I like to think my life is relatively pressure-free. The closest thing I probably get to real pressure is when I’ve not done the reading for my tutorial and am asked for my views on West’s reading of Book III of the Aeneid. A cool head, clear thinking, and a smattering of knowledge on a number of subjects is key.
The Dunhill Links Championship rolls into town today, and with the entire baggage train and corporate circus that a high-level pro-am competition brings. For three of the professional golfers, the difference in pressure levels between their lives last weekend and this will be quite staggering. Paul Lawrie, Lee Westwood, and Martin Kaymer were all key players in Europe’s successful Ryder Cup team at the Medinah Country Club, and will all appear in the Dunhill Links this week in St Andrews. The European team produced a remarkable comeback from 10-6 down overnight to retain the cup, and although Westwood and Lawrie put in better performances to win their own matches, it was Kaymer’s putt which sealed the deal.
‘Nerves of steel’ is a cliché which has reached record levels of usage this week, but imagine for a moment you are Martin Kaymer, you are standing over a long putt, thousands of miles from home, in front of thousands of extremely vocal American fans, in full knowledge that if you miss Tiger Woods will be roaring down behind you to capitalise. Now imagine, you are standing over a short putt, having just hammered your last one five foot past the hole. Even the very steadiest of golfers might have felt a knee jangle. However, like one of his countryman in a penalty shootout, the German didn’t wobble an inch, holing out to complete a famous victory. I can’t imagine that he will feel quite the same if he is standing over a birdie putt at the Road Hole while Tim Henman is hacking his way out of the rough.
My own thoughts on the Dunhill are uncomplicated; the various corporate partners plaster their name all over every car, sign, and sandwich stall in the town, while standing around drink Moet with Hugh Grant, and patting each other on the back about what a good year its been. However, it is an excellent opportunity to have the incomprehensible Paul Collingwood buy you a drink, quote Love Actually lines at Mr Grant, and see if you can’t get Michael Phelps to do an unseasonable May Dip. As they say, he who pays the piper picks the tunes; we’ll see how the celebrities react to the piper I’m going to pay to play his own version of Rihanna outside their hotel room at 5 in the morning.