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A ball will always come to rest halfway down a hill, unless there is sand or water at the bottom. HENRY BEARD



Ryder Cup Clippings, Tuesday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgEasily the best read in the various Ryder Cup previews was the anonymous PGA Tour player talking about the teams in SI Golf Plus. You can read his assessments of the European team here and the U.S. team here.

Mark Garrod reports that the Lehman's have brought their own tortillas for chips and salsa. Not exactly the greatest endorsement of The K Club's cuisine.

This report attributes the team's late arrival to too much luggage. Hey, the wives have to pack for all occasions.

Mike Aitken transcribes all of the cliches that Monty rolled out in Monday's press gathering.

Mark Lamport-Stokes says that Tom Lehman already knows his Friday pairings, but after that pretty much anything can happen.

Golfonline's Cameron Morfit offers a graphic assessment of the U.S. team. And I mean graphic.

Would you know Wetterich if you saw him? Perhaps you'd know him if you smelled him, for according to one team insider the broad-shouldered Floridian demonstrated exceptional flatulence on the flight back from Ireland, where the Yanks made a recent reconnaissance trip to the K Club. And so for U.S. Ryder Cup fans still reeling from an 18 1/2-9 1/2 loss two years ago, and fearing the worst from these 36th Cup matches, it becomes official: we stink.

James Finegan's Where Golf is Great includes a K Club chapter, which has posted it. I just received the book and it's a beauty...all 10 pounds of it!

Ken Brown chimes in with his thoughts on the matches.

Lawrence Donegan writes about Monty's standing (or lack of) with his teammates.

Karl MacGinty in the Irish Independent talks to Seve, who has high marks for 1999 captain Mark James.

"Ian has a lot of Ryder Cup experience and I have no doubt he will be a good man for the team. He saw Tony Jacklin as a captain, Bernard Gallacher, me, Mark James," said Seve.

Then he paused momentarily, a devilish grin spreading across his face as he went on: "Though I wouldn't pay too much attention to Mark James's captaincy. "To me he did everything wrong."

"He was a disaster," added Seve, who described James' decision to leave three players, Jean Van de Velde, Jarmo Sandelin and even his captain's pick, Andrew Coltart - bizarrely selected ahead of Bernhard Langer - on the sidelines until Sunday in Boston as "just unthinkable, unbelievable."

Ballesteros conceded that Europe had taken a four point lead into the final day's singles but he argued: "Three players did not play one single hole until the singles so they basically were three points down before they started on Sunday.

"And he risked burnout with seven others because they had played both in the morning and the afternoon on Friday and Saturday. He destroyed the team, it's unbelievable what he did."

Monday Light Editorial Coordinator Lauren Deason reports on the mother of all-time lame photo-ops, where a hard-collar sporting Tim Finchem joined Joe Theismann, Tony Kornheiser and Mike Tirico in awkwardly posing for a photo before awkwardly dumping balls into TPC Sawgrass's 17th hole.

All to plug, well, I don't even know what. 


Whitten On Dismal and Ballyneal's Ron Whitten takes us around Dismal River and Ballyneal, offering this final assessment:
There is much to admire about both Ballyneal and Dismal River. I cannot and will not favor one over the other. I want them both to succeed, but I do have concerns. I am concerned that Ballyneal may suffer by its refusal to allow golf carts. (It gets hot there in the summer, and golfers need shade and breeze, both of which could be provided by carts.)

I am concerned that both clubs could suffer because of their remote locations. Ballyneal, within driving distance of Denver, is far better situated in that regard, but therein has a lot stiffer competition for members. The folks at Dismal River don't feel they're in competition with Sand Hills, because the latter's membership is reportedly full.

I'm not keen on the idea of Dismal members someday parking their Gulfstreams right at the front door. Part of the experience of a golfing retreat is the gradual decompression from airport to first tee, in the case of Sand Hills, that one hour drive through desolate sand dunes from North Platte. If Dismal River members can jet in, play a quick 18 and jet out again, a crucial element of the experience will have evaporated. Jack "got it" with his design. I hope Dismal River's owners "get it" in their operation. Keep the carts, but lose the runway.


Ryder Cup Links

2006rydercup.jpgAs with previous majors, I've posted some links to Ryder Cup related sites with stories, interviews, weblogs, odds and weather. (Top of the lefthand column.)

Notice there are some different names this time around, including the excellent, the BBC's blog, the Irish Independent's coverage (free password necessary) and the excellent Virtual Caddy tour of The K Club.

When the major U.S. publications get their blogs up in time for us to be too busy watching the golf to read them, I'll post those links too!

And of course, feel free to nominate any other Ryder Cup sites you like.

PS - Check out that lovely 10-day Kildare weather forecast


"I'd love to know what all went on, to tell you the truth"

Mike Dudurich sheds a little light on why the PGA Tour is taking some of the blame for the 84 Lumber Classic's demise.

A convergence of circumstances caused Maggie Hardy Magerko, president and owner of 84 Lumber Company, to cancel the tournament less than a month after the PGA Tour announced that the event had been moved to June in 2007, the week after the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club.

Hardy Magerko's announcement came soon after she instituted a three-year business plan to make the lumber company more profitable. A $100 million investment over six years -- with an option for a seventh year at the PGA Tour's discretion -- didn't jive with that plan. And when tournament organizers approached the PGA Tour with its concerns, they received no response.

In fact, the PGA Tour didn't sign a letter of intent or a new contract that was submitted. A few days after Hardy Magerko informed Tour officials in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., of her concerns, the PGA announced that the St. Paul Travelers Championship in Hartford, Conn., would take the 84 Lumber Classic's spot the third week in June.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and Tour senior vice president and chief of operations Henry Hughes chose not to be interviewed for this story.

It's unknown why the PGA Tour decided to give St. Paul Travelers a fourth-year deal and turn down 84 Lumber's request.

And how's this...

"I'd love to know what all went on, to tell you the truth," said Joe Durant, a member of the PGA Tour's policy board. "We all have to say thanks to the Hardys for treating us like kings and putting on such great events. We don't get treated like that normally."

A member of the PGA Tour policy board doesn't know what transpired? 


Where Was Dr. Watson?

_42100326_usteam_getty.jpgThe team's arrived today for the first photo op and it seems Arthur Conan Doyle dressed the U.S. team.

Or so says the mysterious blogger known as Principal's Nose.

Looking like a team of Sherlock Holmes, the brown tweedy ensemble adorned by the team was cringe worthy predictable of a country not known for its appreciation of other cultures. "Where was Dr. Watson?" the Principal asked Captain Baptist.
Meanwhile, I can't quite make the Euro outfits. Bond, circa Thunderball?_42101182_europe_getty.jpg

Where's Marty Hackel when you need him for a "FAN-TASTIC"? 

You can check out all of the arrival photos here, including a shot of some hot Euro girlfriends and Monty in the airport, looking chipper and grey and having already shed the brown jacket. But not pictures of the U.S. wives, and more importantly, whether they wore team uniforms as well.


The Ideal Ryder Cup Course

My latest offering is now posted...


Ryder Cup Clippings, Monday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgNick Faldo tells The Scotsman it's going to be a tight match and a long slog: "There will be a lot of pressure around and there has been a lot of build-up again. If the weather is tough it will be a long slog for the guys. It's a long course and if it's windy and damp it will be a long battle of wills."

Golfweek's Rex Hoggard offers Tom Lehman some pairings suggestions.

John Hawkins only refers to himself 9 times in blogging that little should be read into the World Match Play first round exits of Woods and Furyk.

James Corrigan obviously appreciated Furyk's loss, because he was able to conduct an email conversation with Furyk. The e-chat also gave him the chance to ask questions he'd hopefully wouldn't ask in person:

Is Tiger difficult to play with?

Is there any chance of such animosity surfacing this week or will the presence of Europe's Darren Clarke, so soon after his wife's death, put everything into proper perspective for the two teams?

Your father is a greatly respected coach. Why on earth then, does your swing look so weird?

Actually, I take that back, those questions look worse in print.

Scott Michaux offers an in-depth profile of Augusta native and Ryder Cup rookie Vaughn Taylor.

Sitting in his living room watching the Ryder Cup hype build on television, Vaughn Taylor was naturally curious when The Golf Channel unveiled its team pairing predictions.

Friday's fictitious four-balls and foursomes flashed on his widescreen television. Then came the same for Saturday's matchups. Each day had one thing in common - Taylor's name never showed up.

"That was a bit upsetting," said Taylor, a 30-year-old Ryder Cup rookie from Augusta. "But there's no telling. I don't know what to expect. I don't know if I'll play at all until Sunday. If I don't play until (Sunday's singles matches) that's fine and I'll understand why. It's about the team "

Douglas Lowe writes about Arnold Palmer's pride in the K Club, but really quotes the King mostly about his winning captaincy in 1975.

Hugh Macdonald tries to figure out why it's been 41 years since Scotland has hosted the Ryder Cup and writes, "No one is suggesting that there is any hint of corruption in the choice of venues. But no-one can deny there is the opportunity for malfeasance to flourish."

Actually David Davies explained how the corruption works yesterday (sorry, forgot to post the link), while Golfweek's Brad Klein pretty much did hint at corruption of some kind in the venue selection:

Apparently, all of the classic Irish courses were booked up the week of the Ryder Cup. Or perhaps they just didn't ante up enough money and promote themselves as brazenly as The K Club-Palmer Course, nor have as much parking and spectator areas.


At par-72, 7,337 yards long, the course seemingly has it all: tree-lined fairways; beach bunkers; water hazards, most of them man-made ponds, in play on a dozen holes; an artificial waterfall; an island green. It even has real estate 70 feet (as I recall) from a tee. Perhaps they ought to rename it the TPC of County Kildare. The only thing the K Club doesn't have is any sense of identity or place. At 350 Euros ($512) per round for walk-on play, it is, if not the most expensive public access golf in GB & I, probably the most over-priced (though I must admit, I was comped -- and probably for the last time).

While we're piling on, Bruce Selcraig penned this critique of The K Club in The Scotsman a few months back that I recommend reading if you want to get your Monday off to a cranky start (with visions of these matches at Portmarnock playing in your head).


Skins Game

I usually flip right on by William Safire's NY Times Magazine "On Language" column not because I found the author to be a blowhard. No, instead I usually flip on by because I'm so eager to read about those vital ethical quandaries tidied up by Randy Cohen a few pages later.

But Sunday's column caught my eye for two reasons. The first is to establish the next great MBAism that we can expect to hear from Tim Finchem or Carolyn Bivens any day now.

Microsoft’s Certified Professional Magazine Online — an insistently nonamateurish house organ — quotes a vice president, Rick Devenuti, saying, “Customers want confidence, especially with this new product wave, that Microsoft has skin in the game.” A reader can presume that this means the company will hire new employees in its new-wave consulting business because the executive hints provocatively that “there is some relationship to head count.”

At the same time, on the other side of the world, Lachlan McKeough, chief of an Australian insurance brokerage on an acquisitions spree, told The Sydney Morning Herald that the key to the company’s success is the way that “front-line staff” retains a substantial equity in the business. Asked to describe his business model, he replied, “They have got skin in the game, so to speak.”

This eventually led Safire, or his researcher, to call the USGA in search of a link to skins in golf.

I can hear gambling golfers in the readership firing up their computers. Golf’s skins game, about a half-century old, has a foursome betting against one another: “Three categories each account for one-third of the pot,” writes Steve Pajak of The Sacramento Bee, which are “team play (best four of six balls on each hole on this day), individual skins (any single low score on a hole) and individual greenies (closest to the pin on par 3’s).” The U.S. Golf Association librarian says that “skins is also known as cats, scats, skats or syndicates.”

Is there any doubt now that we'll be hearing this soon? The question is, who first? Bivens, Finchem, or maybe a not-so-darkhorse like Senior Champions Tour headman Rick George? Yep, this has George written all over it!


PGA Tour Driving Distance Watch, Week 37

pgatour.jpgThe PGA Tour driving distance average dropped to 289.3 yards from 289.6 after the soggy and final 84 Lumber Classic, won by Ben Crane Curtis.*

With this win Crane becomes the first ever two-time winner of lame duck events in the same year. And just think, the notoriously shy former British Open Champion won't have to do two media days next year. Take that Tiger!

*too many hours in the hot So Cal sun today made me type this incorrectly. Really.


Not What The Kids Can Want

Former NY Times writer Robert Lipsyte pens an LA Times opinion piece on steroids in sports and wonders what all of the angst is about, yet says that no one "under 21 should take steroids because of the unknown effect on developing bodies and brains." 

The way I see it, we're all complicit in the superstars' need for the needle — we fans, coaches, parents, owners and media (I'm a recovering sportswriter myself). We demand that they attempt superhuman feats to thrill us, authenticate us, make us rich and proud — and they need superhuman help to satisfy us. (We also want our Whole Foods food before it rots, so long-haul truck drivers pop speed.) And we don't want to know about the process. When it's jammed in our faces, when athletes come up "dirty" in testing (or truck drivers jackknife on the interstate), we demand that they be punished and expurgated from our fantasies.

This pattern of denial and demonization is our problem, not theirs. Steroid use in sports is a symptom of our disease more than theirs, and a fascinating, if tinted, window on jock culture and its connection to the complicated, dangerous, exhilarating way manhood is measured in America, from the field house to the White House.

And yet...
As the ideal of sportsmanship gave way to the tactics of gamesmanship, it seemed as though the win-at-all-costs virus infected professional athletics just as it infects all aspects of American life, including, most visibly, politics and big business. Or, as some sports apologists claimed, sports had fallen victim to the ills of the larger society.

So why should we care what those players use as long as they entertain us?

As a tunnel-visioned sports fan, I don't. (Although as a father, grandfather and a shooter of steroids, I simply don't understand how we can make no national effort to screen the thousands of young, under-21 high school and college abusers.)

Wow, that's quite a rationalization. Okay for adults, but no one under 21 will be allowed to use steroids. Oh yeah, that'll really keep the kids from wanting to sample steroids! Great idea! 



Ryder Cup Clippings, Sunday Preview Edition

2006rydercup.jpgJohn Huggan talks to Sam Torrance and Bernard Gallacher about their memories and the horror of having to make captain's picks.

Huggan also speaks to Peter Oosterhuis about some of his memories:
"I was disappointed at the so-called 'War on the Shore' in 1991," he says with a shake of the head. "Things got out of hand there. I didn't like the khaki hats and all that went with them. I was proud of the way Tom Watson and Bernard Gallacher turned that around in 1993. They put the matches in perspective.

"And, like everyone else, I didn't like what happened at Brookline in '99. Of course, there are two sides to every story. The Americans were annoyed by Sergio's leaping all over the place during the first two days. But on the last day I think the PGA of America lost control of the crowd. Boston's golf community was embarrassed by what went on at the Country Club. It wasn't them who were causing problems; it was the non-golfers in the gallery. There are so many more of them now than in my day."

Tom English shares a fun story about the US team's recent bonding session.

David Davies explain$ why we have to watch the European hosted Ryder Cup$ on such lou$y venue$:
It is estimated that in the period including the run-up to the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama, to the hosting of the matches at Gleneagles, in Scotland in 2014, around £350 million will have poured into the coffers of the European Tour. Schofield has now retired from running the tour but his personal view is that the selling of the Ryder Cup brought huge benefits to all concerned. As an indication of how things operated in his time, he says: "The Ryder Cup was the ultimate prize and the choice of venues — and now, increasingly, host countries — is determined by a consistency of support over a period of time. Take Valderrama and the '97 Ryder Cup. Spain, in the shape of Turespana and the autonomous regions of the Canaries, Balearics, Andalucia, Valencia, Catalunya and Madrid itself, supported almost 40 regular tour events as part of the 'bidding' for that Ryder Cup.

"As for the Belfry, that course was custom-built for the guarantee of several matches. What would the total benefit to the PGA, in terms of offices and a new national training academy, and also the tour, with 16 regular tour events plus a Hennessy Cup, be counted at? Well, other than many, many millions, I don't know.

"What I do know is that that almost certainly inspired a number of major multi-nationals who own facilities, like Johnnie Walker and Gleneagles, to believe if they demonstrated consistent and substantial commitment to the game, they would have a chance of that ultimate prize, the Ryder Cup.

"That also applied to the big owner-occupiers like Jimmy Patino at Valderrama, Michael Smurfit at The K Club and Terry Matthews at Celtic Manor — support the overall concept and be in with a chance of the ultimate prize."


Week(s) In Review September 2-16: Walter and the Ryder Cup

WeekInReview2.jpgThe Ryder Cup has arrived and Ian Woosnam's captain's selections generated plenty of questions, especially after Thomas Bjorn's tirade blasting Woosie.

Lefty writes: Clarke is a sentimental choice. However, Petterson is a better golfer currently than Clarke. Sorry, Darren...Of course it IS only an exhibition. So maybe the sentimental choice is the right one...

Jeremy Rudock: Bjorn should be crying. It's almost criminal that Westwood was selected over him for the team. Bjorn's results are much better than Westwood's on the course this year.

Matt: Poulter should have the biggest beef of all-he played well last Ryder Cup and had some good finishes in majors this year. That would have been like the US picking Love and Duval, only much worse because Davis and David are playing better than Darren and Lee and aren't going through the emotional baggage.

Hawkeye writes: It is fairly obvious that the main criteria Woosnam went for are "speaks rural English" and "likes a pint". And I have a strange feeling that might be the right thing.

On the USA Today article about course closures, Smolmania brought this up: For those of you familiar with golf in Chicagoland, Pine Meadow -- named Golf Digest's Best New Public Course some time in the mid '80s -- may be in trouble. The Archdiocese owns the property the course is on, and the Jemsek's lease is coming up quickly. Rumor has it that negotiations are not going well. . . there are developers lining up to build houses on this property, and Lord knows the Church has lots of litigation settlements to pay. What a shame if we lose one of the best conditioned public courses in our District.

There were some interesting developments on the distance front, starting with Martina Navratilova's comments about tennis and golf equipment regulation.

GeorgeM writes: "Stronger" golfer uses harder ball and driver to attain more distance. Weaker driver uses softer ball and trust skill to carry the day. I have no problem with different balls favoring different players. However, if the same design were applied to lighter or larger balls, distances could be reduced and lenghtening of courses stopped. It would not hurt for the USGA to abandon COR specs and adopt a spec minimizing relative movement or deformation of the club face. That would relate more closely to "springlike effect."

On Tim Finchem's shifting stance on drug testing after Tiger Woods endorsed a PGA Tour drug testing program, R.J.W. says: Tim's finally come down off whatever that was he was on a couple weeks ago. No longer is he in complete denial, just quasi aloof now. Hey media, Tim just needs a few more weeks to make sure everything is out of his system, then he'll be ready to field your questions.

Walter Driver was the star of an chat and he revealed that the USGA won't be doing much to address the distance issue.

Barry writes: paraphrase: “Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Seve Ballasteros, Ernie Els, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, etc., etc. – you are ALL WRONG. Your years of playing and observing the game at the highest levels are worthless. We at the USGA have the ‘facts’ on ours side. And the ‘facts’ that we choose to pay attention to allow us to do nothing, and thereby avoid getting sued.”  Thanks Walter for clearing things up. Really, I mean that. After a few years of organizational doublespeak – we’re studying the problem, there is no problem - we now know exactly where the USGA stands. I can now give up any last shred of hope that you will do a damn thing to protect the game.

Garland: The USGA is conducting tests. They have determined that the modern ball goes 25-30 yards farther with the same swing speed than the ball used on tour in the early 90s. What that means is that the initial velocity and overall distance standards failed to keep the balls the tour players choose from going far beyond the intended distances.

Chuck: ...the longest players on the PGA Tour may not be dominating the money list. What I say to that is, I don't care. What is inarguable is that all of the courses that host PGA Tour events are being forced into unrecognizable alterations.

Kevin notes: one cannot argue that technology has not seriously changed this game. In my mind the perfect example is the 17th hole of the Old Course at St. Andrews. Always a feared hole, approached with care using long irons. Why did the R&A grow rough so high and so penal as to make using a driver a fool's play? Because the new tehnology would have turned that hole into a pitch and putt. And if you are OK with that, then you are on the other side of the fence from me. Driving averages are a bunch of numbers; when greats such as the Road Hole are rendered irrelevent then I see a clear sign that technology is out of control.

N Gn: I have been a Tour player for several years and I don`t need any statistical evidence to prove that there has been an excessive increase in distance over the last couple of years. The problem, in my opinion, is that the USGA and the R&A don´t have the guts to regulate accordingly, and my impression is that it is a legal fear. I believe that it will be the Augusta National members that will make the the right move, and when that day comes, we will see how quickly the USGA and R&A will take action.

Meanwhile the grooves issue continues to be the one area that the USGA sees a problem.

Scott S writes: Keep in mind that there is a difference between V, box, and U grooves. The super-ripping Cally, Titleist, and TM wedges use U grooves (TM calls them Y grooves, but their cross-section looks similar to the other U grooves). This is probably what they have their sights on. That said, what good will this create beyond adding a few million to wedge and possibly iron sales to the manufacturers? Oh, that's right, no one cares what they do to grooves, so long as no one loses any yardage!

RGT: ...grooves are not the problem when a 16 year old kid can average 339 yards off the tee in a Nationwide event. ince the USGA is not going to do anything about distance which is totally their fault, the PGA Tour should cut and run from the USGA. Go to a tournament ball, save millions in golf course renovations and still be able to afford the drug testing. Bottom line, these ballistic distances are driving up costs while TV ratings are in a major slump. Unless of course Finchem can convince TIGER of playing every week, fat chance.


It's a Tie!

Idaho Statesman column Brian Murphy (no, I couldn't find his first name) polled players at the Nationwide event on drug testing in golf.

During the first round of the Nationwide Tour's Albertsons Boise Open, held Thursday at Hillcrest Country Cub, I posed the same question to 39 professional golfers: "Would you like to see drug testing in golf?"

The results may surprise you — and they may surprise the PGA Tour, which runs the Nationwide Tour and the Champions Tour.

It was a tie — 16 responded in favor of drug testing, 16 were opposed and seven offered no opinion on the matter.

Most of those who said no offered a variation on the PGA Tour's official stance: Performance-enhancing drugs won't help golfers.

"Our players don't kick the ball in the rough and they don't take illegal substances, including performance-enhancing substances," said Bob Combs, the PGA Tour's senior vice president for public relations and communications.

He was parroting the sentiments of PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who has been extensively quoted as claiming the sport does not need testing.

"We've never seen any evidence of use nor have we seen evidence that steroids or other performance-enhancing substances would be beneficial," Combs said.

Sheesh...get Bob the latest Finchem take on this. Those lines he's repeating (verbatim!?) are like, so August 2006. 



"This mutual admiration is part of something bigger"

Thanks to Tuco for noticing this Scott Soshnick column on the recent Tiger-Federrer meeting and the likelihood that it's driven by Nike as much as a bond between the two dominant forces of their sports.

This mutual admiration is part of something bigger. It isn't coincidence that both athletes happen to be represented by the same agency, International Management Group.

If Tiger and Roger were so intent on forging a friendship, why didn't the millionaires simply hop aboard private planes or, better yet, Tiger's yacht, and make it happen. And don't tell me about busy schedules.

Tiger gets what Tiger wants.

I smell a commercial.

It's the only logical conclusion for their public introduction and instant friendship, which blossomed during the U.S. Open final.


Golf's Top 100 You Can Play

Now posted is Golf Magazine's Top 100 public access courses in the U.S. list and story by Joe Passov. Rustic Canyon landed at #83.


Love and Pavin On Call, No Micheel?

Golfweek's Jeff Rude reports on the slim possibility of Davis Love or Corey Pavin being called upon should Scott Verplank's chiropracter-induced rib injury force him out of the Ryder Cup.

Why is Love the first captain's choice when Shaun Micheel just finished second in the PGA and defeated Tiger Woods and Luke Donald in the World Match Play?


K Club Quotes

Reuters offers these player and Captain insights into the K Club's design.  

U.S. team captain Tom Lehman, a veteran of three Ryder Cups as a player: "It is a good driving course. With the rough up the way that it is, you need to put the ball in the fairway. The greens are somewhat unique, there is a lot of personality to them. The challenge is there and the firmer it gets the harder it is going to become."

Ireland's Paul McGinley, who holed the winning putt for Europe in the 2002 Ryder Cup at the Belfry in central England: "It will be great. The course has matured with age, much like a fine wine, and is getting in better and better condition every year. It will be something everyone in Ireland is going to be proud of. Those three final holes now having water in play will be fantastic for match play. The finishing stretch down the (River) Liffey will be nerve tingling."

The 7,335-yard Palmer Course has water in play on 13 of its 18 holes.

European team captain Ian Woosnam, who tasted victory at four of his eight Ryder Cups as a player: "This is just about as good as it gets for match play golf and it is going to be a brilliant setting for the Ryder Cup. Subtle changes have been made to the course especially around the greens, where mown humps and hollows will allow for more creative chipping and putting as (designer) Arnold (Palmer) originally intended. It will be a supreme test."



"It just goes to show..."

Lawrence Donegan on the day one massacre at Wentworth:
As the old golf saying doesn't go, to lose one favourite in the first round at Wentworth is careless but to lose three-quarters of them is likely to evoke the hoariest of sporting clichés.

"It just goes to show that anyone can beat anyone on any given day," chimed the likes of Colin Montgomerie, Shaun Micheel and Paul Casey here yesterday after defying the seedings to progress to the last eight of the World Match Play.

Meanwhile, Martin Johnson writes about Monty in a column you won't want to miss.
There is no one quite like him for fitting PG Wodehouse's description of golfers who get distracted by the sound of butterflies in an adjacent meadow, and reincarnation theorists would be fairly confident in the belief that he must have lived out a previous existence as a bat. So quite how Monty does so well around Wentworth — three PGA titles and one World Matchplay — is a bit of a mystery.

With the roadways winding through the trees resembling the M25 at times, there are more distractions here than on almost any other course you could mention. Little wonder Monty had a mild attack of road rage yesterday, although, this being a large and exclusive residential estate, one of the drivers he was waving his arms at could have been delivering Ernie Els' groceries.

Don't Overeact!

AP's Jim Litke must have caught colleague Doug Ferguson sobbing over having to cover three days of the World Match Play without Tiger, Ernie, Retief or Furyk, because he says we shouldn't overreact to Tiger's loss to Shaun Micheel.