x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Oh boy, Sam leaps in to save the day

Poor Rory McIlroy would have been ruined, not just as a player but financially, too. Would a luxury watch brand really want to sponsor a player unable to tell the time?

Rory McIlroy of Europe walks to the first tee after arriving late to the golf course during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.
Rory McIlroy of Europe walks to the first tee after arriving late to the golf course during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.

Pat Rollins. That was the name of the heroic Illinois police officer who whisked Rory McIlroy to his Ryder Cup singles match on Sunday with just 11 minutes to spare.

Yeah, right. It might have been "Pat Rollins" in body but you will notice we never saw him look directly in a mirror. I suspect that is because the man who rescued McIlroy was actually Dr Sam Beckett, of Quantum Leap fame.

Think about it. McIlroy's pickle was pure Quantum Leap territory.

If the world's No 1 golfer and talisman of Team Europe had missed his tee-off because of that now infamous Central/Eastern Time mix-up, the consequences would have been disastrous. For Rory, for golf, for humanity itself. It could not be allowed to happen.

For starters Keegan Bradley would have won the match, and effectively the tournament, by default. Led by a triumphant McIlroy, Europe only just clawed back a four-point deficit. Without his inspirational momentum, not to mention his point on the board, they would have been sunk before a club had even been swung.

Poor Rory would have been ruined, not just as a player but financially, too. Would a luxury watch brand really want to sponsor a player unable to tell the time? Would a car maker wish to associate themselves with the player who lost the Ryder Cup while stuck in traffic?

Psychologically shattered, shunned by the tour and toxic to advertisers, the world's finest golf prodigy would be reduced to coaching Irish housewives and maybe scraping a few pounds on the chat show circuit, smiling bravely (but weeping inside) while every sub-Letterman goon gave him My First Mickey Mouse Clocks and copies of Timekeeping for Dummies. Unthinkable.

But this would have been more than one golfer's tragedy. The entire sport would have suffered. Instead of slapping our foreheads and marvelling at golf's ability to deliver the greatest comeback in the history of sport, as the world did on Sunday, we would be turning away in revulsion from a mean little game paralysed by its own autistic obsession with a rule book of Byzantine complexity.

Forget Ian Poulter's deadeye drive on the 17th, forget Justin Rose's 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th, forget Martin Kaymer's nerves of steel to win the thing. All gone. The entire day would have been a dead rubber.

How could we love a sport like that? We could not. The world would abandon the game, abandoning its once pristine courses to be reclaimed by Mother Nature.

And if other sports might feel secretly glad at golf's demise, they should not. The contagion of "timekeeping tactics" would have already spread, with unscrupulous nations seeking to exploit this new area of home advantage.

"What do you mean you thought we were GMT+4?" they will say. "Surely everyone knows that Urals Time is GMT+4.25 during vernal equinox! Now please make way for the new world cricket champions, Kazakhstan."

And just imagine the new wave of "timekeeping coaches", earnest young men in rimless spectacles whose only function is to travel the world with elite athletes to ensure they know what time it is.

Like many sports fans, I am already suffering from entourage fatigue. I simply could not stomach the thought of another chap called Rob or Matt joining Team Murray, taking up a perfectly good seat at Wimbledon.

For American golf fans, Ryder Cup defeat may have been hard to take - particularly when it was gifted to the visitors by one of the Lombard Police Department's finest. But, please, don't be mad at officer Rollins.

Either he was just doing his job, or Dr Sam Beckett was. Defeat may be hard to take but, oh boy, the alternative would have been so much worse.

sports@thenational.ae