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English press slaughter American "sportsmanship"

The Daily Mirror headline summed up the British response to the United States' victory over Europe in the Ryder Cup: "United Slobs of America."

Monday's newspapers were scathing in their criticism of the American celebrations on the 17th green after Justin Leonard holed the 45-foot putt that capped the greatest comeback in Cup history.

"Disgusting," blared The Sun.

"Disgraceful," said the Daily Mail.

"Bitter End," headlined the Express.

Columnists said the U.S. victory - 14½ to 13½ after trailing 10-6 entering Sunday's singles -- was tainted by jingoism and poor sportsmanship.

Players and fans were described as "ugly Americans" and their behaviour during the three-day competition at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., was compared to that of soccer hooligans.

"American players and their fans belong in the gutter," The Sun said.

British Press View

"Let us be painfully honest about it," columnist Matthew Norman wrote in the London Evening Standard. "Yes, they are repulsive people, charmless, rude, cocky, mercenary, humourless, ugly, full of nauseatingly fake religiosity, and as odious in victory as they are unsporting in defeat.

"The only good thing to be said in favour of the American golfers, in fact, is that, at golf, if at nothing else, they are better than the Europeans."

The anti-American outpouring was provoked in particular by the scenes at the 17th green, when players, wives, girlfriends, caddies and spectators engulfed Leonard after his riveting putt.

Leonard's opponent, Spain's Jose Maria Olazábal, had to wait out the celebrations before attempting a 25-foot putt to keep Europe's hopes alive. He missed.

Sam Torrance, Europe's vice captain, called it "the most disgusting thing I've ever seen," and accused American player Tom Lehman in particular of improper behaviour

Olazábal described the celebrations as "a very ugly picture to see."

U.S. Captain Ben Crenshaw apologised.

"It really was not something that we need to be proud of," he said. ``For that, we're truly sorry."

British papers cited other examples of "appalling" behaviour: a fan shouting at the top of Olazábal 's backswing during his approach shot to the 17th green; fans repeatedly taunting Colin Montgomerie; and spectators sending rookie Andrew Coltart in the wrong direction to hunt for a lost ball.

Montgomerie said his father left the course Sunday because he was so upset at the "hurtful comments."

The Evening Standard said the Americans showed "how to win a Cup but lose all dignity."

"A fantastic competition was sullied by a (soccer) terrace culture outside the ropes and an appalling lack of consideration from Team America inside them," the Standard said.

The Mirror said, "Football hooligans act better than the way the Americans have treated the Ryder Cup over the last three days. Their antics whipped the crowd into uncontrollably boorish behaviour Sporting relations between the two nations have now slipped to an all-time low."

The Daily Mail said: "Rednecks show it may be time to start trading punches, not pleasantries."

The Guardian ran the headline, "Joy of Ugly Victory brings out the Ugly American."

"The whole distasteful scene was watched by Crenshaw, who did nothing to stop it," the paper said.

The Scotsman likened the competition to the bitter sectarian soccer rivalry between Rangers and Celtic.

Its headline read, "Americans celebrate victory the day sportsmanship died."