“JOLLY ROGER SHOOTS CANNONS BROOK BLINDER”
Let’s face it, nothing beats winning. And winning amid a collection of your most competitive contemparies, confidants and compadres is like adding ice to a tumbler of Remy Martin Louis X111, 1910 vintage cognac, simply sumptuous! But there are even greater dimensions, even greater depths, forged and galvanized by expectation and endeavour which make winning the ultimate sporting experience. Perhaps, this utopian paradox is best summed up by the unequivocal, unparalleled Michael Jordan who when asked to unravel the secrets of his winning mentality wrote “I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”. And so it would come to pass that the 3rd Major of the of this landmark 20th season would ultimately be claimed by such a fierce competitor, the ultimate sporting antagonist whose unquenchable desire for self improvement is matched by a limitless longevity and will to win.
Designed by the legendary, quintessentially English gentleman Sir Henry Cotton and matured over 40 years, Cannons Brook Golf Club unobtrusively supplemented its 50th year celebrations by hosting the latest instalment on the ACGA golfing calendar. Anchored in 112 acres of mature rolling countryside and measuring up to its 6769 yard championship length, Cannons Brook provided an apt test for golfers of all dispositions not to mention omnipotence.
The smart money favoured a close finish, the smart money favoured a winning combination which encompassed a strategy based on the straight and sensible rather than wham bam normally associated with the son of Barney Rubble. Cannons Brook was always going to be the kind of challenge which would not yield to the intimidation of the bludgeoning driver; this was always going to be a test of golfing sagacity, that old, well worn adage “fairways and greens” would indeed separate the good, the bad and the putt ugly. Within the galaxy wide golfing fraternity, it’s pretty much taken as gospel that the irrepressible Jack Nicklaus knew a thing or two about golf and winning majors. But despite unprecedented major achievements, his mantra remained simple and unassuming “You can’t win a major championship in the first round but you can certainly lose it” How true.
Enter Patrick Winkle who must have been at the driving range when the great Jack Nicklaus offered his words of wisdom. Where ten X’s might well have heralded premium bonds aplenty, it only resulted in premium blobs for Patrick and a return of 5pts in a round of golf best consigned to the well for the woeful. We all know misery loves company so it should come as no surprise that the hapless Peter Bennett, whose only crime was to mark Patrick Winkle’s card suffered a degree of the same mediocrity. Seven blanks and 17 points would relinquish all thoughts of silverware. Tennis Russell served up six blanks and treble faults in abundance which earned him an afternoon free from thoughts of victory. But where the flamboyant faltered the steadfast prospered and the first round leader board laid testament to the wise overtones from Mr Nicklaus. At the end of 18 precarious holes beset with transience and trickery, the field was led by the ACGA equivalent of ‘Crockett and Tubbs’ Roger Goddard (35 pts) and his chief nemesis Colin Parsons (34 pts) were the early pace setters but the chasing pack, awash with previous champions (Randy Plowright 34 pts, Mark Cato 32pts, Roger Greenidge 32pts and Stuart Austrie 31pts) were all in striking distance and poised to make a telling contributions during the afternoon skirmishes. So the stage was set, expectations fever pitch, the promise of silverware and major success there for the taking, the questions however would remain the same; who could hold their nerve? Who could hold the vital putt? Who could hold onto their hat?
As you would expect, there were late charges galore, reminiscent of the great Kenyan distance runner ‘Kip’ Keino as many of the pre-tournament favourites who had effectively shot themselves in the foot and out of the tournament in the morning, free wheeled with gay abandon. Ever dependant Gary Cameron and the mercurial Richard Payne both returning highly impressive scores of 38pts which in the case of Payne, proved enough to elevate him onto the podium and 5th place. Roger Greenidge maintained his good form from the morning round by returning an identical score of 32pts which was enough to guarantee a much deserved 4th place and a grin a wide as the as the bunker on the par three 12th.
There are always pivotal moments in sport which unceremoniously decide winners and losers. We can all recall those surreal moments where time stands still and we embrace glory or abject failure with equal alacrity. With the tournament in his grasp, the three par 5s on the back nine would prove to be the difference between glory and gory for Stuart Austrie despite finishing a highly creditable third. Receiving shots on two of the three holes Austrie could only muster a total of three points and so his title aspirations faded like a pair of discounted Wrangler jeans from TK Maxx. And so there were two. Separated by one point from the morning round, Roger Goddard and Colin Parsons continued to trade blows like “Hagler vs Hearns” and in the end, the finest of margins would determine the destiny of the title. For Parsons, a stretch of 5 holes on the back nine between the par five 11th and the par three 16th would all but hand the spoils to the ever grateful Goddard. During that stretch of 5 holes, Parsons could only manage a total of 6 points - by such margins are winners and gallant losers detached. The one point lead held by Goddard at the end of 18 holes would prove enough to secure victory and the spoils. With both Goddard and Parsons shooting identical scores of 34pts in the afternoon, the destiny of the trophy was sealed as Jolly Roger sailed into the sunset of success leaving Parsons marooned on the beach of contemplation for runners up.
“Well played gentlemen and congratulations to Roger Goddard”