The conditions were mild, the sun was shining and the competitors were hitting easy 7-irons into the par-3 17th. 'Raymond Floyd came up and told me, 'Pete, you've done a wonderful job,'' Dye said Thursday.
Then when the competition began, temperatures fell from the mid-70s to the 40s, the wind shifted direction from the milder southeast to the stronger northwest and the pros couldn't land a wood onto the treacherous par-3.
'I was trying to hide,' said Dye, on hand to talk about changes to the Ocean Course. The seaside layout will host the 50th World Cup event, part of the World Golf Championships, next month, where two-man teams from 24 nations will compete for the John Hopkins Cup.
Americans Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard will take on such stars as Australia's Stuart Appleby, Denmark's Thomas Bjorn and England's Justin Rose during play from Nov. 13-16.
The Japanese team of Shigeki Maruyama and Hidemichi Tanaka will try and defend the crown they won a year ago.
Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, representing Ireland, won the World Cup in 1997 when it last visited the Ocean Course. Harrington, a European star, says the victory made huge headlines in his homeland and made him rededicate himself to a successful golfing career.
The victory 'actually changed my perception of golf,' Harrington said by phone while vacationing overseas.
And Harrington can't wait to see what Dye -- known in the golf world for his difficult layouts like TPC Sawgrass and Harbour Town -- has done to the Ocean Course.
The most dramatic change for the casual viewer is moving the 18th green about 40 yards closer to the seaside. Approach shots will rise high into the ocean backdrop. Dye and his crew also reclaimed some of the original bunker and transition area lines that were lost through years of blowing sand on the coastal island.
One of Dye's favorite touches? Subtle changes to the 11th, a par 5 where few of the pros at the 1991 Ryder Cup or the 1997 World Cup tried to go for it in two. Dye gave players a better -- and more enticing -- angle to take a chance. But beware of a changed, deeper bunker on the right side of the hole. 'I don't think anybody can get out of it,' Dye said, chuckling.
Crews also installed a salt-tolerant grass - OC03 Paspalum - to greens. It's a stronger strain, Dye said, that allows greens to be cut to shorter, faster levels.
That can't be good news for those playing here next month.
Harrington says he, like golfers everywhere, watched 1991's famous 'War at the Shore' Ryder Cup and the 'spectacular disaster it was.'
American Mark Calcavecchia went off crying on the sand dunes following his singles match - and his team won. Bernhard Langer missed about a 5-footer on the 18th hole to give the Americans a victory.
Harrington didn't know what to expect when he and McGinley arrived for the World Cup six years later. The two played steady golf -- Harrington was 14 under and McGinley 15 under -- for the win.
The alternate shot, foursomes format will give golfers a sterner test on the Ocean Course this time, he said. 'We wouldn't get around it if we had to go from the tips and some bad weather came in,' Harrington said.
That's just what Dye wants to hear.
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