The Hacker: You bet Tiger and I can both make a mess of the 19th hole
Sunday 27 February 2011
Encouraged by someone whose name I won't reveal, I placed a few quid on Tiger Woods to win the Accenture World Match Play at Tucson, Arizona, which reaches its climax today.
Tiger, as you may know, was knocked out in the very first round which didn't please me and especially not the three other people I urged to make a similar investment.
The theory was that after all his woes he would bounce back to form at this tournament but despite playing well to birdie the 18th and halve the match, he made a complete mess of the 19th and lost to Thomas Bjorn.
It was disappointing but I can't find it in my heart to think too badly of him because I had a similar experience on the 19th hole of a match last week.
Not for one fleeting moment would I dare to compare a tournament that embraces the top 64 players in the world and carries a first prize of £1 million with our winter league.
But one of the fascinations of golf is that the game doesn't differentiate between the highest and lowest of its practitioners when it comes to making you look a dolt.
It was my first appearance in our winter league this year. I can't play every Sunday but am willing to act as a substitute when anyone asks, which isn't very often.
The format for our league is foursomes and when one partner is missing the other tends to take care in selecting a replacement. Disaster-prone 28 handicappers are not usually the most sought after.
But Maurice Flynn is even more disaster-prone than me, largely on account of his club record number of air-shots. So when he went off on a Caribbean cruise last weekend his partner, Richard, plumped for a like-for-like replacement and asked me to play.
In the pre-Christmas session, Maurice and his partner Lenny "The Claw" Ingram won the wooden spoon by a distance. You have to change partners in the post-Christmas session and they wisely enlisted better golfers to play with.
Maurice was taken pity on by Richard Salt, who plays off 12 as steadily as you would expect a tax inspector to do, while Lenny commandeered his son, Peter, to help him clinch a higher place inthe league.
It so happened that Maurice and Lenny would have been on opposite sides last Sunday and the allegation is that Maurice jumped on the first available ship heading west in order to avoid losing to him.
His son being away, Lenny also had to seek the services of a sub and he was more astute in his choice of Dave Kent who plays off a generous 16 handicap.
Lenny, whose sympathetic nickname of "The Claw" is because he has rheumatoid arthritis in his hands, plays a tidy game off 27 and since they were getting two shots, he and Dave proved difficult opponents. We play a shotgun start and we began at the sixth where they had their first shot which won them the hole.
Although heavily reliant on Richard, I didn't play all that badly and it was a very close game until they broke loose and went two up with two to play.
We hit the next two greens in regulation to win both holes and tie the match. They had a shot on the first extra hole but I felt we had the momentum. Tiger probably thought the same when he stood on the 19th tee. At least he hit his, albeit in the wrong direction. Mine went straight but didn't leave the ground, bobbling along for barely 100 yards. It was by far my worse drive of the day.
Richard hit a fair recovery shot but my next shot was even worse than my drive. As Tiger will tell you, pressure can do terrible things to a man. They didn't have to play very well to win the hole and the match. Maurice won't be happy but he's still on his cruise and Richard might fare better with another sub. I wonder why he didn't ask me.
Simon Iliffe's tip of the week
No 88: The Straight Right Knee
In many golf swings of varying styles, there is often a similar fault at the top of the backswing: the straight right knee (if you are a right-handed golfer).
As the club is swung back, the player's weight should transfer to the right leg. But as the arms lift in the backswing the right hip can also be raised, which causes a straightening of the right leg.
This will cause much of the weight to remain on the left leg producing a steep downswing, often with the club swinging on an out-to-in path and producing pulls left and slices right.
When you swing the club back, make sure 80 to 90 per cent of your weight transfers to your right leg and keep the right knee flexed.
This will produce a much more powerful and dynamic position from which to drive forward and through the ball.
Simon Iliffe is head professional at Bramley Golf Club, Surrey. www.theshortgame.co.uk
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