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American view very different to Europeans

(Extract from posting on our message board, spellings "corrected" !)

Enough already.

Enough whining from a European golf team that wouldn't look at itself for blowing the Ryder Cup with a 4-point lead heading into Sunday. Instead, they fell back on the tiresome refrain and blamed ''ugly Americans'' for Jose Maria Olazabal being 4 up on the 11th and then long gone by the 18th.

Sour grapes, it is called.

Enough of the reaction of Sam Torrance, the assistant European captain, who moments after one of the greatest moments in golf history first called the behaviour of the US team ''disgusting'' and then chose these words to chastise US golfer Tom Lehman for exulting: ''Tom Lehman's behaviour was disgusting. He may call himself a man of God, but his behaviour was disgraceful.''

''Poor sport'' wouldn't begin to describe Torrance. And to bring in the words ''a man of God'' to chastise Lehman is beyond the pale.

Enough of the comments of Mark James, the European captain, who said with a straight face, ''I would like to think it would not happen with any of my players.''

Please. If the situations had been reversed, if a European had made such a dramatic putt, it is more likely than not that the European team on that 17th green also would have burst into spontaneous celebration. Human nature is no different on this side of the Atlantic; Europeans aren't any more reserved than Americans.

Enough of the remarks from Torrance and others on the European team who said, incorrectly, that the American players and supporters ''ran across Ollie's line when he had a putt to keep us in the match.''

That is not what happened. Justin Leonard immediately ran toward the bottom edge of the green when his putt dropped, and the US players, wives, and caddies sprinted from the top of the green along the right edge (looking toward Leonard) and were nowhere close to Olazabal's line or marker. Some media members may have been near or on the line of the Spaniard's ball, but not the US contingent.

No doubt the celebration by the US team was not proper etiquette for golf; far from it. But that was far from ordinary golf played Sunday at The Country Club; it was emotional war between two continents. The US team, for sure, should have waited for Olazabal to putt before celebrating, and its celebration was certainly ill-timed but not ill-mannered.

Enough of the dispatches from England and other locales of how the natives feel Americans are boors and, as one newspaper put it, the ''United Slobs of America.'' It is all so dreary, repetitive, and predictable. The Ryder Cup is similar to the Olympics - which supposedly unify different cultures - in that many fans and media come to the games with prejudices in full flame; they also leave with the same prejudices. And, as any American who travels knows, foreigners have many prejudices toward Americans.

Enough of the bias of some in the foreign media who claimed American fans purposely led Andrew Coltart astray on the ninth hole when he was searching for his lost ball, who openly rooted for Tiger Woods to miss putts, who blithely wrote that the American team ran through Olzabal's line, and who had Jeff Maggert saying words he had not said.

Perhaps most surprising were the commentators for the BBC, supposedly a bastion of objectivity. The BBC broadcast was heard by some at the course via radios sold at concession stands. The BBC had a fixation on Woods and apparently brought Sigmund Freud back from the dead as a guest commentator as, time and again, and then again and again, the commentators chided Woods for not smiling as much as Sergio Garcia and probed why Woods so often looked, to them, sullen. ''Tiger does not smile after he misses a putt,'' was one of the more amazing comments.

Enough of the ''woe is us'' comments from Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Paul Lawrie, and others who felt beleaguered by the US team or its fans. Westwood, for instance, said, ''I played with somebody [Tom Lehman] who teed it up [Saturday] when we weren't even on the tee and I found that to be the most appalling thing I've ever seen on a golf course.''

Westwood had been playing slowly, and Lehman felt it was too slow; Lehman answered with a tit-for-tat. Hardball, after all, is played in the Ryder Cup. As for Montgomerie, a man who seems to genuinely dislike merely being on US soil, his preoccupation with hecklers seems beneath a golfer of his quality and only serves to incite more. Montgomerie's golf, though, is beyond reproach.

Virtually all who were at The Country Club Sunday, except for the European team, will treasure it as one of the greatest sporting days of their lives. And, from the American perspective, the comeback was reminiscent of the US hockey team's victory over the USSR at Lake Placid in 1980. Of all Boston's great sports moments in our lifetimes, this ranks among the best two or three, if not the best.

Enough is enough.

Americans already bash themselves and each other enough, especially in sports. And for the Europeans to bash those American boors and portray themselves as victims - when they suffered one of the great collapses in sports history or the US had pulled off one of the great comebacks - is unseemly. Victimhood seldom is inspiring.

Celebrating before Olzabal putted his ball on 17 was wrong by the US team. But whining and complaining and moaning immediately at day's end, instead of first acknowledging the magnificent golf the US team displayed just to overtake them, is also far from golf's highest standard.

 


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