Pouring, but with passion
- 24 Sep 06, 12:34 PM
K CLUB - Rain alternating between heavy and torrential is not enough to douse the smouldering fires inside every single spectator at the K Club on Sunday.
The first tee grandstand is already packed and they huddle five deep behind the practice ground, waiting, hoping, dreaming. Soaking.
It’s 1020 BST, less than an hour to go before the first singles match tees off and there’s not a player in sight. Not on the range, the chipping area or the putting green.
Colin Montgomerie is set to lead off Europe’s bid to win from 10-6 up overnight. But he faces a tough task against underrated American David Toms.
The two players eventually pitch up more or less together. Montgomerie, to resounding cheers, heads for the left edge of the range. Toms goes right.
It’s a picturesque scene, despite the deluge. A rolling green sward dotted by distance markers and bunkers and framed by giant oaks.
The backdrop is the lavish K Club hotel a little over 500 yards away. One day they might have to move the driving range back a bit.
Montgomerie, in black trousers with red piping and a red tank top, is impervious to the rain.
He pounds his driver, the balls flying in quick succession with a touch of fade high into the gunmetal grey sky.
The Scot, virtually a Ryder Cup legend, looks relaxed and shares a few laughs with caddie and coach. But only he will know what sort of emotions are churning inside.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who faces Stewart Cink in match two, arrives and gets to work. His short, fast swing is a contrast to the unique languid rhythm of Montgomerie.
Cheers ring out from the far end. It’s Ian Woosnam. He wanders over towards Monty but keeps his distance, loitering in the background.
Cink joins Toms in the American sector, and lanky Swede Robert Karlsson swells European numbers. He faces Tiger Woods. There's one shout of "Good luck Robert" but you sense many more are silently wishing him well.
Woods and Jim Furyk are putting – solemnly, quietly, slowly.
A volley of “C’mon Paul”s punctures the air as McGinley pitches up in a golf cart, beaming as he has all week.
Hole-in-one hero Paul Casey follows shortly afterwards. He is greeted by American captain Tom Lehman. The skipper looks pensive but signs a few autographs.
The gentle murmurings are shattered by a mass rendition of “Ole, ole, ole....”. The crowd in the first tee grandstand are amusing themselves before the off.
It’s still pouring, but there’s more important things to worry about here.
Everyone’s favourite, Darren Clarke, wanders into view and is greeted by his umpteenth roar this week. He looks slightly bemused and mouths a “thank you” before wandering off again.
At 1100 Montgomerie packs up and strides off, giving Garcia and Casey a big thumbs-up. Both men respond in kind. There’s no words, they’ve all been said.
Monty heads for a final putt. Only he and Toms are there now.
The American heads for the tee first. They're off in five minutes. But Montgomerie stays, putting under an umbrella held by his caddie.
A soggy Woosie ambles onto the green but again remains detached. The rain is at its heaviest now.
At 1110 Monty looks at his watch and says “Let’s go”. European vice-captain Peter Baker clasps his arm and pats him on the back. The pair exchange a few quiet words and then Montgomerie breaks cover.
After a stride the first roars go up, and a tidal wave of noise carries Montgomerie towards the waiting cauldron of the tee.
It’s on. Heroes will be made today.
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