Saturday: Iím woken by Edís alarm, although he is already awake. I do what I do always first thing in the morning and check the news. Itís sad today as Bradley Lowery has succumbed to neuroblastoma, which puts many things in the perspective. I also remember that last night, I made a bet with Pauli regarding the winning average, I have 28.6 or higher. He has lower. It could be close. Myself and Ed have left for the course via Greggs by 7.30 am and he starts to learn the course in daylight. Iím joined by one of my newest team mates, Martin Relf, who is using minigolf balls for the first time today. It will be a steep learning curve, it always is.
With a couple of late entries, weíre up to thirty seven putters from Britain and around Europe. The weather is slightly overcast but isnít expected to be for too long. My playing partners for day one are Martin along with Rocky Bullin. As 10.32 am rolls around, the sun graces us and Iím underway. For some reason, mentally, Iím just not feeling it today. This results in me trying to concentrate too hard. Despite getting the first, it really is a struggle to get aces. Iím not putting badly, Iím not dropping shots, Iím not rolling in tee shots. I start with a rather uninspiring 32, which leaves me already six shots behind. Iím just tense around the shoulders so I decide to do what I did in the World Crazies and stand further away from the ball. I follow the opening round up with two more clean laps, 31 and 30. Itís better but I feel very flat. Maybe, Iíve overdone it on the practice. Maybe, itís just tiredness.
I go to lunch with Ed, a ham, cheese and tomato and panini, which comes out ten minutes before my tee off for round four. By now, it is exceptionally hot and some of the legs on show have reached record levels of crimson. My mundane progress continues with a 34, including my first drop of the round, a really unlucky roll back into the pond. Another centimetre and it stays on the platform. By now, I just want to get the day over with and have a night out. I know I must remain professional but my mind is anywhere but the course. I chat with my teammates, geeing them up to do the best they can. Nuno and Ed are playing the best from my club, I just wish I could match them. I round off the day with a 32 and sit in seventeenth place. Not my best day but I have the matchplay semi final against Nuno to recover some respectability.
Of the three other semi finalists, Nuno is probably the best draw I could have had. Adam and Will have been playing phenomenally. Our match is close, there is never more than one hole in it. Nuno breathes a sigh of relief at a couple of holes as his ball creeps in with the last morsel of kinesis. We reach the last all square, Nuno rolls in a hole in one. Although I hit a decent shot, it isnít good enough and I go out with my head held high. The other semi is high octane, Adam losing despite scoring a 26!! Adam asks if I want to play for third and I feel I have nothing to lose. Incredibly, I take the lead after making my first hat trick of the day. Adam turns it around by the twelfth to lead by three. We half everything from there so I lose by 3 and 2. Iím actually playing well, for once. Iím just not at his level. Behind, in the final, the level is sensational. Will is defeated despite behind nine under at the penultimate hole. Well done, Nuno. Parabiens.
From there, itís all about a good night out. I offer Ed some of the bacon vodka, which is gaining strength. We arrange for about ten of us to meet in Wetherspoons, where the Chuckle Brothers have already tucked into at least one steak and a sharing platter. We make the best of the situation after being told by the staff there was no more rump or sirloin. I ask Tony if he still has his little red book of beer, the ongoing bible to all the ales he has sampled this year. He produces his notebook. Pauli comes dressed in a suit, which shows the rest of us up in our collection of jeans, shorts and t-shirts. From there, the rest of the evening is planned by Tony and Adam, who have found a fantastic seafront pub called the Jolly Fisherman. This could be in my top ten of all time. As Iím still getting through my winnings from last time out, I buy the round here. The Vlcekís are staying upstairs and Jitka and her twin boys join us. We have a look at the new course back in the Czech Republic and Matejís goal celebrations at floorball. To end the evening, we stumble into the Dolphin, another first time trip. Why have I neglected this part of the Old Town for so long? Every time, Hastings delivers something new. On the way back, Pauli gets chatting to four women, clad in feather boas. He catches us up. ďEnglish women. They are scary.Ē Yes, yes they are.
Sunday: Feeling slightly heady from a combination of about half a pint too much and the sweatbox of a room, I jump in a cold shower. All of a sudden, everything feels good again. Iím back in the room. We check out of the hotel and head for Sainsburyís for breakfast, which for me is five jam doughnuts, a cup of fruit and a Lucozade. Most of the major food groups right there. I do enough to get me in a rhythm before relaxing with the doughnuts. I help one of the staff form a balancing act to retrieve a drinks can from the pond. I wonít lie, I have a slight crush on her. All of bit of harmless flirting. As I am selling balls, people come up to me and ask if I have a ball for holes nine and eleven. For the right money, I have a ball for any hole, you just have to know how to use it.
My playing partners today are Derek along with Scott Lancley, one of the most fun people to compete against. Iím asked by Ed if I have any goals today, I just want to go putting but in the back of my mind, I want to beat my playing partners in each round. Iím too close to the cut for my liking. Away we go. Things are different today. I want to do this and find myself psyching me and the others up. Although I drop a shot, the 31 is ok. The line is good, the pace just short on a number of putts. This is the story of round two of the day, a 32. By now, Iíve gained a couple of spots but Iím looking forward. All that I need is that one explosive round. It happens.
I get a good start for once and reach the turn three under. You make your own luck and on the eleventh and twelfth, I do just that. I ride the bridge wall on the former and brush the lake on the latter. Both drop. And the next one. And the next one. And the next one. Iím at eight under for the round with three to play. Scott and Derek are putting great too. Sixteen lands a cigarette paper away. Seventeen rolls in. A two at the last and I have my club record around the Pirate Course. It happens. A 27 is my best score on the mainland. All worries of the cut have now gone. Right now, Iím checking up on my bet with Pauli, which isnít going so well. Adam needs to play the last two rounds in three under or worse. I pay up as in the mood Adam is in, Iíve already lost this.
With all the excitement of round eight, Iím back to usual. A tepid round where I get what is expected and nothing else. Derek is pushing hard for the last available spot and when Scott takes a four at seventeen, it looks like Del Boy has made it. What we didnít account for was Adrian Amey smashing his personal best to force a playoff. Adrianís form continues and he qualifies for his first ever cut. These are two of the good guys on tour and although I was hoping Derek might do it, I donít begrudge Adrian his moment. In the final round, my partners are Mark Wood and Daniel Vlcek. Daniel finds a photo on his phone from last year, where we were also in the same group. Uncanny. It is a pleasure watching Daniel putt, on his day, he is one of the best in the world. Mark has an up and down round and eventually, we end up tied for eleventh. Not a bad performance from me today. Iím glad to have recovered the situation somewhat. The comedy moment of the round was Ted McIverís brush with a flatulent seagull. Those who know Ted will know this is a common occurrence.
I donít watch the final groups coming in. Adam has got the Indian sign over the rest of us here and he wins comfortably. Will looks totally drained having nudged out Karsten Hein for third. The 20th British Open is done. Itís been another success as a tournament and although I wished for more, it is what it is. I tried, I putted, I tanned, I went back to being a human again.