'Crazy Pavin' strikes again with leaky bags and waterproofs
As the Americans embarrassingly went to buy new waterproofs in the Celtic Manor merchandise tent yesterday and Tiger Woods moaned about the team golf bags, which were similarly inept in keeping out the water, the previous US Ryder Cup captain called the shambolic organisation " a disaster".
The accusatory finger will now inevitably fall upon Azinger's successor, Corey Pavin.
Part of the captain's remit is to ensure the bags and rainsuits are effective and, in contrast to Europe's, those of the visitors plainly are not. Evidence of this was provided not only by the farcical scene of a US official queueing up with the punters to purchase 24 new sets of raingear (unmatching) but also by Woods' discontent with a leaky bag which let the grips on his clubs get wet.
During the downpour of the two hours of morning play, Tiger's caddie, Steve Williams, asked for a towel, which he placed at the bottom of the bag to protect the already soggy grips. That was on the third hole's tee-box. By the third green the towel was wringing wet. Woods was visibly annoyed with the bag which, as one American commentator put it "was supposed to resemble the 1970s leather bags but in fact is more like one from the 1870s".
Woods believes he should be allowed to use his own Nike bag, with the sponsor's logo blacked out. The least he would have expected, however, was for the powers-that-be to make sure the compulsory equipment is up to scratch. "This is a disaster," said Azinger, on air for the ESPN channel. His analysis would have been shared by most former captains, who believe the buck stops with the man at the top.
"Captaincy's about everything, down to the clothes and the bag," said Sam Torrance, the 2002 captain, recently. Indeed, when Colin Montgomerie had earlier been asked to name the hardest task of his captaincy so far he said "picking the bag". He spent many hours in discussion with the bag manufacturers, just as he did with the waterproofs. As a result, his team's gear stood up to the deluge, as did their mood in comparison with their opponents'.
The Americans cannot say they were not warned, either. The last thing Nick Faldo said at the closing ceremony two years ago was to "bring your waterproofs" to Wales. They did. But they didn't work: a dash to the tent to spend £5,000 was the most bizarre story on a chaotic day, one which will inevitably be held up as further evidence of Pavin's poor leadership.
His wife, Lisa, designed the blue outfits, but while they might have looked nice they behaved badly. "We were disappointed with the performance [of our waterproofs]," said Pavin. "They were not doing what we wanted them to do so we went out and bought some more."
At least the Americans were spared the humiliation of wearing them when play resumed in the evening in the dry.
A statement from the US PGA said the original clothing made by the Montana-based Sun Mountain company "did not repel the water to the players' liking". When he heard that, the former Open champion, Paul Lawrie, scratched his head. "It's unbelievable – I assume they would have been tested [so] it seems an incredible lapse."
The Europeans' delight was transparent. As the teams waited to hear when the action might resume, Rory McIlroy said on his Twitter site: "I just have to say our waterproofs are performing very well!" Ian Poulter declared, diplomaticaly: "Ours are keeping us nice and dry, that's all I am going to say."
At least it was good for local trade, though. Just after the suspension of play, Richard Head, managing director of the Scottish firm ProQuip, received a list of the US team members' sizes and, with a bit of mix and matching, managed to satisfy their needs from the merchandise store.
"We were surprised to be put on standby to help the US Ryder Cup team with their rain suits within a few hours of the start," said Head. "We were happy to help. From the European team's perspective, we had anticipated rain and the team was well equipped for the conditions."
Head went on to explain how "thorough" Montgomerie had been in selecting the home side's weather-wear. "I think Colin knew it could rain hard and he said to us, if the worst happens and the heavens open, we don't want to be wet," he said. "He is very thorough, very particular."
While ProQuip's joy was understandable, the Sun Mountain men back in Montana must have been mortified. Yesterday morning on their Twitter site they had posted the following message: "May the team with the best outerwear win." Ouch.
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