IF there is one thing we seem to be very good at these days, it’s not letting go.
Too bad, because some things aren’t worth hanging on to.
Like the 1991 Ryder Cup. Enough already. There are too many ugly memories, too many sordid tales, too many unsporting tastes. History shows the Americans won that edition, but it’s difficult to imagine that the event itself didn’t suffer immeasurable harm.
Yet is anyone surprised that, on the return of the first significant tournament to the Ocean Course since that Ryder Cup 21 years ago, plenty of focus is being thrust upon that contentious match?
An otherwise dignified man who deserves the lifetime achievement award being presented to him by the PGA of America, Dave Stockton on Tuesday helped revive so much of what was wrong with the 1991 Ryder Cup.
Asked about several of the controversies that spice memories of that week, Stockton – who was the American captain – deflected any blame.
“Most of the controversies were in (European captain) Bernard Gallacher’s mind, OK.
“He saw suspicious happenings around every single “freakin’ corner.”
Good gracious, Dave. It’s cemented into the record books, OK. Your American team won. Take a deep breath and enjoy. But take ownership, too.
Yet after rekindling his he-said, she-said battle with Gallacher, Stockton did make an admission of sorts that he may have indeed helped fuel the flames of ill will.
His bosses, the ill-advised group that was running the PGA of America at the time, allowed for the competition to be marketed as the “War By The Shore,” as if it’s harmless fun to compare sports to war, where human lives are lost or altered forever.
To add gas to the fires back then, Stockton – a passionate hunter – gave his blessing to the use of camouflage hats.
“We were just coming out of Desert Storm and I was going to be able to use those hunting hats,” Stockton said.
Though sportsmanship took a back seat that week, what with memories of Paul Azinger and Seve Ballesteros confronting one another and Europeans and Americans taking turns with finger-pointing and snide comments, Stockton insists he orchestrated a number of situations to galvanise the two teams.
But if there was such an effort to unify the teams and tame the hatred that seemed to exist, why did Stockton say he appreciated Tom Watson’s public statement in 1993 that, as American captain, he was on a mission to “get some civility back into it and all that.”
It’s hard to say how much repair was done in 1993, because surely there have been ugly sides to Ryder Cup competitions since.
Nothing compared to 1991, perhaps, which makes you wonder why we can’t try and forget some of the childish behaviour of that week.
The answer may rest in this: It’s difficult to write and talk about a tournament that is under such a massive black cloud – literally; better to dredge up memories and storylines of something that apparently still has shelf life.
How bad are things here at the 94th PGA Championship. Well, you know how players have a routine at the range – they start with the wedges and work their way through the bag?
Well, here at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, they start with a can of bug spray, then they pray that the rain and lightening stay away.
So far, no luck. Practice rounds were interrupted incessantly Monday and Tuesday by powerful storms, one after another, and that continued into Wednesday.
It’s been so miserable that there’s little doubt that assuming play begins on time Thursday morning, there will be competitors who haven’t seen all 18 holes.
Not that they’re missing much, because let’s just say that this might be the least embraced major championship venue these players have encountered.
From the insufferable humidity to the constant thunder and lightning to the fact that endless stretches of sand are being treated as waste areas and not bunkers to the transportation headaches . . . it seems to be a major championship where nothing about tomorrow is anticipated with any sense of joy.
So no wonder people are fixated on yesteryear.
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