JACK NICKLAUS,do you care about golf?
If you do, hearmy plea: You saved the Ryder Cup once. We need you to save it again.
Almost 30 yearsago, when the U.S. was winning all the time, you went to Ryder Cup officialsand begged them to add the rest of Europe to the Great Britain and Irelandteam. You said if they didn't, the Cup might die of one-sided boredom. Theylistened, and it became a thrilling event.
Uh, Jack? Itisn't thrilling anymore. It's as one-sided as a hanging. These guys couldn'twin Big Break IX. The Euros fricasseed us again, last weekend at the K Club inIreland, 18½--9 1/2;, which is exactly how badly they fricasseed us last time.Europe has won five of the last six Cups, and the one U.S. win was the Miraclein Bad Shirts at Brookline in 1999.
We lose withknucklehead captains (Hal Sutton) and organized ones (Tom Lehman). We lose asfavorites (2002 and '04) and underdogs (this year). We lose with Tiger not intoit (1997, 2002, '04) and Tiger not into it ('06). At this point, choosing theAmerican team is like picking towel colors on the Hindenburg.
It's getting sobad, even the Euros are a little embarrassed about it. An hour after theoutcome had been decided on Sunday, their captain, Ian (Boozy Woozy) Woosnam,still didn't have a drink in his hand.
So, Jack, it'stime to come to the aid of your country again. All you have to do is go to theRyder Cup honchos and demand the following rule changes.
• Give usreinforcements. They did it for Europe. They can do it for us. Numberswise,we're the trailer and they're the tornado. Europe's population is 728 million.Ours is 300 million. That's 428 million more people they get to choose from."We could've had two teams up here," Colin Montgomerie said at thewinner's press conference. That's not right. We need a get-even. Tell themwe'll take:
a. South Africa(47 million). That nets us Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.
b. Canada (33million). That gives us Mike Weir.
c. Australia (21million). We'll take Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy. Hell, we'll take anyOgilvy.
d. Fiji (onemillion). Screw team chemistry, give us Vijay.
• Institute adraft. When the Houston Texans are horrible, they get the first pick in thenext draft. O.K., with our No. 1, we'll take Sergio García.
• We wantmulligans. Not on shots, on players. From now on, our captain gets to swap aguy out halfway through if he's stinking up the joint like garlic-scentedGlade. Last week it would've been a tough choice: Phil Mickelson (zero wins,four losses, one tie)? Chris DiMarco (0-3-1)? Or Stevie Williams, Woods'scaddie (one dropped nine-iron on Sunday, into the deep pond on number 7 and notrecovered until a diver fished it out when Tiger was on number 15)? You knowit's over when your caddies start drowning clubs.
• No morefolderol. Opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies, galas, mixed-team dinners?What is this, the Oscars? You think Tiger wants to sit through a two-hourceremony while the mayor's daughter sings And They Called It Ireland? Send himthe video.
• Cancel thehotel reservations. One reason Americans do so badly in this thing is that theyget thrown out of their routines. The Europeans may have better chemistrybecause they all stay in the same hotels on their tour, but we don't. Americangolfers are like mini corporations. Their "team" is their jet, wife,two nannies, agent, sports psychologist, swing coach and Pilates instructor.They rent 10,000-square-foot homes, not hotel rooms. So they don't want to playFoosball with the gang at 3 a.m. Get over it.
• No moreuniforms. Our guys love their endorsements. They need their endorsements.Without all those patches on their shirts, maybe our guys feel like they'reswinging in a Donna Karan blouse. So no more matching everybody up in the SearsJohnny Miller collection.
• Pay 'em. TheRyder Cup is a cash machine for the networks, the PGA of America, the Europeantour, the concessionaires, the host club—everybody. The reason the tournamentwent to the K Club is because it was payback to the owner from the Europeantour. The only people not cashing in are the only people that matter—theplayers. One catch: Make it winner-take-all. Let's see if the boys get into itthen.
After thematches on Sunday, with the victors gathered on the balcony of the clubhouse,thousands of giddy and drunken European fans gathered below and serenaded theirheroes with Cockles and Mussels ... "Alive, alive, ohhh-ohhh."
But if somethingdoesn't change soon, Jack, this thing is dead.
If you have acomment for Rick Reilly, send it to email@example.com.
Institute a draft for the Ryder Cup. When the HoustonTexans are horrible, they get the first pick in the draft. O.K., with our No.1, we'll take Sergio García.
RIFFS of REILLY
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