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Just when you thought civility and sportsmanship had returned the Ryder Cup to its roots, Luke Donald and Paul Casey visited the media room at the WGC-World Cup.
 
Now, before I continue, let me say that Ive interviewed both men, and found them just as strong in character as in world class game.
 
Donald and Casey are teaming at the World Cup this week in Spain, but Tuesday spent time in an interview setting tag-teaming in a rant about Tom Lehman as the chosen Ryder Cup captain, the habits of American players in general, and a general perception of the United States.
 
Lehmans appointment as captain, by the way, has been a hot topic for many who believe that Lehmans exuberant display (specifically) after Justin Leonards 1999 putt at Brookline was over the top.
 
ON LEHMAN ' (Casey) If Lehman wins the Ryder Cup back for the Americans, it will be the best captaincy, the best appointment they have ever made. However, I dont think his appointment will be universally accepted on this side of the Atlantic. I dont think a lot of people want to see him as captain. I think a lot of people are just afraid that it might bring up a Brookline-type could be a Brookline-type situation at K Club.
 
ON LEHMAN ' (Donald) Ive heard reports, you know, about he was the first person to rush on the green at Brookline when Justin Leonard holed that putt. Ive heard a few things that go against what he kind of proclaims as being a very religious and it just seemed a little bit shady to me. I think from what Ive read, the Americans were running out of candidates, and he was kind of a choice that they probably wouldnt have made if a few others had accepted.
 
ON AMERICANS ' (Donald) I think people who are not Americans can get upset with Americans quite easily. They do seem to be very insular. They make rash comments that are really quite upsetting sometimes. I remember watching Disney and Ryan Palmer said, you know, the Nationwide was the second strongest tour in the world, days after Europe had just thrashed the U.S. 18 to 9 . I guess its a reaction to the Americans way of thinking that they have the best country in the world and they dont really need to leave their country; they have everything there.
 
ON AMERICANS ' (Casey) I think that, you know, Americans do have a tendency to sort of wind people up. You know, when they are chanting USA, and theres lots of them, it just wants to make you beat them even more, and I think thats the point I was probably trying to get across. They probably failed to realize it really sort of riles us and the rest of the world. I dont hate Americans. I have an American girlfriend, I live in America, I play many events in the U.S. I certainly dont hate them.
 
OK. If you saw the Sprint Pre-Game Wednesday night, you saw reaction from us, reaction from Colin Montgomerie whos competing at the UBS Cup and some e-mails from viewers.
 
Heres a sampling of those e-mails sent in to the Sprint Pre-Game that I thought youd like to read.
 
  • I think its good that there are some early emotions stirring up. Maybe our (U.S.) players will get a little more involved and be ready to win the cup back.
     
  • Sure, Paul Casey jumps on the anti-U.S. bandwagonbut were everybodys daddy when they need something. What a cheap shot from someone who has reaped the benefits of an education, golf and life here in America.
     
  • I think Luke Donald has just taken the bullseye off of Montys back and placed it squarely on his own. This is not the first time weve heard these types of comments from foreigners that choose to live in our country for whatever reason. I guess thats the price we pay as Americans for extending our hand to all foreigners from all walks of life.
     
  • I listened to the show tonight and heard the comments from Luke Donald and Paul Casey. I dont understand there comments being they both lost there singles matches at the Ryder Cup this year and Luke got waxed 5 and 3. So I think he need not talk for his teammates. Please revoke their Visas!
     
  • You folks just dont get it do you. The comments by these young players were not just about golf but American attitude in general. You are so arrogant it scares the rest of the world you are out of control, the ugly American is well and truly back.
     
  • Guys, hello! The U.S. is an insular country, no international news, or sports outside of the U.S. All domestic sports finals are called world. Anyway, I think both Lukes and Pauls comments are partly to do with golf and part to do with these other matters. And yes you can live in a country that does have these things that may annoy from time to time..they live here as the PGA is the best tour with the most money. Thats why Im over here - better opportunities and cash! Europeans get frustrated with the general U.S. public that appears to think that the world stops at their border and no other place could possibly compete on comparable levels. I think the younger generation of European players sees this more clearly as now they are competing more and more on the U.S. tour. I can imagine the comments regarding the Nationwide being the No. 2 world tour was the last straw.All this said the comments were not appropriate and I wish Tom Lehman all the best, hes going to need it!
     
    Ive given this just a days thought, and have some reactions. Lehmans captaincy might be of concern to some, but not to me. His enthusiasm for the Ryder Cup is stronger than most on either side.
     
    Yes, he jumped for joy on Leonards putt, but hes also one of the most decent, honorable, fair-minded sportsmen that Ive come across ' not just in golf but in any sport. Trust me, he hasnt enjoyed the label hes been tagged with by Europeans after 99, and Im certain he took the job with nothing but the best interests of the Ryder Cup in mind. If anything, its my opinion that hell go overboard with proper political balance during his captaincy.
     
    I have mixed feelings on the comments by Donald and Casey, which actually furthered a verbal jabbing by Casey in an article in a London paper a few weeks ago. Together the duo is a big part of Europes Ryder Cup future, yet these comments ' attacking in nature ' dont do much for the immediate future of their reputations, or the current state of Ryder Cup fellowship.
     
    Still, theres always a little shade of harsh reality to any argumentative statements and I find myself actually nodding in agreement that we are a spoiled country to some degree. If people or countries have negative feelings toward America, then there must be some reason for it. And collectively, it never hurts to self-evaluate.
     
    But if its opportunity that one wants, the United States is as good as it gets. Donald and Casey both chose the United States for college, college golf and a path to future professional success. If I dare to find fault, its about biting the hand that fed you.
     
    Ive always believed you respect the opportunities given and taken in life, and carefully choose words when talking about them later. A scholarship and a chance to play with the worlds best players is a pretty nice opportunity. Maybe theyve forgotten.
     
    Nobody has to love the United States. Dont even have to like it. But theres always something positive to take from any experience. Luke and Paul would have been wise to throw in some of the positive along with so much negative.
     
    Finally, Im worried for the Ryder Cup. I barely had my frequent flyer account updated after the trip to Detroit and now this!
     
    Hadnt we moved past this? I thought wed kissed and made up. Sutton and Langer talked about mended fences and the renewed priority of sportsmanship for two years prior to an American butt-whoopin by the Europeans. And when it was mercifully over on Sunday, there were no stern words, no quotable lashings to leave us with a bad taste. The score spoke for itself.
     
    Curtis Strange and Sam Torrance started the difficult process of returning the Ryder Cup to its rightful roots. Sutton and Langer continued it. But suddenly, with comments made by two Ryder Cup rookies, the ego-bruised United States has plenty to rally around and plenty to play for. Brace yourselves; were in for an interesting couple of years.
     
    But PLEASE.. Lets not go back to where weve been. That wasnt good for anyone.
     
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann