28′ Putt On Day 3 The Difference In Nail-Biter
By: Datzit Indaruf, Flem Cup Correspondent
MYRTLE BEACH, Nov 10, 2001 – Obviously no single shot can be responsible for The Flem Cup heading back to Spinkhill, England. Many shots and players contributed to that result but now that analysts have been able to break down the Cup matches, it appears a single shot stands out just a bit more than all others as being responsible for the Team England win.
As the table below shows, the matches were as evenly split as possible. Each team won four singles matches. Each team won three 2-man scramble matches and each team halved one 2-man scramble match. The only difference came in the 4 ball matches where Team England won six matches and Team U.S.A. won only five with the teams halving the other 4 ball match. So attention focuses on that one crucial difference – the halve Team England earned in the 4 ball match.
The match, pitting Team U.S. Co-Captain Scott Dow and low-handicapper Terry Neal against Team England Co-Captain Ian Jennings and low-handicapper Joe Brook, was, fittingly enough, statistically the best played match of the entire Flem Cup with a total Stableford score of 123 – nearly 31 per man. No other match exceeded 120 in total Stableford. The match see-sawed back and forth with no team able to build a two hole lead, only one hole won with a net par and only twelve holes being halved. Jennings had just put Team England up by one hole after a brilliant birdie net eagle on the tough par 4 sixteenth that beat Neal’s par net birdie.
Marsh Harbor’s signature hole – the long par 5 17th – provided the drama. After perfect drives from both England players, Joe put his next shot in the marsh and had to play again from the virtually the same spot. Jennings, meanwhile, hit exactly the shot he hoped for to the layup area (no one hits that green in two) but chose too aggressive a line and also ended up in the marsh. The penalty shot was bad enough but the psychological blow have reaching the layup area expecting a perfect result and not finding the ball would have crushed a lesser man. But this was Captain Jennings, a man referred to by teammate Swampy Trowbridge as nothing less than a “golfing god”.
After a poor tee shot put him in a tricky spot, Dow played the hole out perfectly, reaching the green in regulation with a 30 foot putt for birdie. Jennings was clearly flustered with the unexpected lost ball, pacing anxiously back and forth along the marsh’s edge in the hope of locating it to no avail. After taking a drop and settling himself, he knocked his fourth shot onto the green just inside Dow’s. After Dow lagged to 3′, the Yanks looked like they were back to all square only to see Jennings make a beautiful, curling 28 footer that just dropped into the Cup to halve the hole and make Team England dormie 1 in the match. With Terry’s clutch kick-in birdie on 18 halving the match, there is little doubt that the same result would have occurred had the Yanks won 17 as well, meaning that without Ian’s putt, the match would likely have been gone to the Yanks.
So it appears that if a single, remarkable shot won The Flem Cup in 2001, it would be that putt. Captain Jennings may not have had his strongest Cup performance but he was involved in more close matches than any other golfer. Five of his seven matches went to the last hole and he faced Jack Jr and Captain Dow twice each in 18 hole matches. That single putt after the mental blow of an unexpected lost ball and with the knowledge that the match result may be riding on it was clearly one of the critical shots of the tournament and showed why he is Team England Captain. As it turns out, a case could be made that the entire Flem Cup was riding on it as well.
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