June 25, 2007

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Wallace of Sterling, Robert the Bruce, Torrance of The Belfry.

Absolutely, by all means, put the weep-at-a-blink Sam up there with those other Scottish heroes now, although wait a second — where is JB of Last Night on the list? Little joke there.

And doesn't it make sense now to certify the undefeated Colin Montgomerie, Europe's coach on the field, as the new Seve? Answer: yes. So know him now as Monty of Sutton Coldfield, just as you know Nelson of Trafalgar, Wellington of Waterloo, Vivien of Leigh, all that.

Of course, for this offering on what was undoubtedly one of the great sports upsets of all time, the one in September that begs to be known as Sam Torrance and the 34th Ryder Cup, the overwhelmingly favored poor little rich kids of the USA are going to be discussed.

Our nonchalant favorites, I mean. Our team had Tiger Woods and six other guys who've won major championships. They had just one — 45-year-old Bernhard Langer. Our household names over their worst team since 1979, a gathering of bottom-half nobodies that only Torrance believed in. Turns out we had Tiger of Invisible, Mickelson of Pushover, Curtis of Goat.

That crowd.

But something more interesting than a normal essay has been dropped into this bureau's lap.

It's a tape of the celebratory dinner at The Belfry to honor both teams on Sunday night, Sept. 29, after Europe had won, 15 ½-12 ½, in the best Ryder Cup in anyone's memory, an event that for three whole days was bursting with drama, thrills and suspense.

The tape begins with the Europeans obviously even more in the bag than they were when they swigged champagne and beer at their press conference. Let's listen in.

TORRANCE: I just want to interject that everyone is giving me too much credit. All I did was lead my team to the water, and they drank copiously.

CURTIS STRANGE: You said that on TV, Sam. You said copiously.

TORRANCE: Yes.

STRANGE: That's a word? Copiously?

TORRANCE: Not at Wake Forest, evidently. Sergio! Stop dancing on the table! You're spilling valuable drops.

__SERGIO GARCIA:__I am so happy! I want to jump in Lee Westwood's lap, as I did when he drove the 10th on Saturday. Make Tiger mad again.

TORRANCE: Tiger is not present. He wasn't feeling very well.

__GARCIA:__I wouldn't feel good, either, if my Ryder Cup record was 5-8-2 now! Sorry he couldn't make it. I wanted to ask him why he dressed like the opposing team today.

JESPER PARNEVIK: What about that, Curtis? Was your team colorblind? Their uniforms never completely matched, all three days.

STRANGE: Matched what?

__GARCIA:__I guess Tiger can think of six million reasons why his record this year is more important than the Ryder Cup.

TORRANCE: Sergio, please. No more somersaults. My hedge ... my head ... is going to hurt badly enough tomorrow.

GARCIA: I know why Tiger got tied by Jesper today. He looked at the draw and saw he didn't matter. What was the use? Hey! Thanks, Curtis, for putting Tiger last. We were up in seven matches before your No. 1 player even got on the course!

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: That was the dumbest thing I've ever seen. When I looked at it, I thought Torrance had made the draw for both teams. Then I found out our own bonehead captain did it.

STRANGE: Sam outguessed me, that's all. He front-loaded his lineup. I've never seen a lineup front-loaded like that.

HAL SUTTON: You don't remember Brookline in '99?

STRANGE: I remember Brookline in '88. I won the Open there.

__DAVID DUVAL:__Crenshaw won the cup at Brookline in '99 because he front-loaded his lineup for the singles.

STRANGE: The Ryder Cup was at Brookline?

__GARCIA:__Yo, Curtis! Wake Forest captains are now 0 for 2 against Europe in Ryder Cups. You this year, Lanny in '95. Pretty funny, huh? No?

PAUL MCGINLEY: Who's paying for this, anyway? Let's putt for it.

PHILLIP PRICE: How about Mickelson and me from 18 inches? Anyone seen Phil?

__TORRANCE:__Let's hear it for Price and McGinley! Wales and Ireland! I asked them to do it for me, and they did it!

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Man, there's always an Irish nobody in these deals. If it's not an Eamonn Darcy in '87, it's a Christy O'Connor in '89. If it's not a Phillip Walton in '95, it's that clown McGinley here.

MONTGOMERIE: Quite so. Our team is a unique mixture. Here we are under a curious blue flag with gold stars. Most Americans don't know it's the flag of the European Community and that such countries as Norway and Switzerland are not in it. If a Norwegian or a Swiss ever makes our team, what happens to the flag? Who knows? I'll leave that for others. I must say, incidentally, that in my lifetime I've known Frenchmen, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, Danes, Swedes, and so on, but I've never known a European.

TORRANCE: Nor have I! But so what? We've got the coop ... cup!

MONTGOMERIE: Watch it, Sam ...

__DARREN CLARKE:__It's OK, I've caught him.

TORRANCE: Did you want to say something else, Colin?

MONTGOMERIE: Yes, a number of things. First, I would like to compliment the much-maligned Belfry for providing such grand theater in the four Ryder Cups that were played here. History shall record that the Europeans won three times at The Belfry, and that none were more exciting than this one. I was quite pleased to be a part of it. I have always thrived on team competition, and as my lovely wife, Eimear, says, 'If only the Ryder Cup were a major.' Next, I would ...

__TORRANCE:__Not to interrupt, but I would simply like to remind everyone that Colin remains underbeated ... unbeaten ... in six Ryder Cup shingles matches.

MONTGOMERIE: Thank you, Sam. Next, I would like to point out that we may have won because we seem to have more passion for these matches, more of a team spirit. We know each other well, we are friends. I couldn't help but observe on Friday morning when Bernhard and I were playing Scott Hoch and Jim Furyk that Scott and Jim hardly ever spoke to each other. It was as if they were total strangers, two people accidentally paired together at Bay Hill or somewhere.

Additionally, it would be rude of me not to compliment the Americans on how bravely they competed, on their courage, their dignity. The mighty U.S. tour seems always to prosper, regardless of the Ryder Cup result. I must also compliment David Toms for his splendid golf and tenacious play. We guessed that David's accuracy off the tee might make him the U.S. star, and so he was. Perhaps he should also be cited for something else. As the lady wrote in The Times the other day, in a field of blonde wives, David is "daringly married to a brunette." [No laughter from the Americans.]

The 34th Ryder Cup __Sept. 27-29, The Belfry

(Brabazon Course) Sutton Coldfield, England, 7,118 yards; par 72

Final: Europe 15 ½, United States 12 ½ __

Singles results

Colin Montgomerie (E) d. Scott Hoch, 5 and 4

David Toms (U.S.) d. Sergio Garcia,1 up

Darren Clarke (E) halved with David Duval

Bernhard Langer (E) d. Hal Sutton, 4 and 3

Padraig Harrington (E) d. Mark Calcavecchia, 5 and 4

Thomas Bjorn (E) d. Stewart Cink, 2 and 1

Scott Verplank (U.S.) d. Lee Westwood, 2 and 1

Niclas Fasth (E) halved with Paul Azinger

Paul McGinley (E) halved with Jim Furyk

Pierre Fulke (E) halved with Davis Love III

Phillip Price (E) d. Phil Mickelson, 3 and 2

Jesper Parnevik (E) halved with Tiger Woods

MONTGOMERIE: Before I rejoin the bubbly I should like to give our captain credit for one more thing that may have contributed to our success — the way the course was set up. He was criticized for moving the 10th tee and making it more difficult to drive the green, thus taking all the historical significance out of the hole, but it was the wise move so far as our interests were concerned.

But he did much more than that. He wanted slower greens than they normally play in America, and got them. Then, to negate the length of you Yanks, he narrowed the fairways at the 285-to-300 range. And finally he knew that the par-5 17th was likely to play a pivotal role. So he narrowed the fairway and grew the rough, making it impossible to reach the green in two unless you hit a perfect drive and perfect second. The result? Well, no fewer than 20 of the 28 matches went to the 17th hole or beyond. Fortunately, we won our share. Sam was right again. And because our American friends were so heavily favored, I know that all the members of our team will take immense pride in the fact that today was only the sixth time since 1927 that our side won the singles.

TORRANCE: Help me up.

CLARKE: Here we go ...

TORRANCE: I want to raise a grass to my vissorious Visor Cup team. They have made me the proundish ... [Sound of crashing furniture.]

TORRANCE: Sorry about that. May we all meet again in two thousand fork at Oakfish Halls Country Clack in Detruss, Missergun. Until then ...