Sunday, September 19
So there I was in Stratford at 9am, ready to mix it with the cream of British and European Mini Golf...There were no trains that early in the day, but luckily Fincho was kind enough to drive me....but secretly I know that she just wanted to get a glimpse of top class international Mini Golf...
I had time for a bit of a practice - I set out with my putter to conquer the dreaded thirteenth. I rattled off four holes in one, on possibly the hardest hole on the course....other players looking on in awe, wondering 'who is this guy? (possibly) but one veteran sagely remarked, it's one thing to do it in practice and another in competition....wise words indeed.
The draw was made for the third round of play and it was clear I was now mixing it with the big boys. I was selected to partner British number 10 Steve Gow and Austrian Mini Golf legend, Ernst Hübner. The most amazing thing that I was level with both of these players on a three over par 75 strokes and ahead of some other British internationals. I had my eyes on the £50 prize for best amateur, but I was now feeling the pressure...yesterday I had come to have fun, today was serious.
Armed with extra knowledge from nine year old prodigy Rocky Bullen....I set off to play. A staggered start ensured we began on the ninth - the water hole! "Let's all get some aces" said Ernst before shaking my hand, but I wasn't going to fall for his Austrian charm and besides I had a decision to make. Was it going to be the winter hat or summer hat?
Yesterday I had worn the winter hat for the first round and the summer hat for the second...a decision which I think paid dividends...I decided to do the same again...
Things began OK with a few two's, me matching the Austrian and British Internationals...but then possibly a fatal decision....I was getting a bit hot, so I switched from the summer to winter hat....an error as it turned out.
Suddenly my game deteriorated, 3 foot putts were seeming like 10 foot putts and I was sending the ball all over the place as my score ballooned...but it was too late to change hats again...the Austrian was already looking bemused at the importance I placed on headwear and I didn't want to antagonise him by holding us up, particuarly after he unleashed a torrent of German obscenities after missing an easy putt (although saying that, he could have said anything as I don't speak German!)
My chance was slipping away and I failed to get a whole in one all round...leaving me with a disastrous score of 45...It was all over, my chance at glory was gone...when the scores came through I had dropped down the pecking order and now began the fourth round with the first group...which did include British team member Brad Shepherd....maybe I could still defeat him.
Before we began I asked him about playing for the British team, perhaps one day I thought that could be me wearing the British jersey.
"It's not as fun as it sounds" he said. "At the World Championships in Romania our coach had us up at 5:30am to practice...it's not a holiday! In fact, I needed a holiday to recover" Crickey I thought....You shouldn't be playing Mini Golf before 10:00am - my morning round had proved this.
Could I pull something out of the bag on the final round....the answer is no! A string of missed putts and bad fortune led to a catastrophic round....a score of 54 - the second worst of the entire competition - the worst was by a ten year old child.
It was all over, I was brought back down to earth...I didn't have what it took to mix it with the big boys...I had choked under pressure...I was a failure.
When the scores had been worked out I looked at the board...
21. Phill Huxley 40 35 45 54
Last of the players who had made the halfway cut and bothered to turn up for the second day of play, seventeenth best of the British players.
As I left to head home, Thierry 'The Belgian' had a healthy 7 shot lead over a three British players Jon Angel, Tim 'Ace Man' Davis and Ted 'Big Top' McIver...
Full Results will no doubt be soon on the Official Mini Golf Website...i'm off on holiday to Berlin...away from the glare of the media spotlight and to contemplate my future in mini golf.
On reflection I had made my mark in the world of Crazy Golf....helped to knock out a few of the countries best....I guess I can proudly call myself the 17th best Mini Golfer in Britain...