Maybe it is best to stay far away from Sam. While I am in the United States promoting the gook , he entered a tournament for under 18s at a diabolical Belgian golf course near Leuven called Winge. I say diabolical because, on several holes, it slices through woods offers blind shots or plays at near 90-degree vertical to narrow greens. It is easy to lose balls and take triple or quadruple bogeys.
In the first round, Sam told me afterward how he found his touch to shoot a two-over-par 74 –the best score of the day of all age groups. In the second day, he is leading by two strokes until the 17th hole – perhaps the trickiest, worst-designed on the entire course. He drives into the woods, pitches out, makes it to the green in three – and then, nervous, three putts. He finishes with a 76.
The tournament goes into a playoff. His opponent is Matthias Bosmans, one year old and full-time student at a sports academy in Flanders. Bosmans is member of Winge and a large crowd is cheering him. But he, too, seems nervous, missing a five footer on the 18th hole.
On the first extra hole, Sam leaves a birdie putt inches short. On the second, he finds himself squeezed behind a tree and must hit to the open part of the green. Bosmans hits close – and sinks the birdie putt for victory.
But when I return from the States, Sam says he still feels good about himself and his game.