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Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK

Fury over Ryder Cup celebrations

Mark James and Sam Torrance (centre) watch the US celebrate victory at 17

USA players were accused of "disgusting" behaviour after charging onto the 17th green to celebrate their dramatic Ryder Cup victory.

Members of the team and supporters as raced over to mob Justin Leonard after he holed an enormous putt in the decisive match.

Davis Love of the USA comments on the premature American celebrations
But his opponent Jose Maria Olazabal still had a chance to level the contest - and the Europeans were furious that his preparations had been disrupted.

It was a bad-tempered finish to a traditional event that embodies the spirit of sportsmanship in golf.

European vice-captain Sam Torrance, standing beside the green, fumed: "It's about the most disgusting thing I've seen in my life.

"This is not sour grapes. The whole American team and spectators ran right across the green over Olly's line.

"He still has a putt to tie the hole, we could still take the Ryder Cup home."

Meanwhile a disappointed Europe captain Mark James said he would stand down because he hoped to play for the team at the Belfry in 2001.

[ image: Lehman cannot contain his delight at the 13th hole]
Lehman cannot contain his delight at the 13th hole

Torrance singled out Tom Lehman, who also celebrated wildly after holing a long birdie putt against Lee Westwood at the 13th.

"It was disgusting and Tom Lehman calls himself a man of God," Torrance said. "His behaviour today was disgusting."

Lehman admitted he wished the Americans had not reacted in the way they had - but explained that it was at the heat of the moment.

"That was over-exuberance, no question about it," said the former Open champion.

"It was not a good thing but what is done is done. I wish we had contained ourselves. Sometimes you get carried away."

[ image: Justin Leonard embraces Jose Maria Olazabal at the controverisal finish]
Justin Leonard embraces Jose Maria Olazabal at the controverisal finish
Colin Montgomerie, a main target for US fans, said his father left the course because of "very hurtful" comments directed at his son.

He said: "My father was out here and he left after the seventh hole - and that is a shame for him.

"He's 70 and it's a pity to have my father have to leave because he's embarrassed and insulted by comments towards his son."

Asked about the 17th green celebrations, Monty added: "A lot will be written about the 17th because it was not right - it just wasn't in the spirit of the Ryder Cup and the game of golf."

James, whose selection policies raised a few eyebrows over the week, singled out the three rookies he had left out for the first two days of the competition.

Europe's team captain Mark James: "I think we were outplayed but not outmanouvered"
Jean Van de Velde, Jarmo Sandelin and Andrew Coltart all made their Ryder Cup entrances in the singles - and were all well beaten.

"Jean, Jarmo and Andrew sat out for two days and their attitude, enthusiasm and commitment was never in question in those two days," James said in his speech at the closing ceremony.

"And the rest of the team gave me everything ... thank you guys."

"I'm tremendously proud of the team, but the Americans played some truly remarkable golf today and just when I thought they couldn't hole any more putts, they did."

American captain Ben Crenshaw paid tribute to his troops, saying: "We never lost faith in our players," Crenshaw said. "We knew we had to come out there and do something.

"We had to get the crowd into it, too. The players played awesome today.

"I can't believe we are here at this time and place.

"I have so much to say about Mark James and his team. They are wonderful golfers, tremendous. I will spend a long time with them."

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