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McGinley Weighs In On Manners

Auchterarder, Scotland | Away from the golf, most of the talk at last week’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles was of the previous week’s Solheim Cup, next year’s Ryder Cup, or both. Paul McGinley, who will captain the European side of 2014, was well versed on the European women’s win at Colorado Golf Club. He thought they had played magnificently and that the result would work for the LET in much the same way as the men’s first victory on American soil – in 1987 at Muirfield Village – had given such a boost to their circuit and its finances. However, when the conversation turned to the much-publicised debate on the on- course manners at the Colorado Golf Club, McGinley’s face darkened. At a time when he and Tom Watson have been discussing how they want the Ryder Cup of 2014 to stand out for “passion and electricity combined with integrity,” he did not mind saying that he was not happy with much of what he saw. “I couldn’t believe the way the Americans were walking to the next tee before their opponents had finished putting,” said the Irishman. “They even went on doing it in the singles after they had been lambasted for it over first couple of days. “I’d be very disappointed,” he continued, “if any of my team were to behave like that here at Gleneagles. It’s totally out of order and it’s also counterproductive. You don’t want to give your opponent that kind of ammunition.” Interestingly, putting practices are covered in Section 1 of the Rules of Golf under “On the Putting Green,” with the wording as follows: “On the putting green, players should remain on or close to the putting green until all other players in the group have holed out.” Penalties can be applied where a player “consistently disregards these guidelines.” Moving on to another of the more controversial issues in Colorado, McGinley had a certain sympathy for Stacy Lewis when she had that angry spat with the official who took 20 minutes failing to sort out a ruling. (That official then called for a second opinion which, when it came, was wrong.) Yet, where Lewis complained that such elongated goings-on had cost the Americans their building momentum, McGinley suspected that Lewis had hardly helped herself. He cited a salutary lesson given to him at the start of his collegiate days at the University of San Diego. During the course of a match against UCLA at Torrey Pines, his playing companion, whose name he preferred not to mention, had proceeded to bury his putter in the side of the fourth green. An incensed McGinley had wasted no time in yelling at him and telling him to repair the damage. McGinley, in the wake of that argument, went to pieces himself and ended up with a 78.
“When I got back to base,” he recalled, “I got a rocket from my coach, Gordon Severson. He told me that my playing companion’s antics were nothing to do with me and that it wasn’t my battle. He said that I should have stayed focussed on my golf and that my job was merely to report the incident at the end.” McGinley conceded that an irate outburst from Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal had worked for the Spaniards in the 1991 Ryder Cup but, as a rule of thumb, he felt it was incumbent on top golfers to be seen to be playing the game in the right spirit.


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