Notes Miller Predicts US Victory

By Associated PressSeptember 21, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- The data tells Johnny Miller the Europeans should win the Ryder Cup. His gut tells him differently.
The outspoken TV commentator said Thursday he's calling for an American win at the K Club this weekend.
'This might be their weakest team ever, at least on paper,' Miller said. 'But they've still got enough good players that if they play clutch golf and come together as a team, they can win. And I believe they will.'
Miller figures the law of averages will kick in, and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will finally have good weeks at the Ryder Cup. He says the surest way for the Americans to win is if the team gets pumped up by seeing 'Woods is playing the white-hot golf he's been playing and not going into his Ryder Cup mode.'
Indeed, about the only blemish on Woods' career resume is his 7-11-2 mark in Ryder Cup matches. Some theorize his heart hasn't always been in it, that he's too burned out by the time September rolls around. Woods has a way of proving his doubters wrong, however, and Miller says he has a feeling this could be setting up as another one of those moments.
'It's the one humbling thing he's got in golf,' said Miller, the two-time major champion who went 2-2-2 in his Ryder Cup career. 'Knowing Tiger Woods, he's finally thinking it's his team. All the patriarchs are gone now. He feels, 'This is my team.' And Tom Lehman told him, 'This is your team.''
Miller, who again will be in the booth for the NBC coverage, is generally unflinching with his analysis and unafraid of getting on players' bad sides. Despite predicting a U.S. team win, he was blunt about the drawbacks of the team and American pro golfers, on the whole.
'Seven of the top 30 in the world are Americans. That's unfathomable,' he said. 'I can't believe the state of the game in America. ... It's like you've got 12 guys -- three of them are firing a 50-millimeter cannon and nine guys are shooting BB guns. The bottom line is, the U.S. has got to step it up.'
Tiger Woods could save a lot of people a lot of money this week.
The Irish bookmaker Boylesports is offering money back on a number of proposition bets if Woods holes the shot that clinches the Ryder Cup.
The odds of that happening are slim, simply because Woods probably will be among the first players to tee off in the 12 singles matches Sunday. But the 'Tiger Attack Money Back Special' is out there nonetheless. The refund would go to anyone who bets on which player is going to score the most points for his team or in the overall tournament.
Woods is a 9-to-2 favorite to score the most Ryder Cup points, followed by Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia, each at 9-to-1. U.S. rookie Brett Wetterich is the longshot on the board, at 125-to-1.
Boylesports had Europe as a very slight 5-to-6 pick to win as of Thursday afternoon. The Americans pay 5-to-4 if they win.
Also, a customer at London-based William Hill placed what the bookmaker said was the world's biggest-ever golf bet -- wagering almost $467,000 (247,000 pounds) on the United States to win at 6-to-5 odds.
European captain Ian Woosnam said he and American captain Tom Lehman have agreed that if weather conditions are bad, they'd like tournament officials to allow players to 'wipe and place, or whatever you call it in America.'
'Me and Tom would prefer to do it that way because, you know, we don't want to see any balls just flying off anywhere,' Woosnam said of lift, clean and place. 'But it is an outdoor sport, and I think the referees are going to look at that very closely. If we play one day up, we might not be playing it the next day. I think it's taking it one day at a time.'
Lehman said there hadn't been much conversation about moving up tee boxes to diminish the length of the 7,335-yard course, which has been buffeted by wind and has turned a bit soggy with rain.
He said the only discussion on that topic was of shortening the 430-yard par 4 to avoid making players use 3- and 4-irons to approach a green that is surrounded by water on three sides.
'Other than that, I think we ought to play the whole golf course,' Lehman said.
A lashing rainstorm delayed practice Wednesday, but Thursday was partly cloudy in the mid-60s with a 20-mph wind coming from the southeast. The forecast called for rain later Thursday, followed by partly cloudy and breezy conditions Friday through Sunday.
Ian Woosnam's wife, Glendryth, was taken to the hospital after feeling sick Wednesday night and Thursday morning. She was released and was on hand for the opening ceremony Thursday afternoon.
European Ryder Cup team spokesman Mitchell Platts said Woosnam started feeling bad after a visit to the spa at the hotel where the teams are staying. She felt sick again Thursday morning, so she went to the hospital as a precaution.
In 2004, Colin Montgomerie holed the putt that clinched Europe's outright victory in the Ryder Cup. Or at least that's what the U.S. viewing audience saw.
There have been rumblings on this side of the Atlantic from those who believe Ian Poulter, playing behind Montgomerie, actually might have won his match first. But NBC showed only Montgomerie's putt on the 18th to beat David Toms and called it the clincher.
NBC golf producer Tommy Roy said if a situation comes up Sunday where two players are lining up for a potential cup-clinching putt at the same time, the network wouldn't choose one or the other.
'We'd do double boxes in a situation like that,' Roy said. 'If both are putting live and both have a chance to clinch, we'd go to that.'
The major distributor of magazines in Ireland pulled copies of The Dubliner from its shelves Thursday because of a satirical article that insults the wives of the American golfers.
Eason's, the major bookseller and magazine distributor in Ireland, said a significant number of customers demanded the magazine be removed from sale.
Tiger Woods denounced the article Wednesday in the normally low-profile magazine, which had a headline that described the golfers' wives as 'Ryder Cup filth' -- and claimed Woods' wife 'can be found in a variety of sweaty poses on porn sites across the web.'
The article also insulted the wives of golfers Chad Campbell, David Toms and Jim Furyk.
The magazine's publisher, Trevor White, said the article 'was written as a satirical piece and in the context of the entire page the publishers believed that readers would not be left thinking that there was any truth in the assertions, it being an absurd parody of the inaccurate tabloid publishing generally. If any contrary impression was given, it certainly does not intend for this, and the publisher unreservedly apologizes.'
An Irishman will be in the first match of Ireland's first Ryder Cup, but the Americans are the visiting team and will launch the first shot. Because of that, Padraig Harrington said he would let Colin Montgomerie hit first for Europe. 'If we were teeing off first, I would probably like to try to hit the first shot,' Harrington said. ... How confident is Tom Lehman in Tiger Woods' putting ability? 'If I had to put my wife and kids' life on the line with somebody making a putt, I would pick him,' Lehman said. ... Stewart Cink, who plays with J.J. Henry in the second best-ball match Friday, is 1-0-1 in best-ball at the Ryder Cup. He paired with Chris Riley for a tie and Davis Love for a win in 2004.
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