June 25, 2009

Mickelson and Duval Think Bethpage Would Be a Great Ryder Cup Venue As Well

Phil Mickelson and David Duval both think that Bethpage Black -- and its fans -- would make a spectacular Ryder Cup venue:
"The people here are incredible, and I just keep thinking that this is like the ideal spot to hold the Ryder Cup," he said Monday.

"First of all, the course is terrific, because 16, 17 and 18 are so close together. And the way the fans are, I think we would have a big advantage."

"David Duval concurred. "Now that would be a heck of an idea," he said after tying Mickelson and Ricky Barnes for second place. "It's sure a good enough golf course for it."
And, as I said on Monday, it would also create an incredible home-field advantage for the American side, one that has all too often found itself outgunned and overmatched in the biannual event.

Say what you will about the way that fans behaved at the US Open, the Ryder Cup would be a perfect venue for the New York Fan atmosphere. It is most certainly a partisan event, and as we saw last year at Valhalla, the players can feed off of the positive vibes of the fans in attendance. Interestingly, a lot of writers are now saying that the stories painting fans at Bethpage as out of control were, shall we say, a tad overwrought. Patrick Sauer, who did a fine job of covering the US Open for Huffington Post (yes, the Huffington Post) said this:
" I read a number of articles about the drunken hecklers raining down obscenities on the poor fragile golfers. I am going to call at least half-bullcrap on that storyline. Sure, by the time Saturday's skies open up and poured around 7 p.m., there were plenty of soused golf fans that had put in a full day's drink. Including, umm, many of those who took shelter throughout the day in the hospitality tent. Was there some friendly taunting? Sure. And maybe "friendly" in the New York City area comes off as "aggressive and hostile" elsewhere, but I never heard anyone yell during a golfer's swing, nor did I hear any cursing at a particular player (Although I was never near poor old Fred Funk.) Yes, the mooks were out in full force, but they were mostly having fun, the obnoxious drunks were far outnumbered by people having a big time in the heavy stuff."
Golf blogger extraordinaire Stephanie Wei saw more or less the same thing at Bethpage, and she commented that
"At the same time, the energy, encouragement and enthusiasm have been unparalleled to anything I’ve ever experienced - especially at a golf tournament; one that has been muddy and wet, no less. Sure, they’ll always be “that” guy yelling something less-than-intelligent. But for the most part, people have been supportive and positive. (I mean, haven’t you heard the cheers for Phil?) The players haven’t seemed to mind either. In fact, I think many have been entertained and encouraged by the crowd’s response. What else can you do? It is pretty amusing."
"That" guy that Stephanie refers to shows up everywhere, and to paint New York fans as worse than what you might see at any tournament is wrong. After all, at this year's Player's Championship in Pontre Vedra Beach Florida for blustering "FIGJAM" in the direction of Phil Mickelson. And at this year's Bay Hill tournament, Mickelson was again the vicitim of someone with a complete lack of social graces when a fan yelled "Get in the lake!" after Lefty teed off. All of that leads me to believe that the over-stereotyped NY fan was probably slandered a bit by reporters with selective hearing last weekend. Sure sounds like they were no better or no worse than golf fans anywhere in the US.

The bottom line here is that Bethpage Black is more than course enough to be an incredible match play venue and the fans that have attended the two majors there have more than shown their mettle after two US Opens, so now the ball is on the the PGA's green -- they simply need to make the right call and get a future Ryder Cup in Farmingdale, NY. Whether the PGA listens to Mickelson and Duval and awards a Ryder Cup to Bethpage is anyone's guess.

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