Ryder Cup Diary: Forget clubs and putters and break out the ploughshares

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The Independent Online

The build-up has been intense; everybody but everybody in Dublin is taking about it. Yes, next week's World Ploughing Championships in Tallaght will be some craic. Entries for what one local newspaper called, without a hint of irony, this week as "the biggest event taking place in Ireland this year" closed on Thursday, but organisers are apparently keeping the list open in case one world superstar decides he would like to participate. After watching him perform some classic agriculture in the deep grass of Co Kildare yesterday morning, many here were suggesting that Tiger Woods would be a stick-on. After all, there's not a man more comfortable at ploughing a lonely furrow.

Michael Smurfit, the industrialist behind the creation of the K Club, envisaged a particularly warm welcome for our cousins from across the water. "I think the Irish will be delighted to see the Americans," he said. "After all, Ireland practically made America." This might come as news to native Americans, not to mention Christopher Columbus or the Italian- American Ryder Cupper Chris DiMarco. In any case, when the US conducted a half-hearted practice during the wind and rain they were not applauded but booed off the course.

The players, of course, are pampered from here to eternity, so it was heartwarming in a way to see Thomas Levet, looking like a drowned rat, queuing for an hour with the great unwashed for public transport from the K Club. Two years ago the Frenchman was a hero in Europe's thumping win in Detroit. Levet's obviously a believer in fraternity and equality.

The Ryder Cup generates 50 tons of dry waste per day and 300,000 gallons of wet waste. Then there are the thousands of cars and coaches. A new environmental pressure group, Fairway for the Planet, is trying to impress upon the golf world that it should be more responsible in reducing carbon emissions. A spokesman said that, despite the game's green image, golf is "very environmentally unfriendly". Part of the problem, they say, is that so many tournaments are sponsored by car manufacturers.

Hundreds of volunteers, most of them weekend golfers, take unpaid leave to help the competition tick over, but not all of them have been enjoying the experience. Faced with a three-mile hike to their cars when the weather was at its worst, a party of volunteers asked if they could get a lift on a a few of the fleet of golf buggies on the course. They were told to get on their bike, or words to that effect.

Officials in the media centre yesterday tuned in the big screen at the end where all the European scribes were sitting to Sky Sports and the one at the America end to NBC. Before long, though, the visiting hacks asked for their giant monitor to be switched over to Sky. Why? "There's too many goddam ad breaks on NBC," said one of them. Don't tell Rupert Murdoch.

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