Wednesday, 24 September 2008


It isn't because the golf was pretty fantastic: my brother was watching it fanatically so I saw more of it than I usually would, and really admired the play. The Ryder Cup format reveals far more about a golfer's make-up than the usual tournament play...where you're usually out of the real running early, and rarely playing head to head for a title.

But my return to Britain reminded me that there's more truth in the agony of defeat than the joy of victory. Here's a typical reaction story in the English press:

Injection of needle after Poulter and Westwood accuse US of dirty tricks

There are few events that bring out the innate hypcrisy of our English cousins much better than the bi-annual fest of Euro-brotherhood and anti-Yankdom. Remember, that for 723 out of every 730 days, the English indulge in a festival of controlled xenophobia, couched behind their self-regarding faux-modesty, or not in the case of those with shaved heads, bulldog tattoos and union jack underpants. This includes a subtle dislike of all things French, WWII putdowns of all things German, and mildly racist condescension toward all things Mediterranean.

But then, like National Brotherhood Week, along comes the Ryder Cup and WE'RE ALL EUROPEANS NOW! Every London cabbie is pronouncing Jose-Maria Olazabal with a Castillian lisp. A few years ago, after another American choke-fest, I walked into my London post office and the Pakistani clerk chortled and said 'we beat you good!'. WE? I said. It was an ITALIAN who hit the winning shot. He didn't care. I don't know how Oswald Mosley was with a mashie niblick, but I suspect he would not have approved from the old-format Ryder Cup, which excluded the non-British or Irish.

Then there's the assault on America. The golfers are too agressive. Their Stepford wives are too, well, Stepford: though Will Buckley in the Guardian confessed his embarassingly intense love for one golfer's wife in a very funny column. But most importantly, they TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY. Their wives celebrate a winning shot before the other golfer has taken his shot. Their fans cheer misses. They make fun of Colin Montgomerie's excess avoirdupois. They just don't understand sportsmanship. Now, when European crowds stomp their feet on the aluminium bleachers at Valdarama, or cheer American misses that's something different.

But the best part of the Ryder Cup is that when the Americans win, the English fall back into the default mode of whingeing. It's very hard to feel sympathy for the Aussie point of view, but on this sort of occasion, one can see their point. The Yanks, who, when the Euros win, are accused of not taking the Ryder Cup seriously enoough, all of a sudden are taking it too seriously.

Anthony Kim actually BARGED past Ian Poulter, like he was a soccer player. Paul Azinger was actually encouraging the crowd to cheer, partisanly. (I have't yet heard a negative comment about Sergio Garcia's claiming a contorted stance was a normal one, in order to get a drop, as he would've got if it were, say, the British Open, but he's not an American, and for Ryder Cup purposes he got a pass on being a nasty cheating Spaniard and became an English gent.)

Here's the thing though. James Corrigan's article, whose headline appears above, suggests that Kim 'will be a target' at the next Ryder Cup, in Wales two years from now. My question is, if American behaviour is so damn unsporting and we fail to follow the gentlemanly behaviour of the English: WHO THE HELL IS GOING TO TARGET KIM? And with what?

There's losing and there's good losing and then there's English losing, and that's what the empire was all about!

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