GOLF AT THE MEDITERRANEAN GAMES 2018
COSTA DAURADA GOLF CLUB – TARRAGONA, SPAIN
One of golf’s many idioms suggests that there is never a bad day on the golf course. If one tried to push this expression, at the end of any of the four days of play, to any of our golfing ambassadors to this tournament one would have risked seeing a putter being wrapped around one’s neck!
Andrew Borg, Daniel Holland and JJ Micallef were Malta’s representatives to this tournament and formed part of the Maltese Olympic Committee’s small contingent consisting of another eight athletes from another five sports that travelled to these Games. Our golfers’ spirit ahead of the tournament was quite positive and they were confident that they could return a good result more so because they had purposely travelled a few weeks before to experience the course. The affordability of a practice round sustained this confidence with an eleven under par for the course (through an aggregate of the two best scores out of three).
As his colleagues went through the motions of some more practice on the second day of their stay, JJ had to confine himself to his hotel room because of acute food poisoning. Through strict food and fluid intake, the next day he managed to somehow be able to walk to the first tee for the first official round of the tournament but scrambled his way to a nine over par for the course. Although not said in many words, this must have put pressure on Andy and Danny who understood that they had to be the ones to return the two best scores for Malta on this first day. Their five and eight over were a desperate attempt and left Malta in eleventh place out of twelve countries after the first eighteen holes of play.
Spain led with four under followed by Turkey, Slovenia, France, Italy, Tunisia, Morocco, Andorra Portugal and Greece. Only Serbia was one place behind Malta.
Spain, spearheaded by Mario Galiano Aguilar (the best player in the tournament), continued to lead for the rest of the tournament to eventually win gold with an aggregate score of -16. Mario’s individual score for the tournament was indeed also -16, nine shots clear of Aron Zemmer from Italy.
After the first day’s poor showing, our players remained determined to improve which they did through a two-score aggregate of +2, +4 and +3 over the next three days. This was sufficient to place the team overall 10th place ahead of Andorra and Greece but, in honesty, below everyone’s expectations.
Andy’s individual performance of +6 overall (including a 2-under and a 1-under for the course) placed him tied 16th out of 36 players. JJ’s +21 (including a 1-under for the course) placed him 32nd, whilst Danny’s +25 placed him 33rd overall. Out of the 36 players only four broke the level par for the course whilst another two played level par over the four days.
Eventually, Spain carried all the four gold medals in this tournament (one each for the men’s and women’s team as well as for the individual placings). Likewise, Italy carried the four silvers. France took one bronze in the men’s team whilst Slovenia took bronze for the ladies’ team and two individual bronze placings.
Our players’ spirit and code of conduct throughout the trip did earn them high respect from the Maltese Olympic Committee. According to MOC’s requirements, Henning was also part of the team and did his outmost to encourage the players albeit without risking the angst of a putter.
An experience much to learn from.