So much was made about the celebrating by U.S. players and their families and fans after the team's come-from-behind victory in the Ryder Cup, particularly by the losing European team, that many wonder if the ill will from that competition will mar other international events.
Peter Thomson, the international team captain in the upcoming Presidents Cup, said yesterday that he believes the bad feelings are exclusive to the Ryder Cup.
"I think the problem with the Ryder Cup started some years ago," Thomson said. "At some point, there was some sort of crowd abuse of the U.S. team. Then what has happened is a retaliation of that.
"We haven't had such a hit in our Presidents Cup contest yet. I hope we never have. . . . If it does tend that way, somebody after I am gone will have to tackle it because I just feel the next Ryder Cup is going to be ugly."
The fourth Presidents Cup will be held Oct. 17-22, 2000, at the 7,289-yard Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Lake Manassas. Thomson was in town to view the changes that were made to the course since the last Presidents Cup competition was played there.
The Presidents Cup is a biennial international match-play event played in non-Ryder Cup years. The international team includes the top 10 international players from the Official World Golf Ranking, excluding those eligible for the European Ryder Cup team, plus two captain's choices. The U.S. team, led by captain Ken Venturi, comprises the top 10 players on the PGA Tour money list. The United States won the first two events at Robert Trent Jones, but lost in 1998, 20 1/2-11 1/2, at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.
Thomson, an Australian who has led the past international Presidents Cup teams, talked about how the non-European players felt shunned from international competition until the Presidents Cup debuted in 1994.
"They have a point to prove," Thomson said. "Until recently, they've been ignored. The Ryder Cup has taken center stage, therefore no Australian or South African or Japanese has been involved in that contest. My team feels that leaving them out is not a very nice thing to happen. So they're making a point there is a third force of team golf. . . . Let me put it this way. The Ryder Cup is of no consequence to any of the citizens of Australia, but this is."
Tickets for the Presidents Cup go on sale Oct. 20.