David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: Bubba's French tour gets septic response

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There are three types of Americans: those who live in America, those who live abroad, and those who travel before returning to the mothership.

I have some very good American friends who live in Christchurch. They, and many others, have an open-minded attitude to life outside the US of A.

And I can see them cringing at the thought of golfer Bubba Watson in Paris this week.

Several years ago, a colleague and I returned to Heathrow airport to find the passport control queue stretching around two corners. We settled in for the long haul and struck up a conversation with a couple of Americans behind us.

All went well for a time, until one asked where we were from. Told the answer, he replied, "Hey, you got a great little country there. Just a shame about your nuclear policy."

My friend, a firm advocate for that policy brought in by David Lange's Government not long before, spun on his heels. "What did you say?"

There followed a ferocious 10-minute exchange of views, whereupon the situation cried out for us to turn on our heels in high dudgeon and stride off into the moral-high-ground sunset.

Instead we spent an uncomfortable 45 minutes shuffling forward silently in front of our Republican chums.

Their closed minds came to mind as Bubba Watson hove into view this week. The 32-year-old lefthander hails from Bagdad, Florida (I kid you not), where the necks tend towards the darker side of pink.

Watson was in Paris for the French Open. It's fair to say he didn't enjoy himself and reinforced certain stereotypical views of the ugly American abroad, the sort for whom class is having juice instead of a chocolate shake with the Big Mac and fries.

Good ol' Bubba described the Arc de Triomphe as "some big archway I drove around in a circle"; the Palace of Versailles was "the castle that we're staying next to"; the Eiffel Tower was "that big tower"; and the Louvre "a building beginning with L".

Watson also had a mare on the golf course, shooting 74 74 - complaining about too many cameras, too many phones, not enough security - and announcing the only reason he was staying for the British Open was that it was a major tournament.

He planned to "go sightseeing real quick and get home as fast as possible". To which most would shout "amen to that" and help pack his bags and drive him to the airport.

Watson also refused to share his courtesy car with another golfer for the short drive to the course. Brilliant. What an advertisement for the charmless American sportsmen abroad.

Maybe Watson, the world No 12 and a fine player, was being funny in that redneck southern way. Don't bet on it though.

Is it something with figuring all you need in life is found within the US borders? Few American players venture beyond home, which adds to the picture of insularity. Watson is the latest to fit the description of Americans outside their borders offered up a few years ago by Australian golfer Stuart Appleby.

"Americans are like a bag of prawns on a hot Sunday. They don't travel well."

- NZ Herald

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