Ryder Cup Logo Ryder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland

Ireland's not in the UK, and the U.S. stars are not in attendance

Saturday, September 23, 2006 12:06 PM

STRAFFAN, Ireland -- Breaking news from The K Club: the Republic of Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom. Earlier in the week, I loosely lumped the two together, even though Ireland's had its independence from the British Empire for a decade or eight. Thanks to faithful reader, M, for pointing out my mistake. And keep making those cool gadgets for James Bond.

It appears the U.S. team will Die Another Day. Desperately needing momentum after falling behind Friday 5-3, the Americans' top two tandems, Woods/Furyk and Mickelson/DiMarco, came out this morning and collectively laid a giant goose egg, going 0-for-2 to put their combined total for three matches at 1-4-1. Turns out, the problem with this U.S. team isn't the presence of four Ryder Cup rookies. It's the absence of their stars.

In fact, the first-years are about the only Americans playing well. Zach Johnson, after getting a half-point with Stewart Cink in the foursomes Friday, single-handedly took down Padraig Harrington and Henrik Stenson. Scott Verplank was technically paired with Johnson, but contributed about as much as the walking scorer. Johnson is the Joaquin Phoenix look alike, and he Walked the Line this morning, making seven birdies, the sixth of which answered a pitch-in from Harrington at the 15th and the last of which was a birdie pitch of his own at the 17th to close out the match. (While we're playing Separated at Birth, please note that Robert Karlsson will be playing the role of Dolph Lundgren and Paul McGinley that of William Devane.)

St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, but a Horned Frog's running free. Former TCU star J.J. Henry rallied his team to a half-point Friday morning and did the same today with an eagle at the 16th and a conceded birdie at the 17th. But nothing's easy for the Americans this week. As great as Henry played, he three-putted for par at the 18th and opened the door for Paul Casey to make birdie, win the hole, and steal half a point from the Americans.

While the U.S. begs for scraps, Sergio Garcia's turning cartwheels around The K Club, firing up his European mates and breaking American hearts. Garcia's now 12-1-2 in Ryder Cup foursomes and fourballs after teaming up with his amigo Jose Maria Olazabal for the second morning in a row and delivering another win. I saw former Euro captain and still-current Spaniard Seve Ballesteros following that group, pumping his fists and leading the cheers while listening to the other matches on the radio. I kinda got the feeling Seve still thinks he's captain, and no one wants to break the news to him that he's not. I wonder if anyone's told him about Ireland.

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