By the time most of you read this the story will probably be old news but it is something I feel that I must get off my chest. It is on the topic of Paul Casey's comments about the United States and Tom Lehman. For those of you who don't know the story, it sprang up from an interview conducted with Paul Casey recently where he said that during Ryder Cup week he "properly hated" the Americans and also questioned the decision to name Tom Lehman as the next American Ryder Cup Captain. In the media firestorm that ensued Casey has since apologized for his comments and tried to explain his comments to the media.
The unfortunate thing is that in today's media comments are taken out of context constantly. Anybody who has played sports competitively can surely understand the idea of building up a hatred for your opponent prior to a big match. Look at the heated rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox. Every time they play each other we hear about how much they "hate" each other or how much the fans "hate" each other. The same thing applies in Football, Basketball, Soccer or whatever the sport may be. Building up this hatred is a technique used by many athletes to prepare themselves mentally. It is maybe unfortunate that Casey worded his statement in the manner in which he did but there is no doubt that there were a number of golfers on each side who mentally hated the other team for that week. There is also no doubt in my mind that when he made this statement he was referring only to hating the American Ryder Cup team and not the entire USA or the people living in it. As he stated if he indeed did hate the USA and the people there then he wouldn't golf there, he wouldn't have friends or a girlfriend or a coach there, and he most certainly wouldn't live there.
The other comment made by Paul Casey was that he was surprised that Tom Lehman was named the next Ryder Cup Captain and criticized the decision. Casey said his comment was based on Lehman's actions at the '99 Ryder Cup in Brookline where he was one of the first players to run onto the green to celebrate Justin Leonard's putt going in, as well as some comments he had heard from several American players. Tiger Woods has also spoken on the issue of the captaincy and said that he also didn't agree with the decision stating that he felt his buddy Mark O'Meara would have been the best choice. So far I haven't heard any news about Tiger getting a public spanking. Again this was maybe not the best choice of statements for Casey to make but if the American players are questioning the decision of captaincy than maybe it shouldn't be an issue when outsiders make critical comments too.
The thing that really burns me on this issue however is that many Americans need to take a long hard look in the mirror before they start to get all wound up about things like this. After the way the Europeans have been treated at recent Ryder Cups at Brookline, and Oak Hill is it any wonder why they have a bad taste in their mouths? How about the way Colin Montgomerie and Sergio Garcia have been taunted in past U.S. Opens? This is the national championship and spectators show up and disgrace it by screaming obscenities at foreign players. The U.S. fans in general are very supportive of their teams but at the same time quite disrespectful towards their opponents. It is one thing to be patriotic about your country, without question the US has many things to be patriotic about, but drunken, boorish fans are certainly not one of them.
There are too many international countries in which Americans come off as ignorant, cocky, and loud. The majority of this has to do with the fact that Americans have so much pride in their own country, but they don't always display it in the subtlest fashion. All of the bravado, and screaming, and yelling can easily rub someone the wrong way. Waving a flag is seen as a great symbol of loyalty. Waving a flag in somebody's face is obnoxious and disrespectful. If you are rude to your visitors can you get upset when they say they dislike you?
While Paul Casey may not have chosen the best time or manner to express his opinions, it is certainly easy to see where they stem from. He is simply reflecting what he has seen and what he has heard from European players for years. As sportsmanlike as the European Ryder Cup teams and fans have been in victory and defeat, it is a different story as soon as they cross the Atlantic. Most everyone would agree that the fans this year at Oakland Hills were very courteous and polite and if this continues then maybe the opinions of the European golfers will change. If not, we can only expect comments like the ones made by Paul Casey to continue in the future.