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Oh, yoo-hoo, captain ... I'm over here! (Getty Images)

Scene and Heard: Thursday in Wales

The next best thing to being here is learning about some of the most interesting but overlooked details, and PGA.com has you covered. Here's what we saw and heard on Thursday at the Ryder Cup.

By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer

Welcome 11, uh, 12 team members:  The best bit of levity during the Opening Ceremony was when U.S. Captain Corey Pavin was introducing the team and inadvertently forgot to introduce his own captain’s pick player, Stewart Cink. As Pavin finished his introductions, 11 members of the team stood while Cink sheepishly kept his seat, with a large grin and mocking wave to the captain. The rest of the team and the huge crowd roared in laughter. The captain made a nice save by coming back and providing a warm introduction for Cink. 

Say What?:  Signs dot the Celtic Manor venue reading “Croeso” can be spotted all over the course. Croeso is the Welsh word for “hello.”  Many visitors were surprised that there is a Welsh language since English is ubiquitous. Interestingly, less than 20 percent of the natives actually speak the Welsh language, though local representatives insist that it is commonly used in business and government, and the schools are emphasizing its learning more in recent years.  Other popular Welsh terms that might be heard this week include: “Iechyd da!” (Cheers!), “Y Rhodfa” (A Fairway), “Pluen” (Par) and “Dai awn” (Very good).

Building stronger bonds: Visitors to Celtic Manor on Thursday may have been surprised to learn the competition had already started. But it was the participants from the Junior Ryder Cup taking center stage, and the format altered to create a greater sense of unity between the two sides rather than the spirited matches that will take place when the professionals tee it up Friday.  

The juniors teamed up in foursomes, with a male and female player from both the U.S. and European teams comprising each international pairing, to compete in the first-ever Friendship Bowl. Each group represented a different golf club in Wales, and the winner will present the Friendship Bowl to the club it represented.

Coincidentally, the team representing Celtic Manor (the host venue) won the inaugural Friendship Bowl. The nine-hole matches were played on the front nine while the actual Ryder Cup teams practiced on the back. In addition to building friendship, the event offered the Junior Ryder Cup players a chance to experience the atmosphere and facility of the Ryder Cup course.  In the Junior Ryder Cup, played earlier this week on the course that will host the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland, the U.S. squad prevailed 13.5 to 10.5 points.

Something for everyone:  The sprawling Tent Village that has been erected here at Celtic Manor offers a little something for all the golf fans that will be attending the competition. From game improvement areas to a video game area to a huge video monitor showing the golf action to tourism bureaus from all over Europe to even a museum to visit, a visitor could spend an entire day in the village and never see the same item twice -- and never actually go see the action on the course itself.  There is also massive food court and dining area and even a drugstore for fans who might need some aid after walking the challenging grounds.

Expensive Art:  BMW, one of the partners of the European Tour, had a new BMW Sport Wagon showcased in a special fan area, and in an ode to the competition, allowed fans to come by and write encouraging notes on the car itself.  Most of the encouragements were, not surprisingly, for Team Europe, though there were a few pro-U.S. notes and several for specific players such as Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.  There were staffers on hand to erase non-family friendly notes or any message deemed improper -- including one that lasted all of 30 seconds that read “I love my Jaguar.”
 

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