Acting like gentlemen is so 20th century
Trash talk spreads in advance of tournament
CHASKA, MINN. — I thought this was a gentleman’s game, a sport of hat removals, handshakes and $2 Nassaus.
A golf clap is tame, right? And isn’t this the sport in which players call penalties on themselves and the TV commentators whisper into their microphones?
Against this backdrop, the Ryder Cup has somehow become a bubbling caldron of trash talk.
The insults that got everyone’s attention Wednesday at Hazeltine National came from P.J. Willett, the brother of Danny Willett, the Masters champion from England.
P.J. called American fans a “baying mob of imbeciles” — a catchy phrase that required me to look up baying (“howling, especially with a deep, prolonged sound”).
More from P.J., whose piece appeared on NationalClubGolfer.com: The Europeans “need to silence the pudgy, basement-dwelling, irritants, stuffed on cookie dough and pissy beer, pausing between mouthfuls of hotdog so they can scream ‘Baba booey’ until their jelly faces turn red. They need to stun the angry, unwashed, Make America Great Again swarm, desperately gripping their concealed-carry compensators. ... They need to smash the obnoxious dads, with their shiny teeth, Lego man hair, medicated ex-wives, and resentful children. Squeezed into their cargo shorts and boating shoes, they’ll bellow ‘get in the hole’ whilst highfiving all the other members of the Dentists’ Big Game Hunt Society.”
It’s all obviously satirical, something P.J. implied in subsequent tweets. But we’re an easily offended society these days, so Danny Willett apologized instead of asking, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Danny said he told his brother he was “obviously disappointed” because “the American fans took me under their wing fantastically back in April.”
European captain Darren Clarke called the piece “very disappointing ... That is not the way we view things.”
Minnesotans are some of the most polite people on Earth, but Willett now has a target on his back.
Then again, isn’t every Ryder Cup player — and certainly every captain — under the microscope?
U.S. captain Davis Love III has been taking flak for calling the Americans the “best team, maybe, ever assembled.”
Love said his comments were taken out of context, that he was merely saying what Englishman Danny Willett apologized for his brother’s trash talk about Americans; other insults flew back and forth. he would tell his players to fire them up. But Europe’s Rory McIlroy responded by saying the Love line provided motivation.
Then there was NBC-Golf Channel analyst Johnny Miller describing Europe as “on paper, the worst team they’ve had in many years.”
Clarke’s response: “We have the Masters champion [Willett], we have the Open champion [Henrik Stenson], we have the Olympic champion [Justin Rose] and we have the FedEx champion,” McIlroy.
They’ve also won six of the past seven Ryder Cups, in part because the Americans love to bicker and question the ability of their captains.
Phil Mickelson undressed Tom Watson two years ago and on Wednesday he took aim at Hal Sutton, who paired him with Tiger Woods in 2004. The oil-and-water combo got flushed in both of its matches.
Mickelson said the pairing didn’t work because he plays a low-spin ball and Woods plays a high-spinner: “So I tried to learn his golf ball in a four- or five-hour session. ... It forced me to stop my preparation, to stop chipping and putting and sharpening my game and stop learning the golf course. ... The captain is the whole foundation of the team. You play how you prepare.”
Sutton fired back, telling Golfweek magazine: “I think Phil better get his mind on what he needs to have it on this week instead of on something that happened [more than] 10 years ago. ... It couldn’t be their fault. It had to be somebody else’s fault. It had to be Hal Sutton’s fault.”
Indeed, everything is someone else’s fault.
Isn’t that right, you baying mob of imbeciles? Hazeltine National Golf Club Chaska, Minn. TV: Friday, 7:30 a.m., Golf Channel; Saturday, 8 a.m., chs. 11, 4; Sunday, 11 a.m., chs. 11, 4
Jermon Bushrod (Towson University) and the Dolphins will face the Bengals tonight