The Hacker: Redgrave thrashed me but at least I stayed out of the water

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The Independent Online

Hackers are often to be found in strange situations but rarely as unusual as last week when, in the sunshine of Bermuda, I found myself leading a team of journalists against a team of celebrities whose captain was Sir Steven Redgrave.

During my many years as a sportswriter I have met most superstars but had hitherto managed to avoid any sporting conflict with them. Not this time.

As respective captains, the five-time Olympic gold medal-winner and I met head to head on the second day of the British Airways Cambridge Beaches Celebrity Golf Tournament.

Miraculously, the journalists were leading after the first day so I had the honour of driving off first in front of a large assembly. I pushed it nervously into the trees.

Clive Agran, a fellow journalist, had done his best to reassure me. "Don't forget," he said, "you've got five gold medals between you." It wasn't any help. Sir Steve was playing so well, I would have had more chance of beating him at rowing.

He won by a five-point margin, which meant that single-handedly I had thrown away our overnight lead. Despite heroic work by others in my team we lost by 110 points to 106, which was far closer than we had dared hope.

Ranged against us were such luminaries as Michael Lynagh, the former Australia rugby union captain who plays off eight, and Gary McAllister, former Scotland and Leeds United captain. Gary played golf for his country as a teenager and turned down an offer of a golf scholarship in Florida to be a footballer. He plays a mean game off four.

Other celebrities included the Sky Sports presenter Charlotte Jackson and Gethin Jones, who has done everything on television from Blue Peter to Strictly Come Dancing.

My motley crew included Philippa Kennedy, a Fleet Street veteran who was the first female news editor of the Daily Express, the intrepid travel writer Minty Clinch, Ultratravel magazine publisher Nick Perry and Sky Sports reporter Dougie Keen.

Those who hadn't visited Bermuda before were pleasantly surprised. I've been there often and there's no better place to play golf, certainly not within a comfortable seven-hour hop.

We stayed at the Cambridge Beaches Resort and Spa, which has cottages spread over a peninsula with four private beaches.

It's not far from Port Royal, our golfing venue, which has just had a £9m renovation and recently staged the PGA Grand Slam event featuring the four major-winners of the year.

It's superb, probably the best public course in the world. The turquoise sea is rarely out of sight and is perilously close on the famous and fearsome par-three 16th.

We played fourball better-ball on the first day and I have pride in reporting that I was on the winning side against Sir Steve and Charlotte.

The credit must go to my partner Philippa, who was once captain of the Press Golfing Society and plays off a steady 18. I have to say she was assisted by the ladies' tees being a long way in front of ours.

Indeed, it would take a 300-yard drive to ensure being in front of her on most holes. I did manage to win the first but she was the architect of our victory and our first-session lead.

Sir Steve is far too nice a man to harbour thoughts of revenge but, one-up after three holes, he then played the next four in one-under to build a lead I never really challenged.

My only regret was that our Olympic hero didn't see me at my best. Mind you, not many have.

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

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