If England’s footballers were matchplay golfers
After struggling earlier in his round he has fought back to be level with his opponent but the best finisher will play Paul Lawrie and then Tony Jacklin in the next two rounds while the loser will take on Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
(Stick with it, he gets back to soccer in the end – ed.)
Both players hit good drives but the opponent then creams his second 250 yards, carrying a pond, on to the green, an unheard of shot on such a hole. The English golfer takes a five iron and lays-up short of the water. He duly chips on close to the hole and sinks his putt for a birdie four.
He is delirious, he runs round the green high-fiving the cheering fans. An English TV journalist, bubbling over with excitement, interviews his Italian caddy. “You must be delighted, you’re through.
“Yes, yes, very good, I got my old golfer back,” he beams. “He swung with real freedom in that pitching wedge approach.”
Eventually the crowd settles down and the opponent, against all odds, sinks his 60 foot putt for an extraordinary eagle.
It is his turn to be delighted — he faces Lawrie and Jacklin for a shot at the big time, leaving the English golfer to face Woods and Mickleson, two players he has lost to on numerous previous occasions.
Is the English player disappointed, frustrated that his safety-first approach meant that he blew the chance of a dream draw?
Not a bit of it.
Still dancing around the green he says: “I got my birdie, that’s the main thing. I didn’t play so well on some of the earlier holes but I really nailed that lay-up short of the water and I’m through.”
It was scarcely believable to see Joe Cole and James Milner running down the clock by keeping possession by the corner flag so England could cling on to their 1-0 win over mighty Slovenia. (phew! -ed.)
If they had gone all out for the second goal, as they had earlier in the match, and scored it, they would have faced Ghana and either Uruguay or Mexico for a place in the semi-finals. Surely an easier path will never be available.
They banked on the United States failing to get a winner against Algeria but, almost at the very second England were celebrating their win, Landon Donovan was scoring for the U.S. to take them top of the group.
The fear factor that had so crippled England in their opening two draws remained there to the death so that even when they finally achieved a victory, once again they were the losers. They just don’t realize it.