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A Great Ryder Cup Rant

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Eric Member Level  Friday, 09/27/02 09:07:43 PM
Re: Uncle_Frank post# 96
Post # of 156 
A Great Ryder Cup Rant

>> Sam's Long Gone

By altering the 10th, Torrance cheated us all.

Rick Reilly
Sports Illustrated
September 27, 2002

Tell me something. If you owned the Mona Lisa, would you add a moustache to her?

If you had a Ferrari Testarossa, would you keep it garaged?

If you were Pam Anderson’s agent, would you make sure she wore a burka?

Then how in the hell can Sam Torrance take the 10th hole at the Belfry -- the most exciting match-play hole in the world -- and make it more boring than The Amish Channel?

The par-4 10th at the Belfry used to be the last page of a Tom Clancy novel, Evil Knievel revving a Harley, President Clinton in front of a grand jury. It was suspense, drama, Indiana Jones. Guys stood on the tee and forgot to breathe.

Now, thanks to Torrance, it’s a warm arugula sandwich, Sunday morning in Milton Keynes, a three-day seminar on gingivitis. It’s the dullest, dumbest, dopiest hole in golf now.

Torrance has moved the tee so far back this week that the best players in the galaxy can no longer try and drive the green. Used to be half the players would try it, especially in the team matches. This week, almost nobody will. It’s suicide. Only one man, Sergio Garcia, tried it Friday and he plopped into the lake.

Now everybody plays it like the Toledo Ladies 9-Hole Championship. Do you realize David Duval hit a 7-iron off that tee Friday morning? Tiger Woods hit an 8-iron! That’s more screwed up than a soup sandwich.

I knew Scots didn’t do tans and tips. I had no idea they didn’t do drama.

Everybody knows why Torrance did it. He did it so the longer hitting Americans couldn’t try to drive the green. Now Woods, Duval, Davis Love, Phil Mickelson, Mark Calcavecchia -- not to mention Darren Clarke and Garcia -- are all stuck laying up like 15-handicap chops. That means the same fans that the British press felt so horribly for because they missed Woods’ nine crummy practice holes Wednesday, now don’t get to see Woods or anybody else hit the single most exciting shot in golf -- going for the green in one.

Hell, if America had known, they’d have brought Fred Funk. Or Billy Mayfair. Or Annika Sorenstam.

"Everybody knows what they say about the 10th," said Love on Friday, "It’s the best match-play hole in the world. Well, this takes the fun out of it."

"I’m really surprised," said American Paul Azinger. "I always felt like No. 10 is the greatest match-play hole I’ve ever seen. Now we’re relegated to 7-iron, pitching wedge. There’s not a lot of drama in that."

What’s the shortest club anybody hits off a par-4 tee in America all year?

"Four-iron at the most," said Duval. "Mostly three and two-iron."

I know, I know. Torrance has the right to do whatever he wants within the rules to win. But what happened to all this talk about "sportsmanship" and "friendly competition?" What happened to respecting a course as it was built? Somewhere, Dave Thomas, co-designer of the hole, must be chewing on a table leg.

What a buzzkill. What else does Torrance do for fun? Drink tonic and tonics? Have the chips removed from chocolate chip cookies? Rent Debbie Does Dishes? "The whole course is set up like that," said Azinger. "They’ve squeezed every fairway at 290 yards just so our long guys have to hit iron all day. Tiger hit driver twice [Friday morning]. On 17, he hit a perfect drive [to try and reach the green in two], but it went through the fairway. It’s 11 yards wide right there. I mean, c’mon, even U.S. Open fairways are 33 yards wide."

It’s not that the Americans got their jocks handed to them. They deserved that. It’s that by emasculating the 10th, by changing it from Days of Thunder to Driving Miss Daisy Torrance has made this Cup as thrilling as reading the white pages.

There’s an answer to all this. The tee markers, pin placements, rough length, green speeds -- all of it -- should be set up by an independent golf body, not by one of the teams competing in the event.

Where else does that happen? When the Boston Red Sox are playing a team with lots of home-run hitters, do they get to move the fences back? When the Denver Broncos are facing a high-scoring team, do they make the field 150 yards long? When Man U is playing Arsenal, do they shrink the goals?

All you have to do is ask the Japanese PGA, or the Australian or the Canadian to set up the course for Ryder Cups from here on in. No more tricks. No more re-designing 100-year-old golf courses in two days. No more fairways so skinny Darren Clarke and Monty can’t walk down them side by side. "That’s possibly doable," Azinger says of the idea. "’Cause what we have now is trickery and trickery is never fun for anyone."

I know, I know. It’s legal. It’s his right. And all he’s doing is trying to win.

That’s all true. But in America, we have a word for it.

Weenie. <<

- ice -


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