BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.



Clarke’s class, Garcia's genius

  • Matt Slater - BBC Sport golf writer
  • 22 Sep 06, 04:21 PM

matt_slater55x55.jpgK CLUB – We’ve just kicked off again after the interval on day one and there are a few things I noticed out on the course.

One, the Americans are here. They had been a bit scarce during the practice days but they’ve pitched up today. I know, I was standing behind two of them at the 12th as they billowed cigar smoke into my face.

And I’m fairly sure they were Cohibas…aren’t they banned in the US? Oh well, getting a decent smoke is probably worth the journey, never mind the golf.

Michael Jordan was chugging away on an enormous cheroot too as he watched Tiger & Jim take on Monty & Porridge. But I couldn’t get close enough to tell if he was busting any sanctions or not.

Two, it clearly helps to have played in one of these things before but if you’re in form there really isn’t much to worry about. Rookies Robert Karlsson and JJ Henry played better golf than their more experienced partners.

Three, Tiger really doesn’t like this team stuff. I know he has been trying to convince everybody otherwise but he clearly makes more mistakes than we’re used to seeing from him.

But then his standards are so much higher. He didn’t play well this morning – he found the wet stuff at least twice whilst I was watching – but still put in the crucial three-hole spurt around the turn that ultimately won his team their first point. Even his B game is good enough sometimes.

Four, Phil Mickelson didn’t play well or contribute much. His partner Chris DiMarco might not hit it very far but he holes some big putts. The New Yorker’s fist punch is definitely the American team’s most potent gesture and far, far more convincing than anything Tim Henman managed.

And that brings me to Darren Clarke and Sergio Garcia, the men who defined the morning.

Clarke, whose private pain has become public knowledge in recent weeks, told everybody he would be ready for this and he was right. He had a tear in his eye on the opening tee and a lump in his throat at the last but in between it was nothing but solid golf.

I was eating my lunch when he and Lee Westwood were winning their game against DiMarco and Mickelson – a victory set up by his birdies at 16 and 18 – and the 20 journalists sitting around me were all transfixed by the pictures.

I’ll spare you the cynical men turned to jelly clichés but when the Americans conceded and the camera focused on the Irishman none of us was eating or speaking. After about 30 seconds somebody finally, and quietly, said “what a story”, not in a ‘hold the presses’ way but in a way that expressed admiration.

Garcia’s story is different. He’s had a few knocks but they’ve all been of the professional variety and he is young and talented enough to take them in his stride.

He might not have delivered in the majors yet but he is a major-league performer in this event. A bit like Monty, he putts in Ryder Cups as well as Tiger putts every week on tour.

And he also pulled off the most remarkable recovery shot I have ever witnessed, and I’m not sure the TV cameras picked it up because his drive was so wayward he was off their radar. The on-course radio commentary certainly knew nothing about it but the 500 or so who witnessed it will never forget it.

The shot came at par-four 11th. It dog-legs left and the Spaniard was clearly thinking about that when he hooked his drive into within 20 yards of the 12th tee, which is what everybody around me was looking at when his ball clattered into us and came to a rest under a tree.

At first nobody could work out where the ball had come from. It was that bad. But then Sergio came bouncing up the hill towards us, politely asked the crowds to part so he could see where the green was and then started to plan a flight path.

What followed was stunning. From an uphill lie, he sent the ball high over a huge oak tree that stood about 50 yards in front of him, blocking his way to the pin. Having cleared that, he managed to bring his ball to a halt, 10ft to the left of the pin.

Middle-aged men were hugging and high-fiving each other all around me. It was pure Seve Ballesteros genius.

Of course, the job was only half done. David Toms had holed a huge putt for a birdie and Olazabal had already missed his. No problem, Sergio stepped up and rapped his putt home. The Spanish pair would go on to win 3&2.

Some day soon he’ll do things like that to win majors. Until then I’ll settle for things like that to win Ryder Cups.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 04:54 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Sam Taylor wrote:

Looks likely that Europe wil finish the day a couple of points ahead. Any plans on how to celebrate Matt? Does the TimeOut website list Dublin nightclubs? Can you expense your bottle of rum?

If the boys are ahead by 3 tonight, is there a general feeling that the fat lady (no, not Monty) has sung and we can all relax?

  • 2.
  • At 04:57 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Ciano wrote:

They sell Cubans in Dublin so no sanctions broken there, tho maybe you should confront Jordan about it...

  • 3.
  • At 05:01 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • JohnnyBigClaws wrote:

So why do Sergio, Monty and the lads turn up for this week? And why does Tiger look so human all of a sudden? Surely the game is just the same...put that little ball into the hole, in as few shots as possible. I dont have the answer, but Id be interested to hear any good theories.
And by "good", I mean new.

My theory is that I believe Woods cares, but I dont hink he loves it. He cares because he doesnt want a blemish on his record, but this type of motivation is hardly the way to earn team success.

Garcia loves the challenge, and loves to drive others. His genuine and monstrous smiles have lifted Donald so far this afternoon, and Furyk cannot expect any such help from his playing companion.

  • 4.
  • At 05:02 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Garrett wrote:

Matt's reports seem to be peppered with references to his current or most recent meal - Is this a nervous reaction or is he simply a glutton.

Garrett - Wexford, Ireland

  • 5.
  • At 05:27 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • N wrote:

Enjoying the commentary on Five Live,
The commentator keeps referring the "Dublins K Club". The K club is NOT in dublin, its in Kildare, hence the "K".

  • 6.
  • At 05:41 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Hugh McHugh wrote:

Sorry just in from work! Cheroot and Cohibas? are they an American rookie pairing ?

  • 7.
  • At 06:50 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • George Martin wrote:

Could I just get the latest RESULTS!!!!!????? I do not have a dig tv.

  • 8.
  • At 06:51 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • JR Flanders wrote:

Cohiba's are also produced in the Domninican Republic, as are most major Cuban labels. One of the very interesting battles that will come out of Cuba's 'liberation' one of these days will be over the rights to the names of these famous cigars.

  • 9.
  • At 06:51 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Austin wrote:

Game over after the first day. Tiger is never up for it in this competition and people over here do not really care either which is a shame. It is all about majors over here, unfortunately. You would think these guys would enjoy representing their country on one of the biggest stages in golf, but apparently not. Europe dominated as I expected and I am sure it will be much worse tomorrow. Our only hope is singles, but it could be over by then.

  • 10.
  • At 06:59 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Geoff Barton wrote:

Thought the camerawork and commentary on five was OK, but the text was pathetic. What hole? what potential match score? and displaying this morning's score continually was useless

  • 11.
  • At 06:59 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • H wrote:

i listened to the commentry on 5 live today and overall it felt like there wasa lot of scrambling out there. Does anyine have an idea of the estimated gross scores from this morning - would be interesting to see who was burning it up and who was slogging it out.

  • 12.
  • At 07:24 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • bill wrote:

wrt to Austin's point, " people over here do not really care either which is a shame. It is all about majors over here, unfortunately", I must agree. Network coverage stateside is not showing live feed. Thankfully, I was able to get live pictures via net.
Roll on tomorrow and a further 5 points, hopefully.

  • 13.
  • At 08:29 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Reno wrote:

Is England ever going to have the guts to take America on by themselves, or will they just continue to pretend using an entire continent worth of talent against one country is fair?

  • 14.
  • At 09:05 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • steve wrote:

Why does this website list the K Club as being in Co Kildare and the BBC TV coverage has it in Dublin?

  • 15.
  • At 09:11 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • steve wrote:

Why does this website list the K Club as being in Co Kildare and the BBC TV coverage has it in Dublin?

  • 16.
  • At 09:27 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Fabrice Symonds wrote:

In response to: "Is England ever going to have the guts to take America on by themselves"

Look at the population stats and the history of the match and you might see why it is fair/reasonable to play Europe v US.

  • 17.
  • At 09:28 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Scobie Granville-Blair wrote:

Reno (13):

Where do England come into this? Prior to the 'continent worth of talent', the match was contested by Great Britain and Ireland.

If you feel the Yanks are disadvantaged by not being able to draw from an entire talent pool in North America, it could be opened up to Canadians and you could have Mike Weir and, eh?... that's it, in the team.

Reno asks: Is England ever going to have the guts to take America on by themselves, or will they just continue to pretend using an entire continent worth of talent against one country is fair?

This would be "one country" with a population just shy of 300,000,000, compared to the 50,000,000 of England (or 60,000,000 if you allow the United Kingdom) So it would be "fair" for the US to take on a country 1/6th its size, as opposed to taking on a continent twice its size?

I'm sure no one would mind if the USA used players from the South Americas and Canada.

  • 19.
  • At 10:56 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

Oh boo hoo, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the turn of todays events are we , or perhaps reviewing the last four Ryder Cups where you have again suffered by being crap., certainly in three of them.
I won't repeat the stats UK versus US & relative size & population as others have covered that. But of course as an American you probably need the facts spelling out since your grasp of anything beyond your shores is scant @ best.
Fact - one of your countrymen & a great one namely Jack Nicklaus, suggested to the powers that be that Europe should join GB & Ireland many years ago, to prevent the competition being so one sided ( Yes you used to win back then ). Get the Canadians & South Americans to join your ranks, we really don't care, otherwise the only thing you guys will win will be the "Presidents Cup". and with that most of your compatriots assume Europe form part of the opposition !!!!

  • 20.
  • At 10:57 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Andy Ellis wrote:

Tiger is trying to play the'team'game but this is not in his make-up because he has proved again this year his game is very single minded towards his own score only? If America had 12 Tigers they would still lose! You must admire Westwood on how to play this team game, going up the last 1 down, Monty left him with a 35 yard putt (31.25 metres for the USA readers) and he's laughing and accepting the challenge. I think Europe should play USA and the rest of the world as the Americans can't handle the team ethic without getting over hyped. Samuel Ryders cup is being engraved this evening. Europe 17 USA 11, Well done lads and keep enjoying the craic!

  • 21.
  • At 11:02 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Rick wrote:

In response to: "Is England ever going to have the guts to take America on by themselves"

Reno has a fair point - Greece recently took apart the American Dream Team in basketball, so it's entirely possible to humble a giant with a mouse.

Now as for the golf, a delightful day for me sitting here in Austin, Texas, the only Brit in a business of 50 rabid Texan golfers. I just wish the BBCAmerica website would let us ex-pats across the pond listen in via Radio 5.

  • 22.
  • At 11:32 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Bob Smith wrote:

Tiger Woods is the best golfer on the planet (fact)The Americans have the top players in the world (fact)
Are they a team ?
I dont know what makes a team but take Europes dislike for each other Spain V Britain over the Rock. Britain against france over everything.
Germans respect for the french.
Irish v England.
Scots v England at anything.
Europe as a whole about each other.
I think the answer for me is that we in Europe put our various interests to one side when we go against an outsider.
Apart from the french that is (sorry but I am English)

Not only was Michael Jordan there "chugging away on an enormous cheroot", I saw a picture of him eyeing Tiger's girlfriend:

  • 24.
  • At 12:19 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Glen wrote:

Oh, and here come the bad loser Americans.....You lose 4 out of 5 and your now moaning that you cant have the Canadians on your team! Have Mike Wier, its only one more player. the Ryder cup shows the value of Team Work, Sergio is the ultimate team character - look at his results!

  • 25.
  • At 12:27 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • patrick andrew reynolds wrote:

In reply to John Murphy I'd object to South American players there are a few decent ones, we dont what to give the Yanks any more of a chance.

  • 26.
  • At 12:52 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Glenn USA wrote:

I think the US should just send either amateurs or rookies. The US team just going through the motions so they can move to the next event. I don't think any one of them is losing any sleep over the cup. One of local cable channels showed the cup on tape delay is it really seemed to me that the Europeans cared more of about being there than the U.S. Team. I bet the bookmakers are not going to make a lot of money this year. The Europeans take the cup again hands down.

  • 27.
  • At 03:37 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Dave A wrote:

Did Reno make his asinine comments just to stir up a few comments from irate euros? Fact is, since the revival of the competition in the early 80,s Britain and Ireland could probably give the USA amuch harder game than in years gone by [despite not being able to call on the spanish armada] Perhaps it would be more interesting to watch than the drubbings we have seen in recent competitions

  • 28.
  • At 06:24 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Simon Kidd wrote:

Reno asks: Is England ever going to have the guts to take America on by themselves, or will they just continue to pretend using an entire continent worth of talent against one country is fair?

Isn't that called the baseball world series ?

  • 29.
  • At 08:27 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Matt Slater wrote:

Morning all, Saturday's forecast is for "light drizzle". Not that we're complaining. We're set fair for another day of "awesome" (the adjective of choice for most WAGs - I earwigged Diane Antonopoulos and Jocelyn Hefner saying it as many times per minute as most people say "erm") golf.

Steve, not sure why TV keeps saying the K Club is in Dublin. We were put straight on that one days ago (and even then we were talking about things that are actually in Dublin). If I see Peter & Ken I'll have a word.

Sam, I haven't seen TimeOut for Dub yet but I reckon I know where a few of the city's more popular nightspots are...I can practically feel one of them from my hotel bed. I think the dj played a deep house set on Thursday. As for the match, I think if we're three up at lunchtime today it's over....Rob disagrees.

Which brings me to Garrett (nice work with the "pepper" reference, by the way). There was only one reference to food in my report, wasn't there? And it was lunchtime! Don't think it's nerves, though. I've been out there, walking the course, burning calories!

Thank you Ciano and JR Flanders for the cigar info - all very informative. Do they roll their Cohibas on the thighs of naked virgins in the Dominican Republic too? MJ, by the way, is massive. He calls Tiger Woods "kid" and was told off for talking behind the 16th green whilst players were putted. He just giggled.

To Reno et al, loving your little debate. A few of us here were doing something similar yesterday. IF (big if) things go the way I hope they go this weekend, should we make the offer to return to the pre-1979 teams (OK, we'd lose Sergio, Olly and the Swedes...but we've got Poulter, McDowell, Rose, Dredge, Broadhurst, Dougherty, Khan, Bickerton, Owen etc to come in) or should we just say 'have Ames, Cabrera and Weir too and call it the Old World v the New'? Can't see it happening as it would be horribly unfair on the continentals and the Americans would sooner quit than ask for help.

Anyway, more later.

Got any burning questions? Tasks you'd like to set Rob or I?? Within reason!

  • 30.
  • At 09:44 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Alan wrote:

whats the problem on Ryder Cup scoreboard - we are 1 UP on match 10 and also All SQUARE at the same time..........



  • 31.
  • At 10:33 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Mark A wrote:

Regarding the pool of available talent available to the two sides, Europe have been represented by 11 countries in the Ryder Cup - England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Germany, France, Denmark and Italy. The combined population of those countries is, as of 2005, approximately 322 million.
The USA has a population of roughly 295 million according to the CIA factbook.
If the introduction of Canada (pop. 32 million) is what it takes to pacify the "it's one country against a whole continent" crowd, perhaps we should go for it.
Then, as and when we have a Greek (pop. 10 million) representative, they can open it up to Nicaragua (5.5 million) and Costa Rica (4.5 million).
Of course, that's all getting a little silly.
Besides which, it might make the non-Yanks on the team a little uncomfortable when the Valhalla crowd start chanting U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A [ad nauseam].

  • 32.
  • At 10:36 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Chohan wrote:

The Ryder cup is Europe v USA and thats they way it is so we have to deal with it, its two continents (yes I know about North America) against each other and whether the people over there care or not is another thing, im sure they did when they were winning against Europe constantly.

If the Americans arent up for this then that is not for Europe to ponder over, likewise if they show it on tape delay or whatever, the top 3 players in the world and they cannot rile themselves for a victory charge, maybe if 'Team USA' got behind them then they might produce a victory soon!

  • 33.
  • At 04:03 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Simon wrote:

Glenn USA wrote:
I think the US should just send either amateurs or rookies.

You do Glenn, you do.. But that event is called The Walker Cup... I guess you should think things through properly before attempting to belittle an event...

  • 34.
  • At 11:51 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • James wrote:

Garcia-Donald and Clarke-Westwood must be the best European pairing sfor a long time. 10-6 might just be a big enough lead they can't play as a team but the yankees are good on their own.15-13 europe final score

  • 35.
  • At 11:57 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • rick wrote:

they should cancel the ryder cup. let europe play themselves. They are the only ones that benefit from this charade. If they like europe so much they should not play in the PGA here. Stay in europe Sergio.

  • 36.
  • At 10:22 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Yusoff Zain wrote:

Following the Ryder Cup from the steamy heat of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

My golf playing partners and I are somewhat disappointed at the poor performance of the Americans. We were hoping for an exciting close fight but the Europeans pulled so far ahead at 10-5. Looks pretty much like a no contest. I cannot imagine the Americans being able to turn things around today.

  • 37.
  • At 12:05 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Matt Slater wrote:

Hello Yusoff in steamy KL, sorry to hear that you've been disappointed by the Americans' showing...I've been loving it! Actually, that's not entirely true. Many here secretly wanted a nail-biter. I think we all also wanted to see Tiger at his thrilling best, leading from the front and really getting into the whole Ryder Cup experience. Hasn't really happened again. I wonder how he will get on against Karlsson.

And Rick, oh dear. We really are nasty spoilsports aren't we?

Here's an idea. Why don't we play a Rest of the World team instead. You stay at home, organise yourselves into two teams, play your own World Team Golf Series Classic Bowl and call yourselves the best again.

Post a comment

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

Required (not displayed)

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites