All wet, and lovin' it, at the Ryder Cup
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

When we're across the pond, you know how it goes at The Cooler:

Paul McGinley
No scrub: Paul McGinley celebrates his putt that clinched the Ryder Cup for Europe.
Still, or sparkling?

You're at the Ryder Cup, you walk into your British restaurant, you're looking for something other than mutton, and some Oasis-listenin', bad-teeth-havin', Cockney accent-sportin' Euro comes up to your table and says to your request of water:

Still, or sparkling?

Hey, listen, Nigel. Just bring me some agua so I can get on with my riff about the Ryder Cup -- in other words, the Greatest Sporting Event Ever.

The Super Bowl? Please. Save your weeklong nonsense, your six-hour pregame show, your halftime epic dedicated to indigestion, presented by Roto-Rooter, your commercials bigger than the game. The NBA Finals? Yeah, I dig 'em. It's just that I have to spend the finals brushing away the cobwebs formed waiting for the playoffs to end. The World Series? Truly, the favored sporting event here at The Cooler. It's just that midnight starts and Fox's you-have-something-in-your-teeth closeups have bummed us out so much, we can't even remember the days when the World Series featured weekend day games.

That leaves the Ryder Cup.

No money at stake. No major championship trophies to the winner. Only cool outfits for Euros and Yanks; only killer match-play formats for our golf heroes normally used to individual stroke-play anticlimax; only the epic pressure of team play to take the testicles of each player and, in the words of the great David Feherty, put them on either side of each player's throat.

All I know is this: I was at the Belfry, I saw the celebration of Europe's win, and I heard the Euro-fans singing all day and night. This struck me as inordinately cool, since when an American team wins a championship, the usual move by fans is to set fire to an automobile. Failing that, we loot something.

At the Belfry, while Torrance sat with his 12 Euro winners in the press center for a drunken press session, masses of drunk fans outside sang and sang and sang some more. Some of the songs were for Irishman Paul McGinley, some were for Torrance, some were for Colin Montgomerie. In truth, some should have been the old "How Dry I Am" tunes, as I'm predicting about, oh, 35,000 brutally thumping heads in England on Monday morning. Buy stock in Advil, Cooler-dwellers. These guys are going to feel like someone surgically removed the skin from their heads, and sewed it back on, inside out.

Good for them. They deserve it. The Euros played with heart, panache and class. Me? I'm going to fly home with a smile on my face, too. After all, after years of crushing disappointment, I found the answer to my Euro Shower Woes. Out of nowhere, at the Quality Hotel in Birmingham, England, I found Shower Nirvana. It was as if the hotel manager knew I was coming, and said to his minions: "Murphy's coming. Give him Room 65: The Firehose." It was as if this shower was apologizing for every British shower I've ever had. I think the force of the hose removed layers of my epidermis, and I couldn't be happier. A fire hose like this has not been turned on a human since the Detroit Tigers won the World Series in 1984.

Ah, shower bliss. Let the Euros win the Ryder Cup. I won a kick-ass shower.

On to the Weekend List of Five, straight from the Belfry:

1. Tiger: What's the deal, pal?
The Chosen One looked like he had lost his last friend all through the Ryder Cup. Hey, pal: You're playing a sweet, historic golf match in killer, cool team competitions. Brother, can you spare a smile? Not only that, he insisted on wearing the white turtleneck when everyone else was wearing the team polo shirts. What's the deal -- you're so good you can't wear the team uni? This Ryder Cup was a colossal disappointment for those of us who admire the Church of Eldrick. Being into the cult of yourself is one thing. Sure, we can relate. Who among us hasn't spent a few minutes in front of the bathroom mirror, convincing ourselves that the accordion rolls of fat on our ribs don't really exist? But being into the cult of yourself at the expense of not giving a rat's ass about your U.S. Ryder Cup team is, well, bogus, pal.

Being part of a team is a cool thing, if I do say so myself. Tiger needs to join a Tuesday bowling league, be with some mechanics and restaurant workers on $1.50 Jager shot nights as he rolls the rock. Then he'd grasp the team concept, and have to rent shoes, too.

As it is, he's into himself. So he's got that going for him. Which is nice. I guess.

2. Meanwhile, Sergio
Sergio Garcia
You know Sergio? Garcia gets pumped up and ready to party.
I hate to say this, because I've been carrying an "El Nino" banner everywhere I go -- really, I fly it off the antenna of my used car in San Francisco -- but the party is over for Sergio Garcia. Somebody needs to pour some ice water down this guy's pants. Listen, I can get as fired up as the next guy: You go with me to Pub Quiz on Monday nights, and I can offer the heartiest of fist bumps when my teammate T.C. nails the capital of Malaysia for our team.

But this kid Sergio was preening so much for the cameras, you'd have thought it was "Spanish Idol," Madrid's answer to Kelly and Justin. Yo, Serg: You've got mad game, you've got charisma like Seve, and you're the best young challenger Tiger's seen yet. We just don't need golf's answer to Al Jolson just yet, jazz hands and all that.

Just crank the Intensity Volume Level down two notches at Ryder Cups, and we'll be OK. We love the emotion, we just don't love the absurdity. Respect the space bubble for some of your teammates, Mr. Hug. We clear on this? Good. Now, have some water, still or sparkling.

3. Some of those singles matches
U.S. wives, girlfriends
U.S. wives and girlfriends put on a uniform front before the Ryder Cup.
We saw it all in the Sunday singles finals, huh? Colin Montgomerie, some tale. He comes to the States, he's a tub of goo you all unload on. At home in Great Britain, the guy is Ben Hogan plus Clark Kent, with a dash of Reggie Jackson . We've seen studlier performances in recent sports history, we're just not sure where.

And how about that Bernhard Langer-Hal Sutton showdown? What was that shown on, ESPN Classic? You could have gotten these fortysomethings a pair of golf carts to play that match, with those red handicapped-access flags ripping in the breeze, so they don't have to obey the 90-degree cart rule. Langer, man: The German George Blanda.

Meanwhile, the wives and girlfriends watched it all from inside the ropes. I've got to say, I'm a huge Golf Wife fan. Of course, these guys draw the absurd babes! Here's the pro golfer sales pitch to the babe at the bar: I'll make millions of dollars, I run no risk of injury, I'll take you to outrageous resorts all over the world for my work space, and if you can't come along, I'm gone 18 weeks out of the year. How does that sound, honey?

Says the babe: Where do I sign? And where is your credit card?

4. American sports
I guess the home nation went on with a weekend of sports anyway, and I guess Dusty's Thugs at Pacific Bell finished off the Evil Empire in the NL wild-card race. Awesome stuff in this corner, of course. But when I signed on to to find out the good news from the Giants-Padres tilt in China Basin, I was dismayed to see a photo of some champagne being sprayed in the locker room, with players wearing the "Wild Card Champions" T-shirts.

Under no circumstances do you wear the "Wild Card Champions" T-shirt. If you are, indeed, the Wild Card Champion, you celebrate your playoff berth by spraying champagne on each other -- in your everyday uniforms. The over-specialization of American sports, and the over-congratulatory nature of American sports, needs to draw its line right here, at the "Wild Card Champion" T-shirt.

Spray the champagne. Don't wear the T-shirt.

5. Fashion plates
Fair play to America for its 2002 apology for the 1999 Ryder Cup Sunday shirts. Curtis Strange had the lads dressed in gray slacks, navy vests and red polo shirts -- tasteful wear, I must say. But they lost, so you have to figure there's a pattern: Outrageous shirts in '99, win. Classy shirts in '02, loss. You know what this means? In the '04 Ryder Cup, "I'm With Stupid" T-shirts, or the ever-popular "My Previous Ryder Cup team went to the Belfry, And All I Got Was this Stupid T-Shirt."

That's not all I got. I got the sweet shower, baby. And the bruises to prove it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a firehose to draw.

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.



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