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updated: 9/26/2012 9:00 PM

Not so easy to work up dislike for Team Europe

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  • Fans attempt to get a photograph of Team United States players as they leave the first tee during a Ryder Cup practice round Wednesday.

       Fans attempt to get a photograph of Team United States players as they leave the first tee during a Ryder Cup practice round Wednesday.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

To be honest, I'm finding it a little difficult to arouse much hatred for the Europeans in the Ryder Cup this week.

This isn't the old Soviet Union marching on Medinah Country Club. The Berlin Wall wasn't reconstructed across Medinah Road.

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Look, I understand the whole European burden on our economy and how we're having trouble selling as many Big Macs to Norwegians as we'd like.

But cross-pond bitterness over golf? Maybe if victory meant somebody in Paris had to make my mortgage payments for a year, but not otherwise.

A good guess is that most Chicago golf fans will have to be prodded into treating Sweden's Peter Hanson like he was Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.

The town that finds it easy to chant, "Detroit (bleeps)!" at Russian Michigander Pavel Datsyuk should find it less natural to chant, "Belgium (bleeps)" at Brussels Bomber Nicolas Colsaerts.

Yet, "U-S-A" will ring throughout Medinah Country Club all week. Tournament organizers will see to that because what sets this event apart are continental partisanship and contrasting blazers.

When fans enter the club's grounds, volunteers hand out flags of the United States and Europe.

"May I have one of each?" I asked.

"No," she said firmly.

Lesson learned: You're either with us or you're against us.

Proceed to the official merchandise tent and there's a sign reading, "Support Team USA on Sunday, Sept. 30, by wearing red."

The media have been trying to do their part to create conflict. The New York Daily News ran a headline declaring, "Here's how Team USA can shut down Rory McIlroy and take out the Euro trash."

And we wonder why the rest of the world is reluctant to adore us.

Leave it to outspoken Ian Poulter to be the one player attempting to light Medinah's fires on an otherwise chilly Wednesday morning.

"Boy, do you want to kill them (Americans) in the Ryder Cup," the feisty Englishman said.

Did Poulter really use the K word in relation to a golf competition?

It's unlikely that anyone on either side is going to concuss anyone, though it would be refreshing to see Dustin Johnson throw a forearm shiver into Lee Westwood.

How cool would it be for Tiger Woods to check Martin Kaymer into a bunker or for Sergio Garcia to throw a purpose driver near Phil Mickelson's noggin?

Ah, but Poulter's choice of word still seems a bit out of place in the gentlemanly game of golf.

Even Rory McIlroy, an Irishman ranked No. 1 in the world, remarked with a chuckle, "I think kill is a little strong."

Of course it is, especially considering that many European team members live in the United States. Luke Donald, a native Englishman, is a Northwestern graduate who lives on the North Shore.

So we're supposed to find a way to root against Donald? Heck, the guy essentially is a neighbor whose lawn mower we might ask to borrow next summer.

Maybe once the balls start flying for real Friday we'll be able to muster contempt for Donald and his fellow Europeans.

For now, here's a tip: Take a U.S. flag from one nice lady, hide it somewhere on your person and sneak a flag of Europe from another nice lady a few feet away.

Just don't let anybody see you waving both at the same time if you want to be considered a serious fan of the Ryder Cup.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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