The 1997 Ryder Cup

 

 

 

The 1997 Ryder Cup (September 22nd-29th

 

  

  "Too Good to be True"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick Fearon (September-November 1997) Ė Foreword by Tiger Woods

 

 Foreword

 

I am Tiger Woods! I have spent the last few months attempting to recover from the fact that the Samuel Ryder trophy was grasped from the US by the highly talented ( if somewhat lucky) golfers of Europe. These have been difficult times for me as I try to come to terms with another USA loss on European soil and my own lack of form at Valderrama. Nevertheless, I must pay tribute to a few friends of mine who, although not supporters of my team, have shown me what the Ryder Cup is about. I refer to my four new friends from Ireland who proved to me that itís not all about the honour and the glory but rather the love of the game and all that goes with that. Iíve known Patrick for quite some time and feel that the captain of the 1999 team must consider him for the team. His trusty draw off the tee combined with a magical short game is sure to strike fear into even the most hardened matchplayers on the US team. Unfortunately, I cannot be as upbeat about his friends. Sadly, Paul has lost all semblance of a swing off the tee while Justin never had one. As for John, you just have to cut those nails my friend and make a decision between golf and those musical pipe-dreams. On a final note before you embark on this vision of hell, I would like to point out one fact to all those begrudgers who slagged me off for being bad-tempered and not up to scratch in the 1997 Ryder Cupľ ľ . I have a $40million contract with NIKE while you poor bastards have to go back to your boring, sad and poor paying jobsľ ľ I am Tiger Woods and worth a fortune!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  The 1997 Ryder Cup

 

 

SEPTEMBER 22ND Ė 29TH

 

"If this writing is unintelligible to anyone and jars on his ears the fault is, it seems to me, not necessarily mine. It is clear enough, assuming, as I do assume, that one has read my earlier writings and has not spared some effort in doing so: for they are not easily accessible."

 

Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Monday September 22nd: "Trains, Planes and Zimmerframes"

Tuesday September 23rd: "Too good to be true!"

Wednesday September 24th: "Cornhole Corner"

Thursday September 25th: "Pick up a Penguin"

Friday September 26th: "Zippity Doo Dah !!!!!"

Saturday September 27th: " (Almost) a perfect day"

Sunday September 28th: "It must be a fix!"

Monday September 29th: "Carousel Carnage"

 

 

Well, itís holiday time again and time to dust off my creative writing skills in an attempt to capture some of this weekís events. The history of travel with my three chosen companions is fraught with incident and accident. Consequently, I feel that the "logging" of events may prove crucial, if only for us to actually remember what transpired during the week. The customary fabrication and slander will no doubt be included.

I should also point out that this particular holiday journal is the first of mine to be recorded on a computer. Thatís not to say that I actually carried a Dell Computer around Valderrama with me!!

 

 

 

 

  

Monday September 22nd: "Planes, Trains and Zimmerframes"

 

Perhaps the best place to start this particular journal is with a quick reminder of the circumstances under which we find ourselves heading off to Valderrama. After several years of unsuccessful ticket purchases, our number finally came up at the annual Forex Ireland Golf Society Charity event (heavily assisted by my involvement in organizing the ticket drum). Consequently a week in the Costa del Sol beckons for four of us (Justin "Coco" Lande, John "Larry/Teddy" Cuddihy and the inimitable day dream believer Paul Fitzgerald). I continue to be impressed by my display of shock and surprise back in Cavan last June when my ticket was drawn On a final pre travel note I should also mention that our trip coincides with the Ryder Cupľ ľ and we have tickets!!!

 

Our excuse for a "taxi" (a sardine can with wheels) arrives at Obelisk rise at 2.15p.m. Our journey to the airport takes us an age. The car struggles to sustain a speed of 50mph. Upon arrival at Dublin airport "Larry" heads immediately for the nearest alcoholic drinks dispenser. It is heartening to know at this early stage that there will be few surprises! Justin spots two rather unattractive slappers at the check-in queueľ ľ easy boy!!!!

 

After a quick breeze through duty-free (which included Paul sharing his draconian views with 98FM in relation to the abolition of Duty-Free in 1999ľ . Personally thatís the least of my worries) we find ourselves settling into a few beers at the airport bar. What follows is for the most part both unrepeatable and certainly unprintable. Nevertheless, it is my duty to record all facts and shed as favourable a light as possible on my own indiscretions while skillfully fabricating the exploits of my colleagues (which is hardly necessary in the case of "Larry").

 

The title of todayís log refers to a conversation which ultimately centred on the likely profile of the prospective females who wait with great anticipation in El Pariso Golf and Country Club for the cargo of four handsome young males (who am I being most kind to?) from Dublin. Paul suggests that the vast majority will be old and withered with zimmerframes in hand "All the better for prying them open with" is the sordid response from an undisclosed source. It has only taken a page for my colleagues to offend my sensitivities. I will try to enlighten them as our journey unfolds. Other somewhat distasteful comments follow from all corners of our party. The winner concerns some damming evidence of Martin Luther Kingís passion for women (as proclaimed by a recent BBC documentary)..several offside adventures. "I have a dream!!ľ ľ Yes indeed, Iím quite sure you had several".

 

Our flight is delayed by ninety minutes and we eventually board at 7.00pm (two hours late) and take off at 8.00pm. It has been a long day and too much has happened already. The flight actually passes quite nicely and we arrive in Malaga at 11.10pm. Obviously it has all gone too well so far. It would appear that my case is en route to Outer Mongolia. As I reach the point of despair, I inadvertently notice my suitcase floating along a carousel designated as a Barcelona flight. Welcome to Spain!!!!

 

We eventually regroup and after a lengthy series of encounters with "Langers" we secure a Ford Mondeo estate. Paul (the spa!) struggles to find the headlight switch. Oh! There it is in front of you! I suppose thereís no real need for me to take the piss too much. After all it is now 1.00am and the prospects of some late San Miguels are diminishing. In addition, Paul manages to successfully negotiate the trip to El Parisoľ ..despite his mechanical-minded shortcomings.

 

***STOP PRESS*** It is necessary to inform readers of the easiest way to by-pass/skip a queue of four hundred people at an airport. Simply buy a can of coke (50p) at a vending machine, which just happens to be conveniently located right beside the departure gate, and slip seamlessly and unnoticed into the top of the queue. Well, not quite unnoticed. Paul and John deliver up great abuse to the individual in question.

 

We arrive in El Pariso (thanks to my eagle-eyed navigational skills) and check-in with ease. To ensure that all guests are made aware of our arrival, we proceed to slam doors, almost lock ourselves out on the balcony and systematically demolish the alcoholic contents of both minibars. We finally depart to bed blissfully unaware of the traumatic events which will unfold tomorrowľ .keep reading!!!!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday September 23rd : "Too good to be true!"

 

I should mention at this point that I am somewhat behind schedule in terms of the log. Consequently I am playing catch-up which may result in the absence of some key moments. These will no doubt be appended at a later date. I apologise for the inconvenience caused by this jumbling of events. Then again, in view of what actually happens today my own brain feels somewhat jumbled up. Back to the log.

 

Paulís alarm clock wakes us at 8.00am. I only managed three hours sleep last night. It must be the excitement in anticipation of meeting Tom Kiteľ .Not!!! All four of us stumble down for breakfast. I donít like the look of the sausages! The procurement of toast involves a rather complicated "conveyor belt" style device (more of which will be learnt of tomorrow when John attempts to torch El Pariso). Paul is finally happy having procured a packet of Coco-pops. ľ and to think that I felt that labeling him a "spa" last night was harsh. Itís far too early to "un-spa" him.

 

We gather our belongings and head west to Sotogrande. As it happens Iím reading a book by J.G.Ballard which is set on the Costa del Sol. "Cocaine Nights" centers around illicit drugs and sex in the spanish resort of Estrella de Mar. Please God let this place not be a fictional one. Iíll even let Paul drive. Ballard describes Sotogrande as follows: "Sotogrande, I discovered, was a town without either centre or suburbs, and seemed to be little more than a dispersal ground for golf courses and swimming pools". Perhaps, but at least thereís some glorious sunshine to greet us as we park our transit van (disguised as a Mondeo) and shuttle-bus our way to the golf course. Before moving along to day one of practice, allow me to make a second apology. I am acutely aware of the poor standard of my writing so far. The primary reason for my grammatical shortcomings (and obvious spelling errors, not entirely corrected by my computer) is the state of my body in the ugly aftermath of what you shall soon discover.

 

We enter through the gates of Valderrama (in the written form I tried to squeeze that second "r" in there and just ended up making a mess of it) and are soon having a quiet little chat with Nick Faldo. Clearly this is a brazen lie as we all know that our beloved Nick talks to nobodyľ ..including Ignaccio Garrido (his fourball partner for today). Their two opponents, Per-Ulrik and Jesper Parnevik (I really donít give a shit about the spelling at this stage), donít look too cheerful either. Having watched them play the seventh hole I feel a bit depressed myselfľ .it would be more fun watching Larry and Coco cutting this place up. The hole is halved in a rock solid bogey fiveľ ..encouraging or what!!!!!

 

Westwood and Woosnam soon follow in the company of another two cheerful gents (Bernhard Langer and Tomas Bjorn). Could you imagine having to play an early Saturday morning fourball with these two guys!! Justin has spotted a black man wandering down the fairway. Probably replacing divots I suppose (the first racist swipe of our tour). This dark gent is of course the great and highly talented Tiger Woods or in the words of Paul Fitz "that fucker"ľ .lovely! Itís difficult to shake off those white supremacist roots (check out that spelling). Thankfully the pillow cases stayed at home. I, on the other hand, am delighted to witness this manís undoubted skills. He pulls his drive left off the eight tee (according to Paul). Itís a pity he didnít catch Scott Hoch with it. That man deserves a five hour round in Stackstown on a wet and windy day in the company of Bernhard Langer and Tomas Bjorn. Enough of the abuse for Scott Hoch (for the moment that isľ .wait until Sunday). We wait by the seventh green as some of the legends of the U.S. tour along with Jeff Maggert pass through (what a sad nameľ even my computer has it underlined!).

 

We finally locate food ($15 for a Gino Ginelli pizza (my spelling is disintegrating furtherľ and we now have parenthesis within parenthesisľ .itís all falling apart) I have to use $ as my Dell keyboard doesnít appear to have a pound signľ ..this is getting a bit too messyľ the spelling check has given upľ .progress heh??). Nestling down at the eighteenth green we are starved of golf as "Nickís party of laughs" painstakingly trek around the course. Armed with Justinís binoculars we amuse ourselvesľ .."Quick! Four oíclock underneath the leaderboard in the blue and white"ľ I trust that you get the picture.

 

Eventually, Nick & co. appear and finish out (another bogey) and make way for some rather happier chaps. I head for the practice range having witnessed an extremely rare sightľ you guessed, a smile from the face of Colin Montgomerieľ ..too much!!! Anyway off to the range to work on that power-fade of mine. Unfortunately, I canít manage to secure a bay and must be content to camp behind Jose Maria Olazabal in awe as he smacks ball after ball. In a matter of minutes Tiger appears and decides to hit balls beside Jose. There is a God! He nonchalantly chats to his caddie, Fluff, before recognising a familiar face in the crowd. "Hey Patrick, howís thingsľ are you here to play or watch? I hope that new power-fade is working?". Somewhat embarrassed I vault over the barrier and demonstrate my new swing with Tigerís Taylor-Made Titanium Bubble Burner. "Looking good Patrick, maybe weíll see you on the European team in a couple of years timeľ ..Heh Ollie! Take a look at this!". Tiger and I chat for a while and agree to meet later for a beer. Fluff will pick me up at 8.00pm at the El Pariso. Not a word of a lie!!!

 

I realise that the above episode moves well beyond the realms of fabrication and into an area commonly known in the literary world as Fantasy Fiction. In reality I didnít obviously get to hit balls with Tigerís Driver. Rather, I used his Three-Wood as I find it easier to control the fadeľ .. "Drugs????" I hear you ask. Donít forget Mr. Ballardís book.

 

Having woken up from my day dream (which turns out to be a recurring aspect of todayís eventsľ all will be revealed later) we head for the car-park. Larry drives us home (no doubt building up bonus points in his head) and is labeled a spa and quickly un-spaíed (I donít knowľ how would you spell it) in his attempts to access El Pariso.

 

So far the day has been a pleasant one and in no way prepares me for the horror show which is about to be unveiled. Before describing the events of this evening I would just like to note that I feel that someone must have slipped some happy pills into our beer. Itís the only possible excuse for the insanity which follows.

 

The evening commences in a civilised fashion as we attend a cocktail reception in the Pergola lounge of El Pariso. The early warning signs appear as Paul demands a Grande beer ("those fecky little glasses") which is soon followed by another large one. Displaying remarkable restraint (though in hindsight God knows why) I continue to consume bottles (not literally obviouslyľ ..not yet anyway!). A fine dinner complemented by some very tasty red hooch sets us up for the one-mile walk to an Irish bar. In the course of obtaining a round of beer I uncover the fact that a Karaoke bar sits nearby. John and I exchange a knowing glance. Paul has just reviewed the journal and apart from some damming comments with regard to my spelling, he would like to correct readers in relation to the move to "Grande" beers. It was in fact at the suggestion of Coco. To be honest, this inaccuracy is probably induced by my surprise at Larry not suggesting it first. We consume two pints and move along to the Karaoke barľ just for a quick look!!!!!!

 

It takes approximately twenty-two seconds before we fill out an entry form. Our chosen song is "Too good to be true"ľ ..Oh! The brutal irony of it all. Justin is now faced with the opportunity to exorcise the Ghost of Sandusky, Ohio. Six years ago, he refused to sing "Twist and Shout" in Johnny Angelís bar. This is his chance to redress the balance. Unfortunately the early indications are that he doesnít appear to be too keen. The same lack of enthusiasm could not be leveled against Paul, John and I. We launch forth and deliver a previously unheard version (not so much a re-mix as a mix-up) of "Too good to be true". Justin sits quietly at our table with head in hands as his travelling companions make complete gobshites of themselves. Whatís worse is that we are just getting goingľ Not content with a single public humiliation we proceed to take to the stage a further three times. Justin is pretending to be asleep in the vain hope that it will all be over when he comes to. Our rendition of "Twist and Shout" (with a strong emphasis on the latter part of the title) brings the roof down, literally! John prances around the stage wriggling and wiggling (is there a difference?) his arse to the crowd while playing air guitarľ ..Lord! protect us from what we want! Iíll never be able to watch the Steve Finlay band in the same light. I join John in a bout of showboating by inviting the crowd to sing along during the chorus. I think that they are too stunned to move never mind start singing along. Soon after we yet again take centre stage for a rousing rendition of "Sweet home Alabama". Maybe Neil Young was right! We have had to change our stage name on the entry forms as the host (from Barnsley) does not want us up on stage again unless itís to announce that weíre splitting up as a result of creative differences. Consequently, our rousing finale is under our new name of "Ryders in the calm". To assist in the clearing of Grumbles Karaoke bar we butcher "Day Dream Believer". Paul leads the way in attempting to cheer up sleepy Jean. By now Justin has disowned us and is quietly chatting to a potted plantľ .who can blame him! Without doubt we were the least talented (if the most prolific) of all the singers over the course of a rather surreal three hours. Uncle Heineken has woven a wicked web from which we have not been able to escape. Justin must continue to bear the proverbial monkey on his back in relation to Sandusky. However, he does walk out the doors of Grumbles with more dignity than the rest of us. All self-respect was lost during the guitar solo of "Twist and Shout". In the words of our Barnsley host: "Letís hear it for the lads!".

 

The walk home proves to be equally eventful as John and I tack up the hill. I attempt to demonstrate a little trick I learnt in Vietnam using two bottles of Heineken. The repercussions are pretty obvious in hindsightľ .broken glass and the spillage of Johnís blood. We eventually climb Alpe DíHuez and collapse into our respective cots. The only hope I can take from tonight is the possibility that the excessive alcohol consumption will induce a black-out (preferably from about 10.00pm).

 

An epilogue to this eveningís events is to record the attempted acts of vandalism while returning home at 3.00am. John and I spot an El Pariso sign that is just begging to be uplifted and transported home to Dublin as a souvenir. Shamefully I must admit that Johnís guilt was as an accessory to the crime. Certainly I was the Lex Luther of our ill-fated and thankfully unsuccessful attempt to damage the sign.

 

  

Wednesday September 24th : "Cornhole Corner"

 

All hope is lost! Within seconds of awakening I vividly recall the events of last night. Amazingly, I donít feel too bad, yet. We race down to La Pergola to catch the last of breakfast. The sausages are not even considered this morning. Paul successfully locates his Coco-pops. Needless to say the primary topic of conversation is our "gig" last night. Justin is still pissing himself laughing at our sad and deluded display.

 

A quick trip to the local Spar (the purchase of Gatorade being a necessity) is followed by a decision to lounge around the pool for the remainder of the day. Comfortably settled in Cornhole Corner (you donít really want to know..trust me) we recuperate slowly. Summoning all our energies, we decide on a game of volleyball. John and Paul take an early lead and soon find themselves in a commanding position (a set and 8-4 up). I advise Justin not to commit himself too early at the net. This brilliant piece of tactical endeavour opens the way for a monumental comeback which is finally settled 18-16 in the final set. Paul is quick to have an excuse at hand to explain their Calcavecchia-style collapseľ .a sprained ankleľ .nice kick Justin!

 

We return to Cornhole corner and recover from our morningís exertions. Lunch is followed by some table-tennis and a swim in the indoor pool. John befriends some elderly women in the jacuzzi. Paul and I retreat, leaving John with his new found harem of women. Throughout these activities Coco remains calmly asleep beneath a tent of towels. Perhaps he is conserving his energies for the water polo match which eventually kicks off somewhat later than scheduled at 5.00pm. Our early form is poor as Coco and I fall 3-0 behind. However, a switch to a 1-1 formation soon has us back in the match. In a first to six match we trail 4-3, wherupon our opponents blow up early (not in the explosive sense) and claim victory! Obviously the scars of defeat inflicted earlier today have become too great a burden.

 

We retreat to our rooms and prepare ourselves for a calm and sensible nightľ ..Yeah! We stop in our friendly Irish bar and immediately bump into some English tourists who were lucky enough to have witnessed our performance last night. A pint of Guinness is followed by a pizza. So far so good! Things begin to slide in Rooftops bar where John and I deliver up a Jimmy White exhibition of pool (akin to Jimmy White on acid as opposed to that which we see on television). Justin is crestfallen as Notts Forest collapse to defeat against Walsall (who?). A best of three pool match is finally won by Paul and John after a few bad tempered exchanges. Paul has a few mental retention problems when it comes to the rules. John seals the match with a stunning double. The walk home completes our day of physical exercise. Justin and I actually sprint up the hill to El Pariso at 1.30amľ ľ .clever or what

 

Thursday September 25th: "Pick up a Penguin"

 

Despite our best efforts last night we failed to get to bed prior to 2.30am. During the course of the evening Justin committed to a stint of Karaoke later in the weekľ seeing is believing! Over breakfast He already begins to backtrack, claiming that he is only willing if the bar proves to be empty. We are all somewhat lacklustre this morning as we drive to Valderrama. Itís 12.30 by the time we are marching up the tenth. We manage to locate Freddie Couples and follow him down the seventeenth. The green and adjacent lake make for a truly daunting hole. I have a feeling that a few tears will be shed over the coming days at this hole. Johnny Miller appears in front of us as we watch Justin Leonard put another eighty-yard pitch into the lakeľ . "Johnny! Johnny! Johnny! Johnny!"

 

We return to the practice area to wait for the opening ceremony. Personally, Iím not the greatest fan of these sorts of things. However Paul is extremely keen. Consequently, the two-hour wait gives me a chance to catch up on "Cocaine Nights". Apparently J.G.Ballard never made it to Grumbles (think of itľ . we would have been immortalised in printľ . then again what am I doing!!). The ceremony finally gets under way with a mindless and bizarre horseshow. Eventually Tom Kite and Seve lead out their respective teams and deliver very polite and sporting speeches. After witnessing the unfurling of flags we head for the shuttle bus. I should point out that we have to park our car quite a distance from the actual golf course. The car park itself is clearly a temporary one with a compacted clay surface. One of us jokingly remarks what disaster would unfold if it were to rain heavily. Thankfully thatís not a realistic scenario, as it hasnít rained in Sotogrande in September for over ten yearsľ . Or is it twenty years? What are the chances? Our return trip is surprisingly free of traffic. We reach for a bottle of San Miguel to steady the nerves.

 

Readers will be happy to know that I am finally up to speed in the log and actually writing in real-time. This is a necessity for tomorrow so that I can capture the thrills and spills of live Ryder cup action. My handwriting will probably deteriorate (further? You ask) as I record events on the golf course.

 

Earlier in the log I made reference to the complicated "toaster" operating in the breakfast room. Yesterday I neglected to mention Johnís attempts to send the whole place up in smoke. As we munched through our food we noticed plumes of smoke being discharged from the toaster. John admitted guilt by explaining that he had inserted a piece of bread into the machine and had not seen it reappear at the other side. He felt that he didnít want to appear to be over-reacting by drawing attention to the fact. I think theyíve noticed now John. I have a funny feeling that this may not be the last incident involving this particular piece of machinery.

 

Upon return to El Pariso from Sotogrande I retreat to the balcony to catch up on events. At this point in the day I donít have a suitable title for the day. Perhaps this eveningís adventures will provide me with a fitting choice. I should also mention that we paraded our "Pat Woods T-shirts" today. Justin lasted twenty minutes before his self-conscious nature got the better of himľ . "Hey look! Those four guys are called Pat Woods!". Another necessary entry is the explanation of how a hole in golf is won, given by one yank to his friend (equally brain-dead from the sound of things): "Ya see, itís the guy who has the least number of shots on that particular hole who actually wins that holeľ geddit? Or will I go through it again one last time?"ľ ľ ..Oh for a shotgun!

 

After a few moments of contemplation we walk down to the "Golden Sun" for some Chinese food. Over dinner, John treats us to a rather crude joke involving a prostitute and a client (I assume they call them clients). The punchline involves comparisons with a penguinľ . All queries to John.

 

We depart from the "Golden Sun" after receiving some complementary drinks and arrive at our favourite Irish bar on the Costa ("Rorys"). One beer leads to another and before too long we are exchanging toilet tales. Itís at times like this that I question whether Karaoke was such a bad thing. I have decided to take a stand and clean up this journal. Consequently, I wonít recount the somewhat reviling stories that are toldľ . Except for the one involving Justin and a Yorkshire terrierľ only joking! We return to El Pariso. The walk is becoming shorter each night as we trek home with progressively less beer. Iím sure there is a lesson in there somewhere. I will reflect on that at a later dateľ preferably back in Dublin.

 

Itís 1.15am and I am comfortably seated on the balcony writing the log. Justin and Larry have just departed for the Rooftop bar. Let us hope that the Karaoke machine is up and running. Believe it or not but I think that I can spot a few clouds on the horizon as I gaze out over the moonlit Mediterranean. The time has come for me to wander off to bed. A big day beckons! My voice continues to be shattered from Tuesdayís exploits. At this point I feel that any further Karaoke activities may have to be limited to a few Bob Dylan numbers or perhaps even a Steve Finlay band cover of a cover. **Mental Note** I must not let any members of the band read this** Let us hope that six hours sleep suitably rejuvenates my larynx so that I can cheer in a fair and sporting manner tomorrow morning. Welcome to the Ryder Cup. As I settle into the bed I hear my two rooftop campaigners return to the adjacent bedroom. No doubt that Larry is scouring the minibar for any remaining San Miguels. Too late John! I drank the last one!

 

Friday September 27th: "Zippity Doo Dah!!"

 

I awake at 6.00am to the rumblings of a thunderstorm. Within minutes the skies have opened and torrential rain follows. Forked lightning flashes every few seconds. Fifty-five years without rain in September, can you believe it? It now looks as though it has saved up all sixty-five years of rain. It is now 7.00am and the storm continues to rage. Clearly the 9.00am tee-off is not likely to happen. To be honest Iím not too disheartened. It gives me a chance to catch up on well-needed rest. After all it hasnít rained for over a hundred years in September at Sotogrande so how long can it last? Breakfast is consumed later than scheduled at 9.30am. The "toaster" explodes yet again coming out in sympathy with Luis the egg-chef (I shit you not) who would appear to know three words of English: "Fried or Scrambled?". Some comedian from South Carolina wants his eggs sunnyside up. Luis takes one look out the window and almost fires his frying pans at this moron.

 

We finally depart for Valderrama at 10.40am and are soon packed into a traffic jam tailing back six miles from the Estepona bypass (which is a somewhat misleading name in view of the fact that it doesnít actually appear to bypass Estepona at all). Suddenly the whole idea of going to the Ryder Cup doesnít seem to be too bright at all. Then again who was to know that this would be the first September since Christ when it rained in Sotogrande. There isnít a Spanish traffic cop in sight. We are resorting to Radio Five Live for updates. Tiger Woods has missed a four-foot putt on the opening greenľ which is approximately the same distance our Mondeo has travelled in the last twenty minutes. Tempers soon become frayed. The Spanish truly are a vindictive bunch of bastards! Oh! Weíre moving! All of two hundred and fifty yards this time. Justin has just come close to committing accidental mental sex with a minorľ .. thirteen at most. Three traffic cops are eventually spotted. Storm clouds continue to gather to the south as we slowly struggle to Sotogrande. We are now on the road for over ninety minutes and remain stuck in traffic. Keep calm! Time for some Zen Buddist meditation. It is now two hours later and we are approaching the car park. What did I say last night about the clay surface! Itís Woodstock í97 as we roll into the mud-strewn park. To be honest you just have to laugh at these Spanish cops. They know that they canít shoot anybody this week and consequently just donít seem to have the heart to do their job. Needless to say, as soon as we park our car the rain starts to fall again. I take a long admiring (well maybe not admiring) look at our Ford. I may never see it again. That would take some explaining back at the rental office. "No Senor, itís not that it was stolen so much as it sank!".

 

Valderrama is in remarkably good condition considering last nightís deluge. The matches finally get going at around 11.00am. Already there is a skillful piece of police propaganda underway. The official line from La Guardia is that they were informed at 8.00am that there would be no play today. Somebody somewhere has a few questions to answer. The only consoling note is the incomprehension prevailing among the USA fans who just cannot understand how such a fiasco could occur. Hello! Hello! Does Vietnam ring a bell?

 

We enter the gates and immediately purchase a Ryder Cup Radio so that we are able to follow Radio Five live as we trek around the course. What a rip-off? The station is being broadcast on 82-86KHz. My Walkman radio band begins at 88KHzľ The 1500 pesetas must be spent.

 

The traffic has caused us to fall a little behind schedule. We catch up with Rocca and Olazabal at the massive par five 11th (two-down at this point). We watch all of the fourballs come through and move to the side of the 15th green. Tom Lehman draws the first silent muttering of the dreaded "C" word as he chips in for an outrageous two. Outwardly, we all clap in a sporting manner. Ultimately three of the four opening matches go down the 18th. The tension is already highľ Phil Mickelson misses from six feet to lose to our Mediterranean duoľ .. "Zippity Doo Dah! Zippity Day! My oh my what a wonderful day!". We are soon brought back down to earth as Faldo agonisingly misses from eight feetľ .1-1. Tiger has tamed Monty and Langer with a rather convincing and foreboding 3&2 victory. Further analysis suggests that Mark OíMeara played the pivotal role in the destruction of the European pair. All of a sudden, the bright start (I am referring to the golf of course) is beginning to disintegrate. The Swedish pair has been pegged back to All Square (which will be written as A/S from now on for all you non-golfersľ Justin) after sixteen holes. My nerves are already frayed. Two brilliant birdies from Parnevik seal a victoryľ . 2-2 at half-time.

 

Surprisingly, Seve makes only one change for the afternoon/late evening foursomes. Oh Dear! Whatís next.. perhaps an appearance in Grumbles! We lunch (using the term loosely) by the seventh and catch up with the opening holes of the foursomes fearful of what lies ahead. Rocca (pronounced Roco by another brain-dead yankľ already you may have surmised that the sporting nature of yesterdayís opening ceremony is dissipating away) and Ollie are not going too well at all. Things look even more dodgy by the time Monty and Langer arrive at the 7th. All is not lost however. A welcome display of belligerence from Woods (note how I have already dropped the more friendly "Tiger") warms European hearts. Faldo & Westwood go A/S as the likeable but very American Justin Leonard misses a seven-foot par putt. To applaud or not to applaud? The tide is yet again turning!

 

As it becomes obvious that all matches will not be completed, we decide to head home after an opening day, which has been full of tension and excitement. In a funny sort of a way the mayhem caused by the weather and the local police has already heightened emotions in all camps. We return home and soon discover that Monty & Langer have avenged their earlier defeat with a whopping 5&3 victoryľ . "Zippity Doo Dah! Zippity Day!"ľ Poor Tiger has gone home to play with his Lego! Unfortunately, Rocca & Olazabal cannot repeat their earlier heroics and lose on the 18th. Faldo and Westwood cease play on the 16th green with a two hole lead while Parnevik and Garrido are A/S with Lehman & Zippity Mickelson after twelve holes. A 4-4 scoreline looks to be the worst possible result when the two outstanding matches are completed in the morningľ ľ weather permitting!!!!!!

 

It has been a truly great day of golf. The only downside was the absence of Darren Clarke. I have a feeling that Seve is doing a Tony Jacklin (and I donít mean being an exceedingly irritating and pompous little man) and trying to really bust their balls so that when they do play (Clarke, Bjorn and Woosnam), theyíll be seriously psyched. Anyway, Iím off to the pub to catch the highlights. Weíll talk later! Until then, just keep thinking of how bad Phyllis must have felt after missing from six feetľ . "Zippity Doo Dah! Zippity Day!".

 

We dine at our local pizzeria again and then watch highlights of the dayís play in "Rooftops Bar" (which is not to be confused with the Rooftop bar in El Parisoľ like you care). Justin collapses in exhaustion on one of the sofas. It has been hard work for him shouting all that abuse at Americans. Youíd be tempted to sneak home and leave him there. John and I treat the clientele of Rooftops to an absolutely brutal display of snooker. Complete humiliation is avoided as I pot the black seconds before the token-fed lights expire.

 

En route to El Pariso, John attempts to herd us into Roryís for a few more beers and a sing-song. I resist the temptation to sing "Blowing in the wind" and concentrate my mind with Justin and Paul to simply ignore John completely. We march up the hill oblivious to the calls from behind. Our Duracell Teddy appears to have entered "Roryís" regardless of our departure up the hill. The pace of our return walk is indicative of our need for rest. Larry finally gets lonely at the bottom of the hill and catches up with us having abandoned the lure of "Roryís".

 

We head for bed upon arrival at El Pariso in the hope that both the weather and traffic are good to us tomorrow. I wonder if Saturday can possibly match todayís combination of early frustration followed by intense excitement and a slender European lead. Let us hope that Tiger continues his poor display of golf attitudeľ .. sporting?

 

 

 

Saturday September 27th : " (Almost) a Perfect Day!"

 

 

 

My sleep is broken during the night by claps of thunder. Even at 5.05am, things are beginning to look grim for the morningís play. Thoughtful Luis has prepared a bucket of scrambled egg for the early risers. He actually looks somewhat happy this morning. **Mental Note : Stay away from the scrambled eggs!!**. Then again, maybe he is quietly chuckling away to himself at the sight of all these golf-crazed tourists getting ready for another day of mayhem at Valderrama amidst the throws of more thunderstorms. We depart for Sotogrande in the middle of a deluge of rain. Sheet upon sheet of forked lightning crackle as we drive through floods of water.

 

The car park looks like a mudslide upon arrival. Yet again, play has been suspended. We park our Ford (I have given up on "Mondeos" as my computer keeps changing it to "mooned"ľ hence I was forced to type it in the plural formľ I know you donít care but think of it as a diversion) and wait for word of play. Justin climbs into the enormous boot and quickly nods off to sleepľ . Rip van Winkle incarnate. Slowly our car sinks further and further into the mud. Yesterdayís joke doesnít look too far-fetched today. The scene is truly unbelievable! Thousands of people sleeping as their cars sink slowly in a field of mud. Paul commented to me a couple of days ago that my log hadnít been punctuated with the usual flights into the surreal. Clearly there is no need. As I scribble my three colleagues are attempting to sleep. What a bizarre scene! Itís like being in the Scouts again or something from one of those eighties nuclear warfare fictional documentaries (can you have a documentary thatís fictional?) where all these people are sleeping in their cars in the mountains overlooking the Bay area. All we need now is a giant mushrooming explosion up at Valderrama to really set the scene. Justin would probably sleep through such an event and awake beside three crispy carcasses. I bet Luis would be pissing himself laughing for a week or two as he evaded the oncoming firestorms. Surreal enough Paul??? At 10.15am word comes through that play will soon commence. A nearby Scot in an adjacent car has received word from Sky Sports via his mobile phone. That wonít work come the apocalypse! After a remarkably smooth shuttle ride to the course we are greeted by something resembling the trenches of the Somme. Getting to the fourth involves wading through a swamp. We head for the 7th green (via the 7th tee naturally enoughľ please ask Paul!) and settle down in the stand with our plastic nappies (constructed from a duty-free bag in my case) for protection from the dampness (shades of the Scouts again). The final foursome matches are completed with Faldo & Westwood winning easily while Parnevik and Garrido somehow manage a halfľ .4 Ĺ - 3 Ĺ .

 

The early fourball scores do not inspire confidence. The Europeans are down in three matches and A/S in the fourth. Worse is to follow as Tiger chips in right in front of us. The familiar roar of "U! S! A!" begins to increase in frequencyľ .like we didnít know where you big, fat, obnoxious and arrogant people came from. I know, Iím losing it. I will apologise at a later date for that unnecessary outburstľ .bastards!!! Clarke is having a nightmare with Monty (2 down after nine) while Faldo and Westwood are struggling. Woosnam and Bjorn are being blown away by Justin Leonardís Eagle, Birdie, Birdie run. Likeable as he is, the resentment is really building up. We retreat to the tented village and decide on a beer to ease the depression. Now I donít want to appear to be melodramatic (me?) but you know how they talk about turning points in matchesľ .. Well, the opening of our chilled beer heralds the start of one of the most incredible turnarounds Iíve been fortunate to witness. Glued to the giant TV in the tented village we watch Bjorn knock in back-to-back birdies to get the ball rolling. Larry suggests that to finish drinking beer and go back out on the course would be bad luckľ . Nice try!!! Meanwhile Westwood is really getting on Tigerís tail. By the time we catch sight of Clarke and Monty on the 15th things have changed dramatically. Clarke misses his birdie chance but the boys are right back in it. Woosnam and Westwood both make twoís in front of us. Thereís a notable absence of "Youíre the man!" at the moment. Tiger is looking particularly unhappyľ . Zippity Doo Dah!!

 

Woosnam and Bjorn seal victory on the 17th while Clarke and Monty overcome all the odds to take Couples and Love on the 18th. However, the best has yet to come! As many of you may know I have not been the greatest fan of Nick Faldo over the years. Nevertheless, his Wedge to five feet (and holing the putt) on the 18th at OakHill against poor old Curtis Strange heightened my admiration for the man considerably. Today he stands on the 17th fairway with about 230yards to the green. Westwood and Faldo are 1up on OíMeara and Woods. Heís first to play with Westwood 60yards further down the fairway. With an iron in his hand (obviously laying-up) he looks over and sees OíMeara in the rough. When I look again he has the wood out and hits a majestic shot to the centre of the green. You can almost see OíMeara wilting. His shot just holds on the front bank and all the pressure is on Tiger. Ainít no green jackets today as he launches it over the back. Westwoodís following shot to six-feet is the one the pundits will remember but Faldo was the manľ . Balls of steel! The atmosphere, like the weather, is electric. To top it all off (for European supporters), Tiger putts his ball into the lakeľ Game Overľ 2&1! In his present mood itís hard to be sympathetic to Tiger. He even tries to eyeball Westwoodľ . Doesnít he know that this young Englishman has no brain!! The layout of the 17th is a natural amphitheatre. It is almost like being at a football match. There must be 10-15,000 people on the banks surrounding the green. Europe now have an amazing 7 Ĺ -3 Ĺ lead. Unfortunately, Olazabal and Garrido are struggling against Lehman and Mickelson. Somehow they manage to secure a half with Olazabal bagging a twenty-five footer on the 18th. God! Iím exhausted already! Can this get any better?

 

We retreat to the tented village and purchase some celebratory beers. This awesome turnaround now leaves Europe with a four point lead going into the second series of foursomes. The earlier shouts of "Go Hawkeye!" at the 7th this morning seem a distant memory (donít worry Iíve no idea what it means either). It seems almost unreal to recall the events of early morning when thunder and lightning dominated the proceedings. All the pain and effort now pale into insignificance after what has already been an incredible day of golfľ Iím already running out of superlatives.

 

We sip our beers greenside as we eagerly await the arrival of the opening foursome match. As I write about the events of today Radio Five is broadcasting the Premiership results. A perfect day?ľ Paul declares so when news of Leeds defeat of the Scum filters through. I may soon take off into fantasyland myself. Just as I begin to daydream about the likelihood of my future Ryder Cup team involvement, news of Liverpoolís 2-1 defeat at West Ham (I know!!!!) brings me back down to earthľ ..Almost a perfect day.

 

We sit and wait for Monty and Langer to appear. I should point out that we witnessed our first European winning hole at the 7th late in the day yesterday when Justin Leonard miscued from close range. At the time we felt obliged to contain our glee! I may not be able to restrain myself today. Fortunately we were a bit luckier today with the 15th being a real winner with Woosnam and Westwood securing birdies. Thereafter we witnessed a string of jubilant European adventures. As you can gather we are still waiting for Langer to appear (donít sound so surprised). Eventually, Monty appears in the distance with Langer on his knees in the treesľ prayer time no doubt. For those interested the 7th is a monster of a par four (3 wood and a choky eight-iron for myself). Hence, there is little surprise when the hole is halved in five. Nevertheless, Langer & Monty are coasting along nicely at 2up.

 

Soon after Faldo and Tiger Westwood appear. A degree of bad feeling develops in the crowd as Scott Hoch forces the referee to pace out to establish "who is up". Hoch thinks that the crowd is getting on his back for involving the referee. What he doesnít realise is that we just think that heís a moany old bollocks. Desperate yanks acclaim victory as the referee rules that the Europeans are first to play (Hochís ball winning by 16 paces to 19 over Faldo). One European beside me comments that heíd like to see the U.S. make a match of itľ steady! After all the hulabaloo (looks ok to me) the hole is not surprisingly halved in five.

 

At this late stage in the day we decide to depart home after an incredible day of golf. The return trip proves to be effortless. Back in El Pariso we follow the late play on TV. Faldo and Westwood have lost the plot somewhat and are one down after fourteen. Alternatively Monty (now grinning like a Cheshire cat) and Langer hold their nerve to win on the 18thľ ľ 9-4. As we so noisily shouted on Tuesday evening: "Too good to be true".

 

As we wander down to the Golden Sun again my mind is completely occupied with the many possible permutations which tomorrowís play holds. I try not to think about the aftermath of a European victory but itís impossible not to. It has to be said that despite what appeared to be a series of bizarre team selections, Seve would seem to have got it right. At the close of play on Day Two every European has contributed to the score. Iím beginning to think that Iím taking all this a little bit too seriously.. after all I am on holidaysľ . With three losers. If that doesnít ostracise me when they read this, nothing will!

 

The actual ordering of dinner proves to be reasonably trouble-freeľ .. "4b and four beers". It would appear that there is only one man working in this restaurant or is it just that these Chinese all look the same (Wow! Thatís really badľ Paul must be affecting me). This one guy is cooking, serving and clearing! The sizzling prawns are as appetizing as two nights ago. We depart and head to "Rooftops" yet again. Our trusty bar-staff (Lee and Lucy) are on duty. John skillfully orders beer from the lower shelf of the fridge in order to assess Lucyís assetsľ I no longer feel guilty about the "Losers" comment. We are tired and weary and only stay for a couple of beers. We struggle up the road and to the "Rooftop Bar" (I hope Iím not confusing you with this) in El Pariso. What a spot! "Kitsch" is the second word that comes to mind after "Tacky". Believe it or not but I am now scribbling away at 1.30am under Ultra-Violet lights for the first time in my life. Previously pen and paper have generally been the furthest thing from my mind when in establishments lit by UV. This place is truly spooky. I half expect Derek Trotter to wander around the corner with a large Pina Colala in hand. Paul is tired and soon shoots off to bed (Please John!!!!) to catch David Weatherallís winning goal for Leeds against the Scum. The three of us remain in the Rooftop to sample all the reasons why the seventies are best forgotten. I take it that most readers have seen U2ís "POP" video. Need I say more. "The music here is shit" comments Justin (which is hardly fair comment coming from a man with a collection of 2 Ĺ CDísľ .one of which is Garth Brooks). Julio Iglesais (hardly the correct spelling but ask me do I care) is being blasted out through the speakersľ .. "To all de girls Iíve luvved beforrre..". The night is coming to a close and within eight hours (weather permitting) itís all to play for. Previous experience warns me not to be too confident about tomorrow. Nevertheless, at this stage itís hard not to get too carried away.

 

As I write, John is consuming a "Grande" of 6.4% local brew. He recounts some hilarious tales of a recent work night in Maynoothľ enough said I think. Itís time for bed in anticipation of either a truly great day or the low of all lows. I certainly wonít be caring about my 12/24 FRA positions tomorrow (although in hindsight I should have been). For once in my life the primary concern is the weather. A European win would undoubtedly allow me to title this journal "Too good to be true" while a loss would prompt "Day dream believer". All I can say now is "Letís hear it for the lads". Surely the promise of Justinís pelvic thrusts is enough of an incentive for our boysľ then again, that would be too gruesome a sight for all! I have the distinct feeling that I am now rambling along without any real purpose. This is what happens when Iím up to date in the log or perhaps when the only other alternative is to listen to John debating another beer. Enough!!! As we depart the Rooftop bar John shares a rather enlightening insight with me. He expresses relief that I havenít considered "Teddy is a sad bastard" as a title for the log. Mmmmmm! It does have a nice ring to it. I think Iíll have to sleep on it.

 

 

Sunday September 28th: "It must be a Fix!!!"

 

 

Paul is up and about at 6.45am preparing himself for a day of action. My body is extremely weary and not quite ready for the drama, which will undoubtedly unfold over the next twelve hours. We struggle down to breakfast where Tom Bosley (with a Spanish accent) invites us to this eveningís Flamenco dancing in the Queenís barľ I think not. The return of grumpiness on behalf of Luis encourages me to go for the scrambled eggs. In view of the fact that today is a day of risk, I try out the sausagesľ .bad move. We trough down the maximum amount of food and pack our bags in anticipation of a great dayís golf. Unbelievably the sun is actually shining as we approach Sotogrande. The car-park has even firmed up a little.

 

We arrive at the course just in time to catch the outstanding foursome matches. The early news is not good. Faldo & Westwood are quickly beaten 2&1. We follow Rocca & Olazabal as they destroy Couples & Love III. As the scoreboard changes to 4up for the Europeans, a particularly stupid blonde American to my right exclaims "Hey look! Our guys are four up"ľ Hello!!!!!ľ Hello!!!! The yanks are ultimately beaten 5&4. That poor woman is probably still trying to figure it out. Europe now lead 10-5. We rush to the 17th and wait for the Parnevik & Garrido match. They are struggling against Woods and Leonard but managing to keep it A/S. The atmosphere on the 17th is already incredible. As we wait for this final foursomes match to approach, the giant TV screen is showing highlights of the 1995 Ryder Cup at Oakhill. As the Mickelson vs Johanson match appears on screen an exceedingly stupid American woman (yes! Another!) shouts "Hey! Mickelson is one up on the sixteenth". Lord give me strength! The buzz is already electric as sight of Garridoís lay-up lands in front of us. Unfortunately, Leonardís approach shot finds the green. Parnevik hits a bladed wedge to the back of the greenľ ..Clearly, itís advantage USA. As Garrido ponders the trouble Jesper has put him in, Tiger whacks his putt more than fifteen feet past the holeľ he must really hate this green. As it turns out Garrido is actually off the green and proceeds to play the most incredible chip down the hill, somehow managing to stop the ball six to seven feet past the hole. Leonard misses the birdie and leaves Parnevik with a heart-stopper of a seven-footer for the half. He somehow manages to keep the "Jangleladdas" at bay and raps the ball into the hole. The roar that follows would inspire anyone. Ultimately, the Europeans salvage a priceless half on the 18th against the Masters and British Open championsľ 10 Ĺ- 5 Ĺ. The twelve singles matches beckonľ .It couldnít happen, could it?

 

We retire to the hospitality tents beside the 7th and refuelľ too early for a beer. With sandwiches in hand we head for the 7th green (now a home from home). We secure a reasonably good viewing spot and sit basking in the sun. To my left is a group of four extremely loud Americans with tinsel-style USA hats and poxy little flags. The early singles scores are not good. The scoreboard is emblazoned with red numbers signaling an American backlash. One of the Stars & Stripes brigade beside me starts to scream her lungs out at every red number. Thankfully with my radio I am somewhat prepared for her high pitched screeches of "Go Freddie!", "Go get Ďem Tiger" and "Youíre the man Phil!". In a futile attempt to lessen the pain, I inform her of likely leaderboard changes via my radio in the hope that she will moderate her screams when the adjacent scoreboard actually changes to reflect what I have already told her. Amazingly, she starts to scream louder and soon commences to pat me lightly on the shoulder in an act of pure patronising American sympathy. What Iíd give for a shotgun or a handgrenade. Just pull the clip and wander slowly down the fairwayľ .Boom! Boom! Freddieľ Indeed.

 

The board is becoming a sea of red. Woosnam is being hammered by Couples while Westwood, Johanson, Bjorn, Clarke, Parnevik and Garrido are all down. This early show of American dominance prompts some complete "Lahlah" in the stand behind the 7th to transform into some kind of demented male cheerleader. He actually looks remarkably like Freddie Couples. Perhaps Woosie has packed it in at 4 down after six and gone for a few beers to leave Fred start a Mexican wave all the way around the 7th hole. In truth, Woosie might as well head for the nearest beer tap. Larry will keep him company. He eventually loses 8&7!!!

 

We watch the first six matches come through the 7th and head somewhat depressed to the 15th. The crowds are enormous and the yanks are getting their tails up. We catch Rocca going 4up against cheerful Tiger on the 10th en route. We find a great spot behind the green, right on the ropes and no more than twenty-five feet from the hole. There is also a welcome absence of obnoxious American fans, for the moment. We sense a slight swing to Europe as we await the first match. To be honest itís more a case of finger in the dyke stuff than a turnaround. Having lost heavily Woosnam obviously doesnít make it to the 15th. Consequently the first match through is Johanson & Love. The Swede has managed to wipe out an early deficit and is 2up. Rocca is next and holes out confidently to go down the 16th hole 3up with three to play. Unlucky Tiger!

 

Justin moves into his own at this point. In all the excitement we forgot to purchase beers to celebrate in the event of a European winľ "Ahh! Donít worry, weíll just buy it from the Americans. Itís not like theyíll need them!"ľ . "Great shot Lee!" as Janzen misses from five feet to go 2down to Olazabal. Iím sure revenge will be sweet for Mr. Janzen in a short while. At this stage Johanson has beaten Davis Love III 3&2 while Rocca has beaten Tiger 4&2 amid chaotic scenes on the 16th green. Bjorn has somehow managed to find himself 1up on the 18th tee. Unfortunately he loses it going down the last and we must settle for a half. Obviously inspired by Justinís words, Lee Janzen finishes in spectacular style to beat Olazabal by a hole. Soon after shaking hands Lee is spotted heading purposefully for the back of the 15th green. We now have 13 points and require just 1 Ĺ for outright victory. Looking at the scoreboard itís hard to see where they are going to come from. Things have gone from bad to worse. Garrido, Parnevik, Clarke and Westwood have been badly beaten. We cheer Langer through the 15th with only three matches on the courseľ the score is 13-12! Faldo and Monty are down while Langer is two upľ .is the bubble about to burst?

 

As Monty tries to kill us with his four iron approach shot to the 15th Langer secures a 2&1 victory on the 17th. Things are becoming frantic behind the ropes. Langerís victory has ensured that the Ryder Cup will be staying in Europeľ ..but we need a win! Monty and Scott Hoch head for the 16th A/S. Faldo doesnít look like getting too much out of his match as Jim Furyk engages in his Houdini act. He pitches in on the 14th for a half and then with Faldoís tee shot no more than two feet away on the 15th, Furyk pitches in again after clattering some poor bastard in the crowd. Maybe Lee Janzen had a word with him. We give up on Faldo and follow Monty down the 16th. Hoch gets himself into trouble and then to the amazement of all he refuses to concede a twelve inch put to Monty for the winľ .nice guy heh? No problem to Monty, he heads to the 17th tee 1up. The tension is now unbearableľ the unthinkable is now possible..the US might get a draw! News of Faldoís 3&2 loss merely increases the agony. We race down the side of the 17th and actually manage to secure a good view of the green. Hoch stuns the galleries into silence by knocking his third shot to a foot. Monty canít match the birdie and all of a sudden we are down the last A/S and 14-13 to Europe. Please God No!!!!!!! The rain has also returned and by the time we get to the 18th green it is absolutely bucketing down. Again we somehow manage to get a view of the greenľ no more that 30 feet away. Mayhem is unfolding as thirty to forty thousand people converge on the final hole of the final match of the 1997 Ryder Cup. I am relying on Radio Five for news of the tee shots. Hoch drives into the shitľ "Excellent Smithers!!" ľ while Monty hits a super drive down the middle. At this point absolute chaos strikes as the crowds break through the ropes and the clouds become darker and darker. Torrential rain is now falling as Tom Kite completely loses his chops with the crowd. Seve is growing older in front of our eyes. Hoch hacks it out of the rough leaving Monty the chance to be canonised. He strikes a glorious nine-iron to eighteen feet above the hole. Donít even think about it Scottie!! Paul looks ready to keel over. The place is now going bananas amid these chaotic scenes. Hoch chips to thirteen feet and Monty is left with two putts to win the Ryder Cup. Itís somewhat ironic that I can hardly watch despite having a perfect view of his putt. After an agonising wait Monty finishes surveying his putt and eventually rolls his ball stone dead. The place explodes as Seve forces Monty to concede Hochís puttľ .14 Ĺ- 13 Ĺ. Cue absolute madness as deluge upon deluge of rain falls on the 18th green. I donít even know how I feel at this pointľ ..is it relief, joy or am I just numb? What a day of golf. It must be a fix!

 

John is a drowned rat at this stage and Paul isnít looking too good either. We pull ourselves together and after a few photographs we head jubilantly for the buses. Upon arrival at the bus-stop we quickly decide to walk the mile and a half to the car-park. There must be four or five thousand people waiting for the buses and traffic is at a standstill. John is not too happy about the walk in view of his drenched state. The rest of us are reasonably dry having brought our rain jacketsľ .itís not such a stupid idea now! I coerce John to walk with the promise of a dry T-shirt. We trek down the hill and soon discover what a wise move we have made. The car-park is still virtually full. Some poor bastard is stuck in the mud with his back wheel spinning a deeper and deeper hole. Our sympathy is lessened by the fact that the car is a BMW 7-series. We take note of these problems and eventually locate our car. Justin elects to drive and reassures us that he will be careful while reversing out of the mud. We even elect to stand in the rain to minimise the weight until the car is on a stable surface. As Justin puts the car into gear we watch in disbelief as he tries to move with the handbrake on. The back wheels slide locked across the mud!!! What a SPA!!!!!!!!!!!! I hammer on the windscreen to warn him and stop this incredible driving displayľ "What? What?" is the cry from the driver. I donít think that any behaviour tonight could prevent the accolade of "Spa of the Week" going to Justinľ sorry!

 

We have beaten the crowds to the car-park and consequently we make it back to El Pariso quickly. Time for a beer or two. Disaster unfolds as I discover that my written journal is soaked. I commence the restoration process by ripping the pages out and laying them out to dry. My work is in ruins!!!

 

We quietly sip a few beers and rest our weary bodies. There is a knock on the door of room 235 which John rushes to answer. A woman kindly presents John with a carnation. John thanks her and closes the door. Strangely enough there is a knock on the door of 236 moments later. John rushes through the adjoining doors and answers the front door of 236. This poor confused woman stands there yet again with another carnation for a guy who looks extremely familiar to the loser in room 235.

 

For the sake of convenience we dine in El Pariso but manage to drag ourselves away from the lure of the Flamenco dancing. We taxi to Marbella and relax in Frankies corner bar. Justin and I have a resounding table soccer victory over the Leeds style defence (Iím one to take the piss as a Liverpool supporter) of Paul and John. Justin is the Monty of the pool tables with a 5-0 record while a very tired and weary Paul is cast as Davis Love III with a 0-4 record. Having arrived in Marbella feeling somewhat shattered I manage to recover and really feel in need of some beer. Unfortunately, this town is not quite the hotbed of activity that we had expected. Nevertheless, we make the best of it. Unfortunately, we fail to make it to Puerto Banus. As we taxi home Teddyís batteries finally run down. Larry canít even find his drumsticks.

 

Back in El Pariso Paul instigates the Johnny Walker challenge. He proposes a final shot of Whiskey before sleep. I fail the challenge and content myself with the thunder and lightning show. Do you know that itís never rained in Sotogrande? Teddy has really lost it, his stuffing is falling out and the duracells are run dry. He (like the rest of us moments later) collapses into bed in a tired, weary, jubilant and drunken stateľ ľ ľ

 

During the night I dream of hitting a couple of practice shots with Tiger Woodsľ ..Shit! That wasnít a dream, it really happened.

 

 

 

Monday September 29th : "Carousel Carnage!"

 

We finally drag ourselves out of bed at 10.20am and head for our last eggfast with Luis. He looks as happy as ever. I have a feeling that he wonít be missing us. We pack and check-out. The minibar bill is enormous!!!! Not that any of us are surprised! We pack our trusty Ford and bid farewell to the El Pariso Golf and Country club.

 

En route to the airport Paul "spaís" himself yet again (not possible I hear you say) by missing the turn for the airport (those big green signs with little pictures of planes can be so confusing). Although Justin undoubtedly wins first prize, Paul has been chipping away all week and easily secures the runner-up spot. Between trying to get into room 135 instead of 235 (not that he was the only one) and a catalogue of driving difficulties John and I canít touch him. I finally get branded a "spa" after knocking over a few cans of Carlsberg in the airport café. Someone is in for a nasty surprise in a short while when they settle down for a quite beer.

 

Luckily our plane is only delayed by ninety minutes. The delay is partly caused by the Malaga ground crew who have gone on strike. Consequently the crew of our Nordic Air plane are forced to load the ten tonnes of baggage. The other factor causing our delay is some gobshite (my Dell certainly cannot recognise that word) who gets onto the wrong planeľ .. can you believe it?

 

By now we are airborne and bound for Dublin. The restoration of the log is complete and my pen is running dry. All that remains is a lucrative publishing contract and perhaps a screenplay. I wonder would Homer Simpson be available to play John. The stewards are refusing to accept any Irish money except for notes!!!!! Paul somehow manages to arbitrage the market and secures five cans for three quid. The flight passes quickly as I catch up on events. This log has been through quite a lot over the last forty-eight hours. Where did I get the time to write all this rubbish. The week has passed quickly and yet work seems an eternity away.

 

We arrive in Dublin and head for baggage reclaim. The Dublin baggage handlers have obviously learnt a trick or two from their Malaga counterparts. Having chose carousel 4 (the smallest in Dublin airport) they proceed to attempt to offload two planeloads of baggage (approximately 16-18 tonnes) onto one small carousel. In the words of Paulľ "Carnage!". There is a scrum of six hundred people developing as I wait in vain for my bags.

 

Eventually our bags arrive and we wearily head for the taxi ranks. How is it that so many things in life finish as they have begun? As we queue for a taxi, one disgruntled traveller skips the queue and then amazingly hurls abuse at the taxi concierge (Iím not sure whether thatís exactly what you call those guysľ apart from useless tosses) for not controlling the queue. Unable to contain my disbelief, I single out the queue-hopper for a few stern words (you get the picture). He quietly slinks into a Toyota Carina with his Spanish donkey between his legs. I hope itís not for personal use!!!!!!!

 

Welcome Home!!!

Ryder Cup Statistics

 

 

 

 

Epilogue

 

 

Well, itís nearly three months later and Christmas beckons. The fairways and Karaoke bars of the South of Spain seem light-years away. On a personal note I am typing merrily away amid sub-zero temperatures as I continue to experience difficulties with my central heating. Sorry! I donít mean to bore you with the needless details of how I typed this log. Nevertheless, this is a time for reflection as I sit here in the early hours of a Thursday morning (sober!) armed with an electric fire and a pair of mittens. Valderrama was without doubt the experience of a lifetime (Iím going on the basis that you are actually a fan of golf). There are many moments of our incredible (you just canít keep those superlatives at bay) week which will remain in the memory of all four campaigners. I have typed this log purely for the amusement of my companions who spent seven days and seven nights following the fortunes of the victorious 1997 European Ryder Cup team. I appreciate that Justin would much rather read the scribbles which I managed to produce (despite his erratic driving) back in 1991 as we traversed the northwest of the USA. That perhaps will have to wait until another year (or century). Nevertheless, I am now astounded at the amount of garbage that I struggled to write in the quiet and sedate environs of Cornhole corner. I shit you not (excuse the profanity) when I say that 99% of what has been written in this ever-increasing Microsoft Word file is exactly as was scribed on tour (hey! Itís a good excuse for all those grammatical mistakes and spelling errors that my computer could not resolve). I must admit to a certain degree of poetic licence in relation to some incidents. Then again, my colleagues are probably just a little bit too hazy in relation to the late-night adventures to correct me. Sure, Monty rolling down that final putt was the moment we had prayed for (in hindsight we were too serious) but Garridoís pitch from the back of the 17th and Faldoís approach to the green of that hole will remain with me for many a long year. Prior to this event I had rated the Ireland-Italy World Cup match at Giant Stadium as my highpoint as a spectator of a sporting event. Fortunately, that particular sporting occasion has now been surpassed, in my eyes, by the events of the 1997 Ryder Cup. To my colleagues, I apologise for immortalising you in this log and blowing your misdemeanors out of proportion. All I can say is that if you donít like it then write your own log of events (if you can remember!). Who knows where my next journal will spring from and who knows whom my colleagues will be. On a final note I say to any of my three travelling companions who may feel that he has been unfairly treated in this logľ . "Itís not like you paid for it!". I expect a direct debit for your twenty quid over the coming yearsľ ľ ľ ľ ľ ľ ľ ľ ľ .