‘Rider Cup’ should be less intense

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 28, 2000

The Rider Cup is coming. No not that Ryder Cup where women and children have to take their kids off the street before war erupts.

This is the other Rider Cup.

And while the format is a lot less intense, you can bet the contestants will be just as serious.

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To mark April Fool’s Day, the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association (USLMRA) announced plans for a transatlantic mowdown for the &uot;Rider Cup.&uot;

The STA-BIL race is an international competition between the USLMRA and the British Lawn Mower Racing Association (BLMRA) for the inaugural &uot;Rider Cup&uot; at the Eyes to the Skies Festival July 1-2 in Lisle, Ill., near Chicago.

The &uot;Rider Cup&uot; will feature American and British lawn mowers racing at speeds of more than 50 mph. Plans call for the Rider Cup to be contested in alternate years at Wilsborough Green, England and Lisle.

We can make it more interesting by putting Colin Montgomerie, Sergio Garcia, Justin Leonard and Tiger Woods on the lawn mowers at a pre-tournament golf scramble. Maybe Leonard cut a path in front of Montgomerie before he attempts a putt.

At last year’s Ryder Cup in September, jeers from the American crowd comments made after the Americans pulled off one of the greatest comeback wins ever were sharper than a lawn mower blade.

On a bleak Saturday evening, with his side trailing Europe, 10-6, U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw, sighed, &uot;I’m a big believer in fate. That’s all I’m going to tell you.&uot;

The Americans responded.

Justin Leonard rolled in two long birdie putts, the last one completing the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history and keeping that 17-inch gold chalice in America for the first time since 1993.

With one match still on the course, the Americans were assured 14 points, the amount they needed to win but an amount few believed they could get.

And they celebrated before England’s final putt, much to the dismay of the Europeans.

Even David Duval, who referred to the Ryder Cup as an exhibition, showed how much it meant by repeatedly shaking his fists and cupping his hand to his ear, asking the gallery for even more noise.

The Ryder Cup, which will be held at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England next year, has certainly changed since 1927. That’s when Samuel Ryder presented the Ryder Cup to Great Britain’s Professional Golfers Association as the prize for an international competition between American and British professional golfers.

You can bet next year’s USA&160;team will treated like a visiting soccer team when they go to defend their title.

The competition has changed from one where spectators appreciate the talents of all competitors to one resembling a contest between the Philadephia Phillies and Boston Red Sox, two cities where fans will do and say anything.

Fortunately, the lawn mower racing competition should be much more sedated.

Lawn mower racing started in England in 1973 after friends in a pub were complaining about the escalating costs of motorsports.

For the &uot;Rider Cup,&uot; BLMRA racers plan to ship eight mowers across the Atlantic and fly in 20 sod warriors and pit crew members to compete for international sod slinging success.

Gentlemen, start your engines. And I just have one request. Don’t start celebrating over your freshly-mowed lawn until the final mower comes in.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at joey.martin@natchezdemocrat.com.