Irish And Chinese Top The ‘Lucky’ Stats
The argument started with a discussion about “the luck of the Irish” at the beginning of the Open championship week at Royal Portrush. Shane Lowry believed in it for a start, and that was five days before he lifted the Claret Jug. As he saw it, the Irish were a lucky people and, by way of expanding on that belief, he said that he, personally, felt rather better-placed in that department than some of his overseas colleagues. “My glass tends to be half full,” he said.
Next up was Li Haotong, China’s top player of the moment and one who has known a tie for seventh and a tie for 11th in the WGC-HSBC Champions. He was not about to deny that the Irish were lucky. He had always thought they were that. Yet, in his eyes, they were not the luckiest. To him, that honour was the province of the Chinese.
Over in the women’s professional game, Lin Xiyu, when she was playing in the recent Women’s British Open at Woburn, said that her mother had told her off for not courting more in the way of Chinese luck. “She told me that I was wearing too much blue and that I needed to switch to oranges and reds. That was one tip, and the idea of keeping a goldfish in the family house was second on her list.”
Aside from setting much store in the colour red, the Chinese will tell you that numbers can similarly connote good fortune, with eight the best bet. So much so that a rich businessman not so long ago paid $140,000 to have a number plate featuring as many as four eights. This, in turn, had prompted the thought that if Li Haotong had been shaping to win on the Sunday at Portrush, he would happily have forked out $140,000 not to have an eight on his scorecard.
Not too many years ago, Graeme McDowell set about doubling up on his Irish luck by adding a helping of its Chinese equivalent. He had his chance when a group of players were taken to the HSBC head office in Hong Kong and the visitors were advised that anyone who touched the claws of one of the two bronze lions standing sentinel outside the entrance could expect to be lucky. McDowell put both hands on one paw and reckoned that that was the best way forward. Good thinking on his part; he has finished third or equal third on three of the four occasions he has played since then.
Matt Kuchar was another to be easily drawn to the ‘lucky’ subject. He felt it made sense to latch on to whatever might be going and, during the Portrush week, he evinced more than a passing interest in those Irish leprechauns who are said to guard pots of gold at the end of the odd rainbow. Intriguingly, Kuchar had a table-tennis lesson from a Chinese expert when he was at Sheshan in 2017, the idea being that he would have better luck when it came to playing Marty Dou, the first Chinese-born player to win his PGA tour card while still a teenager. In his and Dou’s only previous table-tennis encounter, the lad had thrashed him.
Jimmy Walker, the former PGA champion, after giving serious thought as to whether the Irish were had the edge in terms of luck, decided that every golfer who had known success – and that takes in virtually everyone in this HSBC field of 2019 – is lucky.
Walker remembers winning a tournament in which one of his drives down the stretch came within the proverbial whisker of being out of bounds. A couple of referees had arrived with measuring tapes and pieces of string and, after much deliberation, they decided that it was in bounds ‘by half a golf ball’.
“That was my piece of out-and-out luck,” said Walker. “If it had been out of bounds, I wouldn’t have won.”