Ryder Cup Logo Ryder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Story Image Hats off to Tiger Woods for going along with the fun, says Scott Verplank (left). (Photo: Getty Images)

Tiger puts the "t" in team as the Americans laugh it up

Tiger Woods sang his college fight song, or at least tried to, as the U.S. players bonded in the team room and enjoyed their first day of official practice together. Tom Lehman made sure they got a bit of down time, too.

September 19, 2006

STRAFFAN, Ireland -- The U.S. team room at the Ryder Cup must have looked like rookie orientation in the National Football League, especially when Captain Tom Lehman asked all his players to sing their college fight song.

The scouting report: Tiger Woods needs to stick to golf.

"He kind of bailed out of there when it got rowdy," Scott Verplank revealed. "He snuck off and signed all the autographs for all our stuff, but when we all got back to the team room we put him on the spot and made him sing to us.

"He wasn't good," Verplank said with a laugh. "And he didn't like doing it. I wouldn't recommend he go to a recording studio or anything. Tom got him a little embarrassed, which was good, and everybody had a good laugh."

Lehman was asked the name of the song for Woods, who spent two years at Stanford.

"I've never heard it before, and I couldn't recognize it when he was singing it, either," Lehman said. "I'm totally lost."

Woods wasn't the only one who took it on the chin.

"Some of us, including myself, didn't really know all the words," said Verplank, an Oklahoma State alum. "You kind of exposed a few guys. They think they are pretty good fans, and they don't even know the words to the fight song at their school."

It was another example of an American team that appears to be enjoying this Ryder Cup.

Jim Furyk recently told Golf World magazine that the Americans look like they are "constipated" when they're at the Ryder Cup. Lehman has stressed that he wants his team to have more fun.

On the practice range Tuesday morning, the Americans huddled together before splitting up into their foursomes. They switched partners after nine holes and Lehman instructed everyone to put $100 in a pot for a skins game. Cink took home most of the money.

Woods famously practices at the crack of dawn to avoid the crowds, but Tuesday morning could be seen right in the middle of his teammates warming up on the range. And despite not wanting to join in the singing, Verplank said the 12-time major winner was still playing his part as a member of the team.

"He is less reserved and is asserting himself a little bit more socially than he has done in the past," added Verplank. "He's kind of buying into this having 11 buddies with him for a week instead of just this 'me against the world' thing.

"He's a very good guy and I think he does a tremendous job in the position he's in of maintaining his priorities and keeping all of his stuff in line," he explained. "I can see how it is hard for him to let down some of his guards and fall under somebody else's schedule or plan. But I think he understands that to play well in this event that's what he's got to do and I think he's making some steps to do that."

Although Lehman was eager for Woods to join in the team activities, he was more than happy to give him his own space.

"There's one significant difference I've worked really, really hard to do. We're out here early; we practiced, he hit balls, he putted, he chipped and at 1:30 p.m. he was gone," Lehman said. "He has from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to work out and have some downtime. It's always been something that he's wanted to do in the Ryder Cup, have some time where he can relax and have time to himself.

"He'll go back to the hotel and work out for a couple of hours, take a nap, go hang out in the team room, but have some time where he can kind of exhale. I think that is very important," Lehman said. "Everybody has that time. Our practice schedule is really 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. today and tomorrow, and from 1:00 p.m. to whatever time the evening obligations are, the guys are free."

While on the Palmer Course, the Americans signed plenty of autographs, another change.

There is supposed to be a no-autograph policy on the course, but the Europeans violated that at Oakland Hills while trying to earn support from the American gallery, and Lehman said his team would do the same this year.

Told about the all the activities by the Americans, Colin Montgomerie was asked what he had been doing.

"We've actually been playing golf, believe it or not," he said with a smile. "That's why we're here."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press and PA Sport. All rights reserved.

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