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Strange looking for civil Ryder Cup

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange has two objectives for September's Ryder Cup matches against Europe -- victory and civility.

He wants to win, of course, and retain the Cup won with a record-setting U.S. Sunday singles comeback in Brookline in 1999.

"The bottom line is we go over there to win," Strange said during an informal lunch with reporters about the biennial matches that take place this year at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England.

But it is a double mission for Strange and he has talked it over with his counterpart, European captain Sam Torrance.

"Sam and I are in agreement. We want to bring some civility back to this," said Strange.

"I don't think there's animosity between the players. But there is pressure. It's a tough week."

The last matches, staged at The Country Club, were marred by boorish behavior by some spectators, who heckled European players.

There was also a serious breach of golf etiquette among the U.S. players, who engaged in a premature victory celebration on the 17th green.

Prior to the matches, U.S. players grumbled loudly over their lack of say in how charity money from the wildly popular event was dispersed, leaving another wave of bad feeling.

"You can arguably say the Ryder Cup is biggest event in sports. It's certainly the biggest event in golf," said Strange. "We don't want to see anything negative happen to the Ryder Cup."

Strange said talks were under way on curbing the availability of alcohol at the competition, which he believes was a major contributor to fan misbehaviour in Brookline.

"There is going to be very tight security," said Strange. "We have to start throwing people out and enforcing etiquette for the fans."

That comment naturally led to the question of etiquette among the players.

"We were near the line," Strange said about the wild celebration set off by Justin Leonard's 40-foot putt at the 17th that appeared to clinch the Cup for the United States.

Jose Maria Olazabal, however, still had a long putt that could have denied the U.S. a Cup-clinching halve, but the Spaniard was forced into a long wait while the U.S. players and their wives were cleared away from the green.

"We apologised the next day. Ben (U.S. captain Crenshaw) and the team," noted Strange.

"We have to learn from The Country Club. We will be under a microscope. We have to be careful this time and every time.

"But what's fun about the Ryder Cup is that everybody is so full of emotion, even guys who usually aren't. Everybody wears the flag on their sleeve," Strange said.

"It's tough to get too upset because that's why we love to watch it. You don't see that in every day golf."

Strange said he and Torrance had agreed to re-institute the Sunday night get-together between the two teams.

"The last two Ryder Cups we didn't have Sunday night for the players and wives," he said. "That's a chance to show they can enjoy each other's company."

Strange said he had consulted the Ryder Cup captains for whom he had played -- Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Ray Floyd and Lanny Wadkins -- but was tight-lipped about his outlook on his captain's picks and what sort of leadership style he would employ.

A member of five Ryder Cup teams and twice a U.S. Open champion, Strange has a poor personal record in Cup matches, posting a 6-12-2 mark.

The highly-strung American was a captain's choice of Wadkins's the last time he played, in the 1995 matches at Oak Hill, where Europe staged a stunning Sunday comeback of their own to win.

Strange, who was 0-3 in those matches, was asked if there was anything in that experience he might relate to his charges. "No. They know we lost," he said.

 


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