Good news, our lads beat Sweden on Sunday in the opening day of WCF Golf Croquet World Team Championship block play with a 4-2 score. Today we play the Irish, which will be a really big game as explained below.
USA v. Sweden
Our play today was solid, but not spectacular. Ben, Danny and David were solid in winning their singles matches. Our doubles teams split, with Ben/Sherif winning their match but Danny/David losing their match. The highlight in doubles was when Ben made hoop 9 from the boundary line with a two bounce jump shot that took us to 5-4 in game two of the doubles.
However, things were a bit closer than the score would reveal. Danny won his singles match with a hoop shot from the line at 13 (in game 2) and David Bent did the same in game 3. In fact, David reports that in game three, he was up 5-1, but his opponent ran six consecutive hoops to force the fish-hook. David had to swish hoop 13 with his ball from the line. That was nails!! Both of those shots occurred within one minute of each other.
Sherif's match was even wilder. His opponent Joi ("Joey") came back from down 6-1 in game 1 to win 7-6. In game two, Sherif came back from down 6-1 to win 7-6. In the rubber match, Sherif got down 5-1 and made a valiant effort to make the match close, only to narrowly lose in the end.
Egypt dominated the Irish today, when you look at the score. To be expected. However, a closer examination shows the plucky Irishman played many matches closely and were clearly not intimidated by the Egyptians. Word has it the Egyptians will sideline their #1 player against Sweden. I'm guessing that is so one of their alternates can play.
In the other block, New Zealand had an easy time against South Africa by looking at the score. But the match was closer in reality. Reg Bamford, one of the all-time greats, won his match for SA, which was the only team victory. However, the NZ doubles matches were narrowly won. In singles, Jenny Clarke beat reigning GC Women's World Champ Judith Hanokem in two games, which was a bit of an upset because Judith beat Jenny to win the World Championship. If they met again, I doubt the result would be the same. So, if Judith won her match, the close doubles match went differently, and with Reg winning his match, there was a realistic path to NZ and SA tying 3-3.
England beat Wales 5-1. Rachel Rowe of England won her singles and doubles match. The one surprise was reigning AC world champion Stephen Mulliner losing his singles match. Just goes to support my theory: GC is a totally different game than AC.
We play the plucky Irishman. In my mind, our entire tournament will be dictated by this match. If we win, we will go at least 2-1 in our block and advance. The match with Egypt would essentially be practice. If we lose, we could very well drop down to the plate, absent a huge effort against Egypt. Rhys Thomas has already reminded me how talented the Irish are and the fact that the event is being played at a club in London very familiar to them, meaning they have a slight home-court advantage.
I'm told Evan Newell will take Charlie Van Schmieder's place for the Irish today. He has more veteran experience, so perhaps the Irish see the same thing and have decided that if they can beat the US and then Sweden, they'll advance out of the block. Based on the drama from today in our match with Sweden and how plucky the Irish played against The Force from Egypt today, our match against the Irish will be WILD. Be prepared for anything!!
In other action today, the South Africans play the English. That is a big game in terms of my prediction. If Reg can be Reg, and Judith can get hot like she can, look out! It will be interesting to see if Reg plays Mulliner and if Rachel Rowe plays Judith Hanokem. Those would be huge match-ups.
Feel free to respond with comments, critiques or questions.