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Ryder Cup Team to Take Early Trip to Ireland

2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill -- One week after his Ryder Cup team is set, U.S. captain Tom Lehman has arranged for a charter flight to Ireland for the Americans to spend two days getting to know The K Club.
Lehman said the charter would leave Sunday night after the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, and it would bring the players back in time for the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston.
'The goal is to take care of a lot of things, instead of figuring it out at the Ryder Cup,' Lehman said Friday.
The Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 22-24 at The K Club, an Arnold Palmer design about 25 miles west of Dublin. The River Liffey runs through the course, which should provide plenty of drama, especially on the closing holes.
The U.S. team will be decided on Monday -- the top 10 players qualifying after the PGA Championship, and Lehman then will have two captain's picks. The 12 players will be at Firestone the following week, leaving immediately after the tournament for an overnight trip that would put them in Ireland on Aug. 28.
Lehman said the only players who might not make the trip are Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both of whom had previous commitments. The Tiger Woods Foundation is the main beneficiary from charity money at the Deutsche Bank Championship, and Woods has to meet with tournament organizers that Tuesday.
'He really wants to go, and he might go for a day,' Lehman said. 'This was never a requirement. We're going to do this, and everyone wants to go.'
Besides, Woods is the least of his worries. Woods is close friends with the resort owners and often stays there during trips to Ireland before the British Open.
'He knows that course as well as anyone,' Lehman said.
It would be the first planned trip for the U.S. team to a Ryder Cup site. Tom Kite urged his team in 1997 to go to Valderrama, but hardly anyone did and the Americans were confounded by the greens and funky course lined with cork trees in losing to Europe. Hal Sutton wanted his team to visit Oakland Hills, but only a few went before another big loss.
Chad Campbell and Davis Love III were among those who played The K Club the weekend before the British Open this year.
'It's about preparation,' Lehman said.
Europe has captured the Ryder Cup seven of the last 10 times, including an 18 1/2 -9 1/2 victory at Oakland Hills in 2004. The K Club will be a familiar spot for the Europeans, who have played the European Open there the last 12 years.
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