Revisionist History

August 25, 2002

When I look at next month's Ryder Cup, I see a missed
opportunity. I see what might have been had the 2001 match been
played, as scheduled, 17 days after the terrorist attacks of
Sept. 11.

I see initial opposition giving way to the realization that a
golf match, of all things, between allies would showcase our
solidarity. I see the Ryder Cup itself, adrift for years in a
sea of ill will, benefiting too.

I see fearlessness. I see Jesse Owens sprinting past Adolf
Hitler's box in the 1936 Olympics, making a statement the world
has never forgotten. I see privileged, self-absorbed golfers
risking their comfort and safety to send an equally important
message, and by doing so, honoring the firefighters, police and
rescue workers who gave us courage.

I see inspiration. I see the game's No. 1 player putting aside
his fears and insisting on playing. I see his bold stance
single-handedly swaying the decision to proceed. I hear Tiger
Woods saying, "This is something we need to do--for everyone." And
I hear PGA of America CEO Jim Awtrey adding, "If we give up, the
terrorists win. Therefore, we will never, ever give up."

I see unity. I see Tiger and David Duval walking down the 18th
fairway at the Belfry arm in arm with their opponents, Sergio
Garcia and Jesper Parnevik, their hats off in a gesture of mutual
respect and acknowledgment. I see Mark Calcavecchia and Colin
Montgomerie, who were both accused of choking in a memorably bad
match in 1991, laying to rest their ghosts and embracing after
their hard-fought rematch ends in another draw. I see Darren
Clarke offering Hal Sutton a cigar and a light. I see Lee
Westwood wearing a baseball cap bearing an FDNY logo and Jim
Furyk pulling a miniature British flag from his bag and waving it
at the fans.

I see captains Curtis Strange and Sam Torrance, hands over
hearts, proudly standing beneath the Stars and Stripes and the
Union Jack at half-mast as a lone fighter streaks across the
empty sky. I see the two sides abandoning their team rooms that
first night at the Belfry and starting a new Ryder Cup tradition:
dinner together, every night. I see friendly rivals. No, I just
see friends.

I see a somber Rudy Giuliani--on the giant TV screen near the
practice range--apologizing for being unable to make it to the
Belfry, then thanking the participants for helping America, and
the world, get back to business as usual. I see President Bush
calling the Europeans' locker room as well as the Americans' to
offer best wishes.

I see Paul Azinger being introduced on the 1st tee and then
having to wait seemingly forever to play because of the endless
ovation he receives from the British fans, whose displays of
sympathy and friendship throughout the week make everyone forget
the lapses in sportsmanship at Brookline the last time the event
was played.

I see exciting matches at the Belfry, where the winning isn't as
important as the playing. I see fans cheering as loudly for the
losers as for the winners and then, on Sunday evening, going nuts
when Strange and Torrance hoist the Cup together at the closing
ceremony.

I see great golf and a terrific ideal reborn. I see, I think,
Samuel Ryder applauding the decision to go on with the show.

I see a Ryder Cup that never was and, sadly, never will be.

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION BY THOMAS REIS I WANTED YOU TO PLAY THE 2001 RYDER CUP SECOND THOUGHTS By putting off the Ryder Cup, golf missed a chance to do something patriotic.

I see the two sides abandoning their team rooms and starting a
new Ryder Cup tradition: dinner together, every night.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)