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Azinger on Twitter: 'Hunter sitting surprised me'

Former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger apparently intends to voice opinions, via Twitter, throughout the Ryder Cup, which could be interesting, provided he shares his opinions unvarnished.

Here's his first post addressing Friday morning's pairings:

"Sitting Furyke makes sense because he loves alternate shot. Hunter sitting surprised me a little. Course playing wet&long, US will like that."

-- John Strege

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Courses & Travel

Kyle Lograsso Aces His Charity Event

Kyle_11.jpg
Mitch McDowell is a member of the long-drive team for Krank Golf. McDowell has a swing speed of 153 miles per hour, and his longest competitive drive is 481 yards, which, one would assume, was with a slight breeze at his back.

McDowell was putting on quite a show on the driving range of the Pauma Valley Country Club on a steamy September afternoon in Southern California. But the people had gathered for a cause a little bigger than just long drives. This was the day of Kyle Lograsso’s charity event (Sept. 13) to raise money to help fight retinoblastoma, the cancer that cost Kyle an eye. (Click here for a previous blog post about Kyle Lograsso.

There were 100 golfers; they paid $325 each for golf and received breakfast, lunch, dinner and $500 in donated merchandise, including a pair of FootJoy shoes. There were 179 who attended the dinner that night, and the Lograsso family, through the tournament and a silent auction, raised more than $50,000 in what will be the first of more fund-raisers to come.

“We exceeded our expectations,” said Kyle’s mom, Regina. “We have the opportunity to change lives in such a great way. There's no stopping us now. We're more determined than ever to make a difference.”

As McDowell and Kyle were leaving the range, headed to their respective tee boxes for the day--Kyle was setting up at the 114-yard third hole, and McDowell was setting up at the 363-yard ninth hole--Kyle said to McDowell, “I’m going to make a hole-in-one for you.”

Kyle_14.jpg
My foursome was the second group to come through the third hole, where the challenge was to beat the pro (Lograsso being the "pro"). If you hit your tee shot on the green and closer to the pin relative to where Kyle hit his tee shot, you received a pair of Loudmouth pants (the company was one of the tournament sponsors). The catch being, you had to wear an eye patch while you played the hole. (It was only fair; Lograsso lost his eye when he was 2 years old.)

Try swinging with one eye closed. It distorts your depth perception, which will be my excuse for my chunked gap-wedge. Kyle chunked his 5-iron when he hit the shot against our group, but I will give him the excuse of a lady talking in his backswing. When offered a mulligan, Kyle declined. (He’s a purist.)

We finished the hole, carded a scramble bogey, removed our eye patches and headed to the next tee. Shortly after hitting our drives using both eyes, our ears were full of roars from the gallery on the third tee--Kyle had made his first hole-in-one in his 8-year-old life.

Kyle_13.jpg
Jeff Lograsso, Kyle’s father, threw his son in the air. Regina ran from another hole, in tears. It was quite a moment. Witnesses said the ball took two hops and dropped. “My man is Babe Ruth,” Jeff said later. “Calling his shots.”

Kyle_12.jpg
Kyle was overheard saying, “I've been waiting to do that for so long!” He told me, “It happened when I least expected it.”

On a warm day filled with nothing but blue skies, good people and positive vibes, there is some unfortunate news to report. A man bid on and won a Jack Nicklaus 1-iron in the silent auction. The winning bid was $500. (Nicklaus had autographed the face of the club.) When Jeff went to hand out the auction items, he realized the 1-iron was gone. Someone who is driving the bus to a very bad place in the after-life stole donated merchandise from a charity golf tournament. 

In a classy move, the winning bidder insisted Jeff keep the donation. Jeff plans on reaching out to Nicklaus’ people to see if he can arrange for another signed iron.

If you happen to know the cat who committed this crime, I have some thoughts on where we can stick that 1-iron. Yes, he might need an eye patch after we're done with him, but I’m also thinking of somewhere else.


Kyle_10.jpg

***UPDATE (Oct. 1): The blog was passed on to Jack's camp; Nicklaus has agreed to send another signed 1-iron to the Lograssos. 

--Matty G.

(Photographs provided by the Lograsso family.)

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News & Tours

Let the second-guessing begin

NEWPORT, Wales -- If Corey Pavin found himself getting roasted on Wednesday for his choice in motivational speakers, Thursday's inquisition was at least pertaining to matters closer to the actual competition.

One question had to do with his sending a struggling Jeff Overton out in the morning at the expense of Jim Furyk, who won both the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup last Sunday. (Pavin's response: "He said he's been tired. He's been counting the money.")

The other had to do with burying Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the third slot. It will mark the first time since 1999 that Woods will not be in the opening match of the Ryder Cup (save for 2008, when he missed the matches altogether).

And it wasn't just the media that was thrown off by Pavin's move. His European counterpart was expecting to see Woods either earlier or later.

"Tiger being hidden is a different move," Colin Montgomerie said.

Not that Pavin would admit to "hiding" Woods. In fact, he was reluctant to go into much detail at all about his pairings choices. When asked during the opening ceremonies why he put Woods and Stricker in the third position, Pavin deadpanned, "Because the first two slots were filled."

-- Sam Weinman 
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News & Tours

Breaking down Friday's four-ball pairings

NEWPORT, Wales -- A look at the four-ball pairings for Friday morning's opening session (all times are local):

Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson (USA) vs. Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer (Europe), 7:45 a.m.

Mickelson draws the task of breaking in another rookie like he did in 2008 with Anthony Kim. The long-hitting Johnson had to go out with orders to simply pound the ball given the cold, wet conditions that will prevail for the scheduled opening match at 7:45 a.m. Kaymer, the PGA champion, might be the rock of the group even though he is a rookie given Westwood's inactivity since August to rehabilitate a calf injury. America's flash might have the edge here.

Prediction: USA 1 up


Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell (Europe), 8 a.m.

U.S. captain Corey Pavin might have forgotten Cink in the introductions at the opening ceremonies, but he wasn't going to leave him out of the morning lineup after making him a captain's pick for the primary purpose of shepherding fellow Georgian Kuchar through team play. The McIlroy-McDowell duo was the most anticipated pairing of the week and the two Irishmen figure to be formidable and perhaps the most close-knit team for either side. But will they make enough birdies? Probably.

Prediction: Europe 2 and 1

Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods (USA) vs. Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher (Europe), 8:15 a.m.

The pairing of Woods and Stricker was a no-brainer given the success they enjoyed together going 4-0 in last year's Presidents Cup. If you don't need reminding, a lot has happened since then. Meanwhile, Poulter was a rock for Europe in 2008 at Valhalla, and might be brash enough to not be fazed by Woods.

Prediction:
Halved


Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton (USA) vs. Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington (Europe), 8:30 a.m.

More notable than Corey Pavin throwing two rookies into the mix right out of the gate is he did it at the expense of Jim Furyk, who is arguably the hottest player in the world. Harrington might be still looking for his old form, but he's got plenty of positive Ryder Cup experience to draw upon, and he's got a solid partner in Donald. This could be the first waxing of the week.

Prediction: Europe 4 and 3

-- Dave Shedloski and Sam Weinman

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News & Tours

By Ryder Cup standards, four-ball is new to the game

NEWPORT, Wales - With runs of birdies, the four-ball format often produces the most exciting sessions in the Ryder Cup, which could again be the case when the 38th Ryder Cup begins Friday morning. Four-balls, though, is a relative newcomer to the biennial competition.
 
From 1927-1961, the Ryder Cup consisted of foursomes and singles matches. Four-ball play was added in 1963, the year of a resounding United States victory over Great Britain at East Lake CC in Atlanta. Americans Billy Maxwell and Bob Goalby had the honor of playing in the first four-ball match, defeating Dave Thomas and Harry Weetman, 4-and-3.
 
The U.S. has an overall lead in the four-ball format, 95.5-85.5 points. Since 1985, however, in an era in which Europe has won seven of 12 Ryder Cups (and retained the cup with a tie in 1989), it has a 57.5-38.5 four-balls advantage, sweeping a four-balls session in 1987 and 1989.
 
-- Bill Fields
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News & Tours

This Week's Syllabus: Sept. 30-Oct. 6

FAB FIVE
MEN
1. Oklahoma State
(Last week: 3)
The Cowboys held serve at home, winning the Ping/Golfweek Preview with Peter Uihlein and Kevin Tway leading the way. Added to its T-2 finish at Olympia Fields, it's hard to argue the way OSU has started the 2010-11 season.
Next event: Jack Nicklaus Invitational, Scioto CC, Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 11-12

2. Florida (2)
It's been four years since the Gators won a fall tournament (2006 NCAA Preview), making their Olympia Fields victory either a fluke or an impressive sign of things to come.
Next event: Jerry Pate Invitational, Old Overton Club, Birmingham, Ala., Oct. 11-12

3. Alabama (4)
After Carpet Capital victory, Crimson Tide post an admirable fourth-place showing at Olympia Fields. Meanwhile, U of A fans should take pleasure in the fact that the school has won the Jerry Pate event the past four years.
Next event: Jerry Pate Invitational, Old Overton Club, Birmingham, Ala., Oct. 11-12

4. Augusta State (2)
Solid if not spectacular start for the Jaguars to the 2010-11 season. T-2 at Olympia followed by T-4 at the Ping Preview. Henrik Norlander responds after so-so start to 2010-11 season.
Next event: Brickyard Intercollegiate, The Brickyard at Riverside, Macon, Ga., Oct. 8-10

5. Iowa
(5)
OK, you could say the Hawkeyes' win at the Golfweek Conference Challenge should have an asterisk because it was at a course in Iowa. But the victory this week at the Fighting Irish Invitational can't be "written off" quite so easily. Is somebody ready to challenge Illinois' hold on the Big Ten Conference?
Next event: Rod Myers Invitational, Duke University GC, Durham, N.C., Oct. 10-11


WOMEN
1. LSU
(4)
A year ago the Tigers started the season with a victory at the NGCA match play tournament but fizzled the rest of the fall. This time around, the Tigers look like they have more bite, losing by just one stroke to Alabama at the Preview than winning the Mason Rudolph. Most impressive part is their 35 under score for the first six rounds of 2010-11.
Next event: Tar Heel Invitational, UNC Finley Course, Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 8-9

2. Alabama (1)
The Crimson Tide come back down to earth with sixth place finish at Mason Rudolph. Still have yet to have a over-par round as a team however, which has to help maintain their confidence.
Next event: Tar Heel Invitational, UNC Finley Course, Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 8-9

3. USC (2)
Transfer Lisa McCloskey continues to play as solidly as she did as an amateur last summer. Have to think the Trojans chances are pretty good to finish better than third in the Pacific Northwest this week.
Next event: Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, Tacoma Country &GC, Lakewood, Wash., Oct. 4-6

4. Purdue (3)
Now that's a little more like it ... Boilermakers were actually tied for the lead with a few holes to play before finishing second at the Mason Rudolph.
Next event: Windy City Collegiate, Northmoor GC, Highland Park, Ill., Oct. 4-5 

5. Virginia (NR)
The Cavaliers showed just how talented they are (when they're not playing inconsistently) with a final-round one-under 287 allowing them to storm back and claim the Golfweek Conference Championship in Colorado.
Next event: Tar Heel Invitational, UNC Finley Course, Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct. 8-9


STAT OF THE WEEK
Nicole Zhang.jpeg50
Percentage of the total sub-par rounds posted at the Mary Fossum Invitational (six) that were carded by Notre Dame freshman Nicole Zhang (three).

Indeed, it was a shame the 18-year-old's college debut took place the same weekend as the Mason Rudolph Women's Championship, overshadowing one of the more impressive starts in recent memory. Zhang (right) shot rounds of 69-67-71 at the Forest Akers GC in East Lansing for a nine-under 207 to win the individual title by nine strokes over Kent State's Martina Gavier. Zhang's score was 13 strokes better than third-place Caroline Powers of Michigan State and 19 stokes better than the twosome tied in 10th place. The overall scoring average was 78.65 while Zhang averaged 69.00.

"I was really proud of Nicole this weekend," said Fighting Irish women's coach Susan Holt. "She is a special player for us, and she definitely lived up to our expectations."


RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Can we actually get on with playing the Ryder Cup already? Everybody else who is sick of all the pre-tournament nonsense, raise your hand?

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
* Some history was made during the first round of last weekend's Wisconsin Badger Invitational. For the first time in her college career, North Dakota State's Amy Anderson didn't post the best score for the Bisons in a college tournament. With a five-over 77, Anderson was bested by teammate Rachel Roller's 71 at University Ridge GC in Verona, Wis., ending a string of 32 rounds in which Anderson had literally led ND State's charge.

Anderson, the 2009 U.S. Girls Junior champion, turned many heads when she decided to stay in her home state of North Dakota, playing at a college only a few years removed from moving from Division II, rather than attend a more high profile program with a deeper roster. Being near home and getting a chance to take her winter break were more important for Anderson than playing at a "big-time" school. The move of course pleased coach Matt Johnson, not simply because having a player with a 74.0 stroke average might help improve the school's results, but having Anderson around on a daily basis to assist the rest of the team might help the entire tide rise, if you will. That Keller, a junior, did beat Anderson suggests that the plan might actually be working. And in the final round, the Bison set a school record with a 18-over 306 score.

The question will be if Anderson can be beaten again anytime soon. Of course if Anderson's teammates get better, and can push Anderson, it would only help the All-American caliber player improve too.  


* With a 15th-place finish at Olympia Fields and a 11th-place showing at the Ping Preview, the Arizona State men's team hasn't had the start to the fall that coach Randy Lein was hoping for. Worse yet was the fact Scott Pinckney missed the second and third rounds at Karsten Creek because of a rib injury. The good news for Sun Devils fans is that the injury isn't serious, according to Lein, who says that Pinckney should be back playing again by the weekend.



TOURNAMENT PREVIEW
MEN
William H. Tucker Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
UNM Championship Course, Albuquerque
Oct. 1-2
Host: New Mexico
Field: Arizona, Baylor, BYU, Colorado, New Mexico, North Texas, Northern Colorado, Pepperdine, San Diego State, UTEP, UT-San Antonio, Toledo, Utah, Wyoming
Defending champion: UNLV (21-under 843) by 16 over San Diego State; UNLV's Colby Smith and Derek Ernst (eight-under 208)
Skinny: Entering its 56th playing, the Tucker is the second oldest regular-season event in college golf behind the New England Intercollegiate. The tournament is named in honor of a English golf course architect and former UNM groundskeeper.

Gary Koch Intercollegiate
Old Memorial GC, Tampa
Oct. 2-3
Host: Auburn/Kentucky
Field: Auburn, Coastal Carolina, College of Charleston, Florida State, Georgia Southern, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, North Carolina, UNC Greensboro, North Florida, South Florida, Virginia
Defending champion: Florida State (30-under 834) by 16 strokes over Texas Tech; Auburn's Kyle Kopsick (15-under 201) by two strokes over Florida State's Seath Lauer 
Skinny: Tournament resumed a year ago after a six-year hiatus. Schools from the state of Florida (North Florida, Florida, Florida State) have won six of the eight times the event has been played.

D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate
Weibring GC at Illinois State, Normal, Ill.
Oct. 2-3
Host: Illinois State
Field: Akron, Bradley, DePaul, Creighton, Detroit-Mercy, Drake, Illinois, Illinois State, Iowa State, Louisville, Loyola, Missouri State, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Western Illinois
Defending champion: Illinois State (33-over 873 by 15 over Western Illinois; Illinois State's Jeff Kellen (one-under 209) by six strokes over Western Illinois' Brian Scott
Skinny: Can anyone really challenge Illinois at this event? Says here no.

Cabo Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Querencia GC,
Oct. 2-4
Host: Santa Clara
Field: Arkansas, Boise State, CSU-Northridge, Houston, Lamar, Oregon State, Pacific, Santa Clara, SMU, St. Mary's (Calif.), Texas-Arlington, UC-Irvine
Defending champion: New event
Skinny: Santa Clara coach Rob Miller believes by hosting a top quality invitational event it will help the program be able to get into other strong events through reciprocal invitations.

Wolfpack Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Lonnie Poole GC, Raleigh, N.C.
Oct. 4-5
Host: N.C. State
Field: Arkansas-Little Rock, Campbell, East Carolina, Duke, Francis Marion, George Mason, Georgia State, Lynn, Maryland, Memphis, Navy, N.C. State, Rhode Island, UNC Wilmington, VCU, Wake Forest, Western Carolina
Defending champion: North Carolina (eight-over 860) by seven strokes over Duke; Duke's Adam Long (one-over 214)
Skinny: Event first played last spring on N.C. State's new course.

Rees Jones Intercollegiate
Haig Point, Dauguskie Island, S.C.
Oct. 4-5
Host: Michigan State
Field: Alabama State, Charletson Southern, Jackson State, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Liberty, Michigan State, San Jose State, South Carolina, Tennessee State, Winthrop, Wofford
Defending champion: South Carolina (five-over 869) by 37 strokes over UNC Wilmington; South Carolina's George Bryan IV and Paul Woodbury (two-under 214)
Skinny: The Gamecocks enter the tournament as the favorite and are the only school to have won the team title as the event is played for a third year.

Louisiana Tech Squire Creek Classic
Squire Creek, Choudrant, La.
Oct. 4-5
Host: Louisiana Tech
Field: Arkansas State, Houston Baptist, Jacksonville State, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State, UMKC, Nicholls State, Rice, Sam Houston State, S.E. Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, Troy
Defending champion: New Orleans (10-over 854) by nine strokes over UNC Wilmington; S.E. Louisiana's Cedric Scotto (six-under 210) by one stroke of New Orleans' Ken Looper and Sebastian Szirmak
Skinny: A pair of top-four finishes has the host Bulldogs ranked No. 57 by Golfstat, highest in the program's history.


WOMEN
William K. Warren Irish Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Warren GC, Notre Dame, Ind.
Oct. 2-3
Host: Notre Dame
Field: Cincinnati, Georgia State, Illinois, Indiana, Kent State, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Toledo, UT-San Antonio
Skinny: Warren GC hosts second big tournament in two weeks after being the site of this summer's U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship.

Johnie Imes Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Club at Old Hawthorne, Columbia, Mo.
Oct. 4-5
Host: Missouri
Field: Arkansas-Little Rock, Baylor, Colorado, Florida International, Illinois State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Missouri State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Princeton, Texas State, Wisconsin
Defending champion:
Skinny: The host Tigers are raising money for breast cancer research in conjunction with the tournament. Sponsors have been recruited to donate money for every birdie the team makes.

Windy City Collegiate Championship
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Northmoor GC, Highland Park, Ill.
Oct. 4-5
Host: Northwestern
Field: East Carolina, Iowa State, New Mexico, Northwestern, Purdue, San Diego State, TCU, Texas Tech, UCF, UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington
Defending champion: Purdue (four-under 860) by 14 strokes over Tulane; Purdue's Maude-Aimee LeBlanc (five-under 211) by one stroke over Michigan's Ashley Bauer
Skinny: Third year for the event.

Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Tacoma Country & GC, Lakewood, Wash.
Oct. 4-6
Host: Washington
Field: California, Gonzaga, Idaho, New Mexico State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, San Francisco, San Jose State, Stanford, UC Davis, USC, Washington, Washington State
Defending champion: California (33-over 897) by 15 strokes over Stanford; San Jose State's Katrin Delen Briones (three-over 219) by one stroke over San Francisco's Natasha Podmore
Skinny:
The event celebrates its 29th year. Because of Sahalee CC, the usual host course, having held the U.S. Senior Open, the event has been moved for a year.
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News & Tours

The Twenty Ten: Two courses in one?

NEWPORT, Wales -- Not that captains Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin don't have enough factors to weigh when formulating their pairings for the Ryder Cup, which begins Friday, but Jim McKenzie, Director of Golf Courses and Estates Management at the Celtic Manor Resort, can throw yet another at them.

Seems there are two golf courses lurking out there, not just one. The reason is the 125 millimeter rough that will not be mown for the rest of the week. (That translates to five inches, by the way.)


twentyten_470.jpg

"It will be like two different golf courses out there, at least on the days it doesn't rain," McKenzie said Thursday as he made final preparations on the Twenty Ten Course built specifically for the 38th Ryder Cup. "In the morning, with the heavy dew we get this time of year, the rough will be, as we say in Scotland, claggy and clingy. It will be a factor with it being very tough in the morning."

The rough is also much tougher than when the Wales Open was conducted earlier this year. "Some of the feedback we got from the Wales Open was that the rough was a little bit inconsistent. A lot of that came mainly from Graeme McDowell, who won the Wales Open and used to be a member here," McKenzie explained. "But I talked to him yesterday and he couldn't help but mention how dense the rough is.

"And we won't be cutting it the rest of the week. You have the tire tracks and all to consider. But really, it takes a bad shot to be in that rough. This is a resort course; the fairways are fairly wide. They're almost like runways. We have a band of 30 mm rough and another band of 60 mm rough before you get to the heavy stuff. It takes a bad shot to be in there."

Yes, but bad shots happen regularly under intense pressure. Especially in those morning matches, when the nerves are frazzled. Claggy and clingy could be popular terms by day's end.

-- Dave Shedloski

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News & Tours

Opening ceremonies underway, pairings to come

NEWPORT, Wales -- The four-ball pairings will be announced by the respective captains in roughly an hour, but depending on who you listen to, a couple of tandems are already a given.

Among them: Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods for the U.S., brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari for Europe, and the Northern Ireland pair of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy.

According to the Guardian's Lawrence Donegan, we should also count on Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer going off first together for Europe.

Another team that looked to be a lock was the long-hitting pair of Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. Both are taught by Butch Harmon, who predicted on BBC moments ago that they will indeed play together. But in what was either an audible by Corey Pavin or an attempt to throw Colin Montgomerie off his scent, the U.S. captain did not have those two play together in a final tune-up on Thursday.

We'll know for sure soon enough.

-- Sam Weinman
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News & Tours

Rested Westwood says he is ready to play

NEWPORT, Wales -- Europe's top player, Lee Westwood, put to rest any doubts about his preparedness for this week's Ryder Cup, even if it means playing less than a full slate. The No. 3 player in the world said Thursday he is sufficiently rehabilitated after being sidelined since August with a calf injury.


westwood_470.jpg

"I don't have too many concerns.  I don't have concern with the competitive edge," Westwood said. "I've played well in the practice rounds, and I don't see how that's going to change in the competitive rounds. And when the match itself starts, I think I'll be up for it even more. It's a very difficult golf course to come back to.  It's very heavy underfoot, and it's quite hilly in places, and there's quite a lot of slopes, steep slopes to walk up to; 36 holes a day, ideally I would have liked to have broke myself in gently in a tournament with 18 holes a day, but that wasn't possible. ... But I wouldn't be here if I don't think I could play five matches."

Westwood, who still is receiving treatment for a half-hour before and after he plays or practices, doesn't believe that will be necessary, however. "I think we've got a strong enough team in depth that we, you know, can rest players. Maybe the plan would be to rest players. As much as I hate to admit it, I'm not as young as I used to be where I could play five in a week as easily.  There's a few more miles in my legs, and maybe the best way to get maximum out of me is to play me in four, I don't know, or whatever Monty sees fit."

-- Dave Shedloski

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News & Tours

Ballesteros weighs in from afar


NEWPORT, Wales -- It should be no surprise that Seve Ballesteros has been inundated with requests for interviews since Colin Montgomerie's disclosure Wednesday that he had the former Ryder Cup star and captain speak to the European team by phone on Tuesday evening.
 
Ivan Ballesteros, one of Seve's brothers, responded via e-mail Thursday that "we have put a note from Seve in his web, so you can take bits of that article from Seve. He is receiving lots of requests for an interview, and it is not possible for him to attend everyone."
 
Montgomerie, the current European captain, said the exchange with the Spanish legend inspired the requisite passion in his team.
 
"It was good to hear from him Tuesday night for sure," Lee Westwood said. "He sounded just as passionate as he always does when talking about the Ryder Cup.  He obviously is one of the legends of the game, and instrumental in taking European golf to a world audience, I think; and he did that partly through his own career, but a majority of that through all of that passion he showed in the Ryder Cups. He obviously carried that through to Valderrama when he was captain, as well."
 
Below are a few snippets from Seve via his webpage, SeveBallesteros.com:
 
"Dear friends, this week, The Ryder Cup starts. I will follow the matches and I am sure we will watch great golf during the weekend.
 
"I had a very exiting conversation this last Tuesday with Captain Colin Montgomerie and all the team. It was great to have a chat with all of them and talk about this week. I really felt team spirit in that conversation, and I am confident Europe will do very well this week. They are all great champions.
 
"I miss the competition and especially the Ryder Cup, but I will follow the matches on TV. It's not going to be easy, but the more difficult it is to win, the sweeter victory will taste."
 
Additional thoughts:
 
ON COLIN MONTGOMERIE:
 
"I believe Colin is the best European Captain we could have this week. He has always been a true leader in and out of the course. He knows better than anyone else how to put on him all the pressure and free his players from it. He has an enormous leadership capacity and I am sure Monty will indulge, look after and instruct the European team.
 
ON THE U.S. TEAM:
 
"Tiger Woods has not been doing good this season and neither has Phil Mickelson. For the public to see the seemingly weakness of the U.S. stars could give the wrong idea that things could be easier for the Europeans. That is a mistake. This is match play and this format is where anything can happen. In 2008 Tiger was out of the competition due to an injury and the US TEAM displayed its best team spirit and not just as a sum of individualities. Corey Pavin knows about this."
 
ON THE ROOKIES:
 
"This is a Ryder Cup full of rookies. Europe has six and USA has five. Some of them like Rory McIlroy looks like he has been playing Ryder Cups ever since. At last year's Seve Trophy in France he achieved 4,5 points from 5. He is an outstanding golfer. Same goes for Martin Kaymer who has won his first big competition. From all the newly comers, I believe that the two mentioned are those who will feel the pressure less."
 
ON WESTWOOD:
 
Westwood and (Padraig) Harrington two great players with a huge experience. They will be of vital importance to the team. Lee's recovery on the last few years is wonderful. Specially his behavior at the Majors. I have no doubt he will win majors very soon."
 
ON SERGIO GARCIA:
 
"His appointment as vice-captain reminds me of Miguel Angel Jimenez's role at my side in Valderrama in 1997. Sergio's case is a bit different given that Miguel Angel hadn't had any Ryder Cup experience before that time when he helped me at Valderrama '97. I would very much want to see Sergio as a team member this year, but in golf as in life there are ups and downs and at this point he cannot be at the course as he would liked to. Maybe the dreams, the excitement of wishing to do a teammate's shot will help him in the future."
 
-- Dave Shedloski

 
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