Charles Sale: Justin timing is off at gala late show
22:38 GMT, 27 September 2012
A lengthy, showbiz-dominated Ryder Cup
gala dinner caused concerns in the European camp about the extended
time their team were required to attend.
The official function at Chicago's
Akoo Theatre was supposedly set up for players of both sides to make a
relative brief appearance on stage, allowing them to prepare properly
for three days of intense competition.
Star names: Justin Timberlake with Tiger Woods at the Ryder Cup gala
But before the sides were introduced to the audience, there were long monologues from host Justin Timberlake and comedian George Lopez followed by rock band Chicago playing a much longer than expected set of over an hour while Ryder Cup participants and partners waited their turn in the wings.
Worried European officials were looking at their watches, but, mindful of being the visitors, did not complain. The Europeans finally returned to their hotel almost an hour later than planned and were similarly later than scheduled on the practice range on Thursday.
Paul Lawrie's view was that the event had gone on 60 minutes too long.
Timberlake's crass interviewing technique, meanwhile, demonstrated that sport's obsession with celebrity is a problem on both sides of the Atlantic. The self-obsessed singer-actor asked captains Davis Love and Jose Maria Olazabal why he wasn't on their teams and even set up Love to praise him by wanting to know how he was doing as the team ambassador. Another naff moment saw him ask Sergio Garcia who would win an American football match between the Chicago Bears and Real Madrid.
The right time
Swiss watchmakers Omega, official timekeepers at Medinah, will not like their big competitors Rolex presenting European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal with a commemorative timepiece. However, the gift was handed over at Gleneagles after his European team was announced, rather than on Omega's Chicago territory.
It doesn't say much for President Barack Obama's popularity in his home town of Chicago that there was significant booing when his name was mentioned during the gala reception. Obama, criticised for playing over 100 rounds of golf during his first four-year term, declined invitations to Medinah because of his election schedule. Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, described the tournament as the Ryders Cup during his speech at the dinner.
Europe's leading men
A succession of European Ryder Cup leaders could come from Jose Maria Olazabal's vice-captaincy group at Medinah. Irishman Paul McGinley is favourite to head the team in 2014, with Darren Clarke in 2016 and Thomas Bjorn in 2018.
The start of the Ryder Cup today should mercifully bring an end to the interminable talk during the build-up about the Americans playing table tennis in their hotel team room.
There has been almost as much discussion about the merits of their players' ping-pong ability when measured against champion Matt Kuchar as there has been about the golf.
'The Ryder Cup is all about ping-pong,' said Bubba Watson. However the line about arch rivals Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson supposedly bonding over the table tennis net never rings quite true, although the pair get on better than they did.
One banker bet for a Ryder Cup being held near the sports mad city of Chicago is that the proceeds from the cavernous merchandise store at Medinah will break all records – not that the PGA of America will ever reveal the numbers. But with 50 busy cashiers on duty, takings will be around 2million per day, or 12m for the week.
Field work for FA
The FA, whose media work is fraught with club v country v stakeholder complications, have promoted talented insider Scott Field to head of communications. Field will take over some of the PR responsibilities of communications director Adrian Bevington, who is also managing director of Club England. But Mark Whittle continues as the high profile England spokesman in the FA reshuffle.