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European team captain Bernhard Langer of Germany with his assistant captains Anders Forsbrand and Joakim Haeggman of Sweden. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
European team captain Bernhard Langer of Germany with his assistant captains Anders Forsbrand and Joakim Haeggman of Sweden. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

European Team Continue to Endear Themselves to the American Public

September 15, 2004

The European Ryder Cup Team's charm offensive, encouraged by Captain Bernhard Langer and entered into enthusiastically by the players themselves, continued apace today as the visitors endeared themselves even more to the Detroit public.

Langer's charges took time out to sign everything from hats and flags to tee shirts and ticket stubs, laugh and joke with the crowds, and in the case of Frenchman Thomas Levet, even entertain them with trickery involving balancing one golf club on the face of another, a trick which he even demonstrated to the delight of the watching Tiger Woods on the range.

On the second day of practice, Langer even took time out after the official Team photograph on the practice range to take the Ryder Cup Trophy over to the crowds in the stands so they could get a closer look at the gleaming golden chalice and get a chance to take a priceless photograph.

And as players came off the 18th midway through their morning practice round, each and every one of the 12, plus the vice captain Anders Forsbrand and assistant captains Thomas Bj?rn and Joakim Haeggman took time out to sign hundreds of autographs for the crowds thronging the walkway to the clubhouse.

As Langer said in his press conference: "We are in the entertainment business. The people obviously come out to watch us play and see us in action but they also want to interact with us.

"They want to get autographs and take something home, whether it be a signed programme or whatever. So I said to the guys, if you can find a few minutes here and there to sign some autographs, please do it."

The popularity of the European Team has also been noticed by the local press, in particular the Detroit Free Press, whose headline in their main Ryder Cup pull-out section, read: 'Euros Win Over The Crowd - Most US players keep their distance.'

The article went on: "In the beginning the applause was obligatory, filtering out to the European players because golf etiquette demands it. But by the end of the day at Oakland Hills Country Club, something strange had happened: the European players had flipped many of the American fans who had come to watch Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

"They also posed for pictures, shook hands, invited kids onto the green and tossed collectables into to the crowd. Thomas Levet?.spent the better part of 30 minutes with the gallery on the 18th green and at one point lifted a little boy onto his shoulders.

"He also performed a balancing trick with two clubs in one hand while holding out his baseball cap with the other, jokingly seeking money for his show. When no-one tossed any cash his way, he said: "Tickets are expensive, eh!?"

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