Celtic Manor Diary: Fans take aim to taunt the Tiger on Blue Monday
Tuesday 05 October 2010
So the organisers did laugh last and, perhaps, laugh loudest. While they were pilloried in some quarters for daring to stage a golf event in a Welsh valley in October (it wasn't their fault – blame the Americans) they also came under attack for not allowing Friday ticket holders access yesterday.
Fury filled the radio airwaves, particularly on Five Live, where listeners demanded to know why they couldn't open up the gates to effect the so-called "People's Monday" – or why they couldn't make it up to the poor Friday punters who only got to see four hours of play with no refund.
It was emotive stuff but the officials' argument was that the terms and conditions stated that if it went into a Monday, the season and Sunday ticket holders would be granted access. The health and safety limit was set at 45,000 and how could they possibly know how many of Sunday's capacity crowd would turn up? With the slippery conditions, which caused several broken legs, there was no way they were going to risk upping the numbers.
The critics said they were being too careful and the estimate was there would be only 20,000 in attendance. Well, they were wrong. There were 35,000 and such was the passion there was no discernible dropping in atmosphere. In fact, there seemed more with some trademark Welsh humour to send (almost) everyone home with a smile.
The grandstand surrounding the first tee has been the favoured position for the wisecrackers and yesterday they did not disappoint. When a grim-faced and waterproof-wrapped Tom Lehman walked on to the first tee the chant went up of, "You're only here for the weather." When Lee Westwood embarked on his painful-looking stretching exercises they all sang, "Where's your belly gone?" And so it went on and on.
Then Tiger Woods arrived and by his expression he knew what was coming. "How many birdies today then, Tiger?" one voice shouted (the answer was actually six). The marshals had a word with that miscreant (not Tiger, the fan) but soon after came the most damning chorus. "Elin is a Euro, Elin is a Euro..." Cruel? Undoubtedly. Funny? A little. Just call it Blue Monday hysteria.
Marshals on overtime are no fat cats
This extra day would not have been possible but for the overwhelming majority of the 800 marshals who gave up their time for free. In fact, a number of them had to pay to be here holding up their "Quiet Please" signs, keeping the crowds back and generally making themselves unpopular. Two examples seem particularly apt. The first was of the gentleman from Hamburg who shelled out £500 of his own money to change his flights. The second was the chap from Ostrava who ran up a hefty mobile phone bill getting in touch with his neighbours to feed his pet. Pavlov the cat would have understood.
Sky's singles mix-up
The BBC has finally got to the bottom of how the wrong singles line-up was posted on its website and even talked about on radio. And it will be of some consolation to discover the initial fault lay with Sky Sports News. A dummy list – which included Lee Westwood taking on Tiger Woods – was assembled for rehearsal purposes. Instead of being destroyed, a late-shift worker saw it, assumed it was for real and posted it on Sky Sports News. Even though it was only up for a minute, the BBC website picked it up and so the botch-up went viral. Speed is everything in new media. But sometimes it can be too quick.
When the sun shines...
From Friday to Sunday there were nine broken legs as fans slipped on the banks and one feared case of trench foot. Yesterday a few people were rumoured to have been treated for mild sunstroke and dehydration. Funny that.
Fair way from fashionable
Two-thirds of the Americans wore the United States belt designed by Lisa Pavin. Two who noticeably didn't were Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who preferred plain black. After the lavender cardigan this was a fashion statement too far. Expect the next American captain to be rather more sombre with the outfits.
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