Ames... thats the kind of photo Id like to
see him more often...victorious.
Saturdays ago, for the first time in the nine years since
he first joined the P.G.A. Tour, I sat in front of my television
set watching Stephen Ames line up a birdie putt on the 18th
hole and I kept praying that he would miss.
Strange you might say coming from a person who has been
one of Ames strongest supporters during his professional
Not really if you understood the implications of him making
The date was Saturday August 11. The occasion was the third
round of the 89th P.G.A. Championship, the final major for
2007. It was shortly after 7 oclock T&T time.
The birdie would have placed Ames in 2nd place by himself
going into the final round.
Why then should I have wanted him to miss the putt?
Simply because it would have meant that he would have entered
the final round in the lead group alongside the tournament
leader, Tiger Woods. And that is trouble by itself.
The history of the P.G.A. Tour is replete with players who
have failed to handle the occasion and whose final round
scores have reflected that inability.
So that when Ames putt found the bottom of the cup,
my heart sank. I felt that any chance he had of doing exceptionally
well in the tournament had disappeared with that putt.
And 24 hours later, my worst fears were realised.
After playing brilliantly for the first three days of the
tournament with scores of 68, 69 and 69, Stephens
game fell apart under the pressure and he could only record
a six-over-par total of 76 which saw him dropping from 2nd
to joint 12th at the end of the tournament.
I am convinced that had he been in the penultimate group
playing with Geoff Ogilvie, he would have been able to play
the game of which we know he is capable without having to
deal with the additional pressure that comes with playing
And that pressure is tremendous. I have seen it at first-hand.
The thousands of screaming fans and the television cameras
monitoring your every move make it difficult for all but
the sturdiest of characters to remain unmoved.
Tiger Woods is the only player who seems to be able to shut
himself off from that type of pressure and enter a zone
from which he only emerges after victory.
And victory was again to come his way, his 13th major victory.
He now stands just five short of Jack Nicklaus all-time
record of 18 majors. All that remains is to see how long
it will take Woods to surpass that record, for surpass it
In Ames case, I knew that the pressure would be additional.
The American Media have never allowed Ames to forget the
comments he made about Woods prior to the World Match Play
Championship in 2006 and the fact that Woods subsequently
beat him by one of the largest margins ever in match play,
9 and 8.
As soon as the round was finished, at the post-round interviews,
they seemed to want to talk about nothing else. It was rehashed
by every reporter on television and was splashed across
the pages of nearly every newspaper on the final day of
the tournament. And they tried to get him to comment on
To Ames credit, he refused to be drawn into any discussion
on the issue. But they wouldnt leave him alone.
I really wonder what they expected him to say. Anything
he said would have led to more confusion and bacchanal.
Its that on which they seem to thrive. Should he have
said, as Bobby Clampett suggested on television, that he
knew he was playing against the best player in the world
and that he just didnt have a chance.
If that is the attitude that Clampett adopted during his
playing career on the P.G.A. Tour, it is no wonder that
he hardly ever troubled the leader board.
It was because of all of these factors that I kept hoping
that Ames would miss the putt. That would have taken most
of the attention off him and placed it on the shoulders
of another 40-year-old, the American, Woody Austin who,
on the final day, without the pressure that Ames had to
undergo, turned in a spectacular round and finished 2nd
I suppose the uninformed would say that as a professional
Ames has to learn to deal with whatever pressure is thrown
Let me assure you that where Tiger Woods is concerned, that
is a lot easier said than done as many great players have
found out over the years.
I wanted Ames to do well at the P.G.A. Championship. I didnt
think he would win. No one has ever defeated Woods when
he has held the lead or had a share it going into the final
round of a major. And I did not believe that the 2007 P.G.A.
Championship would have been any different.
But a 2nd place finish would have guaranteed Ames a place
on the Presidents Cup team for the match against the
Americans later this year. Twelve players comprise that
team with the top 10 point leaders being automatic choices
while the captain has two picks. Ames stood in 18th position
prior to the P.G.A. Championship and needed a great finish
to move into the Top 10.
I was convinced that he would not have been among captain
Gary Players picks and I was proven right
A 2nd place finish would have also sent him skyrocketing
up the points standings in the Fed Ex Cup competition which
gets underway tomorrow with the Barclays, the first of a
series of tournaments which will culminate in one golfer
winning the largest purse ever at stake in professional
But it was not to be.
But, as the French would say, Cest la vie!
Whatever disappointments we face, we must pick ourselves
up and move on. And thats just what Stephen Ames will
have to do.
Now lets head for the 19th Hole
TEAM CHALLENGE LAUNCHED
A gala launch of the 2nd annual Dewars 12 Amaplaya
Team Challenge Golf Tournament took place last Wednesday
at the Hospitality Suite at Angostura. The tournament is
rapidly becoming one of the most eagerly anticipated on
the entire golf circuit since the organisers, Ron Ameerali
and his wife, Mira, have set standards never before seen
at a local event.
The two-day tournament will be held on Saturday 1st and
Sunday September 2, at the Millennium Lakes Golf and Country
Club at Trincity and will feature 26 teams of four players.
There will be different formats on each of the two days.
On the 1st day, the two best scores on each hole will count
towards the teams total while on the 2nd day, the
players will compete in a modified scramble format.
At last weeks launch, as has become traditional, Mr.
Ameerali presented a cheque to a charity of his organisations
choice, on this occasion the Alzheimers Association
of T&T. A cheque was also presented to the Golf Association
as a contribution to the development of junior golf.
Last years tournament was won by a team named The
Alligators comprising Mungal Bissessarsingh, Eddie
Honore, Clyde Ramkhalawan and Noel Rose.