Listen very carefully as I will say this only once.
We might be on the verge of a great sporting upset. I said might. Yes, seriously, right up there with, say, England ever beating the All Blacks (let’s not talk about the Irish, ok? I’m still undergoing counselling). The reason for the English analogy is that my story involves an Englishman. A long-time Singapore-based one, who sounds like he comes from the Netherlands perhaps, but a patriotic Englishman right down to his Union Jack socks and his false teeth that chatter God Save the Queen when he puts them in the jar by his bed at night.
I’m talking about Jonathan Holland, owner of Singaporean distributor and agency Jonathan Holland & Associates, more widely known as ‘Chaps’.
Chaps is one of travel retail’s most popular individuals. A man of many talents. It’s just that golf isn’t one of them. Well, not until now. As I wrote in this Blog a few years ago, he is known as Chaps and not ‘Chips’ for good reason as most of his executions (quite an appropriate term) of the latter are either over battered or thinned beyond recognition. His short game, they say, starts on the tee and doesn’t go much beyond it.
But here’s the thing. After day one of the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup, Chaps is right up at the top of the leaderboard. Yesterday he shot a dizzying 39 stableford points, rumoured to be triple his average score here down the years. Dizzying? You better believe it. It’s akin to a man with chronic vertigo finding out that’s he’s standing on the top of the Burj Khalifa, at 829.8 metres high, the world’s tallest building.
And all this despite the face that’s he is brandishing a ‘Movember’ moustache that made it appear as if a sinister example of local larvae had fallen out of a tree and landed on his lip. For a man who, like all Englishmen, prides himself on keeping a stiff upper lip, that must be seriously difficult when you’ve got the equivalent of a giant centipede wriggling around under your nostrils.
As Chap’s delightful wife Eleen said to him last night, “You are not bringing THAT home to Singapore!” This was a reference not to the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup trophy but to his facial fauna. But what about the former? Could the man with the Cary Grant patter also turn out to be the man with, say, the Danny Willett putter? Two English triumphs on Dubai golf courses in successive weeks?
Now, before you rush down to the bookmakers (Chaps’ odds have been shortened from the pre-tournament 69 million to 1 to just 12 to 1), it’s worth studying history. On one previous occasion Chaps also exceeded his wildest dreams and scored 35 points on day 1, a career best until yesterday. As travel retail’s leading golfing commentator, I was so impressed on that occasion, that I predicted he would shoot the lights out the next day. And he did, an errant drive on the front nine, flying into the car park and smashing the headlamp of a Lamborghini. He’s still paying it off.
Legend in these parts says you can always tell the winner of the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup by their demeanour at the Irish Village party on night one. Upper lip slug placement aside, Chaps last night wore the cherubic expression of a man who knew all his ships had come in but knew equally that they would be sailing out to sea again the next day.
Enjoy it while you can was therefore his understandable sentiment as the pint tally stacked up to something approaching his day 1 points score. As a result, that Danny Willett putter could be twitching like a golf ball in a blender by the time round two commences in a few hours.
You see, golfing success is a fickle thing. In Chaps’ case, it’s a bit like his moustache. As Eleen will ensure, a case of hair today and gone tomorrow.