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10:01AM

Ryder Cup nastiness runneth over

By Art Spander

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — Tiger Woods was talking about applause in golf. Or really the lack of it. “The art of the clap is gone,” said Woods. Fans have one hand wrapped around a cell phone and their minds wrapped around the idea of creating chaos.

In his advice to spectators — patrons, they’re called — at the Masters, the late Bobby Jones said it would be impolite and improper to cheer a competitor’s mistakes. Which brings us to the Ryder Cup, a tournament where virtually anything goes and everything is yelled, especially insults.

The Cup’s nastiness runneth over. And ain’t it wonderful?

It you’re not familiar with the Ryder Cup, it’s a biennial event that matches golfers from the United States against golfers from Europe, many of whom live at least part-time in the United States. The 2018 Cup is Friday through Sunday at Le Golf National, a course about 20 miles from Paris.

Nobody in America seemed to notice the Cup, much less care about it, until back in the early 1990s when, whoops, Europe, with players such as Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo began to kick America’s you-know-what.

As Davis Love III, a player and then a two-time American captain, recalled, “I got home, and a friend had two questions: What’s the Ryder Cup and how did we lose it?”

With considerable regret, that’s how. All those handshakes at the close of the tournament cover up a great deal of deep-felt irritation that once became public in comments by Paul Casey.

In the Sunday Times of London, Casey was quoted as saying he learned to “properly hate” Americans during the Cup and went on to explain that U.S. fans can be “bloody annoying” and the vast majority of American fans don’t know what’s going on.

The story made its way to the tabloid Daily Mirror, where a headline quoted Casey as saying, “Stupid Americans. I hate them.” That Casey, an Englishman, attended Arizona State, was married to an American and is based in Arizona didn’t seem to matter.

Casey, who plays the U.S. PGA Tour, is back on the European Ryder team, saying very little, unfortunately.

It’s football season in the U.S. (also in Europe, if a different brand of football). The Cup can use a few vocal barbs to get attention.

The Euros have grumbled about the manner American fans acted and bellowed during the 2016 matches at Minneapolis. Surely there will be a response this time around.

Tom Watson, the Stanford guy and five-time British Open champion, gets some of the blame. The 1991 Ryder Cup was held at Kiawah Island in South Carolina shortly after the U.S. military operation Desert Storm. To whip up interest, Watson, the U.S. team captain, called the matches “The War by the Shore,” and the fans roared at every missed Euro putt.

Six years later, 1997, the Cup was in Spain, and the Americans were harassed as much as possible. The next chapter was in 1999 at The Country Club in Boston, when Justin Leonard of the U.S. sank an enormously long birdie putt near the end of day three and his U.S. teammates and some of their wives and girlfriends celebrated on the green — even though opponent José Maria Olazabal had yet to putt.

That was 19 years ago, but a writer from Scotland brought it up the other day. These people have long memories and sometimes short fuses.

Sergio Garcia, the Spaniard, is a captain’s pick. Through the years he’s also been a pain in the neck for the U.S., holing long putts at the most opportune times — or inopportune for the Americans.

Someone suggested the U.S. has copied the camaraderie long evident among the Euros. “It may seem they are doing a little bit better,” said Garcia. “I don’t know what goes on in their team room, but I know what goes on in ours. It comes easy. It comes naturally.

“Then we will go out there and play the best we can and make sure we have a shot at winning the Cup.”

From the American team, we hear the sound of one hand clapping.

9:45AM

Newsday (N.Y.): Oosthuizen wins British Open by 7 strokes

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday


ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- A matter of believing. That's what Louis Oosthuizen said, about himself. But five days ago, who would have believed he would win the British Open? Who other than the golfing cognoscenti even knew of Louis Oosthuizen, or how to pronounce his name (WUHST-hy-zen)?

Zach Johnson was a surprise when he grabbed the 2007 Masters. And the standard for upsets remains Jack Fleck, who, then a pro at a driving range, stunned the immortal Ben Hogan in a playoff for the 1955 U.S. Open at San Francisco's Olympic Club.

But this ranks up there among surprises in major tournaments. Or did until the end of the second round. Oosthuizen, a 27-year-old South African, in effect won the 139th British Open on Friday, when he finished before the arrival of wind so strong that it caused play to be suspended for an hour and ruined the rest of the field.

He was four shots in front of Paul Casey before teeing off Sunday below the steps of the imposing granite headquarters of the Royal & Ancient Club. Oosthuizen was seven shots ahead when he took the greatest walk in golf, along the 18th fairway of the Old Course, with fans leaning from the windows of the adjoining buildings and cheering wildly.

With a 1-under-par 71, Oosthuizen finished at 16-under 272, never giving anyone else a chance. Lee Westwood of England was a distant second at 70-279. Rory McIlroy, the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland who opened with a course-record 63, shot 68 for 280. That tied McIlroy for third with Casey (75) and Henrik Stenson.

Americans Sean O'Hair and Nick Watney were among four tied for seventh at 282, and Jeff Overton shared 11th at 283.

Tiger and Phil, 1-2 in the world rankings? Woods, three-putting his way to agony and making two double bogeys, shot 72-285 and tied for 23rd. Mickelson, with a poor history in British Opens, stumbled in with a 75 for 289 and a tie for 48th.

The two highlights of Oosthuizen's career, in a manner of speaking, had been his first victory on the European Tour, at the Andalucia Open in March, and then a win in the lighthearted Masters par-3 contest. This is a bit bigger.

"Everyone told me I had the ability,'' Oosthuizen said, "but it was a matter of me believing.''

He's nicknamed "Shrek'' because of a gap in his front teeth.

"My win at Malaga got my mind around things,'' he said. "The way I played at Pebble [in the U.S. Open last month], missing the cut, was disappointing. This week was something different. I made good putts when I had to. I rarely missed a putt under 6 feet.''

Oosthuizen was playing his first Open on the Old Course, and his victory brought back memories of the late Tony Lema. Never having played the British, Lema showed up at St. Andrews in 1964 and without a practice round came in first.

Lema was known as "Champagne Tony,'' because during a tournament in Southern California, he saw the press drinking beer and told them, "If I win, tomorrow you drink champagne.'' He bought it. Sunday, after his win, Oosthuizen had champagne delivered to the media tent.

He is the fourth South African to take the Open, joining Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Ernie Els. On the morning news, Oosthuizen heard that Sunday was the 92nd birthday of former South African president Nelson Mandela.

"It felt a bit special out there,'' Oosthuizen said. "When I walked down 18, I thought about his birthday. What he's done for our country is unbelievable.''

That's a word some might use to describe Oosthuizen's triumph.

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http://www.newsday.com/sports/golf/oosthuizen-wins-british-open-by-7-strokes-1.2116457
Copyright © 2010 Newsday. All rights reserved.
9:13AM

Newsday (N.Y.): Mickelson had it going, then finished poorly

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday


ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Phil Mickelson, who had a chance to overtake Tiger Woods as No. 1 in the world rankings, will not. He did shoot 70 Saturday, but that left him at 2-under-par 214.

"I'm disappointed in myself,'' Mickelson said, "because I let a good round slide. I putted great [he briefly was 4 under] and then I made those bad swings on 16 [double-bogey 6] and 17 and played them 3 over par.''

On 16, trying to play safe off the tee with a 5-iron, he hooked it so badly the ball hit the road that runs along the right side of the hole and bounced into the big, grassy area that's home to concession stands, the merchandise tent. It was miles out of bounds.

Pants on fire

There was an interesting remark from Henrik Stenson about the weather. "The wind,'' he said, "feels like it's trying to rip your pants off, and that's no good.''

Stenson, of course, is the Swedish pro who stripped down to his underwear before wading into a water hazard to play a shot in the 2009 WGC-CA Championship at Doral. Entering the third round at 2 under, Stenson, his pants on, shot a 5-under 67 to move into a tie for fourth at 7 under.

Casey at the bat

A year after a rib muscle forced him to miss three months of the season, Paul Casey is in contention to become the first Englishman to win the British Open since 1992. His 67 put him within four strokes of Louis Oosthuizen. "Sitting here right now, I'm ecstatic," Casey said. "You know, even right now, occasionally I feel the muscles in the ribs. In no way do they affect my golf. But it's a small reminder that quite often you take for granted a lot of things, and nothing is better than an Open Championship at the home of golf."

Chip shots

John Daly's trousers were the wildest of the week, a red-and-black stripe variation of a Cincinnati Bengals helmet pattern; he had a 74 for even-par 216 after starting with a 66 Thursday . . . Rory McIlroy, who led the fist day with a 63, then shot 80, rallied for a 69, despite a double-bogey 6 on 17 the Road Hole . . . Mark Calcavecchia started the day in second place at 7 under, but he began bogey, bogey, and then took a 9 on the par-5 fifth hole that included two penalty shots. But after a 43 on the front nine, Calcavecchia had a 34 on the back for a 77 and 2-under 214.

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http://www.newsday.com/sports/golf/mickelson-had-it-going-then-finished-poorly-1.2114190
Copyright © 2010 Newsday. All rights reserved.
8:08AM

Newsday: This Masters is taking on an English accent

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday


Hoist a glass of Tetley's Bitter.

Have a plate of bangers and mash.

Sing a few choruses of "God Save the Queen.''

Tiger Woods' impressive return to golf notwithstanding, this Masters has taken on an English accent.

Halfway through Masters 2010, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, English to the core, share the lead with 8-under-par totals of 136. If this keeps up, the Waffle House on Riverwatch Parkway may put bubble and squeak on the menu in place of grits.

Only the other day, Westwood said, "I think en masse, we are more equipped to go mob-handed to the major championships now."

What happened Friday at Augusta National lent support to his premise.

Westwood, who will be 37 before the end of April, shot a 3-under 69, which included an eagle 3 on the second hole and a double-bogey 6 on the 14th. The 36-year-old Poulter had a 4-under 68 with five birdies and only one bogey, that coming unfortunately at 18.

So the two Brits, who will be paired in Saturday's round, are two shots ahead of Woods, K.J. Choi, Ricky Barnes, Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson.

"If you had bothered to look at the world rankings,'' Westwood pointed out, "and seen how many English players were up there, and three in the top 10 [Westwood, 4; Paul Casey, 6; Poulter, 7], we're not there by mistake.

"We ought to be contending in these major championships, in the biggest events where the best players contend.''

They are. And they have been.

Poulter, the guy who used to wear trousers made from a Union Jack, finished second to Padraig Harrington in the 2008 British Open. Westwood came within a putt of tying Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate in the 2008 U.S. Open, ending up third, and last year was third in both the British Open, also missing the playoff by a shot, and the PGA Championship.

Winner of the Accenture Match Play in February at Tucson, Poulter was called one of the favorites for this Masters, and that didn't displease him a bit.

"I like that it's going to put a bit of pressure on me,'' Poulter said. "It's going to make me focus. This is a golf course you can't let your mind wander at all, in any way, shape or form. Otherwise, it will penalize you badly.''

Westwood was brilliant a decade ago, even leading the 1999 Masters briefly. He slumped badly in the mid 2000s but came back in 2008.

Asked what a win in a major would mean, Westwood, who has victories on every continent, said, "It's the only thing really missing in my career.''

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http://www.newsday.com/sports/golf/this-masters-is-taking-on-an-english-accent-1.1855184
Copyright © 2010 Newsday. All rights reserved.