The mystery “cigar guy” who upstaged Tiger Woods at the Ryder Cup and became an internet sensation is a city analyst from south London called Rupesh Shingadia, it has been disclosed.
The 30-year-old, from Wallington, near Croydon, said he was amazed at the response his stunt had attracted around the world after he became an internet sensation.
Mr Shingadia, an investment analyst at Threadneedle Asset Management, caught the public’s imagination after appearing in the background in one of the most memorable sports photographs of recent times.
It captures the moment a split second before the world No 1 sent a ball smashing into the lens of a Mail on Sunday photographer at Celtic Manor in south Wales last week.
But the presence of a man in an orange wig and Groucho Marx-style moustache, standing nonchalantly while chomping on a cigar in the background soon attracted more attention than the main subject of the extraordinary shot.
The image was soon photoshopped in into pictures of the most dramatic moments of world sport and film posters to feature him.
He confirmed at the weekend that the costume was a light-hearted tribute to Miguel Angel Jimenez, the Spanish golfer, as an unusual way to show his support for the European team.
In a posting on his Facebook page, he wrote: “Thank you everyone for your support and kind words! I cannot believe the responses I’ve got in the past few days!”
He also added the image as his profile picture.
Mr Shingadia, who is single and lives with his parents, said he was embarrassed by the attention but pleased it he had made people laugh.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “I’ve 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.”
Europe’s golfers regained in thrilling fashion last Monday, defeating the United States by the narrowest of margins.
Colin Montgomerie, the captain, celebrated victory draped in the blue and yellow European flag and with chants of “Europe, Europe, Europe” echoing around the course.
Following a determined fightback by the Americans, it came down to an Ulsterman, Graeme McDowell, to carry Europe over the line, sealing a 14.5 to 13.5-point victory on the 17th hole of the final singles game.
Europe has now won four out of the last five Ryder Cups, but who the fuck cares.