No War But Too Civil
Captains, players, fans and media speak of a kinder, gentler Ryder Cup ' getting it back to the gentleman competition it was established to be.
No one will be left crying to the point of hyperventilation, ala Mark Calcavecchia in 1991 at Kiawah Island. And no one will leave vowing never to return to the foreign continent, ala Colin Montgomerie in 1999 at Brookline.
Fans are expected to be less boisterous. Players are expected to be more courteous.
But, again, will it be too civil?
Im sure its still gonna be intense. But I think it was getting a little over the top the last few Ryder Cups, said Scott Hoch who made his Cup debut at Valderrama in 1997.
The image of the impromptu celebration on the 17th green following Justin Leonards 1999 Cup clinching putt is easy to retrieve from the file-folder of the brain.
But more so than that one incident, the entire 99 Ryder Cup represented what the Matches had become: it was competitive, emotional, exciting, homeland biased and controversial.
It was a double-fisted defibrillator to the heart of golf to some, and toxic shock to others.
Its an exhibition, first-time Ryder Cupper Scott Verplank said of the Matches. Its golf, and golf is a gentlemans sport and you dont act like a bunch of idiots running around and screaming and yelling ' its just not that kind of sport.
I was only a spectator watching the last Ryder Cup; I felt it was a little over the edge, said Cup rookie Philip Price.
Many of the participants blame the media in over-hyping the event ' making a mountain out of a gopher mound.
But this go-around, the hyperbole has been understated.
With the qualifying finalized a year ago and captains selections already selected ' and all involved trying to keep the lid on the boiling pot ' the trumpeting has been muted.
Obviously, when they do postpone something its difficult to crank it up and get it going again, said three-time Ryder Cupper Lee Westwood. But I think, you know, all the players will be up for it and itll be a fiery atmosphere no matter when its played.
In all sports there are heated rivalries such as the Yankees and Red Sox. But the hatred between organizations and fans doesnt stop Nomar Garciapara from joking around with Derek Jeter ' and thats the way it is in golf.
If there is any animosity between the United States and Europe, its not resigned to the players.
The game is more global than ever before. Many of the European players are household names in the U.S., and friends to their American counterparts, with whom they play on a consistent basis.
Personally, Im friends with a good number of the guys on the other team, Verplank said.
I dont see too much bad feeling between the two teams at this match, said Padraig Harrington, who is making his second Ryder Cup appearance. Most of the players get on very well with each other and, to be honest, its tough enough out here on tour without trying to make enemies with somebody. We dont need that grief.
So what will the 34th Ryder Cup Matches provide? Will the European fans be more subdued than the Americans in 99? Will a pulsating heartbeat be reduced to Presidents Cup palpitations? Will ersatz head nods outnumber punctuating fist pumps?
Said Azinger: I think you will just have to let it play itself out.
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