Wednesday 13 December 2017

From the Stands: McCarthy treasures Oakmont memories

James McCarthy lost his remaining keepsake from the 2007 US Open in highly dramatic circumstances last weekend. While being rescued from near-death in freezing Alaskan waters, an Oakmont T-shirt had to be cut from his body.

The native of Ringaskiddy, Co Cork was swept overboard while fishing in the Gulf of Alaska. And after a 20-minute battle for survival, his brother Peter managed to haul him to safety and an air-lift to hospital where he is recovering having been treated for extreme hypothermia.

Since then, by way of emphasising the importance of golf in his life, he recalled to his sister, Katrina, in a phone call to Cork, an interview he had done with this newspaper.

After a two-year flirtation with professional golf while based in Las Vegas, McCarthy drove 3,700 miles to Kodiak, Alaska to join Peter deep-sea fishing in 2005. Two years later, he was contacted by US Open qualifier Michael Berg, a former colleague on the mini-tours, asking him to caddie at Oakmont. That's where Dermot Gilleece wrote a piece about him.

There are three fishing McCarthys in Alaska, Peter, James and John. "Just like the apostles," James remarked with a smile. When asked if their work resembled the TV series Deadliest Catch, he replied: "Yeah, we're pretty close to that stuff, except our boats are half the size. It's tough, especially in winter. Freezing. Bleak."

According to Katrina, he will now need some time to recuperate from lung damage. But he's already thinking about Oakmont 2016. We wish him well.

* * * * *

EVER wonder how even top goalkeepers sometimes miss, or mishandle, shots aimed almost straight at them? Well, aeronautics researchers at the University of Salford have discovered that cricket-style reverse swerve is now an important factor in how the modern football behaves in the air.

The addition of rough surfaces, which are intended to make the balls go faster, has had the side-effect of creating the same aerodynamics as a cricket ball that's been used for 40 or more overs, the researchers claim in a study that won the prize for the best paper published in the journal Mathematics Today in 2012.

Apparently, the researchers found that if a high degree of spin is applied, which is similar to the forward velocity of the ball, an unexpected pressure difference is created, leading to strange movement in the air.

Lead researcher Dr Edmund Chadwick warned: "Applying too much spin will cause movement that the player did not intend and, while this can be beneficial in fooling goalkeepers, it reduces accuracy when striking the ball hard. Players will need to adjust their games to these new balls, and that will ultimately come down to practice."

* * * * *

Dublin had been doing so well in the league until they ran into Tyrone last week.

Not because they had managed to win the first four games, but because they had been sticking, by and large, to the ancient practice of announcing a team and sending the same team out to play. Unfortunately, it all went horribly wrong against Tyrone when five of the players named on the team failed to start.

There can be perfectly valid excuses for late changes, of course, but for five?

This is important, and not just because it causes difficulties for the media, TV in particular who have to prepare graphics in advance, but also because it's a pain in the neck for the paying customer.

If you're bringing your kids to Croke Park on a wintry spring night to see Bernard Brogan playing for Dublin, only to discover that their hero is not only not starting, but not even in the squad. And this despite being named in the team announced the previous day. Well, you can see the difficulties that presents.

His absence was explained post-match as being due to a leg strain, but post-match is, quite frankly, too late.

We suppose they did advise us to 'unexpect the expected'.

Dermot Gilleece, Fergus McDonnell and Seán Ryan

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