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It's time Americans got nasty in Ryder Cup against Euro-weenies

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Ryder CupHere's hoping for a bloody, good row in the 35th Ryder Cup.

I know, I know - golf is the sport of gentlemen, and both captains are taking pains to emphasize sportsmanship when the Europeans and Americans grind it out this weekend at Oakland Hills Country Club for national pride and glory.

Great.

But think back over past Ryder Cups and the moments that stick in your mind and craw.

Yes, there are the memorable shots, like in 1983 at PGA National when Seve Ballesteros' smacked a three-wood from a bunker - 242 yards from the green - over the bunker lip guarding the green and onto the fringe, a shot Jack Nicklaus called one of the greatest he'd ever seen.

Or Lee Trevino's left-handed reverse wedge from under a tree in 1971.

And the chokes, of course, like Mark Calcaveccia who was four up with four to play and escaped with only a half against Colin Montgomerie in 1991.

But, I'm betting if you're one of the few American Ryder Cup addicts, you also remember equally, perhaps even more, some of the seedier moments, when all the fire and emotion came out behind those walls of civility.

Europeans are still mad about the American celebration on the 17th at Brookline. Justin Leonard holed out from 45 feet, capping an incredible U.S. comeback, and American players, caddies and wives did a joyous dance number in celebration.

One problem: Jose Maria-Olazabal had yet to putt.

"The emotion I can understand, but I still had a putt to make and that display should not have happened," Olazabal sniffed at the time. "You should show respect to your opponents."

Maybe the most memorable feud was between Paul Azinger and Ballesteros, who had accused each other of cheating at The Belfry in 1989. At Kiawah, for the next Cup, Azinger said: "I can tell you we're not trying to cheat."

Ballesteros responded with: "Oh no. Breaking the rules and cheating are two different things."

John-Boy WaltonThe Europeans always say they enjoy being the underdogs, sending a bunch of no-names over here - usually to beat us. But, sometimes they betray their true emotions.

Like when Philip Price's 25-foot putt on the 16th sealed a 3-2 win over Phil Mickelson to leave Europe a point from victory at The Belfry.

Price could be heard yelling in the ensuing celebration when the Europeans won: "Tell them who I beat! Tell them who I beat."

Or Philip Walton in 1995, after he helped the Europeans rally to a win: "Maybe the Americans know me now. Tell them I'm related to all those Waltons on that TV show."

A good row - whether it's over rules, fashion, choice of beer, Tiger Woods' seeming indifference, whatever - is what we need here to get the Americans as fired up as the Europeans always are.

We need more gamesmanship from the Americans. Who doesn't love a great gamesmanship story?

No more of these concessions, like when Jack Nicklaus conceded that short putt to Tony Jacklin at Royal Birkdale in 1969. Sam Snead, the U.S. captain that year, upbraided Nicklaus for that, as well he should have. Is this a tea party or a competitive event?

It's time for the Americans to get down and dirty. It's time for our guys to get kick-started.

I'd like to see Tiger Woods tee off on No. 1 with a 300-yard drive, watch the pathetic tee shot of whatever Euro-weenie he's matched up against, and then use that classic basketball quip: "Oh, excuse me, I thought you could play."

I'd like to see Phil Mickelson show up at the first tee wearing his Ryder Cup garb under his green Masters jacket. I'd like to see Hal Sutton sneak a video into the European locker room showing Bernard Langer's blown putt in 1991.

I'd like to see Davis Love III ask Colin Montgomery if all that weight he's lost recently isn't because of an eating disorder. I'd like to see Jay Haas question Darren Clark's sexual preference.

I'd like to see the Americans show up at whatever pub the Europeans are drinking and toasting their manly camaraderie in, and slam down a bottle of Jack Daniels and say, "This is what MEN drink!"

Nobody insults John-Boy and gets away with it.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
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