Running-late Rory McIlroy hops train to make date with London Mayor Boris
Bewildered passengers on the Gatwick Express in London looked on in disbelief as Rory McIlroy let the train take the strain of a travel nightmare which left him running late for an important date with Boris Johnson in the city centre.
Rory, who famously almost missed a tee-time on the final day of the Ryder Cup at Medinah in America two years ago, didn't risk a repeat and jumped on board the express after a private jet from Belfast to London City Airport had to divert to Gatwick because of heavy fog.
Police officers offered him a ride to his golfing engagement with the London Mayor near Tower Bridge but after he was told that traffic was heavy, Rory, who had accepted a lift from American cops at Medinah, decided to buy a ticket for the Gatwick Express instead.
Other travellers were astonished as one of the world's richest and easily recognisable sportsmen clambered onto the train dressed in his golfing gear and carrying his clubs.
"They thought they were seeing things," said one source.
"I mean, you don't really expect to see one of the most famous men in the world travelling by public transport."
An ordinary single ticket from Gatwick to Victoria costs £17.70. A first class single is £25.80 – small change for a golfer who wasn't put out by missing a $10m payout at the Tour Championship in Atlanta Georgia just a few days earlier.
In the end Rory made it on time for the promotional event organised by his sponsors Santander to launch a new product.
Rory, who's one of Europe's lynchpins in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles next week, had to hit golf balls off a floating barge moored close to Tower Bridge. Mr Johnson also had a swing, but with less success. Rory told friends that his day out in London had been "an adventure".
He added that the car journey from Gatwick to Tower Bridge would have taken over an hour.
"Half-an-hour on the train sounded much better," he said.
Rory was back home in Northern Ireland within a couple of hours.