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Easy like Saturday morning

  • Rob Hodgetts - BBC Sport golf writer
  • 23 Sep 06, 12:21 PM

rob_hodgetts55x55.jpgK CLUB – Absorbing, illuminating, tense, amusing. And a massive privilege. Not many Saturday mornings come close to leaning against a tree just yards from the action as four Ryder Cup matches unfold in front of you.

The tree in question, an oak, stands behind the par-three 8th hole in one of the most picturesque corners of the K Club beside the River Liffey.

It’s 0930, the grandstand is full and an expectant crowd stands patiently in broken sunshine waiting for the fourballs.

Cheers and groans ring out from somewhere on the course, getting louder as the first group edges nearer.

Photographers prowl, snapping the masses, and a tournament official practises his golf swing with an umbrella. The crowd lets out a huge cheer, and he gives them a proud fist-pump.

But they are responding to the scoreboard, which has changed to show Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood going 1 up back at the 4th. And the official sheepishly tries to disguise his gesture as a scratch of the head.

A couple of fish leap in the river. Someone in the crowd collapses, prompting a call for medics. “He must be American and just saw the score,” says an NBC cameraman.

At 1008 the first group arrives on the tee. US rookie JJ Henry carves his ball into the water. Playing partner Stewart Cink and Europeans Robert Karlsson and Paul Casey all find the putting surface.

Hearty applause as the group reach the green. A burst of “USA-USA”. But it's met with a group “Ssssshhh”. A gaggle of American WAGS turn up in black jackets and dark check trousers.

Former US Ryder Cup captain Ray Floyd, skipper at The Belfry in 1989, arrives and sits on the grass just in front.

The players are ready but Karlsson misses. Casey holes for birdie to a huge cheer and Verplank misses. Europe go 2 up and walk off to more applause.

Back on the tee is Sergio Garcia. His hand comes off the club and the ball ends up short right, but stays dry. Fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal and Americans Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco are not too far away.

They are warmly welcomed onto the green and bunch of Euro WAGS arrive, in matching blue rain gear, marshaled by Glen Woosnam.

Garcia chips up and DiMarco concedes, jokingly pretending to throw the ball at the young matador as he picks it up. The crowd like that one.

The first “get in the hole” rings out as Mickelson plays. He and DiMarco miss their birdie efforts. The Spaniards double-team the line of Olazabal’s putt. Only the birds chirping in the trees can be heard as he settles over the ball. If you were blind, you’d think you were alone.

The ball rolls in and the crowd erupt. Olazabal’s caddie “Wobbly” punches the air and the Spaniards leave grinning, 2 up.

Floyd sits alone. Motionless. So I kneel down and ask him how he thinks it’s all going.


“It doesn’t look too good right now does it,” says the 64-year-old eight-time Ryder Cup star and four-time major champion.

“It could be won right here, today. If Europe go into the singles more than two ahead it will be very tough. Europe are having a big surge right now. Generally you get two or three surges a day, but if the US don’t get their surge soon they could be in big trouble.”

We don’t have time for more as Clarke is on the tee. “Thanks Mr Floyd,” I say. “Hmm,” he replies.

Clarke and Tiger Woods – who backs off his drive once - find the bunker, Westwood is short but on line. Furyk finds the green.

Clarke gets the biggest ovation yet. Elin Woods, in dark shades and black cap, and Tabitha Furyk settle down on the grass.

A flurry of radio men scuttle past, whispering into their microphones live on air. Five Live’s Mark Pougatch sports Top Gun-style aviator shades. An NBC guy with a big white moustache shares my tree and mumbles to his listeners in my right ear.

The hole is halved in threes and Europe stay 2 up. The Americans leave the green first. Woods looks dejected. More chants of “USA-USA”. Clarke and Westwood follow and the grandstand rises as one, all shaking their fists and imploring the Europeans on. “C’mon Leeeeeeeeeeee” rings out.

Floyd, impassive, rests his head on his hand.

No-one has left, or if they have they’ve been replaced. There’s a short delay before Henrik Stenson hits left, pin-high. Padraig Harrington’s ball gets a bizarre Shane Warne-style leg-spin bounce and runs through the green. The Americans are bunkered and short.

The entourage with this one includes Five Live’s Iain Carter and some more US WAGS. Harrington’s ball is in a hollow just yards away and he wiggles his behind as he settles over it. The ball checks and slows on its second bounce and the crowd urge it towards the hole. “Goo-on, gooo-on.”

Stenson chips to a few feet and Scott Verplank makes par for partner Zach Johnson.

Floyd gets up and leaves.

But Stenson misses his tiddler. A WAG and I exchange glances and both raise our eyebrows. Hers are more manicured than mine. Harrington also misses and Europe walk off 1 down. Groans, then shouts of encouragement.

At 1107 it’s all over. The grandstand empties, the crowds shuffle off, the camera crews pack up, the marshals have a crafty fag.

And this idyllic corner of County Kildare returns to peace. For a few hours at least.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 01:48 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Eamon Moore wrote:

Great blog. Sublimely interspersed with personal feelings, verbal/facial interactions and location descriptions.

It makes me imagine I am there myself as opposed to watching it on television.

Eamon Moore, working in New York.

  • 2.
  • At 02:17 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • George Turesky wrote:

Extremely biased reporting for the ___________ team! George

  • 3.
  • At 02:29 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • charles dornton wrote:


  • 4.
  • At 02:32 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Martin Gerard Ciaran Walsh wrote:

Stylish writing !!
Nice one

  • 5.
  • At 03:06 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • bob wrote:

I am going up the walls. I can't watch or listen to the ryder cup. I'm in Japan. All I can get are bbc's texts, which are good, but I want more!

  • 6.
  • At 03:30 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Mark A wrote:

I do hope George isn't complaining about pro-European reporting on the British Broadcasting Corporation website.
Perhaps if the tone isn't to his liking, he could try a non-partisan site?

  • 7.
  • At 03:30 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Simon wrote:

Great blog, and interesting to see the reaction of some of the US fans, which is one I come to expect when reading various internet Forums... When things go their way then they become the overly loud, arrogant, yet passionate, crowd we have all come to love and hate... When it all goes wrong then it is their way to devalue such contests in any way they can, blaming any number of outside factors for their demise.. Winning is everything in the US. You get no prizes, and deserve no credit, for second best - something that is beaten into every US sportsman from an extremely young age. It is NOT OK to lose!

I can see a call for a return to the old format should the current trend continue into the future..

But as a European in the US, I am savouring the occasion and the comments just a little bit more than usual......

  • 8.
  • At 08:30 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Laura wrote:

Go, Eorope Go. Let's show the USA who is king, the whole world will celebrate with us if we beat the US who stinks.

  • 9.
  • At 08:37 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Faisal Ahmed wrote:

Hi, wow wat a great reporter this person is, truly talented, i love most of the obviuos sports but i can never quiet grasp golf, but this person describes it with such emotion that it actually makes golf sound interesting, good luck to the europeans and i do hope tiger can do some magic on the final day so we can hav atleast a fair challenge, come on europe!

  • 10.
  • At 09:17 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

6am in Australia and just woken to the lovely sight of 10-6.

Beautifully written Rob.
Put a sock in it Laura.

  • 11.
  • At 09:38 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • david wrote:

A very lucid account of the circus going past. Top writing!

  • 12.
  • At 09:49 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Mark Wainwright wrote:

I agree....what a splendid piece of journalism.

cracking bit of writing. i enjoyed that a lot. brought a smile to my face just like the golf has been. some heroes out there on the european side. lee westwood as usual is on crackin form and just wow to darren clarke. he'd like no sympathy if we were to play bad im sure but needs none. regardless of circumstance he is doin a great chance.

mon the europe in the singles tomorrow

  • 14.
  • At 12:20 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Jim Peers wrote:

I was wishing many times the last 2 days that I could have been watching the BBC coverage.

NBC commentators showed no class at all.

They talked as if they were reporting a funeral. Johnny Miler who is great at analyzing a swing became a fortune teller, predicting dire happenings with the next shot of any American. Jimmy Roberts was rude in his inter-view questions by talking down to players in a demeaning way, as were other NBC interviewers. Roberts also looked and talked like a funeral director.

Both teams played really well today - the difference was probably the attitude of the hand ringing NBC broadcasters, for they forgot it is a game and kept asking why are you still banging your head against the wall questions during the course of the matches, by second guessing most decisions, before and after most holes.

They are killing the sport, for TV viewers like me, turn off the sound, so they can enjoy the match.

  • 15.
  • At 06:54 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • charles wrote:

ahhh... 6-10 , the stage is set for the biggest comeback ! Come on USA, remember your speciality in singles matches, remember how you can entertain Europe on Friday and Saturday on their odd-somes and what have you, and just steamroll them on 12 singles on Sunday. What other act can you have, to beat that fantastic Crazy ( Casey i mean, hehehe ) ACE !!??
As for Casey, what a nice icing on top of that wonderful cake. To say we are all dying of envy is an understatement. Your place in history is assured. If you are Irish, you would be made a saint. Warmest congrats.

  • 16.
  • At 06:59 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • jimbo wrote:

Of course we all love to win at sports, and yes, even more so if it means beating the US of A but lets give some credit to the American players. Everything I've seen from them so far has been excellent in terms of attitude in the face of adversity, not always easy and particularly welcome after what we saw not so long ago in this competition

Bob - you should go to and you can get live commentary on the matches. Not as good as Five Live's commentary but at least you can get that anywhere inthe world.

  • 18.
  • At 09:03 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • david wrote:

this is my first ryder cup outside of the uk, thanks a million bbc blog, australia loves to see the euros beat the u.s c,mon guys

  • 19.
  • At 09:04 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Ade Brooks wrote:

One of the best blogs I've ever read, as Eamon Moore said it did almost make me feel like I was stood there myself. I've never been lucky enough to attend any golf tournament let alone the RC but if it's as good as you make it sound then one day I'll have to go.

Keep it up!

Lovely blog! It captures the atmosphere beautifully - and it made me smile (blogs and FiveLive are the perfect way to "watch" this tournament if you can't be there). I'd love to think I'd still be enjoying listening to the radio and reading the blogs even if the tables turn today. Would I REALLY?

  • 21.
  • At 10:14 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Duncan Turner wrote:

The greatest golf event that comes around every 2 years and the networks can't show it live!
Did they just assume they were going to lose?
- a proud Brit in Santa Barbara

  • 22.
  • At 11:52 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Gerard Lougheed wrote:

Darren Clarke eptomises the spirit of the Ryder Cup.
A true legend. Go on Dazza. You Lady Wife will be proud of you.

From a Fellow Irishman.


  • 23.
  • At 04:07 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Antony Longson wrote:

WELL DONE BOYS! outstanding team effort! If Darren Clarke ain't the BBC sports personality of the year there's no justice! That man has so much courage and inner strength he's an example to us all, top man!

  • 24.
  • At 05:39 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • phil wrote:


Darren, Lee you were stars and everyone else in the team some fantastic golf played.

Wouldn't like to be the man holding a accumulative bet on the result of McGngley's match though........

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