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Scenery in Wales is beautiful!Posted Thursday, September 30, 2010, at 9:19 AM
I can honestly say that I was not that fired up about Wales as a venue for the 38th Ryder Cup. That was simply total ignorance on my part. Wales is actually the country where the English originally settled before they were driven to England by robbers and militants. There are more castles in Wales than any country in the United Kingdom. The scenery here is beautiful and the people are as hospitable as anywhere I have ever been.
There is a great sense of pride in hosting the Ryder Cup here. This is the most important sporting event to ever be played in Wales and the citizens of this country are coming out in droves to support the European team. The Welsh are a jovial sort. They are continually greeting our American contingent with smiles and well wishes. It is very obvious that this is their chance to show off Wales to the world.
The Minister of Education actually mandated that Ryder Cup history be introduced as part of the educational curriculum in the schools in Wales. They have been preparing for this event for 10 years. Celtic Manor was built to host the Ryder Cup and everything here has been first class.
We attended last night's state dinner at the Cardiff Castle hosted by the Prince of Wales. We were briefed ahead of time that Prince Charles would do some research on every member of the official party and he would converse some point of individual interest with everyone. When it came my time, he asked where I was from. After I said the Indianapolis area, he said, "That is not too far from Chicago where the 2012 Ryder Cup will be played. Are there a lot of good courses in Chicago? Do you have many good young players at your golf course?"
The dinner featured toasts by various groups including both Captains. At one point, I looked over to Indiana's Jeff Overton. He was grinning from ear to ear and said, "Can you believe we are actually here!?"
The Ryder Cup Gala was spectacular. It featured a wealth of homegrown Welsh musical talent including Catherine Zeta Jones, wife of Michael Douglas. Catherine Jenkins, world class opera star, and Shirley Bassett who recorded 'Goldfinger' and 'Diamonds Are Forever' for James Bond movies. These stars were complimented by a host of Wales talent in what was arguably the best movie performance that I have ever seen. All 10,000 in attendance got everyone geared up for the Ryder Cup!
This morning I did an early morning practice round with Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. I joined Tom Lehman, assistant captain, as the two American players were first out. Lehman is one of the truly class guys in golf. The former British Open winner is loved by the locals and he made every effort to sign autographs and talk to well wishers.
The Europeans were again over an hour late for their tee times which caused our group to catch them on the 10th hole. We skipped over to the 15th tee and finished the round. This is two days in a row that the Euros have backed up the Americans on the course due to arriving late to the tee. Not a good thing in this format.
Mickelson and Fowler had a 'friendly' game. I don't know what the bet was, but they were definitely in their moments, if you know what I mean. Again, it was typical of what you see from the Americans- the veteran spending time with the rookie. Mickelson counseled Fowler on occasion. It is apparent that Fowler respects Phil.
I love Rickie. He is personable, friendly and great for golf. He hails from Southern California and sports long brown hair. He is the smallest of stature on the team. In Lehman's words, "He is really swinging well. Rickie was a little fast the first day, which was just jet lag. But, he has it ironed out now."
Opening Ceremonies are in a couple of hours. Tomorrow's forecast is for rain. The only good news is that they are forecasting 25 mph winds which will mean the rain won't come straight down- just sideways! (Joke) ESPN begins coverage at 2:30 a.m. EST, so you can see it all. Saturday is supposed to be foggy and Sunday decent.
Hope you are enjoying the reports!
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