reports from St Andrews
There were several bizarre incidents at the home of golf yesterday. A number of young people, perhaps certifiable, jumped into the North Sea from a stretch of sand made famous by the film, Chariots of Fire, and attempted to play a form of water hockey; a pipe band struck up Flower of Scotland in the press car park in a rehearsal for the real thing and that was followed by the strangest thing of all - Scotland won the Alfred Dunhill Cup.
It had always seemed as if there was too much emotional baggage on the host team to win this tournament but yesterday Andrew Coltart, Sam Torrance and Colin Montgomerie rose to the occasion. On the two other times they had reached the final, in 1987 and 1992, Scotland met a nemesis called England. Yesterday, they overcame Ireland to reach the final and were then too good for Zimbabwe.
Andrew Coltart, whose previous biggest cheque in his career was pounds 33,000, won pounds 100,000 here, as, of course, did his two compatriots. Coltart, the colt in the Scotland team, had the week of his life. For Torrance and Montgomerie it was another red-letter day in a season which seems to get better with every month.
Torrance leads Montgomerie in the Order of Merit and the marathon reaches its conclusion in the Volvo Masters at Valderrama this week. In the Ryder Cup they fought Europe's common cause and won their singles. In Spain they will be at each other's throats. First of all, though, Monty will see a doctor in Esher this morning for treatment to his left wrist. It has been troubling him for the last fortnight. "It's very, very sore," he said last night. A hundred grand was a pretty good panacea.
Coltart was again sent out first and he beat Tony Johnstone, the Zimbabwean captain, with a cracking round of 67. Coltart went out in 32 and had distanced himself from his opponent with birdies at the fifth and the seventh. Then he put the dirk in with a hole in one at the eighth: 178 yards, six iron and the putter stays in the bag.
In the second match, Torrance shot a 68 to Mark McNulty's 70 and the pipe band, even if it had been tempting fate, were ready for the Flower of Scotland. Big Monty never really recovered from a seven at the fifth where he hit his second shot into a bush and his 74 was no match for Nick Price's 68. No matter. Scotland had the strategy right, Zimbabwe did not. Price was by far the most impressive player in the tournament (20 under par, five wins out of five) and instead of going out first he went out last and his personal victory was a statistic in a team defeat. The US did the same thing in the Walker and Ryder Cups.
In the morning Montgomerie, Price and McNulty retained their 100 per cent records as Scotland defeated Ireland 2-1 in the first semi-final and Zimbabwe put out Spain by the same score. Montgomerie ensured that there were a number of elders looking at their watches in the kirks when he defeated Darren Clarke with a 70 to a 72. Coltart had already beaten Philip Walton 75 to a 76 so Torrance's loss to Ronan Rafferty in the third game became irrelevant.
The key holes in the Montgomerie-Clarke match were the 16th and 17th holes - described by Rafferty as "mind blowing". At the 16th Clarke was much closer and missed from 12 feet. Monty holed from 30 feet for a birdie three and at the 17th Clarke three putted to take a bogey five to the Scotsman's four.
The 16th and 17th were also decisive in Coltart's victory. Walton, who clinched Europe's triumph in the Ryder Cup and was the Saturday hero here in Ireland's sudden-death win over Sweden, bogeyed both holes. "There was a lot of pressure," Walton said. Over the last month or so he had coped with it remarkably well.
Spain led 1-0 against Zimbabwe but Price, for the fourth time in a row, shot in the 60s and he had to make a terrific par from the Road Hole bunker to keep Jose Rivero at bay by a stroke. "I knew I just had to make pars on the last two holes," Price said.
There had been speculation that Alfred Dunhill (luxury goods division and do not mention cigarettes) were so fed up with their late date in the calendar that they might pack their expensive bags and put the Cup away. Not so. Yesterday, they announced that the competition would again be held at the Old Course next year but they are hoping for an earlier month and fewer bobble hats and long johns.
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