Exhausting rollercoaster ride rattles me from hell to heaven
Last Sunday provided a mental rollercoaster ride which ideally sums up the frankly ridiculous life of a serious golf punter.
No sport delivers such wild fluctuations in fortune for so long – four epic days of betting hysteria following leaderboards. More than 57 per cent of your week dominated by golf, with eventual joy or despair coming on Sunday. The day of the Lord? A day of rest? Not on your nelly! It is the day to be put through the wringer for golf punters. You just pray the wringer shows mercy and you are still in possession of some nuts when you emerge from the other side.
Byeong Hun An in the Abu Dhabi Championship was my focus during last Sunday morning. The Korean was my number one selection for the Gulf golf and two shots off the lead going into the final round.
An slowly but surely approached the top of the board in round four, bogey-free and lurking in second place, one shot behind through 11 holes. With seven to play, my ever-optimistic eyes saw him as the likely champion. Abu Dhabi doo!
An was well backed. He started the week at 40-1, before Rory McIlroy withdrew, then teed off as a 28-1 chance. I was certainly not alone, then, in enduring an absolutely savage mid-morning setback when An imploded on the 12th hole.
All An supporters would have had their hopes up – my hopes were circling Pluto – only to have them dashed in spectacularly awful fashion. I was winning a bag of sand if An finished in the top five, and a further four bags should he claim the trophy. I was taking the place money for granted and had the scent of five large ones wafting across my nostrils.
Jigging around the lounge, I asked the wife whether she fancied going out later for a lavish Sunday roast. "That posh place you like, eh?" Money was suddenly no object, with An cruising to a top five and quite possibly lifting a trophy. Then, just seconds later, disaster struck.
Plop! No, that was not the sound of me making room for my Sunday roast – that was the horrifying noise made when An dumped his tee-shot at the 12th into the greenside water hazard. He was staring a double-bogey in the face. Or was he?
Plop! An fired another ball into the same hazard from the drop-zone, leaving me in stunned silence. A quadruple-bogey seven destroyed my wager. Just one hole. Just two shots. About two minutes of action rendering four days of emotional investment entirely pointless.
"Peanut butter on toast do you for lunch, love?" An finished in 13th place and I was shuddering with disappointment. Soon after his second ball went swimming at the 12th, I stormed out of the house to go for one of my anger-fuelled runs. I ran like a deranged orangutan, flailing my arms around in a bid to burn off anguish.
My long run led to a pylon, under which I fizzed and popped, raging about An's quad until I was blue in the face. There was enough electricity radiating from my tortured skull to light a thousand homes. The pylon looked down in awe.
The US Tour golf soon resumed and I was back on the ride. I had £30 each-way on Hudson Swafford ante-post for the CareerBuilder Challenge at 60-1 with Stan James – I left the 66-1 for my beloved Racing Post readers – and he was two shots behind going into the final round.
As the tournament had progressed I got increasingly confident in Swafford, and at the halfway stage I had another £155 at 5.8 on Betfair to target a three-bag return. He went four under par for his third round through 11 holes, cementing his position as leader and favourite, but a shocking final four holes (par, double-bogey, bogey, par) saw the advantage squandered.
I was freezing at a garage by the time Swafford commenced round four, sorting tyre pressures on the Audi, and I got a text from my exasperated boss informing me that our man had missed a five-foot par-putt at the first. Three shots behind and a stinker of a day getting worse.
I had a few stouts – tinctures in every sense of the word – then Swafford started working his way back into things. He ended the front-nine with three birdies. Five pars followed, then he turned into Superman on the 15th tee, closing birdie, birdie, birdie, par, excelling on holes he had royally cocked up 24 hours earlier.
Morning hell had been replaced by evening heaven as heroic Hudson triumphed by a shot. Another week on the rollercoaster was over and I alighted happy, but exhausted. The Big Dipper is for wimps – try the Golf Punter for a proper spin.
Optimistic people. As a punter, suffering losers and sporting woe on a regular basis, it is important to surround yourself with people who have a positive frame of mind. Get too much negativity and pessimism in your ears and you will likely give up the betting game completely.
Taking the rough with the smooth, and trying not to get too downhearted, is much easier if friends and family look at the future with hope, enthusiasm and cheer. The wife did a good job after the Byeong Hun An quad mentioned above. "He might get a hole-in-one now!" she asserted. "It's a 413-yard par-four," I replied dismissively, while greatly appreciating her spirit.
Over-reliance on mobile phones. I miss the days when nobody had mobile phones (yes, I am that old). Mobile phones have brought nothing but pain and misery to the world. We have all become so reliant on them that we lose our minds when they malfunction. Well, I do anyway. Mine has deteriorated to such an extent that even entering the four-digit password to access the ruddy thing takes about five minutes.
There is something badly wrong with the screen and my fingers are no longer its master. Contacts think I have suddenly become extremely rude, sending much shorter than usual texts, but the truth is even the tiny ones take an age to type. To say it is testing my patience is an understatement. It feels like the little rascal is actually screaming: "Smash me to pieces!"