Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Sports

U.S. rookie to open vs. Europe's best

RECOMMENDED READING


MEDINAH, Ill. — Brandt Snedeker won't wait long to get his first taste of the Ryder Cup.

After a week of practice and pomp, the event begins this morning at Medinah with Snedeker and Jim Furyk in the opening foursomes match for the U.S. team against Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world. Europe is the defending champion.

"We wanted to get Brandt going," U.S. captain Davis Love said.

European captain Jose Maria Olazabal went for strength at the top in a Ryder Cup where every player looks strong. McIlroy and McDowell are best friends and major champions from Northern Ireland. They were 1-1-1 together at Wales two years ago.

Olazabal put his strongest team out second — Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, who are 4-0 in foursomes. They go up against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, one of three rookies that Love is playing in the opening session.

It's the first time since 1995 that neither Mickelson nor Tiger Woods was in the leadoff match. Woods is the anchor for the opening sessions, back with Steve Stricker to take on Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.

Poulter is 8-3 in the Cup, though two of those losses involved Woods. Poulter and Ross Fisher lost to Woods and Stricker at Wales in 2010, and Poulter and Darren Clarke lost to Woods and Chris Riley in 2004 at Oakland Hills.

The third match features Cup rookie Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson against Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari, an alternate-shot match among four players who tend to keep the ball in play off the tee. Then again, there's hardly any rough at Medinah. The emphasis is on power and putting.

Both captains said the tough part would be figuring out who to leave out. Olazabal elected to bench Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer, Peter Hanson and Nicolas Colsaerts. Love sat out the pairing of Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson, and Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.

R-e-s-p-e-c-t: Europe has been trying to win over the American crowd all week during practice rounds, with players going out of their way to sign autographs and mingle with fans. And it helps that one of their own, Donald, actually lives in Chicago.

Leaving nothing to chance, Olazabal made one last plea to be loud but respectful. "Chicago is a passionate city," he said. "We know you will be as strong in support for your team. But I believe you will honor the courtesy of sportsmanship that is the bedrock of Ryder Cup."

Olazabal was in the decisive match at Brookline in 1999 against Justin Leonard. All square on the 17th, with the Americans one-half point away from completing the biggest comeback in Cup history, Leonard rammed in a 45-foot birdie putt. Players and wives charged across the green to celebrate, forgetting that the Spaniard had a 25-foot putt to halve the hole.

Olazabal missed, and the Americans won, though the celebration stained the matches.

Love also preached sportsmanship: "These matches are not life and death. Golf has to be played with a certain spirit of graciousness or it's not golf at all."

Today's tee times

8:20 a.m. —Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, Europe, vs. Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker, United States

8:35 a.m. — Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, Europe, vs. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, United States

8:50 a.m. — Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari, Europe, vs. Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, United States

9:05 a.m. — Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, Europe, vs. Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, United States

>>Fast facts

U.S. vs Europe

Day 1 of the Ryder Cup, Medinah (Ill.) Country Club

TV today: 8 a.m. ESPN

Today's format: Foursomes (alternate shot) in morning, four-ball (better ball) in afternoon

Weather: Sunny, mid 50s to high 60s, light wind

Comments
NFL Week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

NFL Week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

Happy Thanksgiving! It's already week 12 of the NFL season, and the football feast is set to begin. It all starts at at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, when the Lions try to win their fifth straight Thanksgiving Day game against a Minnesota team out to bec...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Associated PressPALM BEACH — President Donald Trump started off his first day of Thanksgiving vacation by resuming his taunts of the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in China, saying Wednesday that he was an "ungrateful foo...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Bucs’ Barber, Lynch, Rice among Hall of Fame semifinalists

Bucs’ Barber, Lynch, Rice among Hall of Fame semifinalists

Ronde Barber, John Lynch and Simeon Rice — teammates on the Bucs' 2002 Super Bowl championship team — are among the 27 semifinalists to be considered for this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame class.Lynch is a semifinalist for the sixth st...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
High praise for Clearwater Central Catholic’s linebackers

High praise for Clearwater Central Catholic’s linebackers

CLEARWATER — From Colin McCarthy (Miami/Tennessee Titans) to Caanan Brown (Virginia) to Conner Dorris (Navy), a Clearwater Central Catholic defensive staple has been star quality at linebacker. Think Marauders, think linebackers. It has been a corner...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
College football week 13: Times staff picks

College football week 13: Times staff picks

It's rivalry week (again), highlighted in Florida by the USF-UCF War on I-4 and whatever you want to call Florida State-Florida this year. (In case your bias detector is going off, the visiting team is listed first in each case.Here are the Tampa Bay...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
Rick and Tom podcast: USF vs UCF is the biggest game in Florida this weekend

Rick and Tom podcast: USF vs UCF is the biggest game in Florida this weekend

It’s a Thanksgiving Football Wednesday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones preview the Bucs-Falcons game, USF-UCF, Alabama-Auburn, Ohio State-Michigan and more.The guys agree on the Bucs game outcome with Rick saying they can’t win. They also agree that Tha...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot: What you need to know

Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot: What you need to know

Just like the several types of dishes you’ll see at Thanksgiving, you can run any type of race before you stuff your face. The Tampa Bay Times’ annual Turkey Trot offers a race for nearly every distance, from a one-mile run/walk to a 10k race. • Clea...
Updated: 2 hours ago
American Athletic Conference power rankings, Week 13

American Athletic Conference power rankings, Week 13

Memphis has locked down the West Division.All that's left is to settle the East with Friday's "War on I-4" between UCF and USF.USF has won six of the eight meetings in the rivalry, but the stakes never have been greater. The winner advances to play M...
Updated: 4 hours ago
More attractive landing spot for coaches, UF or FSU?

More attractive landing spot for coaches, UF or FSU?

GAINESVILLE — Unless Chip Kelly has made up his mind by the time you read this, the Gators are still looking for a new football coach.There's a chance the rival Seminoles aren't far behind. Industry insiders are speculating that Texas A&M could...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lakewood defenders put early-season blip firmly behind them

Lakewood defenders put early-season blip firmly behind them

ST. PETERSBURG — The turning point in Lakewood High’s football season came on Sept. 2. The Spartans had a lead against rival St. Petersburg on Friday night when rain and lightning forced the second half to be played the next morning.Lakewood imploded...
Published: 11/22/17