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Scraps from the captains’ table

  • Matt Slater - BBC Sport golf writer
  • 19 Sep 06, 05:53 PM

matt_slater55x55.jpgK CLUB - The first official day of practice for the 36th Ryder Cup is almost over so it is time to jot down a few things we have learned in Straffan on Tuesday.

First, Tom Lehman and Ian Woosnam may well have plenty in common – golf, for starters – but they speak completely different languages. Never has Winston Churchill’s adage about two nations being divided by a common language been better proved than at press conferences held by these two men.

Second, Chad Campbell’s wife Amy is, according to A&R man Lehman, a phenomenal singer – “recording quality”.

And third, Woosnam spent “six months” just getting the Europeans’ water-proofs “right”. We did not learn if Glendryth Woosnam helped her husband with the sewing.

Among other tidbits picked up at the course were the nugget that Stewart Cink won the most skins (at $100 a pop) in his fourball with rookies JJ Henry, Vaughn Taylor and Zach Johnson, and Tiger Woods’ singing is so bad that Lehman could not recognise the tune – “I was completely lost,” the skipper admitted.

Most of this frat-boy hokum came from Lehman’s press conference and if there is a theme here in County Kildare this week it is “togetherness” – as in which team has more of this undeniably attractive but sorely elusive property.

Woosnam bangs on about a great spirit existing amongst the lads (is that spirit 80 proof, Ian?) and how they have shared “a few beers”. And then Lehman comes back with “Irish barbecues”, “guys bonding” and having “a really great time with our wives and families”.

Let’s hope if they have any more barbecues they make sure there are plenty of those redoubtable Irishmen “patio heaters” (say it with a silly Irish accent) on hand to keep the chill off.

And all this talk of togetherness just reminds me of that advert with Mark Williams which ended with him saying, in a thick Brummie accent, "...but most of all, we want to be together."

When Tiger’s name comes up, as it inevitably does, Lehman says the world number one has gone from wanting to escape to his hotel wing on Ryder Cup practice days at 1.30 to wanting to hang around “with the guys” until 5.30.

Well that settles it. The Americans definitely love each other more than the Europeans do. Or maybe not.

What I will say is that the Irish plus Lee Westwood fourball that practiced together on Tuesday was the most relaxed and chatty group I have seen on a golf course since Bruce Forsyth, Chris Evans, Meatloaf and that bloke from the West Wing played together at the All-Star Cup last month.

Maybe the Europeans don’t need to keep telling us how friendly they are because they just are that friendly with each other.

The other thing to say about Woosie’s words of wisdom is that he is clearly relaxing into the job of captaincy. He held his hand up about the nervous display he put in at the wildcards press conference but he has been pretty much word perfect here this week.

Get him on to touchy-feeling man-management stuff and he struggles (that’s more Lehman’s domain). Stick to golf and he seems to actually enjoy it. Well, not hate it, at least.

That’s probably enough from the captains, and me, for one day.

I’ll just sign off by saying I can’t see where the pre-event criticism of the course was coming from. It looks great and will no doubt look even better on television.

The closing holes, in particular, are superb. But with the course as damp as it is now (and set to get wetter) they are playing very long indeed. Only the very long Henrik Stenson went for the green in two at the par-five 16th and he put it in the Liffey.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 09:06 PM on 19 Sep 2006,
  • Jon wrote:

"Maybe the Europeans don’t need to keep telling us how friendly they are because they just are that friendly with each other."

Exactly- they Yanks dont need to keep cramming it down everyones throats that their so 'together'... Even though it is for the benifit of the American media it still doesn't fool 90% of true golf fans who realise that as soon as this week is over the Yanks will all go their seperate ways and settle into their own worlds on the PGA tour, where as most of the European team will no doubt fraternise as always at their next tour stop.

But I spose the Yanks have to win something this week so they can win the phoney war if they like- we can have the cup!


  • 2.
  • At 04:26 AM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • Rod Thornton wrote:

I would like to know what prices they will be charging, for food and drink, inside the golf course, now that they have the monopoly and a captive audience.

If the course looks great on television that's good and that matters to me because that's where I will be following the Cup.

  • 4.
  • At 12:00 PM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • Gerry O' Donohoe wrote:

"say it with a silly Irish accent" ........It's Ok Matt your "silly" English accent will do fine !!

  • 5.
  • At 12:40 PM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • Mike Buckley wrote:

Matt Slater, who.....are you? What is this twaddle? Can you please tell us what is REALLY happening there? For this Irishman now living in Singapore and wishing he could be there to soak up some of the atmosphere, can you please tell us how the Irish people are handling this massive event, the biggest sports event ever to be held in Ireland! Tell us what the craic is like in the pubs. What and who are people talking about. How the American players are being treated by the Irish public. What the American fans think of Ireland and the K Club. I mean come on.....Chad Campbell's wife has a great voice? Give us the real stories please.

  • 6.
  • At 01:00 PM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • darragh wrote:

The course would want to look amazing since 50 million euro has gone into staging the Ryder cup at the K club. Has the Ryder cup ever been played on a link course?? This side of the atlantic.

  • 7.
  • At 01:27 PM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • David wrote:

Well said Gerry "silly Irish accent" you've some nerve Matt

  • 8.
  • At 01:54 PM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • Matt Slater wrote:

Alright Gerry! I didn't mean the Irish accent is silly. I meant put on a cod "Oirish" accent to say patio heater.

Darragh, you're right, the lovely TV pictures you'll probably see at some point this weekend have come at a high price. But then I suppose a large slice of it was Dr Smurfit's money, and he can do what he wants with it. Yes, the Irish tax-payer has coughed up too but I suppose the Irish government has just taken the view that helping Ireland become the world's top destination for golfing breaks was worth the wedge they handed to the Ryder Cup organisers. Shame it couldn't keep its promise to reserve the Ryder Cup for RTE, though. As for links courses, yep, it's been staged at Lytham, Muirfield, Birkdale et al but the last 30 years have seen a move to big, posh American-style parkland courses. Money talks.

Rod, in terms of food and drink prices the K Club experience isn't for widows and orphans but it is no more expensive than you find at most sporting events these days. The Open is very pricey, for example. I will say, though, that the cheeseburgers from the Food Court should be matter how hungry you are or even if that is the only place on site you can use a card.

  • 9.
  • At 02:33 PM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • Matt Slater wrote:

Hi Mike, not sure what you mean by "who are you?" you want me to get all existential about it or will BBC Sport golf writer at the K Club suffice.

Most of your questions are covered in other threads or stories on the site but I'll race through them here now.

Most Irish people seem to be loving it but there is a minority who don't care at all/think it is over-hyped, over-priced and over here/don't even know it's on. The debate of whether this really is the biggest event Ireland has staged is on-going. I've seen and heard plenty in print, TV and radio from both camps.

There is craic to be had in the pubs of Dublin but no more than I've found on previous visits. Can't speak for Naas (or Straffan) but there were a fair few that tucked in yesterday at the course. All seemed to be having a great time.

People are talking about all kinds of stuff - Tiger, Darren, the Irish players in general, does Woosie know what he's doing, how do you get tickets, isn't it a disgrace it's only on Sky, why are their clothes so funny, are the Americans any good, will McGinley play much etc etc etc

American players being treated very well indeed and they have all commented on this. Only to be expected, though, from a sport-loving and hospitable place like here. Not so many US fans about yet, at least not in Dublin. But I hear two famous ones are expected today...George Bush snr and Jimmy Carter. An Irish magazine, however, has greatly upset Woods by printing fake nude shots of his wife.

Sorry you didn't like the Amy Campbell tidbit. I thought it was funny. The Irish press picked up on it too, although the Star was far less flattering than I was.

Keep reading and we'll try to keep you fully up-to-speed.

What's the word in Singapore? Is it on the box? Do only the ex-pats care? Who are the Aussies etc rooting for????

  • 10.
  • At 12:46 AM on 21 Sep 2006,
  • Mike Buckley wrote:

Ahh fair play to you mate. That's more like it. Apols if I came over "existential'. I was actually trying to get a rise out of you to make sure I got a reply. :o) I know what my fellow countrymen can be like when given any sort of responsibility like this sports event and I'm dead curious as to how the whole country is taking it. I can't believe tho' it's not on RTE! Talk about the Government shooting itself in the foot. As for here in Singers,'s the box on the normal cable package most people have but yes, it appears the only ones interested are the ex-pats. (Despite my pleas to the locals to switch it on to catch a bit of dear old Ireland on the box). A few of my Aussie mates here are stuck betweeen a rock and a hard place for who to support. On one hand they want to back McGinley, Harrington and Clarke for me...but they also know this means supporting the poms too! :o) I've told them it's a European team in Ireland and that should be enough for them to root for us. Nice timings here too with the time difference. It'll be on from 3.30pm to so I'm looking forward to it. This hurricane mullarky sounds mad tho' too. Then again, there's many an Irishman who'll say to you "Sure what were they thinking of having the bloody Ryder Cup in Ireland of all September??". Cheers mate. Keep up the good work.

  • 11.
  • At 03:29 AM on 21 Sep 2006,
  • Ryan wrote:

Good report Matt. Firstly as an Irishman slaving it out in Aussie land I have to say i'm bitterly disappointed that i'll not be back home for the craic and banter during the Ryder cup. Secondly its a pity I couldn't bring some of this sunny aussie weather home with me for the Ryder cup, I feel bad weather will sort of put a dampner (see what i did?) on the cup, but only marginal. It's going to be quite close but the togetherness and quality of the European team will pull them through in my humble opinion. I sincerly hope big Darren has a good run and i've no doubt he will. Woosie hasn't a clue but I don't really think he needs to. As for the aussies, they are too embroiled in their tennis in Argentina and the mourning of two of their great ambassadors. Roll on the weekend and a few late nights watching my homeland host this spectacular event.

  • 12.
  • At 12:14 PM on 21 Sep 2006,
  • roger smith wrote:

Love the game, love the location but whats with the EEC flag? this is between America and Europe NOT
the EEC

  • 13.
  • At 01:04 PM on 21 Sep 2006,
  • Matt Slater wrote:

Ah! Mike from Singers! Glad to hear we're friends again. I wouldn't worry about that hurricane malarkey too much, all a bit overblown if you ask me. The daddy-long-leg invasion is a pain, though. Not surprised to hear the Aussies can't bring themselves to back the good guys in this contest. I was in Singapore myself only in January. Nice dim sum but that Singapore Sling concoction in Raffles is the most disgusting tourist cliche in the world. Oh, and before I get in trouble with our public service broadcaster brothers in Ireland, I should probably say that RTE do have highlights every night....and the opening ceremony live. Oh dear.

Roger, you know what, you're absolutely right...only 12 stars on the flag. That was yonks ago. The Poles and Latvians that seem to hold every service sector job in Dublin will be horrified. Not sure I can do anything about that from here, though (the flag that is, not the influx of New Europeans...which is a good thing!!!!), so you'll just have to be happy in yourself that you are the only person to have spotted that.

  • 14.
  • At 07:36 AM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Mike Buckley wrote:

Clock ticking down, tinnies cooling in the fridge (so nice to have a civilised drinking time start here in Singapore) and ready for the off. Predictions anyone? This humble Paddy thinks it will be one of the closest in years and possibly down to the wire. Would'nt it be great to see maybe big Darren and Tiger fighting it out down the 18th fairway in the final pairing on Sunday? Methinks it'll start the usual way i.e. Europe to go 3-1 (ish) up this morning, the US making their usual recovery in the afternoon, swinging both ways tomorrow with perhaps the US going into Sunday slightly ahead. I reckon the performance of the US rookies with be crucial on Sunday. Let's just hope for a great competition and mighty roars from the Irish supporters. "Go on ya' good thing 'ya. Get in the hole"

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