Table tennis – or ping pong as they call it over here – is so yesterday. Finding the treble 20 bed or the bullseye on a dartboard is Europe’s secret weapon in the team room for this Ryder Cup, writes Martin Dempster.
”I think the dartboard is the best part of the room,” declared Englishman Andy Sullivan, one of the six rookies on Darren Clarke’s team. “I think that’s where I’m going to find myself taking down a few boys in there.”
Probably more an Eric Bristow or Bobby George than Phil Taylor or John Lowe, the ebullient Nuneaton man has wasted no time getting his eye in on the oche.
“I think Poult’s caddie, Terry [Mundy, who is here along with Ian Poulter as part of the backroom team] is pretty good but, at the moment, I’m top dog,” said Sullivan, smiling.
It’s been rumoured that the 2011 Scottish Stroke-Play champion could be paired with Rory McIlroy when he makes his debut in the biennial bout. McIlroy has already been passing on valuable advice to the newcomer. “Like remembering to breathe when you’re walking on to the first tee,” said Sullivan.
He had to pinch himself to be convinced it was “actually real” as he joined the rest of the European team on the flight over but “can’t wait to get going now”. If the Americans are hoping the presence of Tiger Woods as one of Davis Love’s vice-captains will intimidate the likes of Sullivan, then they’re in for a disappointment.
“I don’t think I’d get nervous,” insisted the 30-year-old of the prospect of Woods standing close by on that first tee. “I’d want to impress him and just go out there and do my own thing. I’d give him a little smile and a handshake and congratulate him on what he’s done for golf.”
Who knows, Sullivan might even be challenging Woods to a game of darts by the end of the week.