I could be charitable and describe my journey to the US PGA Championship as eventful. I’d rather be honest. It was an absolute nightmare. So much so that after a week’s holiday, it took just one day back at work to realise I needed another fortnight’s break.
Faro to Lisbon was relatively incident free and half a sleeping pill later ensured that the next leg from Lisbon to Newark was similarly painless. But any hope of negotiating the final leg from Newark to Rochester, upstate New York, without moving to the threshold of a heart attack ended just as soon as I cleared customs and re-checked my baggage for the last little hop.
As my baggage disappeared so did my faith in anything to do with the American aviation industry. I tried four different desks before I was assured I was at the right one and then I was told that my flight had been cancelled and I had been booked on to the 1.30pm the following day. I wasn’t happy.
My problems were only just starting because my plans to get a taxi for the 386-mile journey were initially scuppered by the fact that although I was no longer in the system to get to Rochester that day, my baggage was. If you’ve ever tried to get your bags out of the system then you know what it’s like to feel that you have lost a decade out of your life.
Not once throughout the four-hour ordeal did anybody say ‘please’ ‘thank you’ or show any kind of sympathy or appreciation of my ordeal. Common courtesies were jettisoned by the Pilgrim Fathers half way across The Atlantic it seems because if one more person had ordered me to ‘Stand In Line’ he wouldn’t have been living in the land of Uncle Sam, but Aunt Samantha.
Even when I was re-united with my toothbrush and pyjamas, the Monty Pythonesque script continued as I tried to get a cab. There are Millions of taxis in America, but I would wager anything that the vast majority of their drivers do not know their way across the road never mind the state. I finally found one, although he didn’t have a light on top or a meter for that matter, who promised me he knew where Rochester was and would deposit me there for the sum of $700. He was as good as his word and the other half of the sleeping pill ensured I spent half the journey in the land of nod.
Thankfully a few of our stable had more to smile about over the weekend and particularly Graeme McDowell, who collected the keys to a £60,000 Audi after his hole in one at the Nordic Open. He celebrated by jetting off for a holiday at Jamaica’s Half Moon Country Club.
This week offers our boys the chance of a first grand slam title in the last of the season’s majors. It is going to be some test because Oak Hills is a bit longer and playing much longer than it did in the Ryder Cup of 1995.
Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Lee Westwood all looked sharp in practise alongside… you’ll never guess. Actually it was the captain for the 1994 match, Bernhard Langer. No fools, my boys.