Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Ryder Cup is over, and the dust has settled, all but for a small cloud of it that still hangs over the 17th green at The Country Club. First of all, it's no small wonder that people in Boston are doing a lot of yelling. They're digging a hole in the middle of that city, that would try the patience of a saint. It takes you an hour and a half to go next door, and you could be forgiven for thinking that every Irishman who ever emigrated here is trying to tunnel his way home.

I was sitting to the right of the green when Justin Leonard made that amazing putt, and while the resulting insulting fracas was very upsetting for any European to watch, particularly Jose Maria Olazabal, it seems to me that there was a reason it happened that was not immediately obvious.

In the run up to the Ryder Cup, newspapers, television programs and magazines were filled with reports of how the American players were greedy, divided and disinterested, and also of how heavily favored they were to win. To date, I have yet to read or watch any apologies, or retractions. Also, no one has ever written of the Europeans, "These Guys Are Good Too!"

I always felt that it was kind of nice to see someone stick up for their friends or support their team for better or worse, and it is apparent that this is one of the huge advantages the Europeans have had in this event. We have no one dumb enough to suggest that a player of Justin Leonard's strength and character should go home before the fat lady sings. Bearing in mind how far down his throat Johnny Miller had his left foot buried, I at least would be charitable enough to hope he was wearing softspikes. But I have no doubt that most of the U.S. team would wish that his right one had taken the south entrance and had traveled far enough so that his toes were touching.

This Ryder Cup proved two very important facts. Firstly, European teams are always much better than they appear to be, no matter what anyone says or writes, and secondly, the Ryder Cup means just as much to American players as it does to Europeans. The singles matches proved to be one of the most dramatic conclusions to a sporting event ever seen, no matter which side of the pond you were shouting for.

The European Ryder Cup team gave the Americans the credit and respect they deserved in the run up to, and during, the event. The stampede at the 17th, while it was inexcusable, was a knee jerk reaction and a gigantic, "Up yours!" to all of those who did not.

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