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Make Vijay Putt it Next Time

Ive been itching--ever since I saw it and couldnt believe it--to weigh in on the conceded four-foot putt that concluded the Woody Austin-Phil Mickelson versus Vijay Singh-Mike Weir foursomes match Thursday afternoon in Montreal at the Presidents Cup.
So here goes:
I didnt like it.
Not one diplomatic bit of it.
Oh, Golf is a gentlemans game. And Im more than good with that. But the idea of this particular gentlemans game is to win.
Win fair and square. But win.
Players on the U.S. side are fond of saying they enjoy the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup because of the rare opportunity it affords them to play for their country.
Well, heres a news flash: Most of Austin and Mickelsons countrymen would have preferred that they didnt give Singh the four-footer on the 18th hole that created a halve and potentially snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It would have been a victory, by the way, that left the Americans with a statement-making 6-0 lead after six matches in the opening session of the four-day Cup.
Its difficult to imagine Singh, a hard case, conceding anything to Mickelson had the tables been turned. Mickelson and Singh dont particularly like each other to begin with and have recent bad history with each other dating back to a near dust-up in the locker room at Augusta National several years ago.
Singh thought Mickelsons spikes were too long and were tearing up the greens. Mickelson, who was playing one group ahead of Singh on the day in question, thought Singh should have come to him first with his complaint rather than airing it publicly.
Wayne Gretzky, the patron saint of all Canadian athletes, was on Golf Central early this week for a lively interview with the capable Megan West. Would have loved it if she had asked Gretzky this question:
If fighting were allowed in professional golf, which two players would get your attention the fastest if they dropped the gloves?
Im guessing Gretzkys answer would have been Mickelson and Singh.
No, Im not advocating free-for-alls in golf. Although Id pay money if Tiger Woods and Rory Sabbatini ever climbed into the squared circle at the same time.
What I am advocating is sportsmanship without sacrificing tough competitiveness.
By the way, a little more truth in advertising wouldnt hurt either. Interviewed right after the match Thursday, Mickelson said the decision to concede the putt came from Captain Nicklaus, who was standing greenside at the time.
Asked the same question, moments later, Jack Nicklaus said it was Phil and Woodys decision.
If this gesture--the giving of an eminently missable putt--was so noble and right, how come nobody wanted to take credit for it after it had been made?
Anyway, life and golf will go on. Maybe good karma will result from this for the Americans. Maybe the golf gods disagree with me on this one. Maybe they will pay the Americans back one day for their generosity.
If they do, I hope they wait for next years Ryder Cup matches in Louisville. Thats where the U.S. team is going to need the most help.
And one final thought: If anybody gives anybody else a four-footer at Louisville, it most definitely will not be at the suggestion of American captain Paul Azinger or European captain Nick Faldo.
To which I say: Bully for them.
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