As I said to Seve Ballesteros when I met him at San Roque a couple of years ago, no one can ever accuse me of name dropping. And so Im extremely reluctant to reveal that last week I met, and chatted with in a remarkably relaxed and matey manner, not one but two golf legends. The two, in the order in which they came up and said how thrilled they were to meet me, were Nick Faldo and Christy OConnor Junior.
The occasion was the opening of two new courses at the fabulous Amendoeira resort in the Algarve. Not entirely coincidentally, they were the Oceanico Faldo and the Oceanico OConnor. In case youre curious, Oceanico is not Portuguese for Mr but is a big-time developer that, God bless it, is building golf courses all over the world.
Nick, if I may call him that, had designed the eponymous Faldo course and Christy was responsible for equally eponymous OConnor course. Both are magnificent and all Amendoeira now lacks is a truly thrilling, bunkerless, Agran course with several 100-yard par threes, a sprinkling of straightforward 270-yard par fours and a couple of 480-yard par fives to round it off.
I was going to suggest to Nick that he might put in a word with Mr OCeanico on my behalf but I sensed that, with just three days to go before the announcement of his Ryder Cup team, he had other things on his mind. And so I listened, along with a select band of fellow hacks, more or less intently as he expounded his design philosophy and played a few holes. You may be moderately interested to learn he bogeyed the first and made pars at the rest.
Had he bagged a few birdies, who knows, he might have picked himself for the Big One in Valhalla. Unsurprisingly, he wasnt terribly forthcoming about his selections despite the fact that I went out of my way to assure him that his secret was safe with me and that I wouldnt reveal it in my blog until more or less the same time as his formal announcement.
Christy, and I have no hesitation in calling the lovely man that because he is a hugely friendly fellow, was altogether more forthcoming both about the Ryder Cup and life in general. I can reveal exclusively that we would have chosen Darren Clarke and Paul Casey as his wildcard picks. Over lunch, he talked lyrically about the Ryder Cup, the two-iron he hit up the 18th at The Belfry that time and how disappointed he had been when he just missed an automatic spot and was left out of the team.
Even though it would have provided all manner of opportunities to chat informally to yet more legends, given the way I played both courses at Amendoeira, Im hugely relieved that Ill be sitting this particular Ryder Cup out and will instead be able to focus my energy on this blog.