September 29, 2015 / 8:05 PM / 2 years ago

Ryder Cup about reaffirming golf's reputation, captains say

(Reuters) - Next year’s Ryder Cup will be all about reaffirming golf’s reputation for fairness in the wake of the controversy over a non-conceded putt at the Solheim Cup, the U.S. and European team captains said on Tuesday.

Aug 13, 2015; Sheboygan, WI, USA; Davis Love III hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the first round of the 2015 PGA Championship golf tournament at Whistling Straits. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Solheim Cup, which uses the same format as the Ryder Cup, was marred by a dispute over sportsmanship earlier this month when European stalwart Suzann Pettersen refused to concede a short putt to her American rival.

The incident at the 17th hole denied the United States a chance to square up the fourballs match and left players from both sides in tears.

Davis Love III and Darren Clarke, respective captains of the U.S. and European teams for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Minnesota, said on a conference call that it was important for the biennial event to showcase why the sport is widely known as a “gentleman’s game” based on fair play.

“This Ryder Cup will be played in the manner in which Davis and I respect each other. We’ve been friends for such a long time; I hold Davis in the highest regard... probably one of the best gentlemen in our sport,” Clarke told reporters.

“The Solheim Cup was an unfortunate thing. What Suzann did was correct in The Rules of Golf, but in the spirit of the game, it was wrong. And she admitted that on Monday with hindsight. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing.”

Clarke, confident that a similar incident would not happen under him, said Ryder Cup teams are briefed by referees and rules officials early in the week and players never touch a ball until they hear from their opposite numbers or the referees.

The Davis Cup showdown is three days of highly-charged match-ups between the best golfers from Europe and the United States that captivate huge numbers of fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

It is rich in history, drama and grudges and the United States will be eager to reclaim the title after losing to Europe for a third consecutive time last year at Gleneagles in Scotland.

Love, in particular, will be eager to do whatever it takes to triumph next year having been at the helm for the Americans’ epic Ryder Cup collapse at Medinah in 2012 which was the worst U.S. finishing-day flop in Ryder Cup history.

Despite his desire to win, however, Love is confident that the best aspects of the game of golf will be on display.

“Something will come up during the three days that is uncomfortable. But we’ll handle it as gentlemen in a sportsman-like way,” he said.

“It will be fair and competitive and fun. In the end, one of us will win, one of us will lose, but we’ll enjoy a cigar and a tear afterwards on Sunday night.”

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris

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