Tight-lipped Tiger still puts US team in the shade
It is the nature of celebrity to sometimes pretend that you do not exist.
Five of the American Ryder Cup team stood on the steps of their chartered plane hidden behind wraparound sunglasses. They were then driven out of the back gate of Cardiff Airport in case the glare of fame blinded a member of the public. It was all faintly preposterous. You wanted to yell out, "It's only a golf match", but who would have heard?
The windows of the vehicles were sealed tight. A lot of money has been paid for exclusive rights to watch these people. The television show must go on. The arrivals hall is for people without perfect teeth.
Corey Pavin, the American captain, was ushered into an upstairs room where he talked to a row of TV cameras. Pavin's answers were a good deal less colourful than the awful fawn jacket he was wearing. And the mere mention of Tiger Woods was enough to have Pavin reaching for the verbal fire extinguisher.
Maybe that was why the fire alarm went off in the official team hotel at 1.30 yesterday morning. Someone had mentioned Woods' name a little too loudly. The building had to be evacuated before something interesting was said.
Yesterday afternoon, Pavin was asked whether he would like Woods to be a leader of the team or just another one of the guys.
"Every player has a role to play on the team, and all 12 guys have their own individual abilities and personalities," Pavin replied evasively. But what role would Woods play? "I hope he's just going to go out and play well and win some points. That's the role I would like to have him play, just like everybody else on the team."
One of Paul Azinger's great attributes two years ago was to play long rallies with the media to take the heat off his players. Pavin has decided to be an evasive smart alec -- a bit like Nick Faldo, a bit like Woods.
Standing on the steps of the plane Woods chewed on his gum and looked faintly absurd behind his wraparound shades on a grey Welsh morning. Maybe he was embarrassed to have landed in an old British Airways plane with the logo "keep the flag flying". He has never had much of a taste for flying the Stars and Stripes.
After the first volley of cameras, the WAGS emerged out of the plane and stood beside their partners. Woods, of course, was alone and he snuggled up closer to Steve Stricker, whose wife had stayed at home.
The pair did all but take each other by the arm. They walked down the steps together and went off in search of their bags together. It looks like the washed-out blond from Wisconsin is going to be Tiger's date for the week. (© Daily Telegraph, London)