The Ryder Cup - Behind the Payne barrier hides the American hero

Andy Farrell suggests the crude loudmouth image hides the real man

WHAT PAYNE STEWART says he brings to the Ryder Cup - or brings back to it, as the US Open champion has not played since America's last victory six years ago - is "enthusiasm". Others might suggest it is more like undiluted arrogance but, as usual, the truth is somewhere in between. "I am an outspoken person," he said. "I have a lot of energy."Those two factors can be a dangerous combination where other people's sensibilities are concerned. Typical of Stewart was his half-quoted analysis of the relative strengths of the American and European Ryder Cup teams. "On paper, they shouldn't be caddieing for us," he said, managing in one short sentence to provoke the resentment of an entire continent.But where Stewart is even-handed is that he is also capable of pissing off his own compatriots. What he went on to say was this: "But that is not what the Ryder Cup is about. It is about bringing your game to the event, and they bring it."The implication, of course, was that the Americans did not perform at Oak Hill fo

WHAT PAYNE STEWART says he brings to the Ryder Cup - or brings back to it, as the US Open champion has not played since America's last victory six years ago - is "enthusiasm". Others might suggest it is more like undiluted arrogance but, as usual, the truth is somewhere in between. "I am an outspoken person," he said. "I have a lot of energy."Those two factors can be a dangerous combination where other people's sensibilities are concerned. Typical of Stewart was his half-quoted analysis of the relative strengths of the American and European Ryder Cup teams. "On paper, they shouldn't be caddieing for us," he said, managing in one short sentence to provoke the resentment of an entire continent.But where Stewart is even-handed is that he is also capable of pissing off his own compatriots. What he went on to say was this: "But that is not what the Ryder Cup is about. It is about bringing your game to the event, and they bring it."The implication, of course, was that the Americans did not perform at Oak Hill four years ago or last time at Valderrama and Stewart was fed up sitting at home watching it. At first he brooded on the fact that Tom Kite did not pick him as a wild card two years ago - Stewart was one of the few American players to bother to turn up for a practice round in Spain earlier that season - but then he decided to do something about it."My goal this year was to make the Ryder Cup team," Stewart, 42, said. His win at Pebble Beach in February was only his second since claiming his first US Open in 1991. His publicly stated aim to play at Brookline, and the unstated suggestion that he was the man America needed to win back the cup, inevitably miffed other players.Stewart has always been an acquired taste, but the image can be deceiving. Only in competition does he wear his famous plus-twos. In practice rounds, wearing trousers, he often goes unrecognised. While being shown around Stewart's former mansion in Orlando, Michael Jackson, the pop star, could not place the name of the vendor until told he was the "guy in the knickers".That Stewart once lived in a huge, ostentatious house that Jackson was interested in buying says a lot about the person he was. That he sold it says more about the person he is now. The devoted father and family man has mellowed with age and found religion. "This walk I am having in Christianity is being led by my children," Stewart explained. "They go to a very good Christian school and with that I've met a lot of really nice people at a Baptist church in Orlando. I've been going to Sunday school and meeting people from all walks of life. We all have something in common: Jesus Christ."Stewart was recently surprised, but delighted, when his daughter Chelsea, 13, announced she wanted to go to Harvard Law School. More vexing was when his son, Aaron, eight, said he wanted to concentrate on surfing and skateboarding rather than traditional sports."I remember my father being a very vocal person at my sporting events," Stewart said. "He once got a technical foul at a basketball game and I thought then: 'I'm never going to scream at my kids' games'. And what happens? I go to my son's baseball match and the umpires haven't got a grip on the game. I shouted: 'Come on, ump, get with the game,' and he turned around and said: 'Any more of you and I'll throw you out of here'."It's that enthusiasm again and, at his fifth Ryder Cup, Stewart will be the one singing the "Star Spangled Banner" at the opening and closing ceremonies. "I am a patriotic person and, for me, the Ryder Cup is one of the finest golf events I've ever played in. I couldn't tell you my individual record [he has won exactly half his 16 matches] because I don't look at it that way."It's a team competition, not an individual one. I hope I can help prepare some people on the team who, perhaps, aren't used to hearing people cheer when they miss a putt. I feel like I'm a rah-rah person. When I'm teamed with a partner, boy, I'm going to be in his ear. I'm going to be very supportive. I hope Ben [Crenshaw, the US captain] understands the importance of motivation. He must make the team pull together. I think a lot of our players are complacent about the event being for the betterment of the game of golf. We're past that stuff. Trust me, the Europeans don't have that mentality. They come over and want to whip us."Having said that, the 'War on the Shore' thing at Kiawah in '91 was too strong. It's a pride-check thing, sure. But in the end it's still a game of golf. If at the end of the day you can't shake hands with your opponents and still be friends, then you've missed the point."I've made a lot of friends over in Europe and a lot of it has been through the Ryder Cup. At The Belfry in '93 when we won, I went into the European team room and sat down. Chris de Burgh was in there playing the piano with Christy O'Connor Jnr, and they brought out the harmonicas. That's what it is all about. After we get done, we can shake hands and say: 'It was great'."But, it has to be said, it's much easier to say that if you are on the winning team." Stewart has also experienced defeat in the event, in his debut match at Muirfield Village in 1987 when Jack Nicklaus's team became the first to lose on home soil."It was not nice losing at Jack's place. He let us know about it when we finished. He said: 'You guys don't know how to win. How many matches were we leading in going to 18 and didn't win? Look at you, Payne Stewart. You make all this money on tour but how many tournaments have you won? Why don't you win more? You guys need to learn how to win or you're going to continue getting beaten in this thing'."There wasn't any sugar-coating on it. I'll tell you that speech was good for me." And Stewart back in the Ryder Cup could be good for the Americans.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor