Flush with success as Rory keeps Rorying
Alliss’s gets all culinary as Garca hits a paella of an approach shot
Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke in action at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake. “There’s Darren Clarke,” said Peter Alliss, “well, what’s left of Darren Clarke”.
Whatever challenges lay ahead of Rory McIlroy going in to the final round of the British Open yesterday, they were nothing compared to the trials and tribulations early afternoon in the BBC commentary box, the toilets under which, Peter Alliss announced, were blocked. Totally.
Not an ideal start to the day, then, for our telly team, the key to their survival until help arrived avoiding all thoughts of, say, bouncing up and down. At which point Peter began reminiscing about a chap he played with in an exhibition match several years back.
“His one claim to fame was that he went on a pogo stick all the way from Tunbridge Wells to Piccadilly Circus,” he said. “It’s quite a way.”
The thoughts of all that springy jiggling can’t have helped his colleagues as they knotted their legs together as tightly as possible, without cutting off the circulation.
Mark James: “I assume he’s in a suitable institution now?”
Peter: “Sadly, he passed away.”
Whether it was a pogo stick-related accident that prompted his passing, Peter didn’t say, but no matter, happily lavatory help arrived, “the loos are now working,” he declared triumphantly some time later.
There was, though, another distraction, “that plane droning overhead”, one that most probably had every single viewer muting their tellies to see if it was droning over Hoylake or their own roofs. (Yeah, yeah, us too). Intensely annoying, it was, so you were at one with Peter when he pined for a fighter squadron from Lossiemouth to come and chase it away.
RestraintThey must have done too, because it was silenced some time later, allowing Peter to hear those cries of ‘IN THE HOOOOOOLE!’ that irritate him so much. He was more restrained about the phenomenon this time, though, largely confining himself to a heavy sigh, unlike the occasion he responded thus: “Chloroform, nurse please.”
So then, the final round, and the BBC had a chat with a sports psychologist, asking him how Rory should handle his substantial lead, the gist of his advice that he should take one shot at a time, which was sound, but you’d hope, really, for a little bit more for your money.
A word from those who know Rory best. Like one of his compatriots. “There’s Darren Clarke, ” said Peter, “well, what’s left of Darren Clarke,” and true enough, he’s nigh on half the man he used to be. Peter purred, “he looks absolutely fantastic”, his dieting leading some to declare, “that fella looks like a skinny Darren Clarke!!”.
Blush. But there was a but: “Not sure about the whiskers, he looks like he’s auditioning for a part in Grizzly Adams.”
Any way, Darren reckoned Rory would do grand, a solid start important, but after whipping out his driver and then only birdieing the first, the nerves appeared to be getting to the leader. In no sense at all. “Only 17 to go young sir, do not get carried away,” warned Peter, who seemed to be under the impression Rory had already made room on his mantelpiece for the Claret Jug, and that his Da was already knocking on the door of his turf accountant’s to collect his winnings for that famed bet of his.
A few twists and turns after the first hole, though, the Sergio man putting up a bit of a battle. As Peter put it when he directed a particularly useful shot towards the green, “Good line! You’re safe! More paella!”
But Rory and Sergio were having their troubles with the crowd, Peter concluding it was “the local brew taking effect”, Rory having one rowdy chucked out, Sergio, Maureen Madill telling us, disappearing in to the throngs to pursue a heckler, the Spaniard possibly armed with chloroform.
“Didn’t that young fella Cantona do a similar thing,” asked an alarmed Peter, before Sergio returned, by then Maureen wondering if he’d actually just been taking a toilet break, divil a sign of a dead seagull or sardine in his fist.
Funny gameBy now Peter was struggling to come to terms with things he’d never, ever seen in his day, like angry heckler/lavatory-hunting-Spaniards, nor indeed heard – like Ken Brown calling on-course commentator Philip Parkin a “smart arse”. As for Tiger limping to a 75 – “It’s a funny old game,” as he once noted. “One day you’re a statue, the next you’re a pigeon.”
Meanwhile, Rory kept Rorying, those moments when he stared down the fairway from the tee with a look so steely enough to make you think: home and hosed. And so it proved. One of a kind.
If Peter had extended his culinary observations to Rory, after that paella man business, he’d have cited that much-loved Norn Iron dish of potatoes mashed with butter, warm milk and chopped scallions.