MEDINAH, Ill. – As home Ryder Cup captain, Davis Love III has final say on how the host venue is set up. Two weeks ago, he told the PGA to cut the rough on the 7,658-yard No. 3 course at Medinah Country Club, rationalizing that players and fans want to see birdies, not chip-outs from the thick stuff.
“It’s more my personal preference for the style of golf I like to watch and I like to play,” Love said in his news conference Tuesday.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the minimal rough should suit the U.S. team’s long-and-strong game – there’s less penalty for an errant tee shot. Also, the greens here at Medinah aren’t as scary-fast as the ones players faced last week at East Lake, so now they can be more aggressive with their putts.
“We want to keep it fun for the players and we want it to be fun for the fans,” Love said. “I’ve never heard a player come in and go, well, the golf course was way too easy.”
Such a favorable setup should lead to plenty of good shots and birdies, presumably for both sides. But most pressing: Does a toned-down venue benefit the U.S.?
“The only thing that Davis can do this week is to set the golf course up for scoring to get the crowds on their feet, and to get them charged up from the word ‘go,’” Graeme McDowell said. “I really think that’s their tactics, to get the crowd behind their guys.”
McDowell referenced the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, where a penal setup led to more holes being won with pars, not birdies – “a battle of attrition, really,” McDowell said – and thus the fans were never truly in full throat. Perhaps not coincidentally, the U.S. was blown out, 18 1/2 to 9 1/2.