Let The Second Guessing Begin?

For us here in the States who are 3 hours behind, NBC's Dan Hicks just raised the question of whether Phil Mickelson should be playing in Saturday afternoon's foursomes.

Johnny Miller responded that he questioned whether Mickelson or Tiger Woods should go out in the afternoon based on their play in this Ryder Cup and in previous Cups.

Well, we know they are both going out in the afternoon. (Warning, spoiler link!)

Does Tom Lehman really have any choice?

I don't believe there is any scenario other than injury where you can't sit Woods.

But I've been wondering since yesterday why Mickelson, who has admitted being tired and ready to shut down for the year, is playing more than one match a day?

 

Ryder Cup Clippings, Saturday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgDid anyone have some pot bunkers stolen? Well, I've found them. They're on the 18th at The K Club. They fell out of the thieves' truck? Nice job matching the existing hazards.

Oh, and love the tree planting on 17. They have that neo-postmodern Ray Charles thing going for them.

Anyway, they didn't bug Monty, who Mike Aitken reports has been left out of the Saturday morning four-ball despite fine play on Friday.

The media coverage theme is fairly consistent: even with the 5-3 score, the consensus seems to be that the U.S. is in deep trouble. Such cynics!

Lawrence Donegan says Woosie must be pleased with Sergio.

What he will also take over the next two days is more of the same from García, who was magnificent in tandem with his compatriot José María Olazábal as they swept aside David Toms and Brett Wetterich in the morning and equally dazzling as he and Luke Donald defeated the Americans' star pairing of Woods and Jim Furyk in the afternoon foursomes.

Doug Ferguson declares the opening day matches to be the "tightest" in Ryder Cup history

James Lawton says Tiger is a loner and like Bill Macatee hinted today on the telecast, maybe all of this bonding stuff is taking him out of his game.

Woods has a 12-0 lead on Garcia in the majors, but the 26-year-old Spaniard puts on a cape at the Ryder Cup. Garcia is now 12-3-2 in the Ryder Cup, compared with Woods' 8-12-2 record.

The truth is that apart from the odd bolt from the sky, the occasional shot of absolute brilliance, almost everything in the Ryder Cup comes hard to Tiger Woods.

Heaven knows he has tried selflessly enough this time, stopping just short of wrapping himself in the Stars and Stripes and dancing to the tune of "Yankee Doodle-Dandy". In fact he was persuaded the other night to sing his old college song at a team meeting. He has taken rookies out to dinner, he has attempted to "bond" like an eager undergraduate. But always he looks just a little uncomfortable. He is doing something that, however admirable, may not be entirely prompted by his nature, and maybe still less his heart.

As the blue of Europe began to spread all over the scoreboard here, there were times when Tiger looked so out of sorts and out of place he might have been Keith Richards finding himself at the Last Night of the Proms.

The press room highlight of the day, from Sergio:

Q. Estaba hoy tu mejor día del año en golf? (Question in Spanish.)

LUKE DONALD: I'll take this one. (Laughter).

SERGIO GARCIA: Sorry, he's just been telling me that I've been playing shit. And I'm trying to make him realise I've been having a decent summer. (Laughter).

Gary Van Sickle writes:

Yes, the opening day of the 36th Ryder Cup was same-old same-old stuff. The Europeans have the hot players and look like the better team. The Americans' big guns are strangely silent and their players look like the underdogs that they have legitimately become. Captain Tom Lehman stressed that this time the Americans were going to have fun at the Ryder Cup. They're losing, 5-3, after a day in which they managed to win only one of eight matches (and that was the very first one). Fun was hard to come by.

He then outlines three reasons why things don't bode well for the Americans.

John Hawkins could not believe that J.J. Henry wasn't not out there in the afternoon, and you can't blame him for wondering.

Here's what Lehman said about Henry:

Q. Did you at all think about putting J.J. back out in the afternoon as well as he played in the morning? Was that a consideration?

CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Absolutely. J.J. is playing great golf, no question about it.

The partnership that he has with Stewart Cink I think is really, really good. In the alternate shot format, however, Stewart and David Toms play great together as well, and David is such a phenomenal putter. There's just a way things can go out there where one guy can be doing a lot of putting, and David, he's such an excellent putter is the reason why we put those two together. Not to say that J.J. can't putt, just that I think David is one of the best that we have.

Image buffs can check out some day 1 shots from SI and Golfonline.

Thanks to reader Mark for this audio clip features Greg Turner talking about The K Club.

Mike Baker in the The Guardian shares some fun notes from day 1

Here's a little more on the big bets placed on the Cup.

Matt Slater on the BBC blog compiles a great list of the days best quotes.

A Few Mid-Friday Clippings

2006rydercup.jpgJust a moment ago...while we were away...sorry, just brushing up on my announcing skills.

Since some us on the West Coast are still watching the four-ball matches as play has actually concluded, I offer up a few suggested stories without (hopefully) giving too much away about the results.

Oh, and I love the bright yellow billboards and Rolex clocks around the tees. So understated and subtle.

Damon Hack offers a short and sweet NY Times summary of day one.

Doug Ferguson serves up capsules of the morning matches.

Norman Dabell on Tiger's play today.

The Principal has some fun with Chris DiMarco's fist pumping. He also notes the pitiful pace of play during morning play.

Dave Seanor reports on Saturday morning's pairings, which include one rematch.

Sporting Life compiles key quotes from the day. 

For those of you able to watch, any thoughts on day 1 play? 

Ryder Cup Clippings, Thursday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgPoor Johnny is already backing off his statements from last week. The link includes other pre-match notes.

Lawrence Donegan analyzes the omission of Donald and Howell from the morning four-ball.  

But who would have guessed that Woosnam would have left out Luke Donald and David Howell, two of his three highest-ranked players?

The word from inside the European camp was that Donald does hit the ball far enough, but this is a drawback on a rain-sodden course that is playing far longer than its 7,335 yards, and Howell, who has been suffering the effects of a back injury for months, is simply not playing well enough. Of course Europe's captain, who has become a dab hand in the art of spin over the past few days, put it a lot more diplomatically. "Luke and David are going to blend beautifully in the foursomes. Really. They look great together. Or they could play with anybody," he said with a straight face. Any more of this and Woosie might find himself with a starring role in The Thick of It.

Alan Shipnuck senses there is an edge to the proceedings already.
The players and captains have taken great pains to be diplomatic, and there is no question that the outpouring of affection and empathy for Darren Clarke is genuine. But all the long run-up to Friday's start of play has been defined by the ugliness of the press coverage. Factor in the specter of a repeat of the deplorable fan behavior at the British Open along with the bad mojo in the European team room, which may yet go public, and suddenly this Ryder Cup is looking like it might be the juiciest since the War by the Shore in 1991.
Sam Bob Torrance tells Mike Aitken that Europe should win easily, and sounds a tad petty...
"You should be saying how many are we going to win by, not are we going to win it?" he grinned. "I definitely think Europe will win. First of all the greens are very slow. Secondly, the fairways are quite hairy, and they are wide. It's a tough course, but the Americans don't have hairy fairways and hairy greens. That's what Sam did at the Belfry. He got the greenkeepers to raise the cutters on the greens."
Wow, that's something to brag about!

 
John Hawkins reassures us that his hotel shower has good pressure while offering a few predictions on the morning four-ball matches.

71961633.jpgGolfDigest.com posted photos from the opening ceremonies in case you want to relive the pageantry.

John Huggan analyzes how the soft, windy and slow conditions will impact play, besides the obvious goofiness of it all.

Peter Kessler writes about the Ryder Cup's early days. You know, back when Great Britain need the rest of Europe's help to win.

The Principal shares a few fun thoughts on the Opening Ceremony.

Tim Carroll in the WSJ looks at the gimme's role in the Ryder Cup. Thanks to reader John for this.

intro.jpgSI.com has photos of wives, life partners and Greg Norman's daughter.

And finally, some sucker, err, "A bettor has staked $465,100 on the United States to win the Ryder Cup -- the biggest bet in golfing history.

 

It'll Be Live...Online!

It's not like I was going to get up at 5 am to watch tape delayed Ryder Cup action anyway since I can get up at 6 and be caught up fast forwarding through commercials by 7, but in case any of my fellow Americans have insomnia and want to watch live at 12 a.m. Pacific or 3 a.m EST...

Turner Sports, an industry leader in televised sports programming, today announced an agreement with NBC Sports, the broadcast home of the Ryder Cup, to produce and distribute online streaming video content for the 2006 Ryder Cup tournament.  On Friday, September 22, fans will be able to watch NBC’s live streaming coverage of match play from 3 - 11a.m. (ET), as well as subsequent video highlights, pre and post-round press conferences, and live scoring throughout the remainder of the tournament on Turner’s RyderCup.com website.  Jennifer Mills of PGA TOUR Sunday on USA Network will provide interviews and analysis.

“This deal combines the excitement of the Ryder Cup and NBC Sports’ outstanding product with Turner’s unrivaled experience in seamlessly distributing online sporting events to fans,” said Lenny Daniels, senior vice president of sports production and new media for Turner Sports.  “Both consumers and the sports world have acknowledged the value of video on the Internet as a resource for viewing sporting events, whether at home, at work, or on the go.  We’re happy to continue to provide compelling, robust online content that sports fans continue to crave.”

Key words in the money quote: at work...

In addition to the featured streaming video, fans will be able to access live audio coverage of match play from Friday, September 22 through Sunday, September 24.  Also, fans will have access to message boards where they can post messages for members of both Team USA and Team Europe.

Turner Sports New Media (TSNM), a leading digital interactive sports media organization and a division of Turner Sports, has the Internet rights to the 2006 Ryder Cup which allows them to manage, produce and host the 2006 Ryder Cup Web site.

Why are they just announcing this now? 


Opening Ceremony Live Blog

2006rydercup.jpg7:32 - Oh this looks promising, it's not raining, we have weird characters dressed in costumes, big balloons, bombastic music and a stage setup eerily similar to the Hollywood Bowl. Let the absurdity begin! (All times Pacific.)

7:34 - Okay this music is still going and the we're just watching a bunch of people running around with these balloons. They must be a metaphor for something. 

7:35 - Some hot babe named Ni Bheolain is master of ceremonies. Definitely a step up from Samuel L. Jackson and his newsboy cap.

7:38 - We see the Ryder Cup on the grand stage. It's uh, tiny. Oh, Bheloain just mentioned all of the great links courses they have in Ireland. Too bad we won't see one of them this week.

7:42 - Uh oh, a piper is coming out. I suppose this is where we'd bring out a baton twirler in the U.S., so I won't complain.

7:46 - That piper was way too classy.

7:51 - Let the boring speeches begin. Starting with Phil Weaver of the European PGA. He's glued to his script. This doesn't bode well for Woosie getting to read off of a teleprompter.

7:53 - Former captains are introduced, including the legendary Bernard Hunt and then, the King, Arnold Palmer who no one seems to know where he is. Ooops! Arnold wasn't there? Maybe he had to pee.

7:55 - Here comes the new agey Celtic music, complete with guys wearing tank tops who shouldn't wear tank tops. Where's John Tesh when you need him?

7:58 - The Euro spouses, including Mrs. Woosnam are up and dancing to this stuff, the American wives reluctantly are standing and clapping. Mrs. Lehman included.

7:59 - Bathroom break time, PGA of America's Roger Warren is speaking! Lukewarm applause greets him. Wait, he's either memorized his speech or has a prompter. Good news for Woosie!?

8:03 - Warren wraps it up, finally. Says this week will perpetuate the values of the game.  Let's hope.

8:05 - Introducing former Irish Ryder Cup players. We saw two of them I think. Stellar camera work. Who let the BBC in?

8:07 - Here comes the dance "extravaganza" according to this Ni gal from the Star Trek Enterprise. Oh we have smoke, we have monks, we see people showing their dirty feet and more new age music.  It's no Riverdance. It's worse.

8:12 - Oh no, there's a giant horse with someone on top humping it with flags waving, all set to Celtic hyms. Thank God the children are in school for this. 

8:15 - Executives from the Tours are present in matching suits, so glad they spent money on that. Tim Finchem is muttering to Joe Steranka, "boy we have work to do for the President's Cup opening ceremony. Think we can get Celine for Montreal next year?" 

8:16 - The teams arrive on stage, the Euros going open collar in lime green jackets, the U.S. in their Price Waterhouse suits. The look like Irish pimps in Miami Beach. The Euro team, that is.

8:24 - We wrap up the national anthems and the awkward shots of players and wives trying to sing along to super fast versions. 

8:25 - Uh oh, Captain's speech time. Woosie's Depends are getting some action. But Lehman's first.

8:26 - Lehman's already choked up. He wishes Woosie and the Euros good luck. Woosie looks like he's in pain!!!  

8:30 - And now it's time for the speech he's been working on since February...Ian Woosnam. Wait, the podium is taller than Ian. Someone get a phone book! Oh he's a wreck. "They say it could be over a billion" and he's referring to the size of the audience. Right! Just like the Academy Awards.

8:32 - Did Woosie just say Ireland is famous for its crack? His dye job looks great.

8:32 - We're paying tribute to Arnold Palmer...and again, we have no camera shot of him! Where is The King??? 

8:34 - Woosie has stopped stuttering and is in a groove..wait, he just said Walter Reagan. Oops. Hagen.

8:35 - He's stuttering all over the part about upholding the traditions of the game...not a good sign.

8:37 - Woosie butchers the player intros..going out of order. Nice touch. Keeps 'em on their toes. 

8:38 - Pairings announced, Furyk and Woods vs. Harrington and Monty in the first group.  Cink and Henry vs. Casey and Karlsson. Third  match, Toms and Wetterich vs. Garcia and Olazabal. And finally, Mickelson and DiMarco vs. Clarke and Westwood.

8:41 - Wow, this is a fast ceremony. We would only be on the third bad musical act here in the States!  Wait, uh oh. Here come the great pagan gods playing prehistoric golf. "Let the golf party begin" says the Star Trek gal.

8:43 - Large bubbles with people in them are rolling off the stage. Or Lordy. And they are have jugglers dressed as caveman inside the balls juggling bowling pins!! Take that David Wolper! Meanwhile on the stage, an Irish ho-down has broken out, with men and women in plus fours dancing and swinging golf clubs to really music. The sky is darkening and the wind is up. Gee I wonder why. 

8:47 - It's over...an expensive bubble cover is enclosing the band and won't reopen until the closing ceremony...they're leaving in droves as the Ryder Cup anthem is played. Well, they get points for keeping it short and sweet!

8:48 - Lerner and Nobilo are here, raving about the weather and the thoroughly Irish ceremony.  "What a cracker that is," Nobilo says of the opening match.

8:54 - It's over. No U2 (they got stuck in the epic traffic), no Van Morrisson and no Riverdance.  But a couple of killer matches scheduled starting at 3 a.m. EST. Thank God for TiVo.

Opening Ceremonies Warning: Live Blog

Dave Seanor gives us an idea what to expect for tomorrow's Opening Ceremony, which will aspire to outdo the disaster at Oakland Hills, thus putting me into live blog mode here starting at at 7:30 a.m. Pacific time (at least that's when it comes on The Golf Channel).

Essential Information Dept.: Media briefing notes on the Sept. 21 opening ceremony include . . .

• "It will deliver the visual impact which one would typically associate with the opening of the Olympics."

• "Efforts have been concentrated on creating a visual and aural spectacle."

• "What are we trying to achieve? Establish the benchmark against which all future opening ceremonies and host nations of the Ryder cup will be judged."

Why do I have the funny feeling that the Van Morrison performance they got at the Gala Dinner will not be reported for the public ceremony?  That's right, the public wants to be tortured. I still say Michael Flatley will come spinning out!

Ryder Cup Clippings, Thursday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgBonding boys gone wild took an ugly turn Wednesday. Doug Ferguson reports on the latest example of Tom Lehman taking this team building bonding stuff perhaps a step too far.

Lehman fulfilled a prediction he made in February by creating what was believed to be the first "twelvesome" game in Ryder Cup history, his entire team playing nine holes on a gray, miserable afternoon.

But there was a twist.

They worked on their short game, starting each hole from about 120 yards away. The gallery wasn't aware of this, so when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and the rest of the Americans walked from the fourth green, past the fifth tee and kept marching down the middle of the fairway, the Ryder Cup got its first dose of booing.

"You don't give a damn about Ireland's public," shouted one man behind the tee, and hundreds of others nodded.

Another man asked Jim Furyk to stop for a picture. He walked over to man's wife, put his arm on her shoulder and posed with a smile.

Walking back toward the fairway, Furyk said, "I guess we're just the ugly Americans."

Lehman later asked for a mulligan.

He realized his squad should have performed at least on the first tee, where the grandstands were packed with people. And when he caught up with his team on the seventh hole, he told them to tee off on No. 9, the only drives they hit all day.

Lawrence Donegan covers the Wednesday events, including Tiger's understandable frustration and Lehman's 150-yards and in stunt.

Another way would be to say it was a chaotic and half-hearted exercise which resembled the kind of self-indulgent knockabout dreamed up after one too many gins and tonics in the bar at the country club.

Somehow I don't think Coach Wooden suggested this idea, or this one reported by Steve Elling today, which apparently was also reported last week. 

Will Barnes polled various writers including yours truly, asking for a predicted outcome, score and comment.

Helen Ross reports on the latest weather related headaches, ranging from today's winds, to Friday's lousy forecast to the possibility of "preferred lies." (Insert your own snarky comment here about Portmarnock weather.)

Mike Aitken raises the dreaded possibility of a Monday finish.

Louisa Nesbit explains how the tight security is working and lack of alcohol sales on site (so can we end the Guiness jokes?).

Mike Vitti uses ShotLink to create some "balanced" pairings.

Lewis Mair writes about the Ryder Cup going from a friendly game to a monster.

In 1927, it took the Great Britain and Ireland team six days to get to America by boat, and they wouldn't have got there at all but for the cash raised from a reader appeal in Golf Illustrated magazine. Three weeks ago, by way of contrast, the Americans stumped up £250,000 simply to pop over for a pre-tournament reconnaisance mission.

There is a check point on every street corner, and it will be a surprise if this year's matches are not accompanied by an armoured troop carrier and a SWAT team. One of the more ludicrous by-products of the suffocating security has been to make the nearest town to the K Club more or less impenetrable other than to the people who actually live there, and the local priest has complained that half his congregation will have to find somewhere else to attend mass.

It will be a relief to everyone when they start playing instead of talking.

The interviews are endless, and, with both teams professing to be closer than Siamese twins, endlessly predictable. "We're having an absolute blast," said Tiger yesterday, before adding mysteriously: "but I'm not going to tell you what we do." Immediately afterwards, though, new boy Vaughn Taylor let the cat out of the bag by revealing that they've all being playing "ping-pong" in the team room, which is not quite your average Irishman's idea of "having a blast".

Careless talk costs points, and Europe will already be planning bingo and shove halfpenny sessions to counteract this cunning American plan.

If there is anything guaranteed to survive all this nonsense, it is Ireland's legendary hospitality. A journalist sitting in a cab looking for his remote B & B accommodation down a series of unsignposted pitch-black country lanes on Monday night was beginning to despair of ever finding it when his driver said to him: "Don't you go worrying yourself now. If we don't find the place soon, I'll phone the wife and have the spare room made up for you."

Sal Johnson compares the monster to his first Ryder Cup in 1979 at the Greenbrier.

Sergio denies making any comment about Tiger and the Ryder Cup..."not even in the team room" where we were too busy bashing Monty. Just kidding.

Rex Hoggard reports that the one-ball rule is out, so we don't have to hear too much talk about players making those really, really tough adjustments.

Joe Passov sticks up for the K Club, joining, well, he sticks up for the K Club.

Since Golf Digest fashion guru Marty Hackel has been silent, Charlie Potter of GQ offers this bizarre take on the U.S. team's Sherlock Holmes outfits:

Before they stepped off the plane for the team photo that resulted in so much humiliation, the American captain Tom Lehman must have been pretty pleased with his choices. They are playing in Ireland, a country known for its tweeds. He has publicly promised his team that they will have fun in the run-up to the tournament on Friday and what better way to do so than in a tank-top? This was before they landed to face the media of a country that only accepts one view of male fashion. Britain seems interested only in men who dress badly.

It is strange how sport continues to insist on the ritual of the uniform for big events, a choice that inevitably leads to lambasting. It's like Miss World: here's the multi-buttoned, uncomfortably coloured blazer round; next up - cagoules; for bonus points, here come the Wags!

Whatever these sportsmen opt to wear, the clothing is then used to emasculate the players, because, after all, caring about clothing is the least red-blooded thing a man can do. To prove your virility, you have to mock. So sport continues to trap itself in these old cycles of machismo. You do something well? Quick, debag him. Anything but be seen to appreciate masculinity.

After yet another intensely lame post about the amount of Guiness they've been drinking, the Golfweek blog has all sorts of great stuff, starting with Jeff Babineau reporting on the Gala Dinner and yes, amazingly, the news that the reclusive legend Van Morrison performed.

I wonder if anyone on the U.S. team knows who he is?

And finally, Rich Lerner offers all sorts of fun notes from The K Club, including this:

Lehman’s charges will watch a video that includes scenes from Patton, Hoosiers, Miracle, and Grapes of Wrath and Gladiator. Just a thought, but given that the U.S. has appeared, in the words of Jim Furyk, constipated at times, could a Three Stooges episode hurt? 

I just want to know, will it include John Ashcroft's "Let The Eagle Soar?

Tiger's Ryder Cup Press Conference

He opened with an opening statement regarding the obviously bogus photo and story purported to be about his wife, and then, a rally killer stepped in.

TIGER WOODS: Well, first of all, if you don't mind, I'll answer that second.

I just want to make an opening statement real quick. That, you know, for me personally, and for my wife, things that have occurred over here, I'm very disappointed, not the fans, not the people here, not the Irish people. But very disappointed in how the article that was written, my wife, yes, she has been a model prior and she did do some bikini photos. But to link her to porn websites and such is unacceptable, and I do not accept that at all. Neither does our team. And I just want to say that that doesn't deter or detract from the beauty of this event.

The people here have been absolutely fantastic. Irish people have come out and supported us, and Europeans, I just want to say, sometimes you shouldn't let I know the media can be a little bit difficult at times, but when you it's hard to be very diplomatic about this when you have so much emotion involved, when my wife is involved like this. I just hope that it was the right thing to do, and overall, as I said, I don't want that to deter from the beauty of this event.

We as a team have come together, we have bonded, it's been an absolutely fantastic week and have had such a great time here. Hospitality has been absolutely fantastic. Last week, as Gordon said, we were watching Chelsea Liverpool football match, first football match I've ever been to, quite an experience, quite a bit of singing. We don't do that in American football, that's for sure. So that was a new experience. And as I said, had an absolutely fantastic time this entire week. That was the last I'll say about that.

GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much.

Q. Ian Woosnam was in here and talking about if the weather stays as it is now and gets worse, that should play in favour of The European Team. What are your thoughts about that?

Now I know he said that was the last he would say about the subject, but of course it wasn't. Does that first question deserve a place in our rally killer of the year sweepstakes? I think so.

Doesn't this make you pray for a Tiger-Sergio singles pairing:

Q. A couple of things, Tiger. We know what your record is in these Matches. A, does it bother you what it is, or has it bothered you more now than it has a couple years ago; and B, Sergio some comments in Switzerland a few weeks ago and that your record is not very good and he looks forward to playing you three or four times. Do those comments annoy you?

TIGER WOODS: It's disappointing, I haven't won points on the Cups that I've been on to win points for my team. I've always felt it's a two point swing; winning a point, losing a point, it feels like it's two points going the wrong way. And unfortunately I've gone on the wrong end of it too many times. It's frustrating because you feel like you've not only let yourself down but you've let your teammate down that your playing with, your partner, as well as your teammates that are trying to win this Cup for our captain and our country. It's very disappointing.

As far as the Sergio comments, hopefully we can get together out there and play.

And now for the dumbest question o' the day.

Q. I read this morning that Team USA has been having a good old fashioned sing song and a couple of pints of Guinness?

TIGER WOODS: Say again, this morning we were drinking? You or us?

Nice comeback Tiger!

Here's today's chilliest exchange (at least, on paper):

Q. Do you feel that you intimidate your own playing partners at all, especially in the foursomes?

TIGER WOODS: No.

Q. No?

TIGER WOODS: No.

I take that back, the follow up, was the worst question of the day.

Another Ryder Cup Blog

I've reluctantly posted a link to Golfweek's blog, not because of lines like this from from Alistair Tait:

No visitor worth his or her salt would fly to Ireland to play the K Club. Not at the prices the good doctor is charging (around $500 a round).

No, it's posts like this that make me hesistant:

Golfweek staff Guinness count for the week: 9

What's next, a tour of Golfweek's rental for the week?

Ryder Cup Clippings, Wednesday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgIf you don't mind Flash-based stuff (it slows things down here), GolfDigest.com has a couple of nice features posted. The first is the Golf World course map, with some noteworthy hole-by-hole comments from Brett Avery.

Even better is an interactive team analysis, with bios by Avery, U.S. comments by Brian Wacker and European player comments by John Huggan. There's also more than you ever wanted to know about player records in previous matches.

Story wise, thanks to reader Van for this Independent story noting Melissa Lehman's involvement in establishing the team curfew, including the wives shopping hold-out.

In the slow news day category, James Corrigan and several others built their stories around Tiger Woods and Darren Clarke embracing.

This wire story says Tiger was reluctant to join Tom Lehman's sing-your-college-fight-song hazing session. Can't say I blame Tiger for that one. This team bonding stuff is getting a little ridiculous.

Jim McCabe takes a close look at Tiger's Ryder Cup record and says it's not as bad as it looks.

SI has posted the "grid" I compiled on Arnold Palmer's life and design career, along with the text of his Dream 18. Gil Hanse's map of the Palmer course appeared in Golf Plus.

Add Golfonline's Connell Barrett to the list who will not be receiving honorary memberships to the K Club. Or for that matter, fan mail from the European Tour folks. He includes this quote from Peter Alliss:

"A course like Portmarnock would have been a magnificent choice," Alliss says. "I care passionately about this event, so I find this rather sad, losing the Irishness of links golf. An event that was once tough, bloody and wonderful has lost much of its charm. It's all because of money, money, money."

Lawrence Donegan comments on bonding exercises and offers other Tuesday practice round observations.

Sidetracking for a moment, Donegan is mentioned in a story about his former career as a bass guitarist in this Scotsman story about singer-songwriter Lloyd Cole, whose next album "Antidepressant" is due out September 25th in the UK, and October 10 in the U.S.

Regarding Cole and his love of golf:

There are periods, he says, when he's toyed with the idea of giving up music altogether and concentrating on his other passion: golf.

"I love playing it and I have this ridiculous dream that I could design golf courses for a living," he says wistfully. "Apparently, you have to be good at numbers and I was a real maths whiz at school. But my overwhelming feeling is that, if I can keep on plugging away with music and adding to this body of work that I've been developing since the early 1980s, then in the future people might find it something worth treasuring. That's really all I want."

Back to the Ryder Cup. BBC's Iain Carter blogs about the caricature-drawing exercise the Euros undertook, which is only a bit more ridiculous than the U.S. fight song nonsense. Apparently everyone was asked to draw Monty so that their thoughts could be determined by a "mind magician."

Wouldn't you just love to see Jakartagate-skeptic Darren Clarke's rendition?

BBC's Matt Slater blogs about the U.S. team's tweed outfits:

the librarian meets poacher creation was inspired by some old-fashioned view of what the Irish themselves wear when enjoying the great outdoors. The "begorrah, top o' the mornin' ta yer" Ireland of The Quiet Man or Ryan's Daughter or Boston's St Patrick's Day celebrations.

Karl MacGinty considers the dreadful weather forecast and the possibility that remnants of hurricane Gordon could reach The K Club by the weekend.

And finally, SI's E.M. Swift says the U.S. team is historically soft and pretty much says this team is doomed too.

The Ryder Cup Divide

Bruce Selcraig writes about the religious and political divide between European Tour players and U.S. players. You won't don't want to skip this compelling read, which appeared in the Irish Times.

But there’s still one significant cultural divide that is so sensitive an issue most players simply avoid addressing it when they’re on the other’s turf. Simply put, many Euros and other international players are put off by the overwhelming number of American PGA Tour players who identify themselves as George Bush-loving Republicans who support the US occupation of Iraq.

“Every movie you see, every book you read is like, `America, we’re the best country in the world,’” German Alex Cejka told me in May at the Byron Nelson tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. “When I hear this [from players] I could throw up. Sure it’s a great country...but you cannot say we have the most powerful president in the world, the biggest country in the world...It’s sad that they are influenced by so much bullshit.”

The affable and well-read Australian, Geoff Ogilvy, who won the US Open and has lived in Arizona with his Texas wife for four years, says: “A lot of their conservative views [on tour] are way off the map...I think George Bush is a bit dangerous. I think the world is scared while he’s in office, [but] there’s less tolerance of diversity [in opinions] over here [and] people have more blind faith in their government.”

Various Euros have hinted that they have similar views, but say privately they’ll be crucified in American lockerrooms and newspapers if they publicly oppose Bush, his fundamentalist Christian agenda or the Iraq war.

“That’s the new way of American censorship,” said Parnevik, as he baked on the driving range in Fort Worth. “People get hurt very badly if they speak out.”

And...

Not coincidentally, the American pro golf world, which has been heavily influenced by corporate America and Republican politics for at least 30 years, now has such a strong element of Christian fundamentalists that the entire Ryder Cup leadership – Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin and Loren Roberts – are all self-professed born-again Christians. Roberts was even converted and baptized at a tournament.

In the book, “The Way of an Eagle,” Lehman says: “God has definitely used golf in a great way over the last several years. I think of myself as a Christian who plays golf, not as a golfer who is a Christian. So whatever kind of job I do, there is a way for God to use that as a tool. In society at large, especially the way golf is growing, there is a huge platform for golfers.”

There are now official chaplains and weekly Bible study groups, or “fellowships,” on each of the four American pro tours, and various players either display the Christian fish symbol on their golf bag or wear a popular cloth bracelet that says “W.W.J.D” – What Would Jesus Do. “It’s not seen as so strange anymore for a player to be open about his faith,” former tour pro Bobby Clampett told Golf World. “They’re no longer called `The God Squad’ or `Jesus Freaks’ like we were 20 years ago. Now it’s cool.”

Well, until Bobby shows up.       

David Feherty, the former Euro Ryder Cup member from Northern Ireland who is now a popular TV golf commentator in America, believes the very public display of fire-and-brimstone Christianity is still unsettling to most Europeans. “I think a lot of Europeans find that conservative Christian thing as frightening as conservative Muslims,” he says. “If you find any European pros who are in that Bible thumping category, it’s usually because they’ve been to the United States.”

 

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 GolfDigest.com 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."

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 Ryderdiary.com, 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

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.

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.

And....

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).

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."

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?