SOUTHPORT, England — Gambling, of course, is legal here in the Kingdom, and on Wednesday night I scoured the offerings at a High Street punters’ shop. One piece of action jumped out at me.
For each of the 50 or so threesomes, the house was offering odds on who would be the low man in the group. Game 11, off at 8:21 a.m., comprised Ryder Cup hopeful Hunter Mahan, Hall of Famer Vijay Singh and British Amateur champion Reinier Saxton, from Holland. Saxton was going off at 15 to 2 to be the low man in the group. I put down £10, about $20.
They played in the worst of the conditions, a driving, soaking rain and a stiff breeze, and my guy was hanging with them. It was borderline insane: Vijay hit driver-driver and came up short on the 499-yard par-4 sixth to make a bogey. He smashed a drive on the 11th and only just reached the fairway. Saxton had no chance.
And yet, through 16 holes, the amateur was the low man, at a laughable score, 10 over par. He made a par on 17 while the two pros made birdies, and on the 18th tee all three of them were even par. They say in golf every shot makes somebody happy, and it’s true.
Saxton made a solid four on the last, to post 80, 10 over. Both pros had six-footers for par to match him. If both missed, my guy would have come home a winner and I would have made £65. The pros, being pros, nailed the putts. Three 80s. The kid was a winner, and so was the house.
"I was sorting of laughing to myself, when I saw the little scoreboard, that I had a lower score than those two," Saxton said. He’s going to play in the Masters as an amateur in April, and turn pro after that. "They both have all sorts of shots that I don’t have, not yet."
He didn’t seem nervous. He seemed highly realistic. He was sunburned. He’d been working hard, at home.
I’m going to see what kind of action I can get on him making the cut. His 80 on Thursday, one short for my purposes, was pretty good, even if it wasn’t good enough for him, or for me.