Europeans May Skip Ryder in U.S.
LONDON (AP) _ Good thing there are ropes around the greens _ golfers might be punching instead of putting at future Ryder Cups.
The tournament will degenerate into fistfights unless something is done to stop fans’ abusive behavior, European captain Mark James said.
James said Europeans might even refuse to play another Ryder Cup in the United States because of the treatment they received last weekend at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
James said a fan spit at his wife and his players were taunted. Colin Montgomerie said his 70-year-old father, who had traveled from Scotland, left the course Sunday because of the merciless heckling of his son.
``If I had been playing myself, I might have lost my temper completely,″ said James, whose team lost 14 1/2-13 1/2 as the Americans produced the biggest comeback in Ryder Cup history.
``Cheering when you miss putts or hit into bunkers is one thing. But personal abuse is something different. We are going to get into a situation where fights will break out if we don’t stop this thing now.″
Organizers said security will be tighter for the next Ryder Cup in 2001 at the Belfry in England. The competition returns to the United States in 2003 at Oakland Hills outside Detroit.
``A lot of players will not be bothered competing in American again,″ James said in British newspapers Tuesday. ``Certainly that is the case with me. It’s not something I would look forward to. We don’t need to be treated like this.″
James’ wife, Jane, said: ``It was just awful. A kid spat at me and there were lots of incidents of people telling us to go home. I would hate it if we allowed ourselves to descend to their level when the match goes to the Belfry.″
Michael Bonallack, secretary of the Royal and Ancient in St. Andrews, Scotland, the guardian of golf rules and tradition, likened the atmosphere in Brookline to a ``bear pit.″
``I felt embarrassed for golf,″ he said. ``It went way beyond the decency you associate with proper golf. I love the Ryder Cup and I don’t want to see it degenerate into a mob demonstration every time we play it.″
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Ben Crenshaw, who apologized after the tournament for unruly behavior, did so again Tuesday but added that European galleries also are traditionally tough.
``Obviously, Boston was swept up in this emotion,″ Crenshaw said from Austin, Texas. ``To suggest Europeans are not vocal is wrong. They are.
``Ryder Cup is about partisan support. Believe me, it’s no different than from when we’re over there. Just ask some of the players who played at Valderrama. It’s not like this has never happened before,″ Crenshaw said.
Montgomerie, Europe’s best player, said fans shouted during his backswing.
``I cannot tell you the number of occasions I had to back off a shot,″ he said. ``Personal attacks should never happen _ and it’s not just me on the receiving end of them nowadays.″
Crenshaw said: ``He does not deserve some of the treatment he gets.″
Montgomerie backed a call by the European captain for alcohol to be banned at the Ryder Cup and other major golf events.
The European team and British media kept up their scathing criticism of the celebrations on the 17th green Sunday by American players, wives and caddies after Justin Leonard made a 45-foot putt that eventually decided the outcome.
The wild scenes came as Europe’s Jose Maria Olazabal still had a chance to keep Europe’s chances alive with a long putt. He missed.
Montgomerie said Crenshaw’s apology was too late.
``No amount of apology can make amends for what they did,″ he said.
A barrage of anti-American sentiment continued for a second day in British papers, with headlines like ``United Slobs of America Spat on Mark James’ Wife.″
``The behavior of the American team, and not just on the 17th green, might have been juvenile, but it certainly wasn’t surprising,″ Daily Telegraph columnist Martin Johnson wrote. ``This is a country which is so insular that most Americans still believe that the Second World War was won by John Wayne.″
Some columnists took a more moderate approach.
``I found myself feeling faintly jealous of America’s capacity for emotion,″ former Telegraph editor W.F. Deedes wrote. ``We shrug our shoulders a lot. They really care. They want to win. They hate to lose. And this carries them beyond a golf game at Brookline. ... The right response now is to shrug our shoulders.″
That didn’t stop some commentators from getting downright nasty, ridiculing the appearance of the wives and girlfriends of the American golfers.
``Many observers would have sworn that every man on the American team had married the same woman,″ Evening Standard columnist Kate Battersby wrote.
Crenshaw said some of the criticism probably comes from frustration.
``When you lose over there and they come out with soccer chants, it stings you. That’s what they heard this time because we played so convincingly,″ Crenshaw said.
``They knew they were in trouble because those cheers reverberated across the golf course. It’s tough to take but that’s what was happening.″