The luck of the Lions' paws
|Of the quintet of champions - Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood - who were involved in a series of photo-calls around the HSBC's Hong Kong headquarters, Donald revealed himself as the most superstitious of the bunch.|
|It is said that anyone who touches the claws of one of the two bronze lions standing sentinel outside the HSBC building will have good luck and, when the time came for the golfers to be pictured with the more bad-tempered of the two beasts, Donald was quick to take up his position. He sat between the lion's front feet and placed each of his hands firmly across a paw.|
For the sake of the the picture, last year's No. 1 on each side of the Atlantic was prevailed upon to move to one side but, by then, he felt he had picked up all the luck he needed. "I couldn't have done more," he laughed. "I should definitely win now." (Donald, of course, missed out on last year's WGC-HSBC Champions because of the arrival of the family's second daughter back home in Chicago.)
Graeme McDowell, though he looked as if he had been shying away from the claws, was another to go along with the superstition. The Ulsterman said that he had made a point of touching them and wouldn't have dreamed of doing otherwise.
Both Donald and McDowell would have learned a thing or two about superstitions during their Walker Cup days. At the match of 1999 at Nairn, Gary Wolstenholme, now a top senior and then a Walker Cup regular, advised Donald and the rest of an unwritten rule that members of the GB&I side were not to touch the trophy in the days prior to the match.
When, as per usual, the trophy went on show on the first tee, each of the Americans in turn fingered the trophy and turned it round and round. The GB&I watched, spellbound, whilst keeping a million miles away from the silverwear until the Sunday night. The match won, they could not take their hands off the thing.
Golfers have always been notorious for their suspicions.
Laura Davies and Colin Montgomerie are just two who for long refused to use anything but white tees. Again, Montgomerie will always work with a 10p piece as a marker with the Queen's head facing up. "They're silly things which mean nothing and everything," said the man who captained the winning 2010 Ryder Cup side.
Boonchu Ruangkit, from the ranks of the Asian players, goes through the same routine the moment he arrives in a new land: he appeases the golfing gods by saying a quick prayer. Thaworn Wiratchant, the 45-year-old Thai who is shaping to win this year's Asian Order of Merit, always wears something black.
And then, of course, there is Tiger Woods who, as everyone knows, always opts for a red shirt on a Sunday. That is down to his mother, Kultida, go goes along with the Thai belief that red connotes strength.
It worked for long enough.
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