Golf is a unique sport. You play against yourself. The ball is static and no one is tackling, pushing or kicking you. Its core values are honesty and honour. It has given a great gift to the world – that of heightened sports etiquette. Witness the recent case of 31 year old Londoner playing on the US PGA circuit ………………………………..
He was about to win his first tournament when he asked a referee to check the TV’s slow motion replay to see if he had moved a reed slightly (thereby incurring a penalty and effectively forfeiting the opportunity to win). Brian Davis is a hero who quietly chose honour and the essence of sportsmanship over big prize money.
Then comes the Ryder Cup when the world’s best professional golfers abandon money (there is no prize money nor any appearance money – just a fat wad of honour and respect). And when the European captain, Colin Montgomerie and the US captain, Corey Pavin, sat side by side yesterday at the media conference at Celtic Manor in Wales they showed such great respect for each other and for the history of this unique competition. It only comes round every two years.
Photo: Dan Perry www.danperry.com
So here’s a two part post acknowledging some special Ryder Cup moments (plus a few extra) and revealing great golfers who had great hearts – as they simply made the world a better place.
America’s Arnold Palmer won 7 majors and also played in six US Ryder Cup teams (1961,1963, 1965, 1967, 1971, 1973). He captained the team in 1963 and came back 12 years later to captain it once again. He almost single handedly made ‘The Open’ (the British Open) what it is today as prior to Palmer few Americans would travel over for it. He once said: ‘I’ve got a strong feeling that golf is a great vehicle to bring nations closer together. If I could get all the war torn nations of the world and have the war lords play golf together, I could solve the world’s problems and we could all be peace loving people. That may sound far fetched, but it’s what I believe.”
Although South Africa’s Gary Player would never play in the Ryder Cup, he did bring nations closer together, in his own way. He took his famous black caddie, Alfred Dyer, all over the world with him at a time when this was unheard of in apartheid South Africa. He won all four major championships and was the first non-American to win the US Masters. He was also the only 20th century golfer to win ‘The Open’ in three different decades (1959, 1968 & 1974). He has donated his winnings to charity and funded educational charities in South Africa and in his adopted home, America.
Then came those magical Ryder Cup moments in 1969, 2006, 2010 (Jacklin, Nicklaus, Leyman, Clarke, Mickleson, McGinley and Monty). …….see part 2 (on Thursday).
Note: For the full story of each of these see Great Moments Of Sportsmanship – a collection of true 2 minute stories about sportsmanship with the foreword written by Paul McGinley. Also See