Desmond Kane

Silencing loudmouth American fans is real aim of Europe’s Ryder Cup team

Desmond Kane
Desmond Kane

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It is a shame that the gone but not forgotten Boo Weekley is not adorning this week's Ryder Cup in Chicago. If ever there was a figure who represented the average American golf fan at the Ryder Cup, it was Boo and his homely Southern drawl.

With the ambience at Chicago's Medinah Country Club apparently about to resemble finding one's self ensconced in the bleachers of the nearby Wrigley Field, golf's self-styled redneck would have been in his element dissolving into such times of shameless nationalistic fervour. Not that the US galleries need any invitation to fraternise with high jinks when Ryder Cups are hosted by the US.

When the USA last won the Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club in 2008, Weekley drunk in the moment, and literally ran with it. Chants of "Boo-S-A" could be heard booming around the landscape as a typically boisterous crowd in Kentucky raucously dovetailed with the American team, and Weekley in particular, to oversee a fairly gigantic five-point win over a European team seemingly led astray by Nick Faldo's eccentric captaincy.

The grip and rip it tactics of Weekley and JB Holmes provided a fearsome pairing in the fourballs before Weekley indulged in a spot of bravado by riding his driver like a horse on the first fairway on his way to a 4 and 2 win in the singles over Oliver Wilson. Weekley looked like a bloke who would have happily swapped his golf gear for a few brewskis with the charged-up galleries.

The stereotype of the average American watching the Ryder Cup is one of an obese bloke wearing bermuda shorts, an ill-fitting t-shirt with a few lagers in hand who likes to shout 'you da man' or 'get in the hole' before a ball is struck, the kind of person who revels in having the Stars and Stripes clenched to his front porch.

In using the Ryder Cup as some sort of social map, there remains a suspicion that most Americans do not care much for what goes on beyond their borders. It seems to be mimicked by golf in the States. The majority of the US golf tour continue to remain fastened to America because they are safe to cart a wheelbarrow around every week earning substantial sums despite never winning a tournament. Large place money leaves journeymen golfers without the urge or need to travel elsewhere.

Of course, Weekley, however insular he came across, was only following the antics of Corey Pavin galloping around Kiawah Island in 1991 donning a Desert Storm cap from that year's Gulf War. Or the time members of the American team and officials raced onto the 17th green at Brookline in Massachusetts to greet Justin Leonard after he had sunk a monstrous putt on the final day's singles.

With this year's European captain Jose Maria Olazabal yet to putt to keep alive the match, it was an act of gamesmanship bordering on cheating. Earlier in the day, Colin Montgomerie had been constantly heckled and branded Mrs Doubtfire during his singles match with Payne Stewart. On those three occasions, 1991, 1999 and 2008, the US disturbed Europe sufficiently enough to win the trophy.

Weekley seemed to fit a spectator's stereotype when I caught up with him at the Scottish Open a year or so after his shenanigans at the Ryder Cup with a rare trip to Europe. It was no act. For instance, he told a press conference he did not know that St Andrews in Scotland was regarded as the home of golf. Or that Sandy Lyle had won the US Masters.

"I don't know nothing about the history of golf," he said. "It was like I was sitting in there yesterday with Sandy Lyle and I never even knew he won the Masters. Seriously, I don't keep up with golf."

When I spoke to him a day or so later in and around Loch Lomond, Weekley was not exactly in the mood to broaden his horizons, so to speak. "I won't be doing any sightseeing while I'm over here... right now I have to get some lunch."

American fans will point out that European supporters cheered as a series of US players emptied balls into the drink at the 18th hole of the 1985, 1989 and 1993 Ryder Cups at The Belfry, but then their general awareness of the tournament has only increased by Europe winning the old pot.

There must surely be a fear that Medinah will have similar problems as Brookline in containing the fans' emotions, especially if it gets close on Sunday evening. The Ryder Cup is a tournament ripe for ignorant, boorish fans to excel as much as the golfers if beer-swilling punters are having a few pints of confidence from early on.

Having watched the White Sox play baseball and attended the Arlington Million in horse racing, I can testify that Chicago is a terrific city to visit. But its appetite for all things sporting make this a recipe for a golf tournament played in front of football fans. The lack of American success in winning only two of the eight previous matches make it even more susceptible to be plagued by louts. It is golf, but not as we know it.

In a week in which the British Prime Minister David Cameron was berated in some quarters for his lack of knowledge on select items from UK history during his appearance on the David Letterman show, Letterman was not much more impressive in disguising his own ignorance. "Northern Ireland is part of England?" he asked Cameron while referring to the British Empire as if it remained relevant.

The British Empire is not about to return with a European win, but the main inspiration for the travelling party is surely the idea of silencing some doughy locals.

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