It was my intention this week to reveal the mysteries of the short game to you. Those who have had the misfortune of seeing me struggle around the green will now be likening this idea to George Bush being invited to deliver a lecture on pacifism. But I think I may finally have found the secret. Being a generous sort, my first instinct is to share it with you. However, I?m afraid it?s going to have to wait because an enormous number of readers (two) have emailed me to? er, well, how can I put this nicely… complain.
What, you will be wondering, could the nicest man in golf have done to upset (so many) people? Well, it goes back to last week?s blog, ?Pressure in Portugal? ? a gripping piece, I thought. Was it too harrowing? The problem, apparently, is that it dealt exclusively with my anxiety over playing in the ?Press-Am? (14 national teams made up of one journalist and three top amateurs) prior to the Portugal Nations Cup and hardly mentioned the main event itself. Although I could respond by suggesting that the Press-Am was the main event and that you, my faithful readers, are really only interested in me and what I do rather than some prestigious amateur international event. But as I mentioned earlier, I have a reputation as the nicest man in golf to protect.
Frankly, what has effectively obliged me to bow to the protests is the rather inescapably significant fact that England won the thing. Not only that, but also the climax to what proved to be a wonderful event was genuinely thrilling. So, my critics argue, how could a trained journalist omit to mention in his account so much that is surely relevant?
So let me very briefly endeavour to put the record straight. The England team of Chris Wood, Ben Parker and Ben Evans, in a competition where only the two best scores counted, were two under after the opening round, five shots behind Sweden. A five-under par second round from Chris Wood helped the brave lads in white move into third place, five behind new leaders Ireland and one adrift of second-placed Sweden.
The final round was a thriller with England and Ireland locked together as both Chris Wood and Ireland?s Shane Lowry in the last group studied makeable eagle putts on the par five 18th. Chris?s effort hung on the lip and so the Irishman needed to hole his to capture the trophy. It just missed on the low side leaving England, for whom Ben Evans recorded a splendid five-under-par score in the final round, and Ireland tied on 420 strokes. England won the Portugal Nations Cup by virtue of their third player, Ben Parker, recording a better score in the last round than Ireland?s Niall Kearney.
Those of you who long for a more detailed account of my round in the Press-Am competition will, I?m afraid, be disappointed that there is no space left for one. And there?s more bad news. I?m off to Thailand for ten days and so my next blog will be a little delayed. If my new chipping secret withstands a severe Far-Eastern examination, it?ll be worth waiting for.