In case you weren't aware, the Solheim Cup, the female equivalent of the Ryder Cup,
takes place between Europe and the US at Killeen Castle near Dublin in Ireland over
the weekend. Beginning on Friday and ending on Sunday, organisers are predictably giving
the biennial tournament the big sell.
"3 days. 2 continents. 1 Solheim Cup. It's
showtime." But showtime without the bitchiness. Bitchiness and the Solheim Cup is so last year, darling. The event no longer carries with
it a collection of snide players, according to the veteran European golfer and one-time ladies' world number one Laura Davies. Which is a crying shame really, for all concerned.
The somewhat feisty American player Dottie Pepper celebrated
like there was no tomorrow when Davies missed a putt during the 1994 competition before responding to questions about her behaviour by retorting: "I don't care."
Catrin Nilsmark - the 2003 European Solheim Cup captain - described
the American player Cristie Kerr as "a litte brat" while commenting that her playing companion Michelle
Redman "had no talent". It is perhaps no coincidence that Nilsmark oversaw Europe's last win in the tournament eight years ago. Or maybe it is. Maybe European women are just not good enough to emulate their male counterparts.
Davies is adamant that the bad old days of grudges are behind
the players in the event.
"The needle was a few years back when Dottie Pepper was
on the (US) team," explained Davies."She's a good friend of mine, but
we had a few words and other players have had words over the years.
"But I think the last four or five versions of the
Solheim Cup, there's really been no needle that I can remember that stands out.
"There's always a bit of chatting and a bit of banter
but that's what makes the Solheim Cup what it is."
Which is a pity, because gamesmanship, questionable manners
and a disregard - healthy or otherwise - for a struggling opponent may not be in
keeping with the etiquette of golf, but it certainly spices up such feisty team tournaments, especially when the US are on the sort of winning streak that saw
GB and Ireland morph into Europe in the late 1970s to return some sense of competitive element to the Ryder Cup.
It is squabbled over in the same format as the Ryder Cup: eight foursomes, eight four-balls and 12 singles on Sunday, which tends to be the day when the the trophy returns to America. In 11 meetings since 1990, Europe have won only three. They have lost the past three.
Does anybody really want to hear about the game and plucky
fighting qualities of a beaten opponent during such confrontations? Would Wayne Rooney refuse to celebrate if he stuck one past Joe Hart from 30 yards in a Manchester derby because they play together with England in football? If somebody wants to celebrate a missed putt, so be it. It is all good for the viewing audience.
It is surely better to be
like Justin Leonard and run over your opponent's line when he is still to putt, as the American player did after canning what felt like a putt from 50 yards against Jose Maria Olazabal during the singles in 1999. From what I recall, Europe were never shy about celebrating when they were winning.
Better still, be like the former European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance, who derided Tom Lehman after he lost the plot when draining one from distance against Lee Westwood in the same singles back at Brookline.
"It was disgusting and Tom Lehman calls himself a man of God," said Torrance. "His behaviour today was disgusting."
Yep, no doubt about it. The women could learning a thing or two from the men about being a bitch when it comes
to team competitions.
Who knows? It may even help them win the thing back, which is surely the whole point of turning up in Dublin on an autumnal weekend in September. Unless you are on the lash.
Lookers, not hookers (of the golf ball)
At the risk of being called sexist, Bunker Mentality decided to pick out a few of the players who make the cut even with a card full of bogeys. Spain's Azahara Muno has won one tournament, but likes to play tennis and shop when she is away from the golf course. She is looking not too terrible on it.
Making her fourth appearance in a Solheim Cup, Paula Creamer enjoys fashion, movies and music and shopping. She is undefeated in singles play at the tournament, and is the defending women's US Open champion.
She did not make the US team after three winning appearances in 2005, 2007 and 2009, but with a figure as good as a hole-in-one, BM decided a gratuitous picture of the American golfer Natalie Gulbis was worth it. Not much you can say about Gulbis, except that she brightens the game of golf and this Solheim Cup is poorer for her absence.
The spirt of Nilsmark
BM's advice to the European captain Alison Nicholas is to recall former leader Catrin Nilsmark's behaviour in 2002. She derided some of the US team yet ended up overseeing a crushing 17.5-10.5 victory over their foes only a matter of months later.
Nilsmark on Michelle Redman: "'I have to admire Michelle. She has absolutely no talent but still she keeps up with the best in the world."
Nilsmark on Cristie Kerr: ''The one I least of all would want to lose against. A little brat who has actually played really well this year.''