Previous U.S. captains had let the players influence their choice of four-ball and foursome partners. Not Hal Sutton. He kept his team clueless until Wednesday night, then barked his orders: "Toms! Furyk! Pair up!" The players, starved for leadership, fell into line.
Friday Morning Quarterback
WHOEVER THOUGHT it was a good idea to turn last Thursday's opening ceremonies into a cross-promotion for NBC's fall lineup should be sentenced to 10 hours of listening to Donald Trump and Angie Everhart (inset).
September 26, 2004
0 Beer concessions on the course. Alcohol was not allowed outside the clubhouse and hospitality tents.
Hal Sutton knew the media would jump on Phil Mickelson's absence from the Wednesday practice round, so the U.S. captain offered a reasonable defense: "He told me that he didn't play on Wednesdays of majors," Sutton said, "and he thought this was a major, and he wasn't going to change his routine." Sutton's next-day disclosure--that he had sent Lefty to another course to practice with the Nike ball he would have to share with Tiger Woods in their Friday foursomes match--left the suckered scribes and talking heads feeling violated.
Let's see, he's criticized for his match-play record, must shoot down a rumor that he's split with his fiancée, gets a talking-to from Captain Hal and then is paired with Anybody But Him. How fired up would you be?
That's What I'm Talking About!
Hey, This Isn't So Bad
I Could Be Scuba Diving [check]
Slights & Grievances
THE EUROPEAN PRESS CUTS LOOSE ON THE U.S. WIVES
• Tom Lappin of The Independent:"Those who dismiss the fragrant blondes clinging to the arms of their million-dollar husbands as trophy wives are overlooking the whole sporting culture of the U.S., where the prettiest, blondest cheerleaders date the outstanding athletes from their earliest teen years. It's a form of all-American natural selection, and the country club is just where the gene pools merge."
• Jeff Powell of the London Daily Mail:"A Ryder Cup golfer without a partner is a man truly alone. Where is the trophy woman to run across his opponent's line after he sinks a long putt, the way the Barbie Dolls did at Brookline in 1999?"
• Kenny Perry, meanwhile, took issue with the perceived lack of U.S. team unity: "When they say we don't have camaraderie, I don't know what they mean. We go to dinner, we hang out, we play practice rounds together and we have a lot of fun in the locker room."
" I try to help the guys without sounding like I'm lecturing my kids." --JAY HAAS
" Do we have to sleep in the same bed? What do you have to do to be more of a team?" --DAVID TOMS
" If I was to design a course and put in greens like this, I would be absolutely ridiculed and probably not get another design job ever." --LEE WESTWOOD
Goats & Heroes
The U.S. captain didn't consider Presidents Cup records in making his pairings.
Lefty switched balls and all of his woods a week before the Cup.
The struggling Englishman fired his caddie a week before the Cup.
The U.S. captain refused to be baited into reliving the events of 1999.
The assistant captain told his players to play as if they had to win each point alone.
He preempted would-be hecklers by losing 30 pounds since the British Open.