Sutton To Toe Emotional Line


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- Hal Sutton felt the U.S. team was on its best behavior during last year's Ryder Cup, perhaps to a fault.
'I wanted to make sure that I made every step just right,' he said. 'And sometimes, there wasn't room for me to be myself.'
While the U.S. captain doesn't want a repeat of the over-the-top celebration on the 17th green in 1999 that brought widespread criticism, Sutton does want his players to be themselves next year at Oakland Hills.
'I don't want to put everybody in a straitjacket,' Sutton said Wednesday at the PGA Championship. 'I think there is a way to have free will and still do it the right way.'
He declined to label the Americans' behavior in 1999, when some players, wives and caddies stormed the 17th green after Justin Leonard made a 45-foot putt that ultimately clinched victory.
'I would have defined it as an uncontrollable urge to express enthusiasm,' Sutton said.
As for last year, Sutton said, the U.S. players were too cautious while losing to the Europeans at The Belfry in England.
'We were so aware of (what happened in 1999) that we wanted to be in check,' he said. 'I'm not sure that was necessarily a bad thing.'
While he's not begun to consider the makeup of the U.S. team, Sutton said his first priority is to speak to Tiger Woods, encouraging him to become more of a team leader.
'Tiger has not been very vocal. He's just tried to play his game,' Sutton said. 'I think if he had something to share with the team, everybody would listen. So yes, I will try to impress upon him to share things.'
Sutton is also recommending the PGA of America follow Europe's lead by limiting alcohol consumption to the concession area.
Tom Watson worries better equipment that has led to longer hitters is making classic courses like Oak Hill obsolete.
'That's the real fear,' Watson said. 'These courses are obsolete.'
Watson, who competed at Oak Hill in the 1980 PGA Championship and 1989 U.S. Open, said the course is now too long, playing at 7,134 yards this weekend -- 230 yards longer than normal.
But it's not as if Oak Hill officials had much choice in an effort to keep scores manageable, Watson said.
'We've gotten to a point where the golf ball goes too far and now we are taking these golf courses and extending them too far and we are running out of space,' Watson said. 'I want to see golf courses play as similarly as they can compared to how they played a long time ago.'
Watson considers recent improvements made to golf balls and to club heads as having the biggest impact on the game. He urged both USGA and PGA Tour officials to consider restrictions.
Jim Awtrey, chief executive of the PGA of America, shared Watson's concerns, but added he is not afraid of seeing lower scores recorded at this weekend's tournament.
'Is obsolescence going from this course being resistant to par, to having players winning at 7 or 8 under?' Awtrey said. 'If that's obsolescence, and the caliber of the play of today's player and the level of competition is greater, I'm not sure that, in my mind, is obsolescence.'
Defending champion Rich Beem hasn't lost his sense of humor or his Pepto Bismol bottle.
'Chug down a little Pepto Bismol before every round, and have a golf towel to prove it,' Beem said.
Beem's favorite drink became apparent during last year's PGA Championship at Hazeltine, an event he won by holding off a late-charging Tiger Woods in the final round.
Beem drinks it in part because of the pressure of playing on tour and because of his diet, which includes some spicy foods.
'It settles my stomach down so I don't have to use the restroom all the time,' he said.
DIVOTS: The PGA of America said Wednesday this year's purse will be $6 million, with $1.08 million going to the winner. That's up from $5.5 million a year ago and marks the first time the purses of all four majors are $6 million or more. ... Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player are to announce their respective captains picks for the U.S. and International teams for the President's Cup on Monday. The President's Cup will be played in November in South Africa.
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