Rory and Reedy’s epic fist-pumping, chest-thumping, bum-wiggling rivalry
TV View: Face-off captured the Ryder Cup at its gladiatorial finest
USA’s Patrick Reed and Europe’s Rory McIlroy shake hands after their singles match. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
It only being golf, it’s never been easy to become emotionally invested in the Ryder Cup, although that tricolour in the crowd at the ninth, inscribed with ‘Pull Like A Dog’, was a timely reminder that this is our struggle too.
But it was when Patrick Reed started his fist-pumping, chest-thumping and finger-wagging, and bum-wiggled like your grandda dancing to The Birdie Song at a wedding, you felt a sea of Euro patriotism wash over you and wished for nothing more than for the Yanks to be pummelled, all the time concluding that PJ Willett was far too mild.
This abandonment of perspective was all Patrick’s fault. He was our pantomime villain, the kind you suspect turns up at Donald Trump rallies. He’s Texan too, so there’s that. Although, inconceivably, he was only born in 1990, by which time Colin Montgomerie was 27.
Mind you, our Rory engaged in some fist-pumping, chest-thumping, finger-wagging and bum-wiggling too, but no more than ourselves, Sky reckoned that was just a passion thing.
“What a team leader,” Ewen Murray purred as he wound up the crowd rather deliciously after sinking a lengthy putt in a rather heavenly manner.
When Reedy did it: “Oh come on Patrick, show some class,” Butch Harmon snapped. And Butch – there’s a hint in the name – is a Yank.
Rough on Reedy, then, but that opening contest between himself and Rory was so epically marvellous you half wanted the powers-that-be to cancel the other 11 matches and let this be “winner takes all”.
It was kind of what you imagine UFC is like, if your life was empty enough to watch UFC, just without the blood and kicks to the head of opponents lying unconscious on the floor. But gladiators trading blows, that class of thing. With bum-wiggling thrown in. The golf so good it was like choosing “Easy” mode on a computer game and every shot being sublime.
“I’ve been around a long time, this might be the finest golf I’ve ever seen,” said Ewan, who is given to hyperbole, but you had to take him at his word.
The Phil Mickelson v Sergio Garcia tussle was a bit tasty too, Phil playing so well Monty temporarily lifted his fatwa against him. On the opening day he obsessed over Micko’s driving – “I cant believe Davis Love has put anyone who drives it as badly as this out in foursomes golf!“; “[Sigh] Of course, nowhere near the fairway again” – to the point where you wondered how Micko had ever won one Major, never mind five. And how Monty had won none.
Come Saturday, Butch was Monty-ised. “Mickelson can’t even spell fairway, let alone hit one,” he said. Lord.
By Sunday, though, Monty couldn’t but doff his cap at the fella’s shorter game. “Oh Phil. Phiiiiil. [Pant] [Sigh],” he said, in a slightly troubling way, when Micko sank yet another birdie.
Back to Rory and Reedy and there was a whole lot less bum-wiggling on the second nine, the pair beginning to look so weary not even The Birdy Song could get them up on the dancefloor.
And then the unspeakable happened. Reedy won. But he was so banjaxed he couldn’t even tell Sky’s Tim Barter it was awesome, he just looked like a man who needed a bunk bed to curl up on.
Still, Rory had actually already won the Ryder Cup when he responded to the crowd naughtily singing Sweet Caroline by turning to them and crooning, “good times never seemed so goooooood”. For that alone, he will be an eternal champion. If they’d done something similar to Reedy, he’d probably have kicked them in the head as they lay unconscious on the floor.
Back in the commentary box Paul McGinley had stopped using the word “momentum” which, early doors, he had applied so often to Europe’s final day effort if they’d a point for as many times he uttered it, the Ryder Cup would now be winging its way back to Euuuuuurope.
How were the crowd? A little politer, it seemed, apart from that moment the cry of “IN THE BUNKER!” went up when Garcia took a shot. That was rude. ESPN’s Jason Sobel issued a plea: “By all means, scream for your team. Just be quiet when other guys hit. Not that hard. As Sergio Garcia once said, this isn’t rocket surgery.”
But as the night wore on, the scoreboard took on a decidedly reddish hue, and you didn’t need to be a rocket surgeon to know this didn’t augur well. The “Ole Oles” began to fade, the “USA! USAs!” became a little more deafening. And all you could do was de-invest yourself emotionally because this, after all, is only golf.
Next time, though, we’ll pummel the pudgy, basement-dwelling irritants.