Ryder Cup Forecast Noise

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04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Bernhard Langer walked off the plane and cleared customs with his right fist wrapped tightly around the Ryder Cup trophy.
 
The key is to get back on the plane at the end of the week with the 19-inch gold chalice.
 
The 12-man European team was together for the first time Monday afternoon, captain Langer and 11 players arriving on an Airbus 300 from London, with Luke Donald having driven up from the Chicago area where he makes his home.
 
U.S. captain Hal Sutton and his wife formed a receiving line, and Sutton couldn't keep his eyes off the trophy.
 
'What is this you have here?' Sutton said.
 
'Just a little something,' Langer said. 'We'll fight for it the next few days.'
 
During the flight, Langer removed the trophy from its case and passed it among his players, posing for pictures and taking care not to scratch it. The Europeans had no reason to act as if they had never seen the Ryder Cup, especially after it has gone home with them six times in the last nine matches.
 
'We certainly had some fun with it, took some memorable pictures on the plane and off the plane and all that kind of stuff,' Langer said.' It's nice to have it in my grasp. And I'm not going to try and let go of it.'

Langer has reason to believe his team can capture the Ryder Cup for the seventh time in the last 10 matches, even though the Americans again look stronger on paper.
 
One of his captain's picks, Donald, won the European Masters two weeks ago for his second victory in two months. Padraig Harrington, the highest-ranked player in Europe, picked up his first victory of the year Sunday in the German Masters.
 
'For the first time, I think we are going over there not so much as underdogs,' Colin Montgomerie said as the team left London. 'Of course, it will be difficult - don't get me wrong. Playing away from home is always harder. At the same time, I'll be very, very disappointed if we don't bring back what we're taking with us.'
 
Tiger Woods, who lost his No. 1 ranking two weeks ago for the first time in five years, held a corporate clinic about 20 miles from Oakland Hills on Monday.
 
The U.S. team met for the first time together for dinner Monday night, although a few of them played casual practice rounds Monday - Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Fred Funk, Chad Campbell and David Toms.
 
Mickelson was particularly dialed in. He took nearly six hours to play a practice round by himself, preparing for these matches like he does a major. A caddie placed six tiny flags at various spots on the green, and Mickelson chipped to all of them, pausing to fill his yardage book with notes.
 
The Americans have five Ryder Cup rookies, and not all of them can be called fresh-faced kids. The newcomers include the 47-year-old Funk and 44-year-old Kenny Perry, both of whom played in the Presidents Cup in South Africa last year against an International team comprised of players from everywhere in the world except Europe.
 
The International team was stronger than anything Europe can muster, with players such as Vijay Singh, Mike Weir, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. The golf was at a higher level than usually seen in the Ryder Cup.
 
What the Presidents Cup is lacking is the sheer passion of playing under the flag of a single continent, the 77 years of history and over-the-top expectations built up by the British press.
 
It has been two years since the Ryder Cup was last played - a 15 1/2-12 1/2 victory for Europe at The Belfry - but there was another reminder of what the matches are all about last week in the Canadian Open, where Singh beat Weir in a three-hole playoff.
 
There was deafening noise, so loud that Weir had to force a yawn to pop his ears when he got to the tee.
 
The pressure was so great that Weir felt the weight of a nation riding on his every shot in the Canadian Open, where some 40,000 fans were eager to celebrate one of their own claiming the championship for the first time in 50 years.
 
Crowds were so partisan that they could not stifle cheers when Singh missed a putt.
 
'You understand that's part of it,' Singh said after spoiling the party Sunday.
 
And that's a big part of the Ryder Cup, which gets under way Friday in a biennial match that transforms the sport from genteel appreciation of good golf to a football mentality of 'Us versus Them.'
 
Monday was as quiet as it will get all week at Oakland Hills.
 
Related Links:
  • Photo Gallery

  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team

  • European Ryder Cup Team

  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup

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