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Saturday, Apr. 25, 2015

In Wales for the Ryer Cup

Posted Monday, September 27, 2010, at 8:56 PM

(Editor's Note: Former Linton Phil Harris Golf Pro Ted Bishop, now at the Legends of Indiana Golf Club and PGA of America secretary, is in Wales for the Ryder Cup. He will be writing a column for the Greene County Daily World)

We left Indianapolis Sunday afternoon and flew to Atlanta where we hooked up with the PGA of America and the Team USA Charter. Atlanta was the meeting place because the final round of the Tour Championship was played at East Lake. That event was won by Jim Furyk who woke up this morning $11.3 million richer. Our flight left Atlanta at 11 p.m. EST and we arrived today in Cardiff, Wales, UK at approximately 11 a.m. local time. There is a five hour time difference.

The official PGA party includes Team USA and their wives/significant others; our Captain Corey Pavin and his wife, Lisa; Assistant Captains Tom Lehman, Davis Love III, Paul Goydos, Jeff Sluman and their wives; the caddies for the players as well as four PGA Officers/Wives and our CEO. There were also over 100 people on the team charter who had purchased seats and lodging packages. I would estimate that 2/3 of that group were from Bloomington, IN- where Jeff Overton, Ryder Cup team member resides. This was a rowdy bunch who sported IU hats with an America Flag and Overton's name on the hat.

We spent about 4 hours in the Renaissance Hotel after we arrived in Atlanta yesterday. The PGA had a special Team Room, which was great for getting to know the players. The make-up of the U.S. Team is unique with veterans Furyk, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink being joined by young guns Overton, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler.

I will say that if the young guys are feeling Ryder Cup pressure there was no sign of it yesterday and on the flight over. They were all relaxed and taking in the moment! Watson was hell bent on pimping Overton and did so with a large degree of success. Overton had previously been quoted as saying that the best part about the Ryder Cup was going to be meeting Tiger Woods.

Woods showed up about 30 minutes before departure last night wearing a black Nike warmup, baseball cap and black Nike athletic shoes. He slipped into a seat next to Overton who was engrossed in a conversation with his back turned. Tiger tapped him on the shoulder and placed his face nose to nose with Overton. When he turned around he about fell out of his chair and spontaneously responded, "It's Tiger Woods!" That brought the whole place down.

On the walls surrounding the room were life size photos of all the players. Rickie Fowler stopped in front of his poster and took a picture with his I-phone. He turned around and looked at me with a grin and said, "I am not weird. It's just that my forearms have never been as big as they are in this picture!"

Several things impressed me with this team. The players all get along with each other. I don't see any cliques. The young guys respect the older players. The veterans seem to like the enthusiasm of the young guys. It is a great mix of personalities, which is important in team golf.

Once on the plane, I was seated next to Bubba Watson and right behind Fowler and Dustin Johnson. A row in front of them was Tiger. The world's Number One was engrossed in a numbers version of crossword puzzles. He soon got Watson, Johnson and Fowler engaged in the game and they played for several hours. It was almost like a teacher giving his students something to get them calmed down! Mickelson was several rows behind playing gin rummy with three caddies.

Everybody got 2-3 hours of sleep. We were greeted by the Euro Ryder Delegation which included their Captain Colin Montgomerie and his wife. After that we headed to the Celtic Manor hotel, which is where we stay. We all had lunch in the team room. The PGA Officers had a briefing with our tournament staff and Pavin. It was here that I learned that I will drive a golf car for an assistant captain during the first four rounds on Friday and Saturday. I will be right in the thick of things!

Later this afternoon we attended the joint news conference held by Pavin and Monte. Most questions were driven to Montgomery by the foreign press. He has already announced that the Molinari brothers (Italians) will be paired together as well as Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, both from Northern Ireland. Monte also drew some criticism from the press for the course set up, which is pretty fair and probably doesn't favor either team- something the host captain has control of.

One question directed at Monte was, "If you lose as Captain will it tarnish your Ryder Cup record?"

Monte's response, "No, I was undefeated as a player in Singles matches and that record will still stand."

Great first day!

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