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SPORTS WEEKEND | GOLF

Hope Is for Peace in Ryder Wars

August 18, 2000|THOMAS BONK

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Ryder Cup is 13 months away and you would have to figure that the lingering effects of Brookline will be long gone by then. Or will they?

The lasting image of the U.S. victory last September is Justin Leonard making that 45-foot putt on the 17th hole on Sunday and the wild celebration by the U.S. team afterward, touching off a huge controversy from the Europeans about bad sportsmanship.

Next year, the U.S. takes its act on the road, to the Belfry in England, where it will be Europe's turn to serve as host.

Curtis Strange, the U.S. captain, says he has talked to his counterpart, Sam Torrance, and they expect nothing ugly to happen.

"I think etiquette on the golf course--and it feeds down from the captains--it will go to the players and to the fans," Strange said. "So it starts with us.

"Do I expect them to retaliate? No, absolutely not."

Strange said he has read Mark James' Ryder Cup book, which Ben Crenshaw--the U.S. captain at Brookline--called largely "un-American." Strange said James, the European captain last year, is entitled to his opinion.

"I thought we crossed the line a little bit, but how do you hold the reins back on spontaneous emotion?" Strange said. "It is a wonderful thing. Everybody wants to see the U.S. team come together and . . . when we did cross the line, I mean, we apologized. Let's go on."

STRANGE, BUT TRUE

Second-best event of the week in Louisville: School bus figure-eight racing will be held Saturday night at the Fair Grounds.

THANK YOU

The question and answer of the week:

Question: "Tiger Woods has worked for two years diligently on changing and tightening up his swing. Are you working toward some goal on your swing and could that possibly be the reason that you haven't won this year?"

Sergio Garcia: "No."

JACK ON TIGER

When he was in the same group with Woods on Thursday, it was the first time Jack Nicklaus had played with Woods in a competitive round. Nicklaus said it reminded him of the 1971 PGA Championship, when was paired with Gene Sarazen.

"It was a real privilege for me to play with [Woods] and it was fun," Nicklaus said. "I am sure that he had the opportunity to get to watch me in the prime of my career. And I am getting the opportunity to watch Tiger in the prime of his career in competition. It was something I have wanted to do."

Nicklaus hinted that the PGA might be his last major.

"If it is my last major championship or isn't my last major championship, doesn't make any difference. I have had a unique experience and I have enjoyed it very much."

MORE JACK

Nicklaus on "Tiger-proofing" golf courses: "The more yardage you put on the golf course, the more dominant he is going to be."

BROWN DERBY

Mark Brown, 34, is the club pro at Tam O'Shanter Club in Brookville, N.Y., and he is playing in his first PGA Championship. He shot a one-under-par 71.

Brown's playing partner, Jean Van de Velde, asked Brown how many tour events he has played.

Uh, none, Brown said.

"I told him I sell clothes [at the pro shop]," he said.

Van de Velde couldn't believe it.

"That is pretty depressing, isn't it?" Van de Velde said. "For us, I mean. He hits the ball 10 times better than I did. What was he thinking about?"

WE UNDERSTAND

Van de Velde says he likes the reception from the galleries in the U.S. and at Valhalla.

"I don't like it when there is too much water around," he said.

MONEY NEWS

The prize money at the PGA Championship is $5 million, the highest for any major. The winner's share of $900,000 is also a record.

Vijay Singh made $828,000 for winning the Masters and Woods made $800,000 for winning the U.S. Open and $759,150 for his victory at the British Open.

BUSINESS UPDATE

Charles Howell signed an endorsement deal with Callaway reported to be three years and $3 million. He will use a Callaway ball, irons and woods and wear a logo on his bag and cap.

Beth Bauer, 20, of Duke signed with Gaylord Sports Management and will try the first stage of LPGA qualifying later this month.

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