The weather was perfect during Thursday's opening ceremony, but the golfers might not be so lucky when they're actually out on the course. (Getty Images)
Thursday Notebook: Wet weather looms in forecast for most of the play days
NEWPORT, Wales (AP) -- The Ryder Cup teams can probably count on getting wet this weekend.
The forecast called for a 90 percent chance of rain for the opening matches Friday. Another round of heavy showers was projected to move in for Sunday’s singles matches.
The Americans were sending out some of their biggest hitters for morning fourball. Captain Corey Pavin figures they’ll have an edge if the course at Celtic Manor is soaked.
“Me being a very short hitter, I thought there was an advantage to the guys that are longer when it’s wet out, because it’s not going to roll into the rough and where they fly it, is where it lands,” Pavin said. “Guys that fly it 290 or 300 yards, that’s where it’s going to end up. When I fly it 210, that’s where it’s going to end up.”
FAMILY TIME: The Americans were spending the eve of the Ryder Cup with those closest to them.
Captain Corey Pavin told the players to bring their parents, in-laws and children to a barbecue at the team hotel after Thursday’s opening ceremony.
“In previous Ryder Cups, it’s been very difficult for you to even see your families during the week,” Pavin said. “So we thought it would be nice for the players and wives to be able to see their families this evening. So we are just going to have a nice relaxing kind of barbecue.”
ODD MIX: Miguel Angel Jimenez enjoys fine wine, big cigars -- and the knot in his stomach.
The popular Spaniard said that just shows he’s ready to play the most tense team event in golf.
“All week you feel a knot in your stomach,” Jimenez said on Thursday before the final day of practice at Celtic Manor. “But it’s not nerves. It’s something you can endure. I like to feel that thing, and that makes you motivated more. And that’s where you want to be. It’s a good thing, yeah. If you don’t have any feelings, probably you’re not here, or you don’t play golf or you don’t know anything. You need to feel things.”
Few players are in better form than Jimenez, who has won three times on the European Tour this year, and he likes the way he has played in practice on the Twenty Ten Course.
But Jimenez won’t go in the opening round of four-ball matches. Captain Colin Montgomerie decided to put him on the bench along with Peter Hanson and the Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco. All four are expected to make their debuts in the afternoon with the alternate-shot matches.
LIKING THE EURO ODDS: The Las Vegas oddsmakers wasted no time labeling the Europeans a solid favorite to jump ahead in the Friday morning fourball matches.
Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington were an overwhelming pick to beat Ryder Cup rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton in the final match of the morning. Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy are favored over Matt Kuchar and Stewart Cink, while Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson are underdogs against Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.
The only American favorites are Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, who will go in the third match against Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher. That’s not surprising, considering bettors are usually eager to put money on Woods -- even when he’s slumping -- so he usually has the odds against him to even out the wagers.
COREY’S GAFFE: Blame it on the teleprompter.
U.S. Captain Corey Pavin was doing a fine job announcing the names of his 12-man team -- until he got to one of his most experienced players.
Pavin mistakenly skipped over Stewart Cink, playing in his fifth Ryder Cup, and went straight to 21-year-old rookie Rickie Fowler. Since the U.S. players remained standing after their names were called, the captain’s gaffe was even more noticeable.
As the crowd broke into laughter, Cink mockingly slumped his shoulders and received good-natured pats on his bald head from his teammates. Pavin realized his error and quickly tried to make amends.
“A special round of applause, from Sea Island, Georgia -- Stewart Cink,” Pavin said.
Only one problem: Cink actually lives in Duluth, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta. Pavin confused Cink with Davis Love III, an assistant U.S. captain who does live in Sea Island.
“I’m glad the opening speech is over with. I only screwed up once, so that wasn’t too bad,” Pavin quipped. “I only forgot one player. It could have been two, so it could have been worse.”
European Captain Colin Montgomerie blamed the positioning of two teleprompters for the mistake, saying they were hard to read from the podium in the middle of the stage. But after announcing his entire team without a hitch, he couldn’t resist a little dig at his American counterpart.
“We are 1-up,” Monty said.
EUROPEANS TWEETING AWAY:
So much for that ban on tweeting.
Ian Poulter, Europe’s social networking star, has been posting all sorts of interesting tidbits and pictures on Twitter during Ryder Cup week, though he appears to be staying within Captain Colin Montgomerie’s request to keep all inside information within the team room.
For instance, Poulter reported that Lee Westwood set the alarm on Assistant Captain Paul McGinley’s cell phone to go off right in the middle of Montgomerie’s speech at the opening ceremony Thursday.
“u should have seen the panic. Hilarious,” Poulter tweeted.
He also was the first to reveal a gift that Montgomerie and his wife, Gaynor, presented to the players and assistant captains at a dinner on the eve of the first matches: individualized framed portraits of each standing in front of a fireplace, with a club in hand and the Ryder Cup on the mantel.
“I love it,” tweeted Poulter, who posted a picture of his portrait.
He also sent pictures of teammate Graeme McDowell getting a massage, the view from the clubhouse team room before the Europeans headed to the opening ceremony, and even a plug for a 10 percent-off sale on Poulter-designed fashions at his Web site.
And that was just on Thursday!
McDowell was nearly as prolific as Poulter. The U.S. Open champion sent a post about his pairing with fellow Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, whom he described as the “Curly Haired Wonder kid.”
“Can’t wait,” McDowell tweeted.
He also posted pictures of a dinner at Cardiff Castle with Prince Charles, the Europeans donning McIlroy-styled wigs on the first tee during a practice round, and the first details of a conference call with Seve Ballesteros, the longtime Ryder Cup star who’s battling brain cancer.
“What a legend! Trying to win it for him this weekend. He symbolizes European golf,” McDowell tweeted.
At the start of the week, Montgomerie said he wanted his players to refrain from social networking during the Ryder Cup, but he softened his stance after a team meeting.
U.S. Captain Corey Pavin asked his players to put their Twitter and Facebook accounts on hiatus, as well, and they’ve apparently heeded his call. Stewart Cink, who has more than 1 million followers, had not sent a post since writing Sunday, “Go USA y’all pull hard for us thanks!!! … see you in a week!”
The always-stylish Ian Poulter found a way to put his fashion stamp on the Ryder Cup, even though he’s having to wear the same outfit as his teammates. The Europeans practiced Thursday in pink shirts with blue sweaters and slacks, so Poulter whipped up some two-tone shoes with pink down the sides. … In the biggest surprise of the opening pairings, seven-time Ryder Cup veteran Jim Furyk was left on the sideline by the Americans. Only once in his previous six appearances was he held out of matches on the opening morning, and that was in 1999. He played in the opening matches in 1997, 2002, ’04, ’06 and ’08.