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World Cup and golf

I predicted the French victory and had a pre-tourney tickle at 13-2. I’m part of my old school footie email group and was asked why I picked les Bleus.

They offered the best value; the last 4 finals have been competed between European countries; Spain have been in decline since 2012; Bob Tickler’s German friend Lotti was negative on Germany. I was also impressed by who was not selected for Les Bleus: Benzema, Payet, Ribery, Schneiderlin, Cabaye.

Lloris lacks height but two powerful central defenders – Varane and Umtiti – compensate. Also so many of their players play for leading clubs where the conditioning, muscle and stamina preparation are first rate and I had no fear as to their fitness and capacity to survive heat and long games.

Next week is the Open. As a sporting nation we descend too easily into triumphalism and this might be because we claim ownership of sports.

I’m thinking of the adoption of “It’s coming home “  – The Open, The F.A. … and Wimbledon being the only tennis championship that matters.

Nonetheless the Open is a test of golf and there is no better examination than at Carnoustie.

One thinks of 1953 when Ben Hogan conquered the Beast of Angus with rounds of 73, 71, 70 and 68.

What is remarkable about Hogan, whom Jack Nicklaus rated as the finest ball striker ever, was that many of his 9 majors came after an accident which all but crippled him when his car struck a Greyhound bus. It was thought he may never walk again let alone play golf.

Only 5 others have held  all 4 Majors – Gene Sarazen, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods – but Hogan is the only one to win them in a calendar year. Also he could not play the PGA in 1953 as it was concurrent with the Open and, as a matchplay event of 54 holes, physically beyond him. His prize for winning at Carnoustie – his last Major – was £100.

More recently one recalls Jean van der Veldt needing less than a double bogey to win and then taking a triple bogey on the 18th when his ball hit the brook and he unwisely tried to play it.

Yes I’m certainly looking forward to this and, although yet to complete my research, I’m attracted to Sergio García and Tommy Fleetwood.

About John Pargiter

John Pargiter’s biggest claim to fame is his first-ever work experience job, as ‘legs’ (or runner) for Henry Longhurst. For many years he worked in insurance at Lloyds. After retiring he has returned to his favourite sport of golf and is a keen recreational sailor and grandparent. More Posts