DiMarco puts grief on one side to set course record

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The Independent Online

Chris DiMarco, whose mother Norma died on 4 July, set an emotional course-record 65 yesterday to fire himself into contention and then said that Ryder Cup golf and his family were more important to him than winning a maiden major here.

When he tees off among the final pairings today, at nine-under, just behind Ernie Els and Tiger Woods - whose own 65s were completed a little later than DiMarco's - the American will, he says, have "a great peace about me" following his decision to attend rather than stay at home after his bereavement.

"I never considered not playing," he said. "Obviously if it had happened last week I would have for sure. [But] my mom has always been a huge supporter and she would be very upset if I didn't play.

"She certainly wouldn't want me to sit at home - what would I do at home? There's nothing I can do.

"I have my dad here with me. Walking between the ropes is absolutely therapeutic for me. Walking outside the ropes for him, with me playing well, is therapeutic for him.

"So far these last two days, with the whole thing of my mom being gone, has been extremely good for both of us. I know that usually when she came to a tournament like this she couldn't see much but I know she's got the best seat in the house now."

DiMarco revealed that he forced his father, Rich, to accompany him this week.

"I made him come. I told him on Friday night 'You're going to the British'. He said 'I don't know if I can'. I said 'I already bought a ticket, it's not refundable'.

"I know how much he likes money and he doesn't like to waste my money either. He wasn't going to do that."

The 37-year-old from Florida said that a return to the US Ryder Cup team in September would be more special than lifting the claret jug.

"Obviously winning a major would always solidify your career, so that would be pretty special," he said.

"But playing for your country is probably the greatest thing I've ever done in golf, so I'd have to say playing for the country [would mean more to me].

"It would mean that much for me to come back here and go to the K Club and be part of that team. I know what it's been like the last three teams I've been on. Ryder Cup is huge. It's been a goal of mine since the start of the year."

DiMarco, a gutsy competitor, and widely seen as the soul of the American team, made his Ryder Cup debut in 2004 and also represented his country at the Presidents Cup in 2003 and 2005.

He is struggling to qualify on merit for September, having slipped to 21st in the Cup standings, so a good show here would boost his chances of booking an automatic spot rather than being one of Tom Lehman's two wildcards.

DiMarco lost form after injuring his ribs while skiing in March. "Basically I couldn't swing," he said. He has missed eight PGA Tour cuts in 17 starts this season. "I had bad rotation going back. It cost me probably about 12 weeks, all in all, coming back early and swinging really bad and searching, just searching for something."

Yesterday he found it. "I would say I'm 95 per cent. I feel it a little bit when I sleep but I really feel like I'm able to fire through the ball again and that's what I wasn't able to do."