I was standing and shaking over a three-foot putt on the 18th hole of the final round of the Auchentoshan Pitch and Putt Matchplay Classic. Well, the final round, but also the first, and with only two competitors, admittedly not the largest field in golf. Having at one point led by three holes with four to play, I had contrived to lose the last three and had this putt to avoid both defeat and the worst collapse in my 40-odd years of competitive play. (A “collapse” being the throwing away of a winning lead, something I’d rarely, if ever, had.)
But it wasn’t too late. “Focus, Mak,” I muttered under my breath. “Get in the zone. Come on!” Sadly, it was the Twilight Zone I found myself and my hopeless stab at the ball propelled it far from its intended target. I was left defeated, deflated, demoralized and devastated. To make matters worse my triumphant adversary could scarcely suppress his delight as he pocketed the one pound coin I held out in a still-shaking hand. “Maybe next year, Uncle Mak,” beamed my black hearted nemesis. And at that my four-year-old nephew turned on his heel and toddled away.
As I trudged back to the clubhouse I consoled myself by remembering that plenty of far better players than I had suffered in similar circumstances at far more important championships…
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