Pre-shot far from rou­tine

Los Angeles Times - - Sports - BILL DWYRE

It is be­com­ing abun­dantly clear that the Ry­der Cup is a highly pop­u­lar event pre­ceded by days and days of highly in­signif­i­cant prat­tle.

The ac­tual event will start Fri­day, amid the rolling hills of the Welsh coun­try­side. The 12 best golfers from Europe will play the 12 best from the United States.

Huge crowds, per­haps ap­proach­ing 50,000 each of the three days, will climb the hills, strain for bet­ter views, buy caps and Tshirts and tell their grand­chil­dren about it for years to come.

Win­ning and los­ing has be­come a big deal. It wasn’t so un­til the U.S. team be­gan to lose, even on its own soil, and then the Amer­i­can na­tion­al­is­tic Pavlo­vian dog started to kick in. Af­ter

years of do­ing so rou­tinely, the U.S. has now failed to win on Euro­pean soil since 1993. It’s like Cal­i­for­nia. A 17-year drought.

All of this, of course, will play out over a week­end of drives and irons and putts. What hap­pened a few days be­fore the com­pe­ti­tion will mat­ter lit­tle and be long for­got­ten.

But in­signif­i­cance does not trans­late to lack of ac­tiv­ity, and there was plenty of that Tues­day. Some of it was even fun.

Euro­pean player Luke Don­ald, who grad­u­ated from North­west­ern, plays the PGA Tour and is about as Bri­tish now as Gomer Pyle, was asked if he was of­fered a spot on the U.S. team char­ter plane that left from Sun­day’s PGA Tour Cham­pi­onship in At­lanta.

“No,” he said. “They said they had room, but only in the toi­let.”

The Twit­ter con­tro­versy con­tin­ued to rage. Both cap­tains, Colin Mont­gomerie of Europe and Corey Pavin of the U.S., made the mis­take a few days ago of telling the me­dia that they had asked their play­ers to cut out the so­cial me­dia stuff dur­ing the event. Now, as even main­stream me­dia tend to triv­i­al­ize ev­ery­thing, this has, amaz­ingly, be­come a story. The tabloids call it Twit­ter­gate.

“I thought I was the cap­tain of a golf team,” said the good-na­tured Mont­gomerie, “not the cap­tain of a tweet­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

U.S. team mem­ber Ste­wart Cink, ap­par­ently an avid tweeter or twit­terer or twinker — what­ever — re­sponded to Pavin’s ban in his fi­nal of­fer­ing by typ­ing, “I guess I’ll have to pass the down time ac­tu­ally read­ing or some­thing.”

U.S. team mem­ber Jim Furyk, af­ter play­ing his first round here in a prac­tice ses­sion Tues­day, was asked about the Twenty Ten course at the host Celtic Manor Re­sort. He in­di­cated that the rough was long and pe­nal.

“They were talk­ing about mak­ing sure the cap­tains keep their golf carts out of the rough,” Furyk said. “I think that’s be­cause they were afraid they might lose them.”

He meant the carts, not the cap­tains.

Dur­ing down time in the me­dia cen­ter, which was pretty much the en­tire day, Google searches were made of Pavin’s wife, Lisa, pos­ing for the cover of a mag­a­zine called Avid Golfer. In a clear at­tempt to rouse the troops, she donned an Amer­i­can flag — only, an Amer­i­can flag. This could have been the sort of in­spi­ra­tion that brought Francis Scott Key to his “Oh, Say Can You See …”

An­other in­spi­ra­tional sight­ing was on the fi­nal­hole fin­ish of Phil Mick­el­son’s and Bubba Wat­son’s prac­tice round. No. 18 is a par five, play­ing about 575 yards. In front of the green is wa­ter, plus there is a false front that will kick balls not played high enough on the green back down into the drink. Wat­son, one of the game’s long hit­ters, went for the green in two, cleared the wa­ter and plopped his ball in the right trap, pin high. Mick­el­son, one of the game’s biggest hit­ters and gam­blers, un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally laid up and pitched it to seven feet. Both made birdie putts. Depend­ing on your sense of hu­mor, there was even a laugh­able moment in Tiger Woods’ news con­fer­ence. The be­lea­guered Woods, who has made the canned non-an­swer an­swer into an art form since he re­turned to face the me­dia in the af­ter­math of his mar­i­tal scan­dal, re­mained im­pen­e­tra­ble in his re­sponse to the fol­low­ing ques­tion:

“You don’t win ma­jors any­more, you don’t win reg­u­lar tour­na­ments any­more — and you are about to be de­posed by Euro­peans as the world’s No. 1, or Phil Mick­el­son; where is the Ry­der Cup now on your agenda, now that you are an or­di­nary golfer?”

The or­di­nary golfer, win­ner of 14 ma­jors and 57 other main tour events, smiled and re­sponded: “I hope you are hav­ing a good week.”

Hunter Martin

WARMUP ACTS: Ste­wart Cink, left, and Luke Don­ald got in some good lines be­fore the Ry­der Cup.

Kevin C. Cox

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.