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Golf: First Tee - Pate and a rerun of the Shore thing

HAD BERNARD Gallacher been behind the wheel when he heard that Ben Crenshaw, the United States Ryder Cup captain, had named Steve Pate as one of his wild cards, the Scotsman's car would probably have left the road. Pate was a central figure in possibly the most notorious Ryder Cup match in history, the so-called War On The Shore at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, in 1991. Some of the American players, in a reference to the Gulf War, wore, amongst other things, army caps during play.

There were, in fact, casualties before a shot was fired in anger. En route to the pre-match gala dinner in Charleston, three limousines were involved in a crash and Pate was hurt. Not as badly as Gallacher, the European captain, and his team who had to endure an NBC video purporting to be a celebration of the Cup but which featured not a single British or European player.

Going into the singles on the final day with the match all square at 8-8, Gallacher was delighted with a draw which had Seve Ballesteros against Pate and David Gilford against the anonymous Wayne Levi. At 8.15am on the final day, Gallacher was assured everyone was playing. At 8.30 he discovered that Pate had withdrawn. "I was never officially informed," Gallacher said. "I just heard it second hand."

Gallacher had put Gilford's name in an envelope as the European who would be withdrawn in the event of any American not being able to play. Gilford and Pate went down on the score sheet as a halved match while Ballesteros played Levi. Pate's withdrawal (he had a bruised hip although he played in the fourballs) had as crucial a bearing on the match as Bernhard Langer's missed putt on the 18th against Hale Irwin in the final singles. The US won the singles 61/2-51/2 and the match 141/2-131/2.

Dave Stockton, the US captain, was presented with the cup by Dan Quayle, the US vice-president. "That annoyed me, as had the Gulf War scenario during the week," Gallacher said, "and I reminded Dan Quayle that Europe had had servicemen killed in the Gulf too. He looked a bit bemused."

We trust that for the match at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, next month Pate, whose nickname is Volcano because of a volatile temperament, will be wearing a seatbelt when he attends the gala tea party in Boston.

A word to the unwise

BEN CRENSHAW was under pressure from his peers, including Mark O'Meara, to pick Pate. O'Meara called Crenshaw last week to remind him that Pate had finished third in the 1988 US Open at Brookline. Nobody has reminded Mark James, Europe's captain, that Nick Faldo was runner-up in the same US Open.

Faldo's only chance of making the team is if James, who announces the 12 this evening in Munich, picks him, but the wild cards are likely to go to Jesper Parnevik and Bernhard Langer. Faldo has been mounting a PR campaign for his inclusion but it ran into trouble after he finished down the field in the US PGA at Medinah last week.

"Well," said Julian Tutt of the BBC, "a score of 75 hasn't done much for your Ryder Cup cause has it?"

"You're so f...... negative," Faldo snapped, before walking off.

Reflecting in glory

WHEN SERGIO GARCIA found himself stymied behind a tree at the 16th during his epic tussle with Tiger Woods in the last round of the US PGA, most observers were advising caution. Seve Ballesteros was not among them. Watching the tournament on TV at home in Spain, Ballesteros admitted that he was screaming at the screen: "Go for it!"

Garcia, of course, went for it and found the green with a six iron from 189 yards. It was a shot of adrenalin that reminded people of the young Seve. It even reminded Seve of Seve. "It was like seeing myself as a 19-year-old again," he said.

In the process of finishing a shot behind Woods, Garcia became the youngest player to qualify for the Ryder Cup. Most people's idea of the dream singles would be Garcia against Woods, but it is not the Spaniard's. He has his mind on other things, like a mixed doubles in tennis in Miami in which he will partner his fellow Adidas client Anna Kournikova against Ernie Els and Steffi Graf. "This is a dream for me," Garcia said, "Anna is someone I've always wanted to meet."

Garcia, who is likely to play in the Dunhill Cup at St Andrews and the World Match Play at Wentworth later this season, has signed only two contracts, with Adidas and Titleist. "We know his value is going to rise and we have sold only 20 per cent of the shares," is how Jose Marquina, his manager, put it. "Sergio and his family are financially secure for the rest of their lives and they are not interested in money." Sounds like an agent's dream.

Monty's Medinah retort

THE US PGA has been congratulating itself on its championship at Medinah but not everybody had as much fun as Garcia. Lee Westwood described the crowd control as "pathetic" while Colin Montgomerie left the 18th green last Sunday with the immortal line: "Get me out of this place."

Europe's No 1 was once again the target of American galleries and was booed as he approached the final green. As he lined up a 25ft birdie putt which would earn him a tie for sixth place, a spectator shouted: "Go home, go home." After sinking the putt Montgomerie shouted back: "Why don't you go home?" The Irish Americans, of course, will love Monty in Boston.

The rib tickler

PAT BRADLEY has been fined by the LPGA, the US Ladies Tour, for "assaulting" a male caddie. Bradley, who captains the US against Europe in the Solheim Cup at Loch Lomond in 2000, lost her temper with Dale Jones during a tournament in Ohio.

She accused Jones, who was caddying for somebody else, of coughing while she was hitting shots. Bradley, a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame, grabbed Jones. Exactly where she grabbed him is not clear, although we know it was in Toledo. This does not augur well for the US team in Scotland next year. Not only is the health of caddies notoriously fickle - they are known to enjoy a smoke and a wee dram - but misty Loch Lomond in October will be prime coughing country.