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Into the Bear Pit: The Hard-hitting Inside Story of the Brookline Ryder Cup [Hardcover]

Mark James
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Jun 2000
Sunday 26 September 1999. The 17th green at Brookline Country Club near Boston, Massachusetts. It's the closing stages of the 33rd Ryder Cup tournament and the USA and Europe have been battling it out for three days. Then American Justin Leonard holes a monster 45-foot birdie putt and, before his opponent - Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal - has the opportunity to prepare for his own putt, all hell breaks loose. As Leonard's ball drops, American players, caddies, wives, even officials prematurely invade the green in triumph, in the belief that Leonard's putt has just delivered the prize they have been craving. Olazabal still has a putt to keep the Ryder Cup alive, but by this stage several jubilant Americans have already run straight across his line, destroying his concentration in the process. When he eventually is permitted to take his putt, Olazabal inevitably misses. Sir Michael Bonallack, secretary of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and guardian of golf's rules and etiquette, likened the scenes to a "bear pit". But, the disgraceful episode on the 17th green constituted only one skirmish in what has become known as the "Battle of Brookline". In this volume, European team captain Mark James has chosen to speak out, to give a hard-hitting, blow-by-blow account of the tournament that made the headlines around the globe. His story lifts the lid on events that were not reported at the time, providing answers to the key questions surrounding one of the most controversial stories in golfing history.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books; Reprint edition (8 Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852278544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852278540
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.4 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The cover is as telling as the words inside: jubilant members of the 1999 US Ryder Cup team dance across the 17th green at Brookline celebrating what they think is victory. Jose Maria Olazabal, meanwhile, stands stunned waiting to attempt to sink a putt that could keep the European side in the match. In Into The Bear Pit European captain Mark James presents his side of the story behind the 33rd Ryder cup. He tells it well, coming over every bit the decent man he did during and immediately after the tournament. However, the quotations at the back of the book speak loudest of the emotions aroused on both sides. One US star, before the final day, implored, "Let's go and kill them", and by the end of that day veteran European Sam Torrance described the events on the 17th (somewhat hyperbolically) as "one of the most disgusting things I have seen in my life". To counter many of the claims of the lack of sportsmanship, defenders of the US side and their support point to specifics, claiming similar instances in Spain two years earlier, branding the Europe side sore losers. As James counters, and most observers can testify, they are missing the point. As winners or losers, the US team have never been subject to such treatment over the course of a tournament. The most telling words here, though, belong to Olazabal, the man stranded on the 17th:
"The whole world saw what happened, and the whole world is going to judge what their behaviour was like. All we ask is respect from our opponents."
--Trevor Crowe

Review

"The book that's rocking golf." (Daily Mail)

"Delivers a damning verdict on the Americans' behaviour at Brookline." (Sun)

"Caused a furore inside and outside the game." (The Times)

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairly balanced account of events... 5 July 2000
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Firstly Mark James is not an Author. He is a golfer so this book should be read with that in mind. I found this book to be a very balanced and honest account of the events at Brookline. James has nothing but good to say about the European team especially the 3 unfortunate players who did not feature until the singles even though subsequently there have been moans from some quarters. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if we had retained the cup it would have been considered a master stroke. As for the 'binning' of Faldo's letter, this appeared to be a joint decision which involved the players as well as the captain. James is obviously upset at some of the actions of the American team with regard to whipping the crowd into a frenzy but he has nothing but praise for the standard of golf they produced. All in all James does not comes across as some bitter and twisted individual. It would be interesting to hear the views of Monty, Westwood etc. on the subject of the book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Behind the Scenes Info 5 July 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"Into The Bear Pit" gives great insights into what it is involved in being a Captain for a Ryder Cup team. Before, one could only guess what it must be like to be on the "inside" of such team golf competitions like The Walker Cup, The Maple Cup, The Solheim Cup, The President's Cup or of course, Samuel Ryder's gem.
Much more in-depth than Tim Rosaforte's account of the 1995 tilt, "Heartbreak Hill-Anatomy of a Ryder Cup", because it comes from an internal perspective. The reader learns what is involved in such things as making the Captain's choices, determining partners, choosing the clothing, and perhaps most interesting, what happens in the team rooms.
One disappointing factor is Mark James seems to use the book as a catharsis as well as a vehicle to vindicate his choices as Captain. For instance, the reader must hear over and over why he decided to sit the same players until the Sunday Singles Matches and how everyone understood and how he would do the same thing again. We got it the first six times it was written!
James also seems to use a self-deprecating humor to justify his somewhat derogatory comments about certain European players and most of the US team as well as American culture in general. He seemingly thinks that if he speaks poorly about himself then it is an invitation to speak poorly of others. This form of writing takes away from the flow of the book.
All in all, if you are a fan of the Ryder Cup, or any team golf competition, this book will do nothing but enhance your enjoyment of the game. It also makes you wonder what other great Captains like Nicklaus, Jacklin, Filipiak, Van Orden, Ballesteros and Palmer were really thinking.
Fellow American's: Check your patriotism at the door for a few hours and take James' accounts and opinions for what they're worth. He gets an A+ for honesty.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 1999 Ryder Cup laid bare by its Captain 16 Nov 2011
By RR Waller TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Team golf competitions are very popular, great crowd pullers and intensely competitive - Walker, Maple, Solheim, President's and Ryder Cup.

Mark James' account comes straight from the heart and, in his case, the heart of a captain, someone at the epicentre of this long-standing competition and, therefore, he should know what is he writing about. Many people will question whether he should have written about it, especially in the way he did, even if there were some disturbing features of the competition.

Once decisions have been made about teams and pairings and games have been played, there is little point in trying to explain or justify choices which will not change the results. "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same" wrote Rudyard Kipling, a poem James should read.

I enjoyed the book but not necessarily the justificatory sections. It is a fascinating insight into the complexities and pressures of captaining such a high profile event with a group of top professionals, each with his strengths, weaknesses and an ego to be massaged into the best frame of mind. Although I enjoyed the book, I am not sure I would like all captains to follow suit to avoid possible accusations of bad sportsmanship; somehow, it seems to take away some of the mystique, even if we all imagine the behind-the-scenes happenings.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Glad he got it out of his system! 21 Nov 2002
Format:Paperback
The 1999 Ryder Cup was a "sporting everything" and the controversial final day ensured that it wouldn't be forgotten easily by the Europeans. I am glad Mark James got this out of his system. Its an accurate summary of his golfing life and especially the months and weeks building up to the event itself. He comes across as "his own man" and certainly a character, well-deserving his chance to lead the Europeans. The book builds up the tension very nicely but (obviously) only from the European side. The Europeans had a super team spirit but they were playing a great American team on their own turf. I think that the only problem is that it is a little too anti-American with only Payne Stewert (no surprises there) coming out with any credit. I can understand the bad feeling after the heckling, bad behaviour of fans and players but I can also understand the hurt pride that the Americans felt and hence their tremendous comeback. On the last day the tension was unreal, it was bound to explode!
Overall, a good book but I would now like to read an unbiased version of what actually happened.
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