The incident that may have sparked the comeback for the ages at the Solheim Cup on Sunday instead threatens to overshadow it.
The character of the U.S. team in overcoming a 10-6 deficit to eventually win 14 1/2 – 13 1/2 against Europe was seemingly being erased even on Monday morning by accusations of lack of character on the part of petulant Suzann Pettersen for her role as a main player in this fourball controversy. You can read more about that here.
Had a Euro win been decided by one point, the obsession with Pettersen’s bad girl routine, stories such as this one from the Guardian in the U.K., would have been understandable, but while the high road is smooth and scenic, the Americans took a dusty, bumpy path, with bridges out and trolls demanding tolls, to victory.
That’s what should be celebrated today, especially with it being the Americans’ first win since 2009, but instead the focus is on Pettersen’s apology for her actions.
I've never felt more gutted and truly sad about what went down Sunday on the 17th at the Solheim Cup. I am so sorry for not thinking about the bigger picture in the heat of the battle and competition. I was trying my hardest for my team and put the single match and the point that could be earned ahead of sportsmanship and the game of golf itself! I feel like I let my team down and I am sorry. To the U.S. team, you guys have a great leader in Juli , who I've always looked up to and respect so much. Knowing I need to make things "right," I had a face to face chat with her before leaving Germany this morning to tell her in person how I really feel about all of this. I wanted her also to know that I am sorry. I hope in time the U.S. team will forgive me and know that I have learned a valuable lesson about what is truly important in this great game of golf which has given me so much in my life. To the fans of golf who watched the competition on TV, I am sorry for the way I carried myself. I can be so much better and being an ambassador for this great game means a lot to me. The Solheim Cup has been a huge part of my career. I wish I could change Sunday for many reasons. Unfortunately I can't. This week I want to push forward toward another opportunity to earn the Solheim Cup back for Europe in the right way. And I want to work hard to earn back your belief in me as someone who plays hard, plays fair and plays the great game of golf the right way.
That too shall pass as the Pettersen incident fades into history, but there is no stain on golf or the Solheim Cup as those given to hyperbole and headlines keep spewing out.
I have yet to see the suggestion that all putts be finished up as it is in regular tour events because of an unwritten code that often doesn’t apply to the real world of competition.
Of course, there are examples of good form that highlight such competitions, such as the 1969 Ryder Cup, where Jack Nicklaus famously conceded a putt to Tony Jacklin in what eventually ended as draw.
As darkness set in at the 2003 Presidents Cup, Nicklaus and International captain Gary Player finally decided to call it a true draw when play couldn’t continue, even if the Americans did have the right to retain the Cup. They instead agreed to share it for two years.
In a perfect world, sportsmanship should prevail, but the reality is that it often doesn’t.
There was the infamous War by the Shore at the 1991 Ryder Cup, where the Americans took their first win since 1983 in front of a partisan crowd and a full military theme in the midst of the Gulf War.
There was the 1999 Ryder Cup, now known as the Battle of Brookline, where the Americans stormed the 17th green when Justin Leonard sunk a putt from another area code to clinch an American victory before Jose Maria Olazabel could attempt his putt.
The Solheim Cup isn’t without previous controversies either. In 1998, the Europeans set up a Dottie Pepper punching bag because she had become so annoying in an eventual U.S. victory.
In 2000, Annika Sorenstam was in tears after she chipped in a 25-footer, but was forced to replay her shot when the Americans pointed out that she had gone out of turn. Once again, lack of sportsmanship was the accusation.
All of these situations could have been handled better, but the fact is, they all took place in the heat of battle. Much to our chagrin, golf isn’t completely sanitary. To imply that there is some indelible stain on golf or the Solheim Cup is going way over the top.
There is no stain on golf or the Solheim Cup today, just a remarkable comeback that should be what’s remembered going forward.
Despite tornados, forest fires and increasingly violent storms reported across Canada this year, 68 per cent of respondents to last week’s GNN Poll says the operations where they’re employed have not discussed, updated or implemented new business practices, policies or procedures to deal with such events … This week’s poll asks if golf loosening up, as Greg Norman suggested in a recent article, and making a greater effort to appeal to young people, families and women? At this writing, it was close with 52 per cent saying yes. You can still cast your vote on the GNN home page.