One Final Charge to the Ryder Cup


The United States Ryder Cup team will taste a European appetizer before next weeks main course in Sutton Coldfield, England.
Ten of the 12 U.S. team members are competing in the World Golf Championships-American Express Championship at the Mount Juliet Estate in Kilkenny, Ireland, as are seven players on the European team.
Stewart Cink and Hal Sutton didnt qualify for the $5 million event, but are playing Stateside in the Tampa Bay Classic. Jesper Parnevik, Paul McGinley, Pierre Fulke, Phillip Price and Lee Westwood didnt earn a spot in the field either.
The top 50 players from the Official World Golf Ranking as of Sept. 9, are joined in the field by leading money winners from the six Tours that make up the International Federation of PGA Tours.
This is the third playing of the American Express, but the first since 2000. Last years event was canceled in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States.
The 2001 version was to be contested at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Mo. Due to the cancellation, Mike Weir is technically the defending champion, having won the 2000 event at Valderrama Country Club in Andalucia, Spain.
Tiger Woods won the inaugural AmEx at Valderrama in 1999. The world's No. 1 will be making his first start since the last WGC event, the NEC Invitational, where he finished in fourth place.
This is the final tune-up before players travel to The Belfry for the 34th Ryder Cup, which was postponed a year after the attacks.
Like The Belfry, Mount Juliet is not a traditional links course. It is a 7,246-yard Jack Nicklaus design, complete with rolling terrain and lush fairways. It has hosted the Irish Open on three occasions, as well as the Irish Senior Open and Shell's Wonderful World of Golf.
The estate offers equestrian riding, hunting and fishing ' the latter of which should appeal to many of the games wannabe anglers.
It also offers a $1 million first-place prize.
If this year is any indicator, a surprise winner should be in store. Kevin Sutherland won his first-ever PGA Tour-sanctioned event at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Craig Parry then did the same at the NEC.
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