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British press: Rickie Fowler’s ‘GI Joe-style crewcut’ is ‘an exhibition of thuggish jingoism’


Rickie Fowler may have been praised by team captain Tom Watson, among others, for the patriotic hairstyle he got before the Americans flew across the pond to Scotland for the Ryder Cup this week, which officially tees off with fourball matches early Friday morning (2:35 a.m. Stateside).

But the Brits? Well, at least one sportswriter is none too pleased, nor impressed, with Fowler getting “U-S-A” shaved into the side of his head. In fact, he referred to Fowler’s “GI Joe-style crewcut” as “an exhibition of thuggish jingoism.”

Watson, meanwhile, loved Fowler’s foray into follicle-based smack talk, saying, “I thought I was terrific. It brings a light spirit to the team.”

Meanwhile, the sportswriter deeply offended by such unsavory chicanery is The Telegraph’s Chief Sports Feature Writer Oliver Brown, and the point of his castigating of Fowler’s hairdo apparently has something to do with his concern that it could turn the Ryder Cup, what should be an affair of sportsmanship, pageantry and decorum, into something of an ugly affair.

The entirety of Brown’s opening salvo to his column, “US Ryder Cup team sparked by Rickie Fowler’s haircut and Tom Watson’s steely words.”

Golf’s conventional etiquette is suspended at a Ryder Cup. There is no other stage in the game that would permit Rickie Fowler to disembark the Americans’ Ryder Cup plane in Edinburgh sporting a GI Joe-style crewcut, the letters “USA” shaved around his ear in an exhibition of thuggish jingoism that on any normal day would give grounds for many a club secretary to throw him off the premises in a heartbeat.

With a ball yet to be struck in anger, this 40th edition of the biennial spectacular already has all the ingredients to turn nasty, fast.

While Brown may have a point about how the Ryder Cup has all the trappings and makings and potential to be a “nasty” affair, as he puts it, in reality, just how nasty can golf get? Sure, emotions can run high and tensions elevated, but no matter what happens, it’s highly unlikely it will develop into uncontrolled mayhem and savage ultraviolence featuring drivers and irons and putters being wielded as weapons.

Brown also writes, however, that former US captain Paul Azinger, when asked about Rory McIlroy, reportedly said, “I want us to go all William Wallace on his a–.”  So maybe he has a point.

But then again, smack talk is smack talk and little else. Same goes for Fowler shaving “USA” into his head. Is there really anything wrong with raising the stakes a bit with some pre-Ryder Cup gusto and chest-beating? Especially if it improves the quality of play and adds an element of intrigue to the festivities?

Further, it’s three darn letters shaved into a guy’s scalp, for crying out loud.

Brown goes after Watson later in the piece for not staving such an indiscriminate display of “thuggish jingoism,” as he puts it, writing, “Was this the same Watson who for almost five decades has been heralded as the gentleman golfer, embodying the virtues of grace, humility and understatement? The same Watson purporting to the great guardian and protector of the ‘game of golf’?”

Okay, now. Brown can rip Fowler all he wants but daring to condemn Mr. Tom Watson and disparage his good name? Well, that’s the kind of things wars are fought over. Alright, not really, but Brown better hope Azinger isn’t over patrolling the grounds of Gleneagles Resort. Things could get ugly between the ink-stained wretch and golf great. William Wallace-level ugly. “Nasty,” even, as Brown put it.