Rick Chandler tipped me off today to a Saturday LONDON DAILY MAIL report that reveals the identity of “cigar man” - the celebrated, fake-mustachioed gentleman seen in a recent, widely circulated photo of Tiger Woods hitting a shot at the Ryder Cup in Wales.
The Mail reports that the mystery man is a Brit named Rupesh Shingadia. Rupesh is a 30-year-old investment analyst who lives in a, “detached house in South London where he is living with his parents, a retired mechanic and a housewife.”
Rupesh’s first blush on the phenomenon of his leading role in the photo, “I am embarrassed and overwhelmed. Never in a million years could I have expected anything like this. It is truly surreal.”
So why the goofy getup, which included a Groucho Marx-esque fake mustache?
Rupesh said his costume was a ‘tribute’ to Spanish golfer Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Rupesh: ‘I wanted to do something to show my support for the European team and I thought of Miguel. These days sportsmen have become devoid of character. But Miguel does his own thing and I love the way he walks around the course with a cigar clamped between his teeth.’
During an interview with the U.K. publication, Rupesh claimed to the Mail that he was an unassuming sort not normally prone to such displays:
I have never done anything like this before. I’m just an ordinary guy who loves golf and follows Arsenal.
If I had known the incredible reaction it would produce, the way that Cigar Guy has snowballed, I would probably never have put on my costume. That said, I’m glad it has put a smile on people’s faces. I was very excited about going. There is a strong fun element to it, and I wanted to enter into that spirit.
On his costume, Rupesh said he ordered the wig and moustache from a website and bought a Montecristo cigar from a tobacconist: “I don’t normally smoke – well, maybe the odd cigar at weddings – so I asked for something mild. To last all day, though, it had to be a big one.”
His outfit, as delightfully described by the Mail: “Pringle jumper, North Face anorak and Reiss trousers.”
Reax from Ryder Cup crowd to Rupesh’s getup:
‘At the course people were nudging each other and pointing at me. But, the costume was secondary to the golf. I wasn’t running around desperately trying to get on TV, far from it. My friends were keen to get me together with Miguel. I was quite close to him at the 13th. I like to think there was a flicker of a smile when he looked in my direction. His caddie was certainly laughing.’
And Rupesh on the shot itself:
There was a huge crowd. I was somehow thrust forward in all the jostling. To suddenly find yourself so close to a legend was amazing.
If I look goggle-eyed it was because I was stunned at the way he messed up.
Rupesh also commented on his reaction to the internet phenomenon of the shot as generated by innumerable photoshops of the original pic:
I got up and looked at it online, thought it was a bit funny – and then went back to bed.
I was absolutely astonished. It was incredible. I found it funny but unsettling.
My favourite is me with The Simpsons. It’s difficult to understand the situation because it has just been thrust upon me. Some people spend years craving this kind of attention but to me it happened by accident. It’s just bizarre.
But I’m still expecting to go to work next week. I’m not expecting it to change my life in the long term.
Most importantly, what now for Cigar guy? Rupesh apparently has no idea, though he’s not too keen on marriage proposals he’s seen on Facebook:
I’m not so sure. I’d want them to love me for who I am – not just Cigar Guy.
How different do you think the reaction would be if this happened at the Phoenix Open to a local 30-year-old dude still living at home? Or anywhere in America?
Not sure, but guessing the minor league ballpark tour would already be in full swing.