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Saturday, May 23, 2015

The first tee

Posted Friday, October 1, 2010, at 10:16 AM

I don't know how much time I will have on Friday and Saturday, so I wanted to add a few things.

Tomorrow morning (Friday), I will be with the first group of the 38th Ryder Cup at 7:45 a.m. I will accompany Tom Lehman, Assistant Captain. This match will send Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson against Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, arguably the best team that Europe has to offer. ESPN begins coverage at 2:30 a.m. on Friday morning.

The electricity on the #1 Tee will be indescribable. The Euro crowd will be charged up with clever cheers, jeers and songs. The previously hospitable crowd will become hostile. The few hundred Americans will be outnumbered by nearly 50,000 rowdy European fans. I really cannot put into words what it will be like.

Corey Pavin was asked who will hit the first shot tomorrow. Will it be veteran Mickelson or rookie Johnson? "I will let the players decide. They will do what makes them most comfortable." Stories of Ryder Cup #1 tee shots are legendary. The greatest players in the world will get lumps in their throats that produce suffocating results.

The second match pits Matt Kuchar and Stewart Cink against Ireland's duo of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. Next up is Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker against England's Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher. The final match of the morning will be American rookies, Bubba Watson and Hoosier Jeff Overton against Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington. The afternoon pairings will be announced thirty minutes before the first tee time.

The morning format will be a best ball competition where the players each card a score and the low score counts for the team. In the afternoon, it will be alternate shot which means that one player tees off on #1 and his partner hits the second shot. The players alternate shots until the competition ends.

Captains put a lot of thoughts into pairings trying to match game styles, personalities, etc. This morning Curtis Strange, ESPN analyst, sought out Lehman and asked, "Will there be any thought in matching players in the alternate shot based on what ball they play?"

Lehman's response, "Absolutely not. The balls are all good today and that will have no bearing on the pairings."

If the weather does what it is supposed to (rain all day), players will likely be able to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the closely mowed areas. This will allow the players to wipe mud off of their ball, which can certainly affect the flight of the ball and the accuracy of the shot. According to Mark Wilson, PGA Rules Chairman, this was a landmark decision which was introduced at the K Club in Ireland in 2006 when conditions were extremely wet. "We did it in Ireland and it enhanced the competition. It had no impact on the outcome of the matches, It was the right thing to do," said Wilson.

The British tabloids have criticized Pavin for having F-16 fighter pilot, Major Dan Rooney speak to the U.S. Team on Tuesday night. They say it demonstrates the United States' infatuation with war. Some of those same tabloids have run pictures of Hunter Mahan's girlfriend in a Dallas Cowboys cheerleading costume. She had previously been a Cowboys' cheerleader and the British have made some snide remarks about this. Ridiculous.....

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is staying across the hall from me. As we rode up the elevator tonight his wife, Holly, asked what time they were going to the course. "We will be on the #1 tee at 7:15 a.m. That's thirty minutes before the first group goes and I want to experience the crowd."

I think that says it all!

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The World of Golf
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