NEWPORT, Wales - As the first American journalist to arrive at Celtic Manor Resort for Cwpan Ryder (as translated by the natives), we're already wondering whether or not it would be worthwhile to stay and actually see who wins the 38th edition of this biennial competition, where the host Europeans are heavily favored and the partisans heavily armed with supporting arguments for said favored status.
Apparently, there are any number of factors that will contribute to the Americans' demise. Here are some, in no particular order, that we've already sampled:
-- The Europeans' home course advantage, which, amazingly, only happens every four years;
-- Tiger Woods and his anticipated entourage (or lack of one);
-- Lisa Pavin's fashion sense. OK, the Brits seem to approve, though, since an enlarged photo of the Captainess' sultry flag-draped pose for Avid Golfer Magazine was the centerpiece of a Sunday Times Ryder Cup preview page;
-- Padraig Harrington's closing 64 Sunday at the Vivendi Cup in Paris, which now surely spells doom for USA;
-- American Ryder Cuppers' poor showing (with the exception of winner Jim Furyk) at the Tour Championship. Apparently, Furyk doesn't cancel out Harrington;
-- The Americans' individual Ryder Cup records, which are more dreadful than the weather forecast;
-- The weather. Nice today. Rain through Sunday. What's Welsh for "ark"?
We should have known what we were in for the moment we landed in Dublin on our way to Cardiff, the capitol of Wales. The customs agent, a notably serious man, asked my business on this trip.
"Just passing through on my way to the Ryder Cup," I replied simply and cautiously, given his humorless demeanor.
But then he brightened. "Good man. Ah, well, have fun. My condolences in advance for your loss this week."
Not sure Daniel didn't have it better in the Lions' Den. Less heckling for sure. And no having to answer for Tiger, either.
-- Dave Shedloski