There’s not much comfort to be taken when you score 128 in the July medal but my dismal lack of golfing accomplishment is more than compensated by the ability to discover consoling factors.
And there’s no consolation better than calling on the greatest name in the history of golf to prove that calamities can befall anyone. Old Tom Morris (1821-1908) is renowned as the pioneer of professional golf and won The Open four times.
When The Open was played for the first time in 1860, Old Tom finished second to Willie Park Snr but he then won the event four times in the next seven years. When he won it in 1867 he was aged 46 and is still the oldest winner.
When I was up at Muirfield last week, I was reading about his last appearance in the championship which, coincidently, was at Muirfield in 1896.
It was a course he himself had designed several years earlier but that didn’t help him avoid scoring 101, 103 and 105 in the first three rounds. He then withdrew from the event and never played in another Open.
I hesitate to call Old Tom a hacker but facts are facts and those are hacker scores. I am not trying to decry a legend but just pointing out that even the best can have disasters on the course — so why can’t the worst have them?
Now, some will say that at his age, a few days short of his 75th birthday, he can be excused. Well, I’m over two years older than he was then and no-one excuses me. On the contrary, they fall about laughing.
On the day before last Saturday’s medal, Australia scored precisely 128 in their first innings of the second Test and someone suggested that I should have been made to follow-on.
I have to admit that my failure to break 100 for so long is nothing to be proud of but I do try hard and, apart from one glaringly higher score this year, 1 have been improving. My last medal score was 104 so where did those extra 24 strokes come from?
I hadn’t played for two weeks, partly because of The Open, and although I started fairly steadily on the first hole, I hooked my next tee shot into the wood and from then on lost the plot.
I spent a lot of time in the trees and twice I lost a ball up one of those accursed leylandii. When I wasn’t in the trees I was in a bunker and my efforts to get were similarly unsuccessful to some of those playing in The Open.
And while we are the subject of The Open, may I point out that the highest score in the competition was 130 by John Hughes at St George’s in 1894 and the next highest was 107 by A W Molesworth, again at St George’s, in 1911.
No-one has failed to break 100 in the last century but there was an 11 scored on one hole in 2002 by David Park and Arnold Palmer had a ten in The Open of 1987.
My trouble is that I tend to score them all in one round. But I’ll beat that 100 one day.