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Day Three Features
Europeans disgusted by American antics
Chaos reigns with Leonard's 45' putt
Sandelin & Mickelson make friends again
Europe leads in personalities
Last day comeback earns US narrow Ryder Cup win

US fighting back in the singles

Chaos reigns with Leonard's 45' putt

The staid 72-year tradition of the Ryder Cup could not hold up to a 45-foot putt.

When Justin Leonard sank the putt that would win the cup, decorum broke down. Most of the seven American players, caddies and some officials stormed the green to embrace him.

Thousands of people lining the fairway and leaning over the back of the bleachers on the 16th hole cheered riotously.

And then a strange and awkward silence overcame those on and around the green of the 17th hole. A realization that Jose Maria Olazabal still had to putt, still had a chance to equal Leonard. Mark O'Meara told his teammates and the others to get off the green.

The crowd quieted, and Julie Crenshaw, wife of team captain Ben Crenshaw, sat down and began to cry, first out of respect for the shattered gentlemanly tradition of the cup.

"I'm sorry they got on the green," she said to Jarmo Sandelin, a European team player.

"That's too much," he said with a frown and a shake of his head.

The rest of the Europeans later agreed, expressing anger that the Americans and their wives ran across Olazabal's line when he still had a 25-foot putt that could change the outcome. He missed to seal his team's defeat.

The Americans quickly collected themselves after the celebration, slightly embarrassed.

"I don't think those things happen on a golf course anywhere," Olazabal said. "You show respect for your opponent."

Colin Montgomerie, who was heckled throughout the tournament by fans, was outraged.

"I could not believe what I saw on the 17th green," the Scotsman said.

Ben Crenshaw apologized and said the storming of the green was inappropriate. Tom Lehman apologized, too - partially.

"It was over-exuberance, no question about it. It wasn't a good thing. Sometimes you get carried away," he said. "But the Europeans celebrated a lot at Valderamma. Today it was their turn to watch."

After Olazabal missed, the crowd roared again. A few hands were shaken, and Davis Love III pulled the flagstick from the hands of a jubilant caddie and put it back with a look of irritation. Payne Stewart and Montgomerie were still to play the hole.

Leonard looked stunned as he moved on to 18, followed by most of the American players and wives. Julie Crenshaw and her husband, who also was crying, found each other heading for the 18th and embraced.

The Americans will look back often on the moment. And the Europeans will not forget it either, all of them because of the defeat and some for the Americans' reaction.

"It's about the most disgusting thing I've ever seen," Sam Torrance of England, a former Ryder Cup player, told Sky Television. "This is not sour grapes. ... Tom Lehman calls himself a man of God. His behavior today has been disgusting."

Even before the Americans' celebration, Julie Crenshaw had gotten a glimpse of the hard feelings. She had gone up to O'Meara after he sank a putt on 17, and she got a glare from his opponent, Padraig Harrington, who was probably going to be conceded an 18-inch putt.

"Harrington didn't have to putt. The hole was over, but it was a good reminder that we have to behave properly even under such intense circumstances," she said.

But it might have been too much to ask, even at The Country Club, a founding member of the United States Golf Association and one of the nation's most exclusive clubs.

Indeed, the players later climbed out of the windows of the third floor of the men's locker room and onto a porch below to spray champagne on fans and sing the national anthem with them.

 

 


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