TV View: Butch beamed all day - first for the USA and then through gritted teeth

‘Let’s not get excited,’ said a very excited Paul McGinley as Europe swept all before them in the foursomes

Sky had been urging us all morning to #BelieveInBlue, even hiring Harry Kane and Anthony Joshua to evangelise, but by lunchtime, when the scoreboard had a decidedly reddish hue to it, you began to wonder if their faith in Euuur-up had been misplaced.

The clock hadn’t even struck 7am when the crowd began gathering at the first tee in the pitchiest of darkness, whipping us into a Revenge-for-Hazeltine frenzy by performing the thunderclap – “clap…clap-clap…..clap-clap-clap…..Euuur-up!” – before breaking in to a lusty rendition of “Ole Ole Ole Ole (Ole).”

If your nostrils weren’t flaring at this point, and if your heart wasn’t skipping several beats, then your name is Boris.

Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau might have been forgiven for refusing to leave their dressing room out of sheer fear, but leave it they did, and they went on to set the morning’s tone. They won.


“You’ve been sucking on a lemon trying to wipe the smile off your face,” said David Livingstone to Butch Harmon, who was beaming in quite a provocative stars and stripy kind of way after the You-S-Eh had leathered our boys 3-1 in the fourballs.

But golf, as we know, is a funny old game, and come the end of the day’s play Butch was still beaming because that’s his smiley head’s default setting, but this time it was through gritted teeth.

As an emotional Ewen Murray had told us, “for the first ever time it’s a cwean sweep for Europe in the foursomes!” Nobody, of course, wanted to start totting up their chickens, but there was a slight sense in the air that the cup might be coming home.

“You’re still smiling,” said David to Butch, “but you’re kind of annoyed, aren’t you?”

He was too, he was spittin’, conceding that his lads had been “slaughtered” in the foursomes. But lest David be tempted to start triumphantly Morris dancing in his clogs on the Sky coffee table, Butch pointed out that he hadn’t written Euuur-up off after they trailed by two points in the morning so he wasn’t going to be waving a white flag when the You-S-Eh were only trailing by the same margin after session two.


Paul McGinley had tried to make the very same point through the day. “Let’s not get too down here…it wasn’t an unmitigated disaster,” he reassured a crestfallen David after the unmitigated disaster that was the fourballs, and, similarly, he attempted to preach caution after the clean sweep.

“It’s an easy time to get giddy, it’s an easy time to get a bit excited with yourself,” he said. And then, in his next breath, he got mad excited with himself.

“We’ve got a brilliant chance now with a two-point lead to go out and win that session tomorrow morning and maybe win it [all] in the afternoon! Happy days!”

So, not one of Paul’s chickens was going uncounted.

“Let’s just calm down,” David Howell advised, but that advice went unheeded. Paul and David then deciding to liken the day’s action to a boxing contest, with the You-S-Eh all but counted out.

“To quote Mike Tyson,” said David, “everybody’s got a plan until you punch them in the nose….it seems to apply to golf, not in a literal way of course.” Of course.

Paul nodded. “I see it as a heavyweight contest, the favourite [the You-S-Eh] has come out, he’s won the first two or three rounds as expected. All of a sudden, for some reason, he’s taken his hands down, and he’s after getting hit in the face and he’s on the floor…that’s how I feel about the American team.”

“They’re now behind the eight ball,” he added. Pool, pugilism, there was no end to the sporting metaphor-fest.

“Paul keeps going on about momentum,” said Laura Davies, and this was no lie – if Euuur-up win as many points on Saturday as he mentions the M word they’ll have racked up in or around 89 points.

But you have to credit Butch for the Rory revival come the afternoon session, the fella having played like a drain in the morning.

“Oooooh, well done Rory!”

Which is what Butch said when our Rory found a green after lunch, in a pat-pat fashion, Rory inserting his wedge in Butch’s gob.


Rory was, understandably enough, a bit on the euphoric side when he chatted with Tim Barter after teaming up with “Poults” Poulter following their slaying of Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, the natives being particularly unforgiving towards Bubba during the contest simply because he had once been rude about Paris. (The Louvre IS just “a building starting with an L”, so what’s their problem?)  “Just describe what goes through your body when you play Ryder Cup,” Tim asked Poults, and Rory wasn’t alone in worrying about what the answer might be.

Poults behaved, though, just talking about emotion and stuff, as did Jon Rahm, one of several members of the Euuur-up team who sounds distinctly more American than the Americans themselves. He even said he was stoked. There are some things you can forgive, this is not one of them.

But nothing, surely, can have been more irksome than securing a ticket for the 18th green for Day One’s afternoon session, and then seeing as much Ryder Cup action as you might have done if you spent the hours on, say, Mars, none of the foursome contests stretching that far.

And these poor souls possibly remortgaged their homes for the tickets not long after the Hazeltine massacre.

Saturday can only be better. Another clean sweep would do.