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Cigars Play Big Role in Europe's Ryder Cup Win

Marvin R. Shanken, Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Bill Murray, Nov/Dec 2004

With all due respect to Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, who first pointed this out, isn't it clear to everyone in America why the Europeans dished out the worst defeat to the U.S. team at September's Ryder Cup in Michigan? The Europeans were smoking cigars! They didn't just light up during the last few hours of the Defeat in Detroit; some of them, like Darren Clarke, smoked cigars the entire week. And we've learned, too, that some of those cigars weren't even his; they were gifts from Davis Love III. But we didn't see Mr. Love in public with any stogies lit up.

Seriously, there is a bigger point to be made. Yes, the Europeans won, and there may be a long list of reasons why. But from the beginning, they were simply more relaxed and having more fun out on the course then their U.S. counterparts. Have you ever seen Colin Montgomerie look happier? And who knew that he liked to smoke cigars? Instead of stalking around like the weight of the world rested on their shoulders, like the U.S. team, the Europeans were smiling and laughing, and smoking cigars whenever they had the chance. In other words, they were living life to the fullest and remembering that the golf match was just a game, That approach to living also reflects the broader point that we've made for years about cigar smoking. It's not about how many you smoke, or how often. Most people smoke cigars because of the good things that happen when they do. They meet new people. They take some time out of their hectic schedules to stop and reflect. Or better yet, they spend quiet time talking with their friends and just relaxing. We've always said that no scientific studies have ever been able to quantify the good that comes from that kind of less frenetic behavior. But it has to be one of the mysterious benefits that come from enjoying a good smoke.

And maybe the U.S. Ryder Cup team's performance reflects something else about American attitudes these days. We've gotten very serious about everything and generally speaking, very uptight. You can't just pause to really enjoy those things that we know create a lot of pleasure in life. A wonderful steak. A glass of that special Scotch. A round of golf on a Tuesday afternoon. Everything is nose-to-the-grindstone all the time. Going to the gym. Always being on a diet. Never saying the wrong thing. There's always someone out there telling us what we can and cannot do, and what kind of behavior is unacceptable.

But cigar smokers know differently. They fly in the face of public criticism all the time. They know that to truly enjoy their cigar-smoking passion, they have to make a special time for it, and in the best of all circumstances, they find some buddies who also enjoy the same thing. Then, the cares of the world slip away, and they have some fun. Lots of fun. Just like the European Ryder Cup champions.

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