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 At the 19th

Courting a media frenzy
The author awakes from deep slumber to deliver the most redundant speech in golf

Barring an 11th hour miracle, it's looking increasingly likely that, once again, I won’t be playing in this year’s Open Championship. Like nearly every other male golfer, it has always been my dream to lift the claret jug. But unlike nearly every other male golfer, I have a winner’s speech already prepared. Although you might think it rather presumptuous of me, my understanding of sports psychology leads me to believe that, in preparing for an event, one makes it more likely to happen. In this instance, however, it would appear not to have worked. Not wishing to waste the considerable effort that I put into it, here it is:

“Your Royal Highness, members of the R&A, fellow golfers everywhere, ladies and gentlemen. Believe me, I am almost as surprised as you are that I’m up holding this beautiful trophy. As my previous best performance was capturing the men’s invitation day, 9-hole, postlunch foursomes in partnership with my next door neighbour Reg, this win has to go down as the biggest of my career and I sincerely hope that it inspires other middleaged men with unimpressive handicaps to metaphorically reach for the stars. [Loud applause].

Looking down the list of previous winners engraved here – Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, Henry Cotton, Bobby Jones, Max Faulkner, Peter Thomson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and, who’s this, Ben Curtis? – fillsme with humility. Incidentally, my name is Agran with an ‘n’ at the end not an ‘m’ as it’s spelt here. [Turning to one side and in a low voice] Can they fix that before I take it home and put it on the shelf next to the dodgy clock I picked up for being nearest the pin at last year’s spring meeting at Dale Hill?

I must sincerely thank the R&A for their courage and vision in inviting carefully selected journalists to participate in this, the greatest golf tournament in the world. Incidentally, I would like to extend my sympathy to the other three from Golf Monthly, Golf World and Today’s Golfer who all failed to break 100 in either of their rounds and consequently missed the cut by a substantial margin. Ordinarily pretty competent golfers, they were obviously hopelessly overwhelmed by the occasion.

I would also like to pay a special tribute to TigerWoods, who must have thought that his four-shot lead going into today’s final round would be sufficient. We had a great ding-dong battle out there, both in regulation play and the playoff, and I was just fortunate that my 40-foot, triple-breaking, birdie putt on the final extra hole found the back of the cup while his seemingly straightforward two-footer surprisingly lipped out.

Although aware that this is the first time Tiger has lost a playoff and failed to win when leading going into the final round of a major, I know he has the temperament and the game to bounce back. Perhaps being outdriven unsettled him today. There are other people I would like to mention. Jeremy Foskett, who said I would never play decent golf with a strong grip – [waving trophy] look at me now, Jeremy! To Nigel ‘Duck Hook’ Armitage, who left me out of the Hendon foxes team for the vital fixture against Finchley in 1989 because he didn’t think I could handle the pressure – [waving trophy] look at me now, Nigel!

On a more positive note, I must thank Mark Wood, the pro at Dale Hill, for curing my reverse pivot, and Benn Barham, for showing me how to chip and discouraging me from putting out of the greenside rough and from 75 yards in. To be honest, all the other tips and advice I have been offered by various playing partners over the years have proved to be utterly worthless but I thank those who gave them for the kind, if somewhat misguided, thought.

In winning here today I hope that I’ve given encouragement to handicap golfers everywhere. You see, this great game of golf can be mastered. It just takes enormous dedication, application and concentration.

Finally, let me make it clear that I shall not be turning professional or participating in any future European or US PGA Tour events. Nor do I wish to be considered for the European Ryder Cup team [loud groans of disappointment]. I have achieved today all that I have ever wanted to achieve and I shall now withdraw gracefully from competitive golf at the highest level to concentrate on my writing and getting my handicap down to where it should be, which is about 12. Thank you all very much.”

July 2008

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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