The Homer Odyssey; Cartoon Captain Sutton Beaming Again as Tiger Finds His Focus, Totally
Byline: PATRICK COLLINS
HE WAS a large man, half as big as a house, with a loud check shirt and a voice to match. And yesterday morning, in a leafy clearing close by the second tee, he had something to say. 'Not today, boys!', he bellowed. 'Not today!' The boys in question were perhaps five yards away at the time, walking from the green having lost the opening hole to par.
Padraig Harrington blankly ignored him, while Colin Montgomerie shot him a glare which would have felled a redwood.
But the man yelled again as they passed.
'Not today, boys!' And we sensed he had a point.
It was plainly foolish to believe that, for the second day running, the finest golfers in America would be content to lie back and think of Uncle Sam.
With their pride wounded and their professionalism called into damaging question, they assembled a response worthy of their talents.
We knew beyond question that a kind of recovery was under way when we saw the smile on the face of Hal Sutton.
Now, the American captain has been the undisputed star of this particular show, right from the moment at the opening ceremony when he protested his undying affection for the fourth Mrs Sutton: 'Thank you for lovin' me. Thank you for givin' me three, er, four kids.' We recalled the embarrassment in similar circumstances of the great Homer Simpson, a man to whom Hal bears more than a passing resemblance.
'We already have two children, Marge', said Homer. 'What about Maggie?', asked his wife.
'Oh, and Maggie', said Homer. 'But she's very small!' After registering that splendid blunder, Sutton went from strength to strength.
For a man pledged to rid American golf of its red-necked reputation, an opening-day Stetson was perhaps not the most sensitive choice of headgear.
Likewise his decision to use television to inform Phil Mickelson that he was being dropped from yesterday morning's fourballs.
And his confession that he had not a clue what had gone wrong with his team's form in the first-day matches was probably a candid step too far.
The most wounding rebuke came from a voice in the crowd as he made high-profile dashes from match to match with increasing desperation: 'Hey, Hal!', came the bawl.
'This isn't about you!' But Hal, like Homer, has a certain unsinkable quality, and as American putts began to drop and American whooping and hollering began to shatter the morning peace of Bloomfield Township, Sutton's buggy turned into a chariot.
'Way to go, Hal! You the man!', they babbled. Hal switched on his most dazzling beam.
If only the public relations people had let him wear his Stetson, he would have doffed it. Homer triumphant!
It was all quite different from Friday, when the home team's performance prompted the local newspaper to put up the front-page headline: 'Woe is US'.
While the Europeans were touchy-feely, frisky as newlyweds, the Americans behaved as if they were trapped in a bad marriage. …