The Ryder Cup begins tomorrow
The every other year golf matches are taking place in Ireland-
STRAFFAN, Ireland - As if recent history weren't enough, Europe showed just how tight a grip it has on the Ryder Cup. U.S. captain Tom Lehman gathered his team on the 10th tee Thursday morning for the official team photo, which lately is the closest the Americans ever gets to posing with the Ryder Cup trophy.
The Europeans didn't even allow them that luxury at The K Club.
Whether it was a harmless oversight or not-so-subtle message about the true ownership of the shiny gold chalice, captain Ian Woosnam neglected to turn over the trophy even for 15 minutes of a photo opportunity. It was the first time since 1985 — coincidentally, the start of European dominance in these matches — that the 17-inch trophy was not part of the official team photo.
"I wasn't aware of that," Lehman said. "I have not idea what the protocol is or isn't, so I can't even respond to that."
All he cares about is posing with it Sunday.
After four days of glitz and galas, topped off by an opening ceremony that celebrated Ireland's biggest sporting event, the Ryder Cup was set to begin Friday morning with both sides sending out their best teams.
Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk faced Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington in the opening fourball match, a sign that both captains were intent on taking control as early as possible.
"We've got two of Europe's best on the first day," Woods said.
Woods has lost seven straight matches on opening day at the Ryder Cup, dating to his debut in 1997, and he rarely looks like the world's No. 1 player in these team events. On the other end is Montgomerie, 0-for-60 in the majors, 0-for-America, yet a stalwart in this event.
It will be the second straight time Montgomerie and Harrington have drawn a Dream Team from the United States. Two years ago at Oakland Hills, they beat Woods and Phil Mickelson in a match that set the tone for Europe's largest victory ever, 18 1/2-9 1/2.
For the Americans, the next three days are more important than they used to be.
They have a 26-9-4 lead in the Ryder Cup since it began in 1927 as a friendly exhibition between American and British golf professionals, but the symbol of dominance over the last 20 years is the European flag, blue with 13 gold stars.
Yes Europe has dominated since 1985. The matches which used to draw no attention(In 1977 Tom Weiskopf declined to play for the US team and instead went hunting in Canada) but are now golf's idea of circus.
With stories like this-
*- Tom Lehman keeping the team loose with pranks.
*- Tiger Woods is upset with a Irish magazine after photos were published stating they were the of the golfer's wife.
*- Ian Woosman's controversial captain's pick of Lee Westwood that has left Dane Thomas Bjorn very angry.
*- The inexperience of the US team and the controversial pts scoring method that brought this year's team together.
These are all sideshows. The play begins tomorrow morning with these fourball matches. All times are a.m. EST time-
Tiger Woods/Jim Furyk (USA) vs. P.Harrington/Colin Montgomerie (EUR) 3:00
J.J. Henry/Stewart Cink (USA) vs. Paul Casey/Robert Karlsson (EUR) 3:15
Brett Wetterich/David Toms (USA) vs. Sergio Garcia/J.Olazabal (EUR) 3:30
Chris DiMarco/Phil Mickelson (USA) vs. D.Clarke/Lee Westwood (EUR) 3:45
The US is a notorious slow starter in the Ryder Cup. They can't fall too far behind before going into Sunday's matches. Unfortunately I agree with Johnny Miller, this is the weakest US team in modern memory. I predict a 16-12 US victory.
Update- The golf isn't on till 8 a.m. EST all three days. Play will be on taped dealy tomorrow and Saturday but I'm not sure about Sunday.
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