Club-Throwing Incident Compared To The Tonya Harding Affair
By: Datzit Indaruf, Flem Cup Correspondent
Investigative Report By: Iva Tufshot
MYRTLE BEACH, Nov 9, 2001 – The following report was filed by investigative reporter Iva Tufshot early Thursday morning. Tufshot was only allowed the interview with Nelson after being blindfolded and driven around in circles (sorry – “roundabouts”) for 2 hours to eliminate any possibility of her being able to find Nelson’s secret hiding place again. The interview was short and cordial but Nelson has made it clear that he is afraid for his golfing career and, in fact, his life. There was also a surprise interview waiting there for Tufshot. The report could not be filed for two days due to Tufshot’s problem finding her way back to Spinkhill (and getting a decent Internet connection).
UNDISCLOSED LOCATION IN ENGLAND, Nov 7, 2001 – After over a week of undercover work in search of Paul Nelson and coming to believe I would never find him, I was unexpectedly approached by a man late one night outside of The Angel Inn in Spinkhill. Offering to take me to meet with Paul, who has been in hiding ever since the club throwing allegations against Team England Captain and “Bad-Boy” of England golf Ian Jennings arose on October 30. At first I was suspicious but I was convinced it was a legitimate offer when the nameless messenger produced Nelson’s handicap card as evidence of his honorable intentions.
After being driven around by two men blindfolded for what seemed like hours (they even took my wristwatch to prevent timing the trip), I arrived at a small hovel somewhere in the English countryside. Paul Nelson was standing in front of me when the blindfold was removed. Looking haggard with the wild, panicked look of a hunted animal in his eyes, Nelson greeted me warmly before inviting me to sit down for a talk. Here is the interview:
Iva Tufshot: Paul, what has happened to you since that fateful October 30 day when this story broke?
Paul Nelson: I’m sorry that it’s taken so long for me to get in touch but I was threatened by some of Ian’s ‘enchmen. They said if I tell the truth about what ‘appened that day in August 2000 at Renishaw Park, Ian would ‘ave me “done up good”, if you know what I mean. In other words, ‘e wanted me to take the 5th – you know, from that Constitution thing where it says I don’t ‘ave to say nothing I don’t want.
Tufshot: So what has convinced you to come forward now?
Nelson: As [American Captain] Scott knows, I am a true gentleman and honourable sportsman and now that Ian is out of the country, I cannot keep quiet any longer, so ‘ere is the truth, the ‘ole truth and nothing but the truth.
Tufshot: OK, Paul, tell me exactly what happened.
Nelson: Scott, Ian and I were playing quid skins and Scott was just playing terribly – frankly, I was embarrassed for him – but Ian was playing well and, somehow, ‘e and I kept tying, ‘ole after ‘ole after ‘ole, so the skins kept carrying over. Finally, by the 15th, we were playing for, like, 12 skins when Scott suddenly came out of nowhere to sink a long birdie putt to clean up. Well, Ian was stewing coming off the green. I mean, there was literally steam coming out ‘is ears.
On the 16th tee, Ian took out ‘is driver. I knew ‘e was ready to take out all his frustrations so when ‘e let fly at the ball with an unusually bad swing, I wasn’t surprised when it disappeared straight into the trees on the right. Strangely, as the ball disappeared, ‘e continued ‘is follow thru, spinning round and releasing the weapon at a vicious speed – straight at Scott. It was, in my opinion, a clear attempt to injure Scott.
Tufshot: Paul, that is just incredible. Can you answer the three questions that Scott had posed for you to answer. The questions were: 1) Was it raining that day? 2) Were we on the left or right side of the tee relative to Ian?, and 3) Did he obviously and deliberately fling his driver at me [Dow]?
NOTE: At this point in the interview, Nelson cast anxiously about. Keep in mind that in the Jennings refutation of these allegations, he had claimed it was raining, Dow and Nelson were on the wrong (left) side of the tee and the club-fling was an accident. Then his eyes settled on his brother Mark, who was also there. Mark said simply: “Tell her what you’ve told us”. Drawing a deep breath, Paul continued:
Nelson: The answers are 1) NO – it was not raining. 2) RIGHT – the two of us were on the right side of the tee exactly where we were supposed to be, and 3) YES – it was INTENTIONAL. The look on Ian’s face as he hurled the potentially lethal weapon at Scott is something that I will have to live with the rest of my life. I can only liken it to the look on Hannibal Lecter’s face as ‘e went in for a kill.
The disgust with which Paul Nelson spat out the word intentional was palpable. It obviously pained him, a man of class and integrity, to say that an England golfer (particularly a man who at one time was his “friend”) had attempted to maim or kill a golfing opponent. A this point in the interview, another man who had been lingering in the shadows stepped out. I was stunned when I saw it was David Needham, a great friend of Paul’s who had been keeping him safe. So nicknamed for his spectacular misses off of the tee, the wing commander motioned for the interview to continue as I turned my attention to him:
Tufshot: Wing commander Needham, can you give us any further information?
David Needham: I knew once Paul was interviewed, my life also would be in danger from Jennings. He is a great guy when you’re on his good side but don’t cross him. I’ve buried a few that did and the viewings weren’t pretty.
Tufshot: Well, what can you add to what Paul has told us?
Needham: I thought one more person corroborating this story would perhaps put an end to Jennings mischief. I can frankly say that if Paul hadn’t agreed to be interviewed, I would have remained silent as well. Jennings is that dangerous. But as far as what I can offer, I can confirm that while the weather on the day in question was a tad inclement, and that the state of Mr Jennings’ driver grip was unquestionably in poor repair, I am unable to concur with Mr Jennings’ statement that the club throwing incident that nearly cost poor Scott his life was an accident. Knowing Paul as I do and having seen the pure terror on his face that day, I believe that he believe’s this to have been a premeditated attempt on Scott’s life to increase Team England’s chance of success in the prestigious Flem Cup. Never has there been such a clear cut case of deliberate sabotage of an opponent since the Tonya Harding affair. I only hope a suitable punishment will be given but should I have to testify in this case, I will request that both Paul and I be taken into the witness protection program since both of our lives will be in danger at that point.
Tufshot: Well, gentlemen, I think you’ve cleared this up sufficiently. There seems little doubt now that Jennings was deliberately trying to maim Dow but failed miserably. I think that concludes our interview unless either of you have something else to add.
Nelson: I have nothing else, Iva.
Needham: I don’t either. Thanks, Iva, for putting up with all this secrecy but our lives are at stake here.
So it appears that Jennings not only tried to cover-up the event but also lied about it in the Team England statement. But that is not really surprising for those who know England’s “Bad-Boy” golfer. What IS clear is that the focus of this investigation must now shift to the organization that was responsible for disciplining Jennings for the event and let him off with a £5 fine because “it was only a Yank”. It has even been suggested that the £5 fine was because Jennings missed all Dow’s vital organs and had nothing to do with the club-hurling. The organization? None other than The Angel Golf Society – home to most of the Team England golfers who played in the recently completed Flem Cup.
What will the Society do now? Many questions remain unanswered. What did the members know and when did they know it? Disciplinary committee chairman at the time of the incident was Jennings’ Co-Captain Joe Brook (who Dow claims he informed of the incident that very day). Society President St. John Harris has issued no statement at this point but pressure is mounting that he respond to this incident and re-open a full investigation. With Nelson and Needham fully corroborating Dow’s version of the story, the Society almost certainly will have to do something to defuse this explosive issue – not for Jennings’ sake but for integrity of the Angel Society itself.
The ball is clearly in The Angel Golf Society’s court and St. John Harris is at the center of the storm. What will he do? Singe has issued no comment to date but is being sought to outline The Society’s plans for addressing this issue.