I love Nick Faldo's ability to provoke the ire of the Tiger (sorry, sorry). Their appearance together at the Open in July was overshadowed by a couple of mildly critical remarks Faldo had made while summarising on American television, and though they shook hands at the end, Woods looked up for a bit of afters.
But what was the greatest golfer in the world getting so worked up about? Given their respective rankings (Woods is presently No 1 in the world, Faldo No 278 in Europe), it's as if Jose Mourinho had gone off on one because he'd heard that Witton Albion's tea lady had expressed minor reservations about his managerial style.
What I particularly like about Faldo's refusal to abase himself before the Tiger God is the fact that he must be aware that, barring miracles, he's never going to be able to back up his TV verbals with a club in his hand. At the Open, he hit 148 over their two rounds together, 16 more than his unsmiling nemesis. So yesterday morning at the K Club (Sky Sports 1) it was all going well for the Ryder Cup's most successful player, who stepped into the commentary box as the first fourballs of the day was bringing only misery for the young American.
Sadly, Faldo only came on duty after Woods' first shot had found the water. But as he fluffed his putt on the fifth, allowing Europe to level, Faldo couldn't hide his schadenfreude: "And Tiger is not having a happy morning!"
His perky mood continued, and he remarked that "the Irish golfing gods are smiling". He was ostensibly talking about the weather, but it wasn't the sun putting him in a sunny mood. He still clearly feels the Great One is beatable. "Somebody's got to stand up and talk to Tiger with his eyes," he said, "and Tiger respects it." At the sixth, as Woods was attempting a shot from down a slight slope and behind a tree, Faldo remarked, "he's semi-blind and he's got a hump in front." No call for that.
For someone who, in his pomp, appeared to have the communications skills of a fruit fly, Faldo makes a decent fist of his telly work. A shame, then, that he wasn't given the chance to commentate on Thursday's glorious opening ceremony. Here are random jottings from my notebook: "Trumpets, fanfare, men in little black dresses ... big golf ball on stage opens up to reveal an easy-listening orchestra ... airbrushed balloons, heavenly choir, woman on stilts with purple bird's head, dry ice ..." "the Jimi Hendrix of Celtic music" ... "the Seve Ballesteros of Celtic music" "...more dry ice ... monks ... dancers in red Afro wigs ... a big stage horse ridden by a woman in yellow. It's Spinal Tap's Riverdance tour..."
Splashometer: Players to hit the water
* The K Club is famous for the number of water hazards that line the course. The players caused a splash 18 times on the opening day.
1st hole - Woods (US)
6th - Montgomerie (Eur)
7th - Furyk (US), Harrington (Eur)
13th - Casey (Eur), Cink, Wetterich, Toms (all US)
14th - Woods (US)
15th - Wetterich (US)
16th - Montgomerie (Eur), Furyk (US), Karlsson (Eur)
17th - Mickelson (US)
7th - Johnson (US)
15th - Howell (Eur)
16th - Montgomerie (Eur)
18th - Furyk (US)
* FINAL SCORES United States 11 Europe 7Reuse content