Crenshaw doesn't use all his big guns

U.S. captain benches Pate, O'Meara for 4-ball matches

Ryder Cup notebook

September 25, 1999|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

BROOKLINE, Mass. -- Ben Crenshaw had been saying all week that it would be difficult to sit anybody on the U.S. team in the first day's matches in the 33rd Ryder Cup, because most of his players were adapting so well to the course at The Country Club.

Actually, it wasn't that tough, especially after Crenshaw found his team trailing by a point going into yesterday afternoon's four-ball matches. Crenshaw left Mark O'Meara and Steve Pate out of the lineup.

"It's always frustrating when you can't get out there, but that's the captain's decision," said O'Meara, who came into the competition in the midst of a slump. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed."

It marked the first time since 1993 that all the Americans were not used on the first day. It was also the second time that Pate failed to play the first day. In his first Ryder Cup, at Kiawah Island in 1991, Pate was held out the first day after being injured in a limousine accident two days before the event.

The Europeans, by habit, usually are more willing to sit down players. Three of their Ryder Cup-record seven rookies didn't tee it up. Andrew Coltart of Scotland and Jarmo Sandelin of Sweden were reduced to being cheerleaders, as was Jean Van de Velde of France.

Empathize with emotions

As he walked the fairways yesterday, Tom Kite could relate to what Crenshaw was going through. Kite's team trailed by a point after the first day two years ago at Valderrama, only to get blown out in the afternoon matches on the second day. The U.S. team wound up losing by a point.

"It's the same thing, you just don't have the responsibility," said Kite, who was widely criticized after the loss in Spain.

Kite is here with former assistant, Dennis Satyshur, the head pro at Caves Valley, representing the Bank of Boston. Satyshur can also see some similarities, particularly in the U.S. team being heavily favored.

Said Satyshur, "It's a little bit different on paper than it is on the course."

Can Americans spell unity?

Much has been made here about the European's team unity, and the lack of it among the Americans. It was pointed out earlier in the week that the European players just have "Europe" on the back of their caps, while the U.S. players have their last names stitched in.

The Americans tried to find a bit of motivation by shaving their heads. But only three players -- Davis Love III, David Duval and Tiger Woods -- joined Crenshaw in the pre-match activity.

"This team is together, very together," Crenshaw said. "They're dependent on each other. It's wonderful. And it was tremendous to see."

The Americans might consider something else today: rally caps.

Pub Date: 9/25/99

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