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Ryder needs new rules

If the U.S. is ever going to defeat Europe, these changes need to be made

Posted: Tuesday September 21, 2004 2:36AM; Updated: Tuesday September 21, 2004 3:22PM
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Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie and the Europeans don't have trouble getting motivated for the Ryder Cup.

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- America is sick of losing these Ryder Cups. Sick, sicker, sickest. The Euros have whupped the bejesus out of us now four of the last five times and, as American player Kenny Perry brooded on Sunday afternoon, "They might go right on beating us."

We give up. We concede. We realize something's gotta change. And we realize the thing that must change is the rules.

Therefore, here are the official and permanent new Ryder Cup rules -- designed to make these matches fair again -- effective immediately, if not sooner.

1. European players must play in their natural hair color. No more frosts, no more highlights. Whoever their colorist is, she's killer good. They all turn into Sampson. 

2. No more cigars on the course. And no more having so damn much fun. Everybody has to play these matches like the Americans, as though they're on their way to gum surgery.

3. All European golf fans must attend the American Fan School of Mime, as U.S. fans do now. For two weeks, crowds here were told to "behave", not "upset" our "European guests." Just as they were in Athens for the Olympics, American fans since the Iraq invasion have been told to be "polite", keep a low profile, not do anything to make the world hate us more. As a result, 35,000 people here sounded like 350. It was as though they were clapping in handcuffs and mittens. The 5,000 or so Euros, meanwhile, draped themselves in flags and crazy wigs and yelled themselves goofy. Well, that's over. Irish fans will be required to take Valium before entering the grounds in 2006.

4. American teams must pander to the crowds at all costs, the way Europe does. Both teams at this Cup were told not to sign autographs on the course. The Americans complied. The Europeans, meanwhile, were signing on the greens, tees and and everywhere in between. It was a great strategy that had the usually gritty Detroit-area crowds nuzzling at the European players' thighs. "Signing autographs ... worked in our favor," admitted Colin Montgomerie. And since the Yanks didn't sign, they looked like Scrooge in golf slacks. From now on, we cheat.

5. This thing is totally out of balance. Europe is a cumulative 16 points ahead of the U.S. since 1983. Therefore, we've changed the citizenship rules. From now on, European players must golf for America if ...

• They live in America (Luke Donald.)
• They ever went to school in America (Donald, Paul Casey, Colin Montgomerie.)
• They ever married or dated an American (Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, a whole slew of others.)
• They have houses in America (Langer, Faldo, Sergio Garcia).
• They have ever voted illegally in Florida (the rest).

6. No more picking homespun American captains who issue funny quotes but make funny decisions. Yank boss Hal Sutton made so many boneheaded moves you'd have sworn he was sniffing golf-grip epoxy. He proudly paired Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, saying the pair would be "stronger n' new rope." But these are the two biggest egos in golf today. It's like pairing Britney Spears with Christina Aguilera. They're great, but not together. They went 0-for-Friday and put a wet blanket on the U.S. that it never shook off.

For some odd reason, Sutton also chose to play four-balls first, even though he admitted, "We play better at foursomes." Perfect! This way you can give all the momentum to Europe right from the start!

Then he decided to walk on Saturday instead of ride in his buggy because "I wanted to show them how much I care," he said. Except then he admitted he couldn't get to all the holes he needed to give them vital information. Uh, duh.

Sutton seemed bent on coaching like a tobacco-stained football coach, giving his players an "ass-chewing" on Friday night after losing the first day 6.5 to 1.5, and throwing at least one of them under the bus each night during his press conferences. "Everybody is walking around terrified," said one non-player in the U.S. team room. "Every single player thinks Hal is about to bench them. Every single player thinks they're in the envelope." By the end, some of the players must've wanted to hang him. With old rope.

7. No more wives. No reason, really, except we're just sick of seeing them in matching outfits that make all of them look like Miss Dowdy, 1956. In what other sport, do the wives get to come in the team room for strategy sessions? It's emasculating and awkward.

8. No more President's Cup. This is the bi-annual phonied-up Ryder Cup rip-off matches dreamed up by the PGA Tour in which America plays their hated rivals Countries Which Aren't in Europe. No wonder Europe comes to these things as frisky as new puppies. They don't have to go through the epic stress of them every year like the U.S. "It takes it out of you," complains Tiger Woods.

9. Speaking of Woods, he's not welcome on the American team anymore until he actually wants to play in these. He always seems to play these things with all the enthusiasm of a man forced to take a bath with his mother-in-law. And since he's the big dog, everybody follows his lead. Great player. Lousy team player.

10. Just as England and Ireland were allowed to add Continental Europe in 1981 to restore the balances of these Ryder Cup matches, America will also be allowed to add a region. We take Fiji.

Rick Reilly, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, has been voted National Sportswriter of the Year nine times.