I was on the 18th green when play was suspended during the final round of the PGA at Baltusrol. It was a bit bizarre just bringing the putter out with me to the golf course on Monday morning. I haven’t done that for a long, long time. The funny thing was when I got to my locker on Monday to retrieve my putter, it was gone. They had cleaned our lockers out. I was like, “What am I going to do now? If I don’t find this am I disqualified?” The rest of my clubs were in Akron [at the WGCNEC Invitational]. But I found it; they had it tidied away for safekeeping.
Actually, I had a similar experience at the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama. I went back the next morning after play was suspended and holed about a 10-foot left-to-right breaking putt to win a match with Nick Faldo against Justin Leonard and Jeff Maggert. Obviously, I had all of my clubs then because I didn’t know if we’d finish on that green. That morning, I just stood on the putting green for about three-quarters of an hour practicing the putt the way I thought it would go. But at the PGA, we rushed around somewhat on Sunday night trying to get it finished, and I didn’t really pay attention to how long a putt it was or where it was swinging from. So I just practiced 10- and 15-footers on the putting green. When I got out there it was a lot shorter than I thought, which was quite nice.
My favorite Ryder Cup moment had to be holing out the putt on No. 18 last year [at Oakland Hills] to retain the Cup. Or maybe when Sergio holed that big curling putt on the 18th green in the Saturday four-ball match.
I’ve always been very competitive. My spirits were running high at the last Ryder Cup. It was my fourth appearance. We had a few rookies, and a few people who had played only once, so I had to take a bit of a lead there.
Darren Clarke and I always have fun playing together. First time I ever saw Darren I was still an amateur and he was playing on the European Tour. He was in the clubhouse at Royal Portrush. I remember he was wearing a black Titleist waterproof suit and had long, kinda straight curly hair [laughs].
Even early on in 2001, I thought the loss of form was more than a blip. And despite what others thought and said, it had nothing to do with becoming a father. I suppose those extra responsibilities are quite draining but I don’t blame [son] Sam for my slump. I was playing badly before he was born. I can’t really explain my loss of form. I just wanted to get back to where I was. I missed competing in the big tournaments at a high level.
I own a few racehorses, about 12. Most race in the UK, some in South Africa and Dubai. One travels the world because he’s good. he’s called Right Approach. He used to be owned by the Queen of England. She called him that.
I’ve got some cool cars. A Ford GT, a Jeep Wrangler with a 9-inch suspension lift. I like all sports, too. Got a snooker table at home.
The strangest thing I’ve ever seen on the golf course? I was playing in the European Boys Team Championship in Norway one year and an elk charged across the fairway. Big as a cow, and traveling really fast. It got within 20 yards of us, and that was plenty.
I don’t have any hidden talents that I can tell you about. That’s why they’re hidden.