GOLF is very much on my mind.
Firstly, I’ve been able to play for the first time in 10 weeks after a shoulder operation.
Secondly, Lee Westwood is on top of the world and, thirdly, a group of enthusiasts will be flying around the world in seven days to raise money for injured servicemen and women.
Enough said about me, I’m just thrilled I can still swing a club, as for Lee, what a terrific achievement.
Not since Nick Faldo in 1994 has Britain been able to boast of having the globe’s best golfer, and not for 281 weeks has the No1 been anyone other than Tiger Woods.
Lee’s biographical notes used to have him down as “a plodder” in his early days – as much to do with his heavy tread under a less than athletic body as his golf I suspect – but nobody could deny he has shed that image by pure dint of hard work and dedication to his sport.
Quite how the Yankees will take to this seismic shift in the world’s pecking order I’m not sure, but after losing the Ryder Cup (again) they have to concede that Europe now has the superior exponents – led by the fat lad from Worksop.
He’s not fat any more by the way, and that’s part of Lee’s secret. He could have faded into oblivion a few years ago when he slipped to a world ranking of 266 but instead he knuckled down, sweated it out on the treadmill, and now the only thing that’s fat is his bank balance.
Golfers used to come in all shapes and sizes – think Bobby Locke, Craig Stadler, Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie – but not any more.
Like cricketers and rugby players they are now photofit specimens, usually way over six feet tall, and all set to win Strictly Come Dancing when they finish playing.
I can’t see Lee doing the paso doble just yet, but when you’re No 1 in the world you can look ahead to fame and fortune along whichever path you choose to tread.
As someone who does keep his feet on the ground I hope he concentrates on fairways and greens for years to come and tries to hold on to the spot he must have coveted since first setting foot onto a tee.
I’d never heard of the charity P.A.R 7 until recently, but it’s worth your attention and I commend you to it’s website.
They have offices free of charge at the Mid-Yorkshire Golf Club, Darrington, where a recent Five Towns Charity golf day run by brothers Duncan and Ian Robertson raised £2,500 for the fund. I was honoured to present the cheque.
P.A.R. 7 has been set up to help servicemen and women who have been injured during duty, and intriguingly has committed itself to a world record attempt with a Ryder Cup flavour. Teams from GB and USA will play seven different golf courses in seven continents over seven days with a mind-blowing schedule.
Kicking off in the Falkland Islands on October 3, 2011, they will fly to Chile to play in Santiago on the same day, head to Florida on October 4, Sydney October 5, Dubai and Egypt on October 6, and play their final round at Mid-Yorkshire on October 7.
That will mean covering 34,000 miles and the Florida leg will be overseen by Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus as unofficial team captains.
Two members of each team must be serving soldiers who have been seriously injured and already the GB team includes Royal Marine Thomas Aaron Moon, who suffered dreadful injuries in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and Sergeant Michael Smith, who lost his right leg from the knee down while with the Coldstream Guards.
Stuart Davison, Chief Executive Officer of P.A.R. 7 (which stands for Pain and Rehabilitation) is organising the event, and clubs throughout the country will be participating in qualifying rounds to find the lucky golfers who get to take part in this Ryder Cup with a difference.
THE FA Cup takes centre stage this weekend and while most Premier League managers don’t seem to give a hoot until April, I still think it is a great competition with a magic of its own.
Past Wembley winners like Southampton, Charlton Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday and, of course, Huddersfield Town find themselves having to put their reputations on the line earlier than they would like.
Potential banana skins are provided by Shrewsbury, Barnet, Southport and Cambridge but it’s matches like Rochdale v FC United of Manchester, Corby Town v Luton Town, Tamworth v Crewe, Fleetwood v Walsall and Dartford v Port Vale that provide newspaper headline writers with the chance to drag out the good old giant-killer line every year.
It’s a bit early for David and Goliaths, but there will be plenty of shocks for sure.