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 At the 19th

Genuine stuff of captaincy
A modest 14-handicap doesn’t (and indeed shouldn’t) stand in the way of the potential to skipper a winning Ryder Cup side, writes our man at the 19th

Unlike some, I have nothing against Monty. OK, given that he’s off playing golf most weekends, doesn’t have to pay a green fee and is supplied with complimentary balls, tee pegs and bananas, I do sometimes wonder why he’s so grumpy. I, too, have never won a major championship but I try hard not to let it get me down or take it out on those around me.

Not winning amajor isn’t the only thing we have in common. I am also easily distracted, could do with shedding a few pounds and have never lost a single’s match in the Ryder Cup. And that leads me almost seamlessly on to the point I wish to make, which is that I think I should follow in his substantial spiked footprints and be appointed captain for the 2012 Ryder Cup.

If it were possible to stick a stimpmeter on my bonce without it wobbling off, I suspect my cranium would measure a fair bit more roll than the greens at Augusta National. Only when the ball met my furrowed brow would it begin to ease up because there ismore than a hint of the Neil Coles about me.

Because hats protect my sensitive skin in summer and keep my head warm in winter, I like wearing them and am not usually inclined to toss them casually into the air, on to the green or – and this is extremely relevant – into the ring. Allowing my name to go forward is not a decision, therefore, that I have come to lightly. Surprisingly, because she doesn’t much like golf, I have the total support of Mrs Agran, who probably figures that if things go well I’ll pick up an MBE while she collects a new dress and gets to shake hands with Her Majesty.

Traditionally, of course, the captain has considerable experience of playing in the event. Although I have watched an awful lot of it on television and read a fair number of newspaper and magazine articles about it, I can’t honestly claim to have actually played in it as such. But it ismy belief that it is not really necessary to have done so. A 14- handicapper with an elegant shoulder turn but a tendency to slice, I could bring so much more to the job than some middle-aged pro whose best days are clearly behind him. For me, the Ryder Cup would be my one and only chance of achieving true golfing glory. Although I’ve picked up a couple ofmid-week stablefords inmy time, I’ve no European Tour wins to fall back on. If I were to lose then I would only ever be remembered as that bumbling idiot who cost us the Ryder Cup. But I don’twant to dwell on negatives asmy style of captaincy simply will not countenance the possibility of defeat.

The single greatest advantage I have over all the other possible candidates is that no one, least of all the Americans, will have heard ofme. They simply won’t know how I’m going to play it. Strictly between ourselves, I don’t yet know myself, other than I probably will do quite a bit of front-loading come Sunday’s singles. But I don’t want to say too much as, now that the dollar has strengthened against our ailing pound, there are a lot of Yanks about and you never know who might pick up a copy of this magazine.

The fact that the European players won’t have heard of me either is yet another enormous plus. You see, Iwon’t be saddledwith any unhelpful baggage. To get to the top of any sport necessarily requires a single-minded determination and utter ruthlessness, neither of which are terribly attractive traits in a human being. Enemies are made, jealousy is rife and unpleasant incidents are not readily forgotten. I, on the other hand, with no relevant history whatsoever, will rise right well above such squabbling and pettiness. What ismore,with no preconceptions or previous experience, I am confident that I will bring a refreshing innocence to the event that I sincerely believe will blow like the proverbial breath of fresh air throughout the three entire days.

I will not, however, be quite as green as some might think. Iwas captain of theHendonGolf Club ‘Foxes’ team in the late 1980s. Open to those with a handicap between 11 and 18, wewere twice runners up in the North London League. Had Stuart “Three Putts” Macarthy not been stricken by an appalling attack of gout on the morning of the allimportant match against Finchley, we might very well have captured the title in 1987.What ismore, as an exchange student at the Bronx High School of Science in New York in themid 1960s, I know a great deal about Americans and their sport. For example, how much they hate to lose and how little they understand of cricket.

Now totally convinced of my unique suitability for the job, doubtless you are wondering whether or not it is my intention to stay on and captain Europe again in 2014? That’s a tough one to answer right now but I have to say that my instincts are to step aside and let a high handicapper have a go.

May 2009

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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