Le Golf National diary: Tiger gets the cold shoulder
Irish Times golf correspondent Philip Reid keeps us up to date from the French capital
Team USA’s Tiger Woods with his Ryder Cup team mates during practice in Paris. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters
Woods caught out by baseball ruse
What goes on behind closed doors usually stays behind closed doors . . . but Tiger Woods’s caddie Joe LaCava revealed how his Ryder Cup team-mates played a joke on him by giving him the cold shoulder on his arrival into an Atlanta hotel following his win in the Tour Championship and prior to their departure for Paris.
“Tiger shows up and is looking for some high-fives from everybody and they wouldn’t give him the time of day. They weren’t even looking at him, they all have their backs to him. He’s looking at me like, ‘what’s going on?’He’s not a guy who is looking for fanfare but these are his boys. He’s looking for 11 guys to run up and give him a good hug.”
The trick had been devised by Jim Furyk – taking a leaf from the baseball book whereby players who get their first home run are cold-shouldered by team mates – and, it seems, the USA team managed to keep it going for about two minutes before cracking and then congratulating Woods, who took the joke in the spirit it was intended.
McGinley ready for past captains’ test
Paul McGinley’s commentating duties with Sky Sports will have to be put on hold for the few hours before the official opening ceremony . . . so he can go play golf himself!
The Dubliner is taking part in the Ryder Cup past captains’ match – a 10-hole scramble – where he will partner Tony Jacklin against Corey Pavin and Tom Lehman, while the other pairings will see Mark James and Jose Maria Olazabal face Hal Sutton and Ben Crenshaw.
All matches will be played to the full 10 holes with the team most up at the conclusion of both matches declared the winner.
The match will be played over the first to the eighth and then the 11th and 12th.
In numbers - 11.17 v 19.08
The average world ranking of the USA team – 11.17 – is the best of any Ryder Cup team in the match’s history, while Europe’s average – 19.08 – is the third lowest ranking of any Euro team. Their lowest was 18.25 at Celtic Manor in 2010.
“I’ve seen psychologists in the past. But being honest, I struggled to kind of buy into certain things . . . . I know when I’ve been bad” – Tyrrell Hatton on why he doesn’t see the need to work with a psychologist.
Bjorn happy with French connections
Some 43 per cent of advance ticket sales were snapped up by French supporters, although the hope a home player would make the team – or secure a “wild card” pick – proved to be fruitless. Alex Levy went closest, but was a distant 26th in the final qualifying rankings. However, Thomas Bjorn has ensured there is some French involvement in his backroom team in adding Gregory Havret and Raphael Jacquelin as lieutenants to assist his vice-captains. “We are in France and you have to respect the nation you are in. This country has great players and when you take certain players that had such long-standing careers on tour, they are very much part of what we are as a European Tour.”
And, according to Bjorn, they seem to have landed on their feet. Of their role, Bjorn said: “They understand when the players are doing their thing, they go and sit in the corner and have a nice glass of red wine.”
Thomas primed for action despite injury
Justin Thomas’s wrist injury isn’t go to stop him playing a full role in the USA’s bid to retain the trophy.
Making a rookie appearance in the match, Thomas – who had his wrist taped for last week’s Tour Championship –- was asked if he would be able to play five matches. “I’d play six if I could,” he replied, adding; “The wrist, it’s fine. It just looks worse than it is. It’s just the white tape on top of the KT tape, it’s more (for) prevention. I could easily play without it but my team feels it’s best if I play with it, it’s not going to get any worse.”