Monday, August 10, 2009

British Boys

After being given a painkiller and antibiotics, I recovered quickly. I even played a round with Sam on the weekend at our local course. On Saturday as we were finishing, I received a call from the Royal & Ancient: Sam had received a spot in the British Boys, the most prestigious junior golf tournament in Europe. If he wanted to play, he had to be Monday evening across the English Channel at the famed Royal St. Georges golf course.

I had made a mistake when putting in Sam's initial application to play. I marked his handicap at 1.7 and believed that he could lower it later, if he played well. Since he did play well, his handicap fell to 0.6. But the Royal & Ancient, unlike other golf federations, does not allow any change after the initial application. So Sam was put as umber 29 on the waiting list and figured he had no chance to get in.

Now we had only two days to prepare. Sam spent much of the time watching YouTube clips of Tiger Woods and others playing the British Open at Royal St. Georges in 2003. As he saw Tiger and the other famous pros struggle to save pars on the monster links course, he became more and more excited.

I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for noon on Monday so we could only leave in the afternoon. The doctor was reassuring - surgery would cure me, he insisted, and there was no danger to travel - so the entire family took off only about 2 p.m. Three hours later, the five of us were standing on the top of magnificent dunes overlooking the English Channel. The setting resembled a wild moonscape, with mounds rising and falling in seeming random order.

Tournament organizers forbid a practice round, so we could only walk the course. The British Boys is a match play event. The winner must take nine straight matches. Europe's best golfers all were assembled, including the entire strong French and Italian national teams. We run into the Italian Matteo Manassero, the 16-year old who finished 13th in the British Open at Turnberry, in the pro shop where he is buying a chocolate bar. Earlier in the day, he had easily won his opening match against Belgian Julien Richelle.

Sam's first round encounter is scheduled for the following morning. Without a practice round and intimidated, I fear he has little chance to succeed.

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