Enough Already

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MONTREAL -- Theres been way too much sugar sprinkled on the Presidents Cup. Its time to add a little tobasco or jalapeno to the mix.
 
Dottie Pepper has been spotted on the fairways of Royal Montreal and a few choking dogs comments may liven up an event that has been entirely too complimentary between teams so far.
 
The fiery Pepper would be just the ingredient to spice things up a little, if Jack Nicklaus would draft a newcomer.
 
The latest sweetening of the Presidents Cup came on Thursday when Captain Jack conceded a four-foot putt to Mike Weir and Vijay Singh, a decision that split the point in their match against Phil Mickelson and Woody Austin.
 
Of course, anyone who has followed the Golden Bears legendary career will remember another similar incident in 1969, when he conceded a putt to Tony Jacklin in the Ryder Cup that allowed that event to finish in a draw. The Americans did, however, keep the Ryder Cup that year as defending champion.
 
Nicklaus is revered for his sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct, making him and International counterpart Gary Player the perfect captains for this competition, which now seems focused on being a goodwill exhibition than an actual competition.
 
Nobody would have thought any less of Nicklaus if hed made Singh putt out. Chances are that Singh would have made it, but it was a downhill slider and far from a sure thing. Singh seemed surprised when the decision to concede was announced and rightfully so.
 
There seems to be some confusion as to who actually made the call. The general consensus agrees with Mickelson. Captain Nicklaus said for us to do it and he says something, we just do it, but with me, I dont know.
 
Nicklaus, on the other hand, said it was his players decision.
 
It was about three-and-a-half feet. I think that Phil and Woody made the right decision and they both felt that Mike had played a good match and Mike being a Canadian and being here, it was the right thing to do and Im glad they did. I would support it 100 per cent.'
 
Heres where it gets sticky. All week, its been a love-in for Weir at Royal Montreal and the perception of that comment is that the Americans will try to make their opponent look good in front of his supportive fans.
 
The fact is that Weir did play a good match after a shaky start and didnt really need any help. Still, he was gracious for the gesture.
 
It doesnt surprise me with Jack or Gary. They do the right thing and they have for their whole career. Id like to think that if it was role reversal there, we would have done the same thing.
 
Whether its the right thing is the debate. The answer depends on the actual definition of the Presidents Cup, which seems to have different meanings to different people.
 
If this is to be a friendly exhibition, present it that way. Its difficult to fault Nicklaus and Player for their conduct and devotion to making the Presidents Cup an all-inclusive event for all nations.
 
The way the captains have carried themselves is a delightful alternative to the other topic of conversation in Canada, a vicious cheap shot in hockey by Philadelphia Flyer Steve Downie on Dean McAmmond of the Ottawa Senators the other night. Gentlemen in professional sports are refreshing these days.
 
The key words there are professional sports, where fans pay to see the highest levels of their respective games. In golf, those fans may grant gimmes in their own games, but deny their opponents if a birdie or a game is on the line. Should they expect anything less of elite players
 
When the Americans granted the gimme on Thursday, it was almost as if they were invoking the mercy rule as they were on their way to a dominating 5 1/2 to 1/2 lead in the competition. Were they so sure of victory on the first day that the half point they conceded to the Internationals might not be the difference on Sunday?
 
Of course, its not fair to assume American cockiness, but that could be the perception of an event that is still a weak sister to the Ryder Cup and doing little to rival it.
 
Gentlemanly play is about on-course conduct, honesty and friendship, but not about helping an opponent on to the scoreboard. The decision to award the half-point by the Americans sounds more like something out of minor sports where everyone plays and everyones a winner.
 
There shouldnt have been a winner or a loser. Both sides played very good golf, conceded Mickelson.
 
The fans may have agreed with the last sentence of that statement, but felt shortchanged by the first half of the comment.
 

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    Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.