Memories of the acrimonious 1999 Battle of Brookline resurfaced on a tense opening day of the 37th Ryder Cup as Europe's Lee Westwood accused his American opponent Boo Weekley of overstepping the mark in trying to whip up the passions of the home crowd. Westwood, who has not lost a rubber in the tournament since the singles round of 2002, was particularly annoyed when Weekley celebrated wildly, and prematurely in hindsight, after holing a "monster" putt on the 12th hole when the Englishman was still weighing up his own putt for a potential half.
Watching Weekley unashamedly beg for more acclaim from his supporters, an inspired Westwood and his rookie partner Soren Hansen produced a tremendous finish of three successive birdies to square their match on the 18th green with both American balls in the water. "The crowd had been pretty noisy all day long, and on that last green they were pretty quiet," said Westwood, who reduced his team's first-day deficit from a potentially crippling four points to a more manageable three. "Hopefully that will set a trend for tomorrow," he remarked.
"You walk a fine line when you start doing that sort of thing - using the crowd to your advantage when you're at home," added Westwood, a significant contributor for Europe in six Ryder Cups. "I don't mind when they're raising their arms and whooping the crowd up but not when Boo holed it from off the back and I've still got a putt for a half. There's no need to do it between the shots." Weekley, whose unusual forename brings affectionate rather than disagreeable "boos" from the gallery whenever he hits a good shot, was unrepentant after entertaining a following that included the basketball legend Michael Jordan.
"I really don't care if I did," said the Floridian who is on record as preferring to go shooting and fishing than competing on the golf course. "They do the same over there [in Europe] from what I've heard, so why not? "I'm not there to make him mad or aggravate him but I want everybody here to enjoy what we've got going on, and I want them to pull for us and holler. As long as they are quiet when they hit their shots it shouldn't matter."
The gritty half enabled Westwood to equal Arnold Palmer's record undefeated run of 12 rubbers, but it was not enough to retain his place with his tried-and-trusted foursomes partner Sergio Garcia in yesterday morning's round of foursomes. Westwood, never previously rested since he made his debut as Nick Faldo's partner in 1997, had no problem with his captain's decision. "I am getting too old for 36 holes in a day," he declared. email@example.com