Yes, yes, Ilkay Gündogan’s volley was a work of art, but it was only the second best shot of the weekend, Tom McKibbin ending up on top of that particular tree. Which his ball might quite literally have done because there was an actual tree between him and the 18th green in Hamburg after a stray tee shot.
Sky’s Richard Boxall worried for the young fella. Here he was leading the European Open in his rookie season, a shot up with one hole to play. But the tree.
And then he did a curly wurly thing with his ball, circumventing said obstacle and beaming on hearing the hollering and hooting from the crowd around the green, it having landed within seven-ish feet of the hole. Tournament won.
It’s at moments like these, not aided by knowing as much about putting a bit of draw on a golf ball as, say, the quantum entanglement theory, that you say: “What?”
“That,” Boxall purred, “was one of the best shots I’ve ever seen on the European Tour”.
It had, by then, been a tough day for the Sky crew, so at least it had a spectacularly excellent ending. Every time Jordan Smith had missed a putt – and there were a heap of them – he turned the air blue, so apologies had to be offered. And when a Marcel Siem drive nigh on ended up in North Dakota, he emoted quite rudely too. “Apologies for any bad language – in German there, I think,” said Boxall, even having to say sorry for non-English cussin’.
There was no cussin’ at all from McKibbin, even if he was entitled to let out an expletive or two having been landed with a cold on his big day. “He’s feeling under the weather, he’s been coughing all day,” our host Rob Lee told us, leaving you wondering how good he’ll be when he’s above the weather.
“Every now and then someone turns up who is special and can do special things,” said Boxall, making you reckon Sunday, most possibly the start of a very special career, was an “I was there” moment. Granted, in front of the telly, but still.
“They have another star in Holywood,” said Rob, the Rory lad limbering up as he spoke for his final round at the Memorial, which he was leading. There’s something in the golfing water up there in Down.
“What have you learned about yourself?” Sky’s Inci Mehmet asked McKibbin. “I guess that I’m good enough to win,” he replied. That he is. Cooler than your average breeze too.
McKibbin is only 20 and has already won a title, Manchester City are 129 years old and have only won seven FA Cups. Underachievers.
The key thing, Roy Keane had told ITV’s viewers, was that United keep it tight in the opening stages. “If City score early, it could be a long day,” he said, so he would have been well impressed with them holding out until the 13th second when Gündogan did that thing. Up until then, United had been defensively immaculate.
There was, of course, some controversy when the referee punished Jack Grealish for having an arm, his decision to award a penalty perhaps influenced by Lee Dixon’s vow that he would discard his microphone and go home if the spot-kick was awarded. “It’s never a penalty in the history of penalties.”
Bruno Fernandes converted said penalty and the game was all square, Lee remaining in the ITV commentary box, a little like Nigel Farage still living in Britain when he promised he’d leave if Brexit turned out to be a disaster.
“I think it’s a penalty all day long,” said Roy at half-time, reminding us that Lee is a City fan. Lee reminded us that Roy is a United fan. “Am staying oot of it,” said Ally McCoist, which was wise.
Then Gündogan scored what proved to be the winner, neither a tree nor David de Gea’s hands getting between his bouncy effort and the back of the net.
Come full-time, Roy aimed every barrel he possessed in de Gea’s direction, and there’s a fair chance the Spaniard dived late when each of them headed towards him.
City, then, have a treble in their sights, Inter Milan the only tree they have left to fell. Are you resigned to them turning the Istanbul night air light blue? Us too.