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Day Two Features
Sergio out jumps the Americans
Monty answers the hecklers in the best way
Europeans on top, 4 points clear into last day
Saturday Fourballs matches shared, Europe 8-4

Monty answers the hecklers in the best way

With crowds better suited for Fenway Park's boisterous bleachers than fairways at The Country Club, Ryder Cup fans targeted Colin Montgomerie on Saturday to try to rattle the Scottish sourpuss and revive the struggling American side.

Twice during the day, Montgomerie backed off after lining up over a putt when someone in the crowd distracted him. In the morning, after being heckled on the sixth green, he sank a six-foot putt to win the hole, then thrust his fist toward the bleachers in triumph.

On the 18th hole of the last match, with a crucial point on the line, Miguel Angel Jimenez had to step away after someone yelled as he prepared to putt. He missed the shot, and the hole and the match were halved.

``It's slightly unfair sometimes before we play our shots, to be honest with you,'' he said, accusing the American players of intentionally ``geeing up'' the crowd. ``But at the same time, they have home advantage and you know that's to be expected.''

For Montgomerie, who it's more like a given.

The elder statesman of the European team has been a frequent target of galleries throughout his career, and it's been more of the same during this Ryder Cup. It doesn't help that he bears an uncanny resemblance to Bill Parcells, who coached the hometown New England Patriots to the Super Bowl before jilting the team and region to join the hated New York Jets.

Catcalls of ``Tuna!'' -- Parcells' nickname -- and ``Mrs. Doubtfire,'' because of Montgomerie's resemblance to the Robin Williams movie character, have followed Montgomerie through each of his four matches. But if the 36-year-old veteran of five Ryder Cups was feeling picked on, one man stationed along the 15th fairway tried to set him straight.

``We don't hate you Monty,'' the fan bellowed. ``We just want you to lose.''

He did -- in the morning -- as Hal Sutton and Jeff Maggert beat Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie 1-up in alternate shot. But the two Europeans came back to win in the afternoon, beating Steve Pate and Tiger Woods 2 and 1 in fourball to give the visitors a 10-6 lead going into the final day.

Europe needs just four wins in 12 singles matches on Sunday to retain the Cup.

Golf fans have never been known for their rowdiness -- at least not in the way that soccer fans are; the only golf riot of any substance was the movie ``Caddyshack.'' In golf etiquette, it's considered OK to cheer for a nice shot, but not when an opponent makes a bad one.

But when the nationalistic fervor of the Ryder Cup combines with too many gin and tonics, galleries have at times become downright rude.

The low point, at least as far as the Ryder Cup is concerned, is generally considered ``The War by the Shore'' in 1991 at Kiawah Island, S.C., when U.S. players donned camouflage and fans jeered the Europeans at every turn. Since then, though, the captains have tried to avoid inflaming the crowds, and there hasn't been any trouble of note.

If anything, the galleries at The Country Club may have been too polite. The crowds following the European twosome of teen sensation Sergio Garcia and mad hatter Jesper Parnevik may have even been slanted toward the visitors' side.

``They like us and that's very good,'' Garcia agreed after the pair improved to 3-0 with a 3 and 2 victory over Payne Stewart and Justin Leonard. ``They're taking good care of us.''

Sutton did his part to win the crowd back for the American side, waving his arms at the gallery on the 13th fairway and drawing a big cheer in response. Sutton, from Bossier City, La., said he doesn't think there's anything wrong with a little home-course advantage, as long as it's not disruptive.

``I don't want them to call out to Colin. What I wanted them to do was get behind us,'' he said. ``I want everybody to be treated with respect. But it's in the U.S.A., and I guarantee you they cheer for them over there.''

Many players, reporters and fans who have witnessed Ryder Cups in Europe agreed that the U.S. crowd was much more sedate than those on the continent. But Lawrie insisted that the European crowds always know when, and not just what, to cheer.

Mrs. Doubtfire, meet Miss Manners.

``Their behavior was just ridiculous,'' Lawrie said. ``I don't mind it when we've both played, but to do it before the next opponent his a shot, then it's just not on.

``If it means that much to them, then all the best to them.''

In general, though, the cheers were good-natured and at the appropriate time. There were far more people shouting ``Nice shot,'' and ``U.S.A.,'' than there were hecklers. But there were some problems, and many of them revolved around Montgomerie. He had to back off a putt on No. 6 in the morning match, and again heard catcalls while taking his practice swings on the eighth tee.

On No. 13, someone yelled, ``Shank it!'' as Montgomerie was contemplating a shot from the fairway. After the shot, another fan yelled, ``You're going down!''

In the afternoon, he backed off a putt on No. 8 after a camera flashed in the crowd. Again, he sank it, but this time he merely cast a menacing glance in the offending direction.

Perhaps Montgomerie could take some solace in the fact that the hecklers didn't use up all their material on him. Even some of Americans were targets: David Duval was jeered on Friday for his mediocre performance and for his part in igniting a controversy over whether the golfers should be paid for playing for their country.

No one was safe from the verbal barbs -- not even basketball star Michael Jordan, who's here as a golf fan and a friend of Woods.

``If we're going to have celebrities here,'' The Boston Globe quoted one fan as saying when Jordan walked by, ``why couldn't we have Heather Locklear?''

 

 

 

 

 

 


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