They Wanted to be Paid to Have This Much Fun?

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Forget all the griping about money and the lack thereof, and forget for a moment that the U.S. Ryder Cup team has in recent years been the most consistently underachieving group in sport. Remember instead the victory, the largest comeback in Ryder Cup history that gave the U.S. team its first championship since 1993. Down 10-6 going into the final day in Brookline, Mass., the American players won their first six matches easily and clinched when Justin Leonard's putt on 17 assured the U.S. team of 14 1/2 points, just enough to win.

And more than enough to thrill recalcitrant players like David Duval and Tiger Woods, who had made this the hardest America's Team to like this side of the old Dallas Cowboys with their griping that they didn't even get out of bed for $5,000, so why should they play golf for the U.S. for that paltry stipend? Team captain Ben Crenshaw was very publicly not amused, and the whole controversy threatened to wreck a team so clearly superior to its European opponents that member Payne Stewert told Golf Digest "On paper, they shouldn't (even) be caddying for us."

But on Sunday all the fighting was forgotten. Here was Duval pumping his fists and playing to the crowd as he dominated his European opponent. There was Woods spraying champagne with Leonard on the 18th green. And there was Crenshaw failing to hold back the tears after the victory. "I never stopped believing," he said, and neither did his players, for whom Samuel Ryder's 17-inch gold trophy, at least on this Sunday afternoon, was priceless.