Last Updated on Monday, 28 June 2010 02:03 Sunday, 27 June 2010 22:06
|Some Skins Game Skinny|
Whenever someone asks me to share some memories from PGA and LPGA tournaments I have attended, I invariably say to them that although I love watching the best in the world compete in their main tour events, what I really love to witness is the pros playing in more informal shoot-outs like the TELUS Skins Game.
When you get talent like Mike Weir, Freddie Couples, Ian Poulter, Camilo Villegas and Retief Goosen playing for a good cause without the pressures of world ranking points, you get to see a side of them you’d never experience by following them at a PGA event.
And at this year’s Skins Game, we were privileged to see unexpected behaviors from the competitors.
It was a real treat to see Freddie joke with his group of amateurs, given them knuckle taps for good shots and tend pin for them as they tried to will their balls into the hole.
Never did I see one of the 5 pros decline an autograph; and souvenir balls were freely shared with youngsters on the sidelines by all the players.
But one of the memories that will stick with me the longest involved the flashy and often feisty, Ian Poulter.
It was the last day of the event on the 17th hole. Ian was in the middle of his backswing when one of the media guys behind the tee box clicked too early. Ian stopped mid-swing and did an immediate about-face to the guy. Oh dear! I wouldn't have wanted to be that guy!
But before Ian could say anything, the gallery poured out boos and sounds of shame aimed at the photographer. I didn't see the poor guy, but I bet he turned 10 shades of red.
Ian could not keep a straight face. I guess he was surprised see the crowd pull together like that for him. All he could do was restart his pre-shot routine. But he did it with a delightful grin on his face.
And then suddenly from behind me, about 10 yards from the tee box, a guy yelled out, "Bang it tight. Ian! Bang it tight!" To which Poulter yelled back, "I've got it!", and then proceeded to rip his ball waaaay right.
After all, he has a reputation for having a bit of a temper. Sure, it was just a charity event and the pros are always more relaxed at those.
But this was the 2nd last hole of the contest and there was $245,000 riding on that hole. It was also a drivable par 4 and I am sure his expectations were to be putting his next shot, not chipping it out from gallery.
So, as he walked to his almost unplayable lie I was anticipating a few growls and scowls from Ian.
But he just strolled up to his ball joking with the crowd about his 'loveley" lie, and then whacked it out without a snarl. I was quite impressed with his composure and his follow-through wasn’t bad either.
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