September 25, 2014 / 11:37 AM / 5 years ago

Ryder Cup rivalry with U.S. prompts UKIP's Farage to back Europe

LONDON (Reuters) - When it comes to golf, Nigel Farage loves Europe.

Leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage speaks at a party rally in Glasgow September 12, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

In a cheeky video appeal ahead of golf’s biggest grudge match, the head of Britain’s anti-European Union UKIP party implored EU citizens to raise the battle cry for Europe against their cousins in the United States.

“I’m Nigel Farage and I love Europe - No I really do. The wine, the food, the excellent transport systems, the clogs and the greatest golfers in the world,” Farage said in a mock party political broadcast posted online.

“You, me, everybody should get behind Team Europe,” said Farage, 50, wearing a striped shirt and parti-colored trousers before swinging a driver. “I’m urging all my fellow Europeans to get behind Team Europe and send Uncle Sam packing.”

Held every two years, the Ryder cup pits European golfers against Americans over three days of highly-charged match-ups that captivate huge numbers of fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

This year’s contest will begin on Friday in Gleneagles, Scotland.

Europe has dominated the recent exchanges, winning seven of the last nine contests, including a memorable comeback victory on U.S. soil in 2012 dubbed “The Miracle at Medinah” after the course where the tournament was held.

Originally held as a contest between U.S. and Britain, the British team was expanded to include top golfers from Europe in 1979.

Farage, a former commodities trader in the City of London, wants Britain to leave the European Union, a union he says has fallen far behind comparable world powers because it is burdened with social spending and run by incompetent, out-of-touch elites.

But Farage, who is also a keen fisherman and follower of cricket, mocked Tiger Woods, one of the most successful golfers of all time, from the comfort of his golf buggy:

“There is no Tiger Woods - he has hurt his back. How did you do that Tiger? Carrying the hopes and dreams of a nation on your shoulders?”

“To quote the great lyricist and golf fanatic Justin Timberlake - Cry Me a River, America, and preferably a great European river like the Rhine or the Ouse,” Farage said.

His sharp tongue and populist touch - including a fondness for smoking and drinking - camouflage Farage’s influence in Britain: UKIP’s rising support among Conservatives prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to promise a referendum on EU membership by the end of 2017.

Farage has said alliances outside Europe, including with the United States, mean Britain could prosper outside the EU club.

But when speaking on golf, he repeated a stereotypically-European view of Americans that casts them as brash and overbearing.

“This is our Ryder Cup and we’re not going to give it away and certainly not to some flag-waving, fist-bumping, ‘Get in the hole’ shouting Americans, so come on you lot. Swing for Europe Your continent needs you,” he says raising a pint of beer.

Editing by Pritha Sarjar

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