Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

The Loop

Ominous starts at Royal County Down?

September 07, 2007

NEWCASTLE, NORTHERN IRELAND--American captain Buddy Marucci offered an interesting observation about his role overseeing the U.S. Walker Cup on Friday.

"Being over here, every day, you're concerned about something that might go wrong," Marucci said. "Before you come here, everything is on a very positive note."

Marucci's thought looked prescient a few hours later during the opening ceremony of the 41st matches at Royal County Down. As the Ballyclare Victoria Flute Band played the Star Spangled Banner, Marucci tried in vain to raise the American flag, the pully somehow stuck. Only in the last few notes was the Stars & Stripes lifted, to soft cheers.

Marucci can only hope it's not an omen of things to come.

Meanwhile, GB&I captain Colin Dalgleish didn't come away from the opening ceremony without a hiccup of his own. In announcing his team, he mistakenly skipped Englishman John Parry. He made amends and offered apologizes after getting through the last player on his squad.

It was a tough half-hour for Parry. While standing outside the clubhouse waiting for the start of the opening ceremony, a bird managed to "say hello" on the back of his team blazer. Teammate Lloyd Saltman informed him of the mess in time to get things cleaned up in the locker room.

Likewise, Parry can only hope this too is not an omen of things to come.

The pairings for Saturday's morning foursomes and afternoon singles have been set (click here to see them). Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, the low amateur at the British Open and the event's likely leading draw, will play in both sessions, surely pleasing the estimated 10,000 spectators expected to watch the matches.

--Ryan Herrington