LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Boo Weekley has turned the 37th Ryder Cup into The Jerry Springer Show. There’s plenty of whoopin’ and hollerin’ from Weekley and his Kentucky homeboy partner J.B. Holmes, but thankfully no chair-chucking or flesh-flashing. Not yet, anyway.
For two days Weekley and Holmes have battled Lee Westwood and Soren Hansen. The American rookies won the crucial first match out in the afternoon, 2&1, to end Westwood’s 12-match unbeaten Ryder Cup run. And this time, in light of their Friday match, it was personal.
The Englishman was fuming Friday at Weekley’s lack of decorum, complaining that the timing of all those “raise the roof” gestures to the galleries was not in the spirit of the game. Westwood said he had no problem with the duo doing it — just not when he or Hanson had shots to play. “At least wait until you’re walking up to the green or walking off the green,” Westwood said at Friday’s press conference. (Westwood said he never spoke to Weekley out on the course.)
“It’s not my job to tell people how to behave,” he added. “But it certainly gave me more of a burning desire to win holes.”
Feel the love?
Westwood held his anger in check but said what he thinks of Weekley’s antics. “Golf is supposed to be a gentleman’s game, and that is what separates it from all other sports,” Westwood said. “There’s always a respectful silence in Europe between the putt missing and the hole being won. This [Weekley’s behavior] is unsportsmanlike, if you ask me. The Americans have taken a good hammering the last couple of times, and they had to try something [this year]. If that means whipping the crowd into a frenzy, then so be it. But I didn’t expect the players to get involved, though. We’ve never resorted to that. I don’t think I would ever get that desperate.”
So it’s fair to say that their Saturday fourball was a grudge match. There were issues, at least in Westwood’s head. Weekley was doing more than sending excited gestures to the galleries. He can play this game, which gets lost amid the hullabaloo about “desperate” ruckus-raising. He hit the pin-seeking shot of their match-a middle iron from down in a hollow by the creek that flows alongside the 15th. It was a kick-in birdie. “I’d have to say that shot ranked about No.9 in my career,” Weekley said after the round. Ninth? Not seventh? Or top five with a bullet? “I done had eight holes-in-one, so I have to put that one after it,” he said, chewin’ and grinnin’.
The Boo boos that welcomed Weekley after Career Shot No. 9 turned the 15th green amphitheater into a Springsteen gig. Those boos soon became genuinely angry, though, when the fans realized Westwood made their man mark it. Gamesmanship, at the business end of this tussle with the Americans 2-up!
Hansen birdied, but Weekley followed suit. No blood, apart from any lingering bad blood, that is. “Boo!” they yelled, while Weekley encouraged them to raise the roof once more. Only this time, he waited until he walked off the green. He had clearly taken to heart Westwood’s gripe, and throughout Saturday’s fourball the self-proclaimed redneck showed he’d brushed up on his etiquette. “I didn’t want to be disrespectful,” he said.
See, Lee? Boo’s not such a bad guy. He’s just new to all this Ryder Cup hoopla and is having fun. Boo wouldn’t hurt a butterfly. But a deer? Well, that’s different.
Westwood acknowledged that Weekley’s behavior was fine on Saturday and said they had kissed and made up.
“He didn’t do it in-between shots like he did yesterday,” Westwood admitted. “So he’s obviously learned. He apologized last night, which is the kind of man he is. He’s a nice guy. We get on really well.”
They do now, anyway. It was a Boo zoo behind the 17th as Paul Azinger stormed the green to hug Weekley and Holmes after their win, the captain’s upturned collar making him look like Elvis. (“Brand new Cadillac, Boo!”) Even Weekley’s wife Karyn has become a star this week. “Mrs. Boo!” fans called out as she signed autographs for Weekley’s Army, dressed as they were in head-to-toe camouflage.
Had she not seen the well-disguised lot, she could not have missed their latest chant: “Boo! S! A! Boo! S! A!”