At the pre-tournament press conference for the Barclays, Jim Furyk told a funny joke from the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.
Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin have announced their pairings for the opening fourball (otherwise known as best ball) matches on Friday morning. And here it goes.
First match: Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson vs. Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.
No surprises with the Johnson/Mickelson team, as Phil said early on that he wanted to play with DJ — the two play a lot of practice rounds together and their personalities are compatible (Lefty analyzes everything, DJ is laidback and doesn’t mind constant chatter). The long-hitting Americans are both high-risk, high-reward type of players, where they can make eagle or double-bogey at any given time. I guess you put them together and hope for the eagles. Meanwhile, Westwood, who is returning from an injury, and Martin Kaymer, the most recent major champion, are the more consistent from tee to green. Butch Harmon called this “the match of the century.” Maybe a bit of an overstatement, but bring on the hype.
Corey Pavin invited Major Dan Rooney, the F-16 pilot and PGA golf instructor who started Patriot Golf Day in the US, to speak to his team on Tuesday night. Considering the notoriety Pavin gained in the ’91 Ryder Cup match at Kiawah Island, dubbed “War by the Shore,” when he wore a camouflage hat during the Persian Gulf War, it might be wise to keep military references at bay.
Now, don’t get me wrong, as an American, I support our troops, but it’s the likening of a golf match to war that’s bothersome.
I interviewed six American Ryder Cup wives and girlfriends (WAGs) — Tabitha Furyk, Sybi Kuchar, Angie Watson, Amanda Caulder (Dustin Johnson’s girlfriend), Kandi Harris (Hunter Mahan’s fiancee) and Christina Zimmer (Jeff Overton’s girlfriend) — at the Tour Championship last week.
With the exception of Tabitha (I’m a huge fan), who has been on many teams, the other five ladies are first-timers at the Ryder Cup, so they weren’t sure what to expect, but they were excited. They were all incredibly helpful and delightful to chat with (it was practically a novelty interviewing women). It was also interesting to hear the preparation behind the Ryder Cup, like their excitement over buying ball gowns and anxiety over the gift exchange (it’s custom for the ladies to give presents to the wives/girlfriends of the other players and captains — more on that later).
Basically, it’s easy to dismiss the WAGs as made-up Barbie dolls and much of their prep leading up to the big show does revolve around, well, “stuff,” but they actually are important to the team morale and play a greater role than usual during Ryder Cup week.
I wrote about their role for the Wall Street Journal. Here’s an excerpt:
Colin Montgomerie’s decision to use one of his three wildcard picks on Padraig Harrington was widely criticized. Despite being a three-time major champion, Harrington had struggled this season, especially compared to world’s No. 8 Paul Casey and Justin Rose, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this year. But apparently Harrington is peaking right on time, as he and Luke Donald sent Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher looking for the nearest ATM on Tuesday at Celtic Manor.
Nice spot by Reader Mark to catch this photo of Tiger Woods practicing with a Nike putter on Tuesday.
As you may recall, at the British Open in July, Tiger switched from the Scotty Cameron Newport putter, the same one he used to win 13 of his 14 major championships, to a Nike Method putter. His reasoning was that the greens were slow and the ball came off the Nike putter faster. But then in the final round of the Open, he switched back to Scotty and used it for the rest of the season.
At the 2007 Presidents Cup in Montreal when Hunter Mahan was the only player on the American team without a date, his teammates’ wives pulled some pranks on him. After the first day of matches, one of the women called Mahan and said, “Hey there’s someone who wants to meet you.”
“They brought a [Barbie] doll,” said Mahan last Wednesday at the Tour Championship. “The girls all got together and did it. Amy [Mickelson] would send me texts that said, ‘They missed out out there,’ or something like that. They played pranks on me all week.”
Because the Ryder Cup only happens every two years and it’s a battle between the United States and Europe, emotions and passions run high. Between a controversial European captain and American captain’s pick Tiger Woods, there’s tons of news coming out of Wales this year. To keep track of the tabloid drama and the actual golf, here’s a summary to make your life easier. As Bubba Watson would tweet, [sic] #yourwelcome.
By now, some of you have seen the lavender — excuse me, “cornflower” — cardigan look (see below) that the Americans will wear in the Saturday matches. On September 19th, photos of the outfits for the practice rounds (see above) and Sunday were also revealed to the public.
Golf Digest‘s style expert, Marty Hackel, waxed lyrical about the “historically respectful, classic but modern collection using current materials” that Lisa Pavin (better known to some as Captainess) collaborated on with designers Peter Millar and Hickey Freeman. The uniforms were inspired by iconic golfers of the past, like Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson.