'I shake their hand but think I'm going to bury you'

The Scoop

We'll soon all be starting up our annual knockouts. In this week's Niggle our team discuss their matchplay tactics to try and gain the upper hand

Mark Townsend: How do you try and psych out your matchplay opponents?

Steve Carroll: “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.” Liam Neeson, Taken.

Mark Townsend: Are you OK?

Steve Carroll: “What I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let the game go now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you…”

Mark Townsend: Do you want to go and have a lie down?

Steve Carroll: “I shake their hand but think ‘I’m going to bury you’.”

Mark Townsend: Shall we start now?

Alex Perry: I’m generally awful when it comes to this sort of thing. I wish I could be more ruthless, I’d rather just concentrate on getting the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible.

But then I’m the worst person on the planet for letting my opponents get to me. Last week I had a 20-foot uphill putt. As I was reading it, he said: “Painfully slow, isn’t it?”

I thought he meant the putt and I ended up knocking it 10 feet past – not sure if it even stayed on the green.

He actually meant the pace of play.

Mark Townsend: Where do you stand on gimmes?

Steve Carroll: You get nothing from me…

Alex Perry: I quite like doing the old trick where you give them everything inside a couple of feet then wait for them to leave a slippy downhiller and make them play it.

Gimme

Mark Townsend: Given I’m quite weak I tend to get led by what my opponent is doing. If he’s given me a three-footer at the 1st then I spend most of my time thinking about how soon I can repay the favour. I’ve only once not agreed to a ‘good good’ situation as my opponent had the most appalling yips and could barely make contact with the ball from two feet let alone hole it.

James Savage: One of my tactics is to get my opponent to mark the scorecard. I need every ounce of concentration for my golf. Last thing I need is to be scrabbling around looking for a pencil.

Alex Perry: That’s filthy.

James Savage: In fact, that’s all I’ve got.

Alex Perry: How do you do it though? Demand it? Or just kind of casually drop in like “You’re good to score yeah?”

James Savage: Basically. Or I’ll just say I haven’t got a card. Or a pencil.

Alex Perry: Or know how to score.

James Savage: I actually pulled this at the TaylorMade Media vs. Industry match where it was an electronic scoring system through the VPAR app. There’s no way I would have won if my phone was in my hand on every hole.

Steve Carroll: I basically spend 18 holes trying to suppress growing rage. The old ‘so you’re really off 18?’ can work wonders too.

Mark Townsend: How much would a shiny set of clubs with everything in the right place in the bag throw you?

Alex Perry: If someone showed up to play me with a Maxfli bag, lake balls, and a set of Dunlops off the Sports Direct shelf, it would boost my confidence. (It shouldn’t have. He thrashed me.)

The Presidents Cup

James Savage: “Who fitted your driver?” Would be my play in that situation.

Mark Townsend: Where do you stand on who says what the score is? I always think it should be the person who is in arrears but that can get a bit odd as you might go half a dozen holes and even bypass the conclusion of the match as nobody has spoken for an hour?

James Savage: Always ask the score, never announce it. “Are we still level?”

When you know you’re one up it feels like a psychological body blow.

Steve Carroll: I’m two up now, aren’t I? Preferably repeated as many times as possible on the walk from the green to the next tee. And in the fairway, if you are in a bit of trouble. Or the green, if you’ve got a tricky downhill five-footer.

Mark Townsend: How about looking for balls? I try really hard but only because I’m a big believer in karma. As soon as he/she says ‘we’ll leave it’ I’m straight out of there.

Steve Carroll: I always give it full effort. Even though it seems to always bite me on the backside. I don’t mind a little bit of gamesmanship but not helping to look for a ball always seems to be in very poor spirit for me. Once you’ve decided it’s lost, though, I’m gone.

James Savage: I like to go the extra mile when looking for an opponent’s ball as I feel it gives me the moral high ground. Or at least makes it look like I’m trying really hard.

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