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A Measured Response to Pete Willett, from an American

Dear Pete,

It was with great interest that I read your thoughts on this weekend’s Ryder Cup, and I’d very much like to address a few of your points in the same spirit of collegiality and mutual affection with which you penned your own missive.

First and foremost, I hope you’ll forgive me for ignoring the first half of your essay, in which you employ vague behavioral pseudoscience in the service of sorting golfers into categories beginning with the letter “B.” (You tried your best, and as a southerner in my country would say, “bless your heart.”) Instead, I’ll skip straight to the section where you address the attributes of America, and all its citizens, while simultaneously pasting the world’s largest target on your own brother’s back.

Now, you may assume that since I’m American, I’ll waste my time trying to disprove your characterizations. Nothing could be further from the truth! I’ll concede many of your points about our national shortcomings, and on those occasions when you didn’t quite hit the bullseye, I know it’s not for lack of effort. It’s just that, like most English subjects, your cognitive function has been diluted over time—an inevitable byproduct of centuries of inbreeding which not even a violent influx of superior French conquerors could disrupt for very long (I have to think that if the Normans understood the slow genetic revenge your people would take on them, they would have stayed in France and let the Danes slaughter you out of existence). When I truly consider the scrambled chromosomes of the English, resulting in the characteristic pale flaky flesh and close-set eyes of your average insensate soccer hooligan, as well as the regrettable brain damage mentioned above, I feel a sense of wonder that a man like you could pen an essay that was, at times, very nearly witty. Pete, I mean this sincerely: You should be proud.

No, I won’t dispute your contention that America is a nation of obese diabetics with a penchant for radical conservatism that is somehow horrifying and dull at the same time. Instead, I’d like the chance to place our national character in a more global and historical context. For how can we truly understand Americans, odd beasts that we are, if we don’t study the contrast with our former colonial overlords— those tea-slurping, emotion-suppressing, crown-worshiping English who once ruled an empire on which the sun never set, and who now battle Slovakia to 0-0 draws in international soccer tournaments.

When describing the English today, Pete, I believe it’s important to treat the poor blokes with appropriate nuance. That’s why I would never write a sentence like, “your country consists entirely of pasty, chinless old men with concave chests who spend their entire days staring into the fire at some musty, disintegrating social club, attempting to forget the fact that nobody in their family has held a job for six generations, and that they’re utterly dependent on a dwindling family fortune first established in the 13th century by a minor liege lord who curried favor with a hemophiliac king by murdering a six-year-old boy who might one day have challenged the throne.” Nor would I write, “your country consists entirely of drunken, swine-like peasant people with high foreheads and cauliflower ears, who speak in a bizarre infantile rhyming slang, and are such reactionary xenophobic racists that the mere sight of brown-skinned people on their miserable gray island sent them fleeing en masse from the European Union.” Nor would I write, “your country consists entirely of class-obsessed narcissists who give each other meaningless titles to curb a bone-deep insecurity about their intellectual torpor and total lack of physical vitality.”

No! I’d write all these sentences at once, to give the complete picture.

(By the way, did you know that study after study has shown that English men have the world’s smallest penises?)

There are some other facts that I think are worth consideration. For one, your powerless figurehead of a queen has somehow gone decades without taking off the same pair of white gloves, possibly because the idea of actually touching anything English is too disgusting for her to contemplate, since she’s actually German. For two, your country’s image of male beauty is Prince William, an enfeebled balding old person disguised in a young man’s doughy body, effete to the bone, blander than your cuisine, who walks around grinning moronically as he cuts ribbons at the opening ceremony for the Slough Lawn Bowling Club for the Exclusive Use of Landed White Gentlemen. For three, your country’s most interesting historical figure was an enormous elephant of a human named Winston who spent most of his thinking up witty rejoinders to duchesses who insulted him at parties, and was finally reduced to begging an American polio victim for salvation from the Nazis. For four, your trademark dish is “fish and chips,” in which the chips aren’t actually chips, and the fish is barely fish. For five, your climate is so bleak that instead of seasonal depressive disorder, your people suffer from a mysterious, fleeting sense of joy for the six days in July when there’s a faint implication of sunlight. For six, your next king has a tampon fetish.

But I don’t want to be unfair and focus solely on the present day. The history of England is also worth exploring—from the old days, when your kings and dukes were allowed to have sex with peasants’ wives on their wedding night, to modern times, when a far-right psychopath you charmingly nicknamed “The Iron Lady” let ten Irish political prisoners starve to death in prison for the crime of wanting to be called…political prisoners. In between, you had one king who killed both of his nephews, a queen who killed her cousin (your thoughtless betrayal of kin is starting to make sense, Pete!), and one man who was so despised for daring to dream of a democratic future that his corpse was dug up and beheaded in posthumous tribute. And then, not content to wreak havoc and death in the motherland, you kicked off the modern era by making life hell for poor people all over the globe, robbing them of their freedom and dignity, and forcing them to play interminable “sports” like cricket.

Finally, I’d like to point out the worldwide popularity of your neighbors, like Scotland and Ireland. Scottish men wear dresses and eat sheep guts, while the Irish have been decimated for centuries by every country with the technological capacity to build a simple boat, and have nothing to show for it but an unyielding gallows humor and an American president that was murdered by Ted Cruz’s father, and still everyone likes them far better than England.

Honestly, Pete, the world might hate England worse than you seem to hate your own brother. As it happens, the European Ryder Cup team has six Englishmen on its roster. So if some of my American brethren, stuffed on cookie dough and intoxicated on pissy beer, happen to treat your own countrymen a bit harshly this weekend, I hope you’ll forgive us. It’s simply a case of the world’s foremost power nudging a fallen empire toward the abyss of historical irrelevance which is, inevitably and irrevocably, its ultimate fate.

Stiff upper lip, chappie.

—Shane

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Friends of Tiger: Ryder Cup Hype Train Ep. 3, With Kyle Porter

We’re back on the Hype Train with Kyle Porter of CBS Sports, and you know what we’re talking about—DL3 has picked his 3, and we got the takes to match. Did Rickie deserve the pick? Is Kuchar the most boring selection ever? What about the Bubba snub? It’s all here, so tune on in.

For more stories from the PGA Tour, order my book, Slaying the Tiger, here.

We’re on iTunes now, broseph. Subscribe to ‘Friends of Tiger’ here.

Download the mp3 of this episode here.

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Friends Of Tiger: Ryder Cup Hype Train Episode 2, With Chris Solomon

We’re in week two of Ryder Cup hype-train mode, and Chris Solomon of No Laying UP is on board to talk European captain’s picks, American captain’s picks, and to come up with a new pregame song for Patrick Reed. We also take a record amount of Twitter questions, and set a new record for sheer length at 96 minutes. That’s a long podcast! You’re certainly getting your money’s worth at a cost of exactly nothing, so enjoy your latest journey on the Hype Train.

Links: Chris’ story about how Team USA would look with a less ridiculous points system, and his case against Jim Furyk.

For more stories from the PGA Tour, order my book, Slaying the Tiger, here.

We’re on iTunes now, broseph. Subscribe to ‘Friends of Tiger’ here.

Download the mp3 of this episode here.

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Friends of Tiger: Ryder Cup Hype Train, Episode 1, With Alex Myers

It’s the first of a series of Ryder Cup podcasts leading up to the big event, which we’re officially calling The Ryder Cup Hype Train 2K16 USA Express. Joining me this week to talk about my favorite sporting event in the worlds is Alex Myers of Golf Digest. We cover just about everything, from the systemic changes made by the Americans this year after the Gleneagles debacle, to the imminent European captain’s picks, to the less-imminent but still pretty imminent U.S. captain’s picks. We’re talking Furyk, Reed, Love, Clarke, sample sizes, the legacy of past captains, and more. And that doesn’t begin to tell the story, because Alex and I set a FoT record by going for 88 minutes strong. Turns out, we both love this event and have lots of opinions. Don’t mi

Links:

Alex Myers’ Golf Digest podcast with Davis Love III, and Jim Furyk.

For more stories from the PGA Tour, order my book, Slaying the Tiger, here.

We’re on iTunes now, broseph. Subscribe to ‘Friends of Tiger’ here.

Download the mp3 of this episode here.

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Friends of Tiger, Episode 2.05: Burying Olympic Golf with Luke Kerr-Dineen

I’m not going to mince words—today Luke and I are dead-heading, and our target is Olympic Golf. What does that mean? It means everyone in the immediate vicinity of Rio needs to duck and cover. Check it out, and wear safety netting, because we are the Zika mosquitoes of golf podcasting.

Links:

Me on how to save Olympic golf, from October 2014.

Luke on why Olympic golf is a disaster.

My defense of Rory’s “it’s not my job to grow the game” remarks.

For more stories from the PGA Tour, order my book, Slaying the Tiger, here.

We’re on iTunes now, broseph. Subscribe to ‘Friends of Tiger’ here.

Download the mp3 of this episode here.

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Protected: Phil Mickelson is Not “Vindicated,” He’s Just Very, Very Lucky

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Friends of Tiger, Episode 2.04: Catching up with the Great, Masters Preview

Man what a show! It’s the Masters preview, going up Thursday afternoon—oops. I spend 15 minutes each with Alex Myers, Luke Kerr-Dineen, D.J. Piehowski, Kyle Porter, and Chris Solomon. We’re hashing it out—who’s going to win, who’s going to lose, and who’s going to get held indefinitely in an underground chamber at Augusta. Check it out!

For more stories from the PGA Tour, order my book, Slaying the Tiger, here.

We’re on iTunes now, broseph. Subscribe to ‘Friends of Tiger’ here.

Download the mp3 of this episode here.

 

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