After Boston comes a tee party America is determined to enjoy

Finally, for America's top golfers, it's back to business. No regrets, no more arguments about whether they missed a unique opportunity to show that life goes on, even in the face of unimaginable horror. Just the mouthwatering prospect, albeit 12 months late, of the most compelling event in the sport: the Ryder Cup.

Finally, for America's top golfers, it's back to business. No regrets, no more arguments about whether they missed a unique opportunity to show that life goes on, even in the face of unimaginable horror. Just the mouthwatering prospect, albeit 12 months late, of the most compelling event in the sport: the Ryder Cup.

A year ago, the biennial contest between Europe and the US was the biggest sporting casualty of September 11. In the 48 hours immediately following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the feeling was that match should go ahead. Then the sheer enormity of what had happened sunk in. The 2001 Ryder Cup might have been planned in every detail for months and years. But for life to have switched back to normal at once was not only an impossibility. Americans believed it would also have been an insult.

True, there was some offstage sniping, especially in Europe, about gutless multi-millionaire sports stars not daring to travel outside their country, despite the fact that it was in their country, not abroad, that the attacks had been carried out, using US airliners, on domestic flights. Other sports like baseball and football had resumed, giving comfort to a traumatized nation. So why not golf?

Twelve months on however, it is hard to quarrel with Tiger Woods' explanation at the time: he was worried about the security risks of travelling. Above all though, it was not "the appropriate time" for competitive golf – a sport in which mental strength plays as large, if not larger part than technical ability. "I feel strongly that this is a time to pause, reflect and remember the victims of Tuesday's horrific attack," Woods went on, in words that ring even truer today. " I've always felt that I must be fully committed to each and every golf competition I enter but, due to this week's events, I am not." Gradually, the golfing establishment on both sides of the Atlantic swung overwhelmingly to that view.

Paradoxically however, the security risk is probably greater now than a year ago. Another attack at the Ryder Cup, barely a fortnight after September 11 itself, was never really on the cards – though it may not have seemed like it at the time. Today, anti-Americanism is on the rise around the world and al-Qa'ida is out to show it is still a force to be reckoned with.

What better target than that rarity of an American national sports team abroad, led by the country's most famous sporting figure? Some of the players see it like that. Phil Mickelson, the world no 2 and a qualified pilot, is travelling on his own private jet because he feels that is the safest way. "I'm OK about travelling in the US, but I'm still leery about leaving the country," Mickelson said last month. "In my opinion the Ryder Cup would be a prime target for something bad to happen."

But the near-unanimous view now is, it's time for golf. Not surprisingly, the build-up in the US has been muted. This is after all the 2001 Ryder Cup: the same qualifying players, the same captains, the same captains' choices, taking place at the same venue, with the same team uniforms. Everything was decided more than 12 months ago, before being put in aspic. So there's been little of the traditional needling, or phoney animosity between players who on every other occasion are the best of friends.

But once the first fourball tees off on Friday morning, however, the American public will experience the same old patriotic surge. Maybe the atmosphere at the Belfry will be more civil – not before time many will argue after the rampaging of US fans and even the players' wives around the 17th green at Brookline, Massachusetts in 1999, when Justin Leonard of the US sank a 45-foot putt to clinch the match.

But once again a golf tournament is poised to turn into the sporting equivalent of war, even after the real act of war that caused the tournament's postponment killed 3,000 people – and when another war, against Iraq, may be about to begin.

So don't bet on gentility winning out. The Ryder Cup is hand-to-hand combat in the uniquely exciting format of matchplay, culminating in the 12 singles contests on the Sunday afternoon, when the battle fluctates hole-by-hole, shot-by-shot, minute-by-minute. "We don't play this at a neutral site, it's a biased crowd," even the utterly impassive David Duval has acknowledged. "I don't think you want to be too civil. I don't mean that in a bad way, but you need some emotion."

Curtis Strange, the US team captain, agrees. "Some wonder whether the rivalry will be as intense or the fans as rabid," he wrote in Golf Magazine this month. "But I think once the first peg goes in the ground, the game will be on as usual. The fans will support their team as strongly as they always have."

Strange is raring to go, as well he might. Over the intervening year golf's balance of power has if anything tilted away from Europe towards the US – with the decline of Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood, who 12 months ago would have been considered the lynchpins of the European team only serving to emphasise the strength in depth of a US line-up named in 2001, but boasting six of the top 12 in today's world rankings.

There have been surprisingly few demands for changes to reflect current form. "I believe no one should be punished for an attack on our country," Strange added. "From the beginning Sam Torrance and I agreed we wouldn't change anything. This is and always will be the 2001 team."

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home