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A look at the Ryder Cup: the people, place, snits

Greenkeepers prepare the new Twenty Ten Course before the start of the 2010 Ryder Cup golf tournament in Newport, Wales, on Wednesday. The tournament starts Friday.

Associated Press

Greenkeepers prepare the new Twenty Ten Course before the start of the 2010 Ryder Cup golf tournament in Newport, Wales, on Wednesday. The tournament starts Friday.

The 38th Ryder Cup: United States vs. Europe

When/Where: Friday-Sunday; Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales.

Course: Twenty Ten Course

TV: 2:30 a.m. Friday, ESPN; 8 a.m. Saturday, Ch. 8; 7 a.m. Sunday, Ch. 8. Live streaming on golf.com and rydercup.com

Series: United States leads 25-10-2

Format: Four matches of fourballs (better ball) and four matches of foursomes (alternate shot) Friday and Saturday; 12 singles matches Sunday

Defending champion: United States

A look at the teams

EUROPE — Captain: Colin Montgomerie

Ross Fisher

World ranking: 27th

2010 best finish: Won Irish Open

Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0

Peter Hanson

World ranking: 42nd

2010 best finish: Won Mallorca Open, Czech Open

Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0

Miguel Angel Jimenez

World ranking: 26th

2010 best finish: Won Dubai Desert Classic, French Open, European Masters

Ryder Cup record: 2-7-3

Martin Kaymer

World ranking: Fifth

2010 best finish: Won Abu Dhabi Championship, PGA Championship, KLM Open

Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0

Graeme McDowell

World ranking: 13th

2010 best finish: Won Wales Open, U.S. Open

Ryder Cup record: 2-1-1

Rory McIlroy

World ranking: Eighth

2010 best finish: Won Quail Hollow Championship

Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0

Francesco Molinari

World ranking: 33rd

2010 best finish: Second at France Open

Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0

Ian Poulter

World ranking: 14th

2010 best finish: Won Match Play Championship

Ryder Cup record: 6-1-0

Lee Westwood

World ranking: Third

2010 best finish: Won St. Jude Classic

Ryder Cup record: 14-10-5

*Luke Donald

World ranking: Ninth

2010 best finish: Won Madrid Masters

Ryder Cup record: 5-1-1

*Padraig Harrington

World ranking: 22nd

2010 best finish: Second at Irish Open

Ryder Cup record: 7-11-3

*Edoardo Molinari

World ranking: 16th

2010 best finish: Won Scottish Open, Johnnie Walker Championship

Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0

*captain's pick; others earned spots based on European Tour points system

UNITED STATES — Captain: Corey Pavin

Jim Furyk

World ranking: Sixth

2010 best finish: Won Transitions Championship, the Heritage

Ryder Cup record: 8-13-3

Dustin Johnson

World ranking: 12th

2010 best finish: Won Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, BMW Championship

Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0

Matt Kuchar

World ranking: 10th

2010 best finish: Won the Barclays

Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0

Hunter Mahan

World ranking: 15th

2010 best finish: Won Phoenix Open, Bridgestone Invitational

Ryder Cup record: 2-0-3

Phil Mickelson

World ranking: Second

2010 best finish: Won Masters

Ryder Cup record: 10-14-6

Jeff Overton

World ranking: 49th

2010 best finish: Three runnerup finishes

Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0

Steve Stricker

World ranking: Fourth

2010 best finish: Won Northern Trust Open, John Deere Classic

Ryder Cup record: 0-2-1

Bubba Watson

World ranking: 24th

2010 best finish: Won Travelers Championship

Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0

*Stewart Cink

World ranking: 35th

2010 best finish: Tied for fifth at Match Play Championship

Ryder Cup record: 4-7-4

*Rickie Fowler

World ranking: 32nd

2010 best finish: Two runnerup finishes

Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0

*Zach Johnson

World ranking: 18th

2010 best finish: Won the Colonial

Ryder Cup record: 1-2-1

*Tiger Woods

World ranking: First

2010 best finish: Tied for fourth at Masters, U.S. Open

Ryder Cup record: 10-13-2

*captain's pick; others earned spots based on PGA of America points system

Tiger vs. Rory

Tiger Woods wouldn't mind a piece of Rory McIlroy. On Tuesday, Woods fired back at a comment McIlroy made six weeks ago that "I would love to face" the world's No. 1 player in the Ryder Cup unless his game rapidly improved. Asked for a reaction, Woods said only, "Me, too." McIlroy wasn't worried that he had given Woods or the U.S. team more motivation. "I'm fine. I'm all right," said the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland. "You've got to realize I said those things the week after he had just shot 18 over at Akron (in the Bridgestone Invitational), so he wasn't playing too well at the time." U.S. team member Phil Mickelson came to McIlroy's defense Wednesday, calling him one of golf's classiest players. Mickelson also was surprised to hear McIlroy's comments had become such a big story: "He's just like any other top player that wants to take on the best. That's not any type of controversy or saga."

U.S. inspiration

The Ryder Cup will be emotional for American Bubba Watson. His cancer-stricken father has been given three months to live. Watson choked back tears Wednesday when talking about playing for the United States and his dad, who served in the military during the Vietnam War. Watson was especially moved when Maj. Dan Rooney spoke to the team. He's a decorated F-16 fighter pilot and a PGA of America pro. U.S. captain Corey Pavin said he wanted to show appreciation to the military and give his players a sense of coming together for a greater goal.

Europe's inspiration

Looking for some extra passion, the European team placed a phone call to Seve Ballesteros, the cancer-stricken former captain who took the event to new heights as a player. Captain Colin Montgomerie said the team was able to speak with Ballesteros on Tuesday night. The 53-year-old Spaniard has brain cancer and wasn't strong enough to travel to Celtic Manor.

Who is Ryder?

Samuel Ryder was an English seed merchant who made his fortune selling penny seed packets. He was in the gallery in 1926 when an English team defeated an American team in an unofficial competition before the British Open. Afterward, Ryder had tea with English team members George Duncan and Abe Mitchell, and Americans Walter Hagen and Emmett French. Duncan suggested Ryder provide a trophy and encourage the establishment of a regular competition. Ryder agreed and commissioned the design of the gold chalice that bears his name and Mitchell's likeness on the top. The official inaugural match was held in 1927 at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts. The U.S. team, captained by Hagen, won 91/2 to 21/2.

Five memorable moments

1. The putt, 1999, Brookline CC, Chestnut Hill, Mass.: Justin Leonard needed only to tie Jose Maria Olazabal in his singles match to give the United States a come-from-behind win. He hit a 45-foot putt on the 17th green, causing a huge U.S. celebration, but Olazabal still had a chance to make his putt and half the hole. He missed. The Europeans weren't happy with what they saw as a lack of sportsmanship. "(U.S. captain) Tom Lehman calls himself a man of God. His behavior today has been disgusting,'' European captain Sam Torrance said.

2. The War on the Shore, 1991, Kiawah Island, S.C.: It got its name because it was played during Operation Desert Storm. American Corey Pavin wore a Desert Storm cap, the United States' Paul Azinger and Europe's Seve Ballesteros feuded over cheating allegations, and Bernhard Langer missed a putt on 18 that would've won it for the Europeans.

3. Jack's gimme, 1969, Royal Birkdale GC, Southport, England: Jack Nicklaus was playing Tony Jacklin in the final match Sunday with the competition tied. Both reached the par-4 18th in two, and Nicklaus made his 4-footer for par. Jacklin had an 18-incher for par, and Nicklaus conceded the putt. U.S. captain Sam Snead was reportedly fuming at Nicklaus.

4. Drought broken, 1985, the Belfry, Wishaw, Warwickshire, England: The Europeans had not won the Cup since 1957, but the drought was broken by a convincing score of 161/2 to 111/2. Sam Torrance closed it out when he beat Andy North 1-up by making a putt on the 18th hole. The Europeans went crazy.

5. Boo Weekley does the "Happy Gilmore" dance, 2008, Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Ky.: The most memorable image of the Americans breaking a three-match losing streak was Boo Weekley lacing a drive on the first hole Sunday and then "riding'' his driver down the fairway like it was a horse.

Twenty Ten Course

The course was built for this Ryder Cup. It is the third course built at Celtic Manor and was designed by the European Tour design team. It has plenty of water and sand, and was also designed with fans in mind. Tented villages are around the course and space for 50,000 fans along the final five holes.

Information from Times Staff Writer Rodney Page, Times wires, and rydercup.com was used in this report.

A look at the Ryder Cup: the people, place, snits 09/29/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 11:28pm]
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