Gentlemen, start your engines
- 22 Sep 06, 07:41 AM
K CLUB - Oh lordy, here we go.
Channel 4's inspired scheduling of Happy Gilmour last night has teed things up perfectly at a K Club that is becalmed weatherwise but utterly bongo golfwise.
Just scoffed a bacon roll but before I dash off to see Tiger & Jim get things rolling against Monty & Padraig let's get a few things down in black and white.
Rob is going for a 15.5-12.5 win for Europe with Sergio top-scoring for us and Tiger for them...the git. I, obviously, have to say something different so I'm going for 15-13 to us with Padraig and DiMarco leading the way. Let's get it on!
Right, just back from watching the first two groups play the 1st and I have to say that I have never experienced a buzz like that a golf tournament.
Everything has been so nice and polite this week that I was starting to wonder what Tommy Bolt, Eric Brown, Ben Crenshaw, Mark James et al got so bent out of shape about in Ryder Cups gone by. But this morning was different, very different.
It's not that they were snarling at each other but you could just tell from the players' faces and body language, and the crowd's tension, that this mattered.
The weather helped. Hurricane Gordon seems to have run out of puff and the relative stillness of the morning added to the sense of expectation.
The crowds around the first tee were already huge and on tip toes by the time I got there at 0750...and there were people four deep all the way down the 418-yard fairway.
The first cheers went up as the players marched down from the clubhouse and appeared on a crowded tee box.
Ivor Robson of Open Championship starter fame was there. And given the enormity of the occasion he can be forgiven for calling this the first match of the match and not the first game.
Jim Furyk was first up and despite being surrounded by people he was now completely alone. No matter, this nuggetty individual split the fairway.
Tiger was next and my God did he have his game face on. Absolute focus. Huge swing.....fore left! He pulled it into the lake.
Colin Montgomerie stepped up for Europe and was given the proverbial hero's welcome. What is it with Monty and this competition? He smiled and acknowledged the crowd. He doesn't do that when four clear on Sunday in most regular events.
Lovely swing, though, and he found the right side of the fairway. But it was not as good as Furyk's.
Padraig Harrington was last to go and, not unsurprisingly, he got the longest and loudest cheers. So long and loud, in fact, that the Irishman felt moved to doff his cap in acknowledgement. And then he bashed his drive up close to Monty. Furyk still position A, Tiger out of it.
What followed could be the story of this game. Tiger played a quite remarkable recovery shot to the edge of the green, the Europeans then hit the dance floor only for Furyk to go one better and get his ball inside theirs. Tiger missed his chip for par but Padraig and Monty missed their birdie putts. Furyk nailed his to put the first red on the board.
Listen to BBC Radio Five Live's Ryder Cup coverage
Remarkable stuff and completely nip and tuck. Monty and Paddy birdied the 1st in 2004 to start the Motor City miracle, could this be a similar omen for the American team?
Hope not. And there is a long, long way to go in this one.
As I finish typing this I can hear the roars for Darren Clarke’s superb opening drive.
This is going to be an incredible weekend of golf.
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