Steve Rider was the major presenter of sport on British TV for 25 years. Working for the BBC and ITV, he anchored programmes across an extraordinary range of sports. From the Ryder Cup to Olympic Games, World Cup football to F1, Wimbledon to the Rugby Union World Cup, and fronting Grandstand and Sports Personality of the Year.
Famed for his professionalism and lack of ego, his well-known face was found in our living rooms almost every time we switched on the box to watch key sporting moments. I was keen to learn more from this charming, self-deprecating man. So over a glass of Portuguese wine in the VIVO lounge, we chatted about some of the great sporting moments he has seen, his holidays here in Fairways and, of course, golf.
Living nearby, Steve got to know and admire the hard work put in by the UK rowers who trained locally. For him, Sir Steve Redgrave’s fifth gold medal was the biggest moment and to be lakeside at that time was unbeatable. In golf “it has to be Seve Ballesteros” and to play with him at a Wentworth Pro-Am “tops” Steve’s golf experiences.
Great moments as a presenter?
“I was lucky there were many, but two were special. The 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. A niche sport, ice dancing, the Torvill and Dean comeback. Presenting with Sue Barker at her first Olympics, it seemed all of Britain watched together. In fact an extraordinary 25.5 million viewed on a midweek night. I presented a lot of F1 and the 2008 end of season Brazil Grand Prix was to be my last. In an unbelievable race, Lewis Hamilton finished fifth to win his first world championship becoming the youngest to do so. Oh, and a cheeky one, interviewing Sandy Lyle on the balcony prior to the green jacket presentation, a faux pas according to the Masters hierarchy!”
You are a car man I believe?
“Yes, being fortunate to present F1, I was able to follow another great, Ayrton Senna, whose untimely death was such a loss to the sport. Today I still enjoy presenting the British Touring Car Championship, a form of racing much more accessible than F1. I love driving and often drive to races. A few years back I drove from Monaco to the Hungarian Grand Prix. Every year I drive down to Fairways through Spain, from the ferry at Bilbao, something I highly recommend.
“I AM INCLINED TO STAY CLOSE TO HOME AND MAINLY PLAY THE THREE EXCELLENT QUINTA COURSES. MY FAVOURITE NINE IS THE SOUTH BACK NINE”
Steve’s thoughts on the US Masters
For many, due to terrestrial TV, Augusta is their emotional home of golf. Steve is no different, he watched it with his Dad and feels fortunate to have presented it for so long. His highlights include, the then 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus’ win in 1986 with the unbelievable sense of momentum generated by the crowd from the 14th hole onwards on the Sunday. Momentum plays a big part in sport and he sees Europe’s seven Masters winners in nine years, starting with Sandy Lyle’s 1988 victory, as evidencing this. Who doesn’t remember Sandy’s bunker shot on the last?
Did you ever play Augusta?
“Yes twice. Through a ballot I was able to play on the day after the Masters. The others seemed more interested in taking photos, definitely the slowest round of my life! Tee to green it was not that difficult, but once I got onto some of the greens, if I had been
offered 5 putts instead of 2 I would have taken it! On the par 5 13th (Rae’s creek) I was on in 3 but let’s just say I didn’t 2 putt!”
Which are your favourite holes here?
“I am inclined to stay close to home and mainly play the three excellent Quinta courses. My favourite nine is the South back nine. I love the 14th, just so beautiful standing on its elevated tee. I score best on the 16th, probably because it’s straight forward. If I never had to play the 8th on the South again I would sleep easy, after all these years I still can’t work out the line for my tee shot.” He is not alone!
Finally I asked Steve how he felt about Fairways
Steve and his family’have taken February half-term holidays here since the mid-90’s and in recent years added a further week. His two children learnt to swim “under the watchful eye of Antonio” and he looks forward to their grandchild doing the same soon. Jane,
his wife, enjoys the gym and they walk, run, cycle and swim. They have made good friends here and love meeting up each year, both Jane and he also enjoy bringing friends out to join them. They love how Fairways looks and feels now and think the addition of
the Amara is fantastic. “I know it’s a cliché but Fairways feels like a home from home to us”, Steve concludes.