenson, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain for a few brief months, has gone for the greedy option, taking the LIV money and giving up the hassle of plotting how to beat the rampant Yanks in Rome next year after they rampaged their way to a comprehensive victory last time out. Henrik, of course, has previous. He once put his trust in Allen Stanford, the Texan fraudster who persuaded cricket that he was the future and is, as far as I know, still in prison. His sentence, in case you’ve forgotten, was 110 years. Henrik lost a lot of money. The Saudis are, undoubtedly, richer and less vulnerable than Stanford. Money always talks, even if it is with forked tongue.
If you have any doubts about the LIV effect, keep reading Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch on the subject. He has no doubts and is quite brilliant.
Down here at ground level, I’m looking after Mavis, a cockerpoo I think, for a few days. She’s a sweetheart – if not quite as saintly as Alice, not least because she’s come in from exploring the garden with all sorts of bits stuck to her fur. Aaagh. No doubt one of the dog walkers will come up with a grooming tool and Mavis will be pristine before she goes home.
On a more sporting note, the Commonwealth Games are in Brum this year and start next week, so the Queen’s Baton Relay, having been all over the world, is getting really close to home. It was in Lichfield the other day and we were out in Beacon Park, cheering on Jane as she did her leg. She sped off so quickly (she was a PE teacher and is still fit as anything) that they had to ask her to slow down! She was a bit miffed but did as she was told – not easy for any teacher…
Finally, a DIY tip for future heatwaves: tin foil really does make a difference.