RUPERT: What I like about the Walker Cup and
what I detested about the (1999) Ryder Cup at
Brookline is jingoism. It started with the War
on the Shore nonsense at Kiawah Island (the
1991 Ryder Cup). Europe did not behave properly at Valderrama (in 1997). When people get
this whipped up, it can interfere with golf. When
spectators came to George (South Africa) for the
2003 Presidents Cup, I, as the host, asked the
home spectators to treat the U.S. team the way
our players would like to be treated when they
play abroad. Afterwards, Tiger Woods came to
me and said that of all the team events he had
been to anywhere in the world it was the best he
had been treated. Spectators behaved.
Rupert, Charl Schwartzel and Rurik Gobel (right), a
Rupert pal and South African stockbroker, prepare
for some cooking practice during the Els for Autism
Pro-Am in March.
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THE POST: Will Tiger get to 18 major championship victories? Will he get to 19? Will he win
another major championship?
RUPERT: When he had eight major championships a group took bets whether Tiger gets past
Jack or not? I was one of the guys who said no.
I thought his back would give in. I didn’t know
that he had already had knee operations. I think
that is why he left Butch Harmon. Butch’s swing
took too much of a toll on his body. For Tiger to
get to 18, he will have to have the career starting
at age 36 that is better than Phil Mickelson’s.
in his prime there were more great players. (Lee)
Trevino never backed down. Gary never backed
down. With Tiger, somebody said it was if his
rivals were chocolate men in the sun. Ernie told
me the shots Tiger played against him were not
natural. Tiger scarred a lot of people. I am not
sure the kids today are as scarred mentally.
THE POST: Do you like Tiger?
RUPERT: I don’t know him well enough. He has
always been very nice and civil to me. I had the
opportunity to play with him at the Dunhill but
gave it to a friend. What I can say is that people
like him. The players like him. I wish Tiger well
in his golf career. Perhaps there are more really
good players today but when Jack (Nicklaus) was
THE POST: A couple of years ago you made a
famous speech at the European Tour’s annual
dinner suggesting the players were not all they
thought they were. Do you think they’re spoiled?
RUPERT: No, but I said to them: You’re incredibly fortunate. You are playing for vast sums of
money. The economy is in trouble. Please realise that a pro-am is not root canal work. Give
a bit back to the game because without sponsors you are not going to have a tour. Be loyal
to sponsors who give you a sponsor’s invite. It
used to be that if you won a tournament, you
defended that tournament. That has gone by the
wayside. It was an impassioned plea for reality.
That is what I was trying to say and why I went
on far too long. l