Real fire darkens sky at Chambers Bay as hurling double-bill fails to ignite
Kilkenny and Tipp progress serenely while frustrated golfers bite their lip
Branden Grace watches his tee shot on the 10th hole as a structure fire burns outside of the golf course during the third round of the US Open at Chambers Bay. Photo: Matt York/AP
“Ah, it’s a duck-shoot at this stage, Marty,” Anthony Daly sighed as Kilkenny were racking up a score almost as high as Tiger Woods at the US Open, Daly willing the referee to blow his whistle, with 10-ish minutes still on the clock, just to put Wexford out of their misery.
It’s as well he didn’t, though, because we would have been denied that TJ Reid point near the end, a thing of such exquisite loveliness Anthony reckoned it’d be “shown in all the hurling adverts for a while”.
It should too.
Not the most competitive of contests, then, Tomás Mulcahy conceding by half-time that any doubts he’d had about Kilkenny had been somewhat dispelled, in a nuked-out-of-the-water kind of way. But he had worried for Wexford’s scoring potential in light of their axing of forward Jack Guiney for an alleged breach of discipline, the same fella helping himself to just the 4-5 in a club game last week – and 4-4 from play, like.
“He’s 22 years of age, he’s a college student . . . are we to lock fellas inside in their pyjamas and their slippers and they can’t go out and have a night on the town?”
Ger begged to differ, reckoning that if Wexford boss Liam Dunne wanted his players locked inside their pyjamas then so be it, but after watching the county being outscored 5-25 to 0-16 by a side that looked so comfy they could have been playing in slippers, he might have felt you should forgive anything, really.
There were higher hopes for a tighter affair at the Gaelic Grounds, which Ger likened to the Colosseum and a bear-pit, and, indeed, Limerick played with all the ferocity of lions and grizzlies in the opening moments, even taking a three-point lead. Butt then Gladiator Séamus Callanan got a goal with his first touch for Tipperary, and Limerick never really recovered.
The panel, then, was a bit deflated at the end of the double-header, the day having promised so much, but not half as deflated as most of the field at Chambers Bay which, Gary Player rather memorably told the Golf Channel, appeared to have been designed by a man with “one leg shorter than the other”. “This has been the most unpleasant golf tournament I’ve seen in my life,” he added.
Lee Westwood wasn’t shy about sharing his equal displeasure with Sky Sports, complaining about all the jiggling that had gone on, like changing par fours to par fives, and vice versa. For mere mortals, even if some of them had been par 55s, they’d still have been unconquerable.
Did the other players feel the same? “We’re living in a politically correct world where people can’t voice opinions now,” he steamed, but suggested if you had a microphone positioned near any of the players, you’d hear their true feelings.
(True enough: Microphone near Jordan Spieth at the 18th on Friday: “IT’S THE DUMBEST HOLE I’VE EVER PLAYED IN MY LIFE, SOOO DUMB.”
Spieth, though, was going swimmingly early on Saturday, his putting close enough to perfect, but Paul McGinley kind of placed the kibosh on him (“How good a player would Rory McIlroy be if Jordan Spieth was putting for him?” – scary thought), the American then picking up five bogeys.
He was still tied for first, mind, so it wasn’t a disaster, although there was a possibility of one over at the Marina, Sky’s cameras picking out a decidedly nasty-looking fire.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t affect the quality of the air,” said the Sky commentator (they used about 96, so not sure which one), at which point Ewen Murray interjected – “Let’s hope nobody is injured” – lest viewers think golf was more important than life and death.
His colleague was suitably chastened, echoing Ewen’s concern.
And then: “Dustin Johnson is on fire, he’s two under for the day!
Ewen’s silence suggested he wanted his work-mate locked inside in his pyjamas and slippers.