Steve Eubanks: It's time for both teams to transition

The captains met for a handshake on an emotional afternoon.

Eubanks: It's time for both teams to transition

The Ryder Cup officially kicked off Monday afternoon. Now, says Steve Eubanks comes the interesting part – seeing the results of all the preparation, communication and team-building.

By Steve Eubanks,

MEDINAH, Ill. -- The festivities kicked off promptly at 4:00 p.m. local time when Jose Maria Olazabal wheeled into Medinah in a Mercedes van. He hopped out carrying the Ryder Cup and, in so doing, electrified a quiet, sleepy Chicago afternoon. 

Davis Love III and a cadre of PGA of America officials greeted Olazabal in front of the clubhouse. Davis shook his hand and told him, “Finally, we’re going to get to play some golf.”  

It’s been a long road to this week for both men. But with the Ryder Cup matches finally upon them, the emotions overwhelmed them. Davis’ eyes welled with tears as he spoke of Seve Ballesteros and Raymond Floyd’s wife Maria, who recently passed away. 

It is obvious that these two have poured their hearts and souls in their captaincies. Now they have to transition into a different phase.  

“I can’t tell you how many moments I’ve had in the last week or two where it’s really hit me how much fun it is and how exciting it is and what an hour it is,” Davis said. “But the golf is what it’s ultimately all about. Now we are getting to that side of it. And it gets more exciting every day. I’m sure Friday morning it will ramp up another notch.”  

Both men spoke at length about the team-building they have done over the last year, and how important it has been in creating an environment where the players can thrive. 

“We have both done, I think, a very good job of getting our teams together at certain times in the last few months, having dinners, making sure we are all communicating,” Davis said. “Now with text messaging and emails, you can’t get away from each other. But I think we’ve built those relationships and we have used our veterans to bond the team. 

“I learned from Paul Azinger, you’d better do it before you get there on Monday, because it might be a little late (by then). If everybody’s disorganized and discombobulated on Monday night and Tuesday, you don’t have time to catch up.”  

Conversations have obviously taken place for many weeks. 

“Jim Furyk told me that everything is elevated a little bit more,” Webb Simpson said. “He said, you’re going to be a little more tired; you’re going to be a little more upset, a little more excited. All those things that you normally feel you’re going to feel them a little bit more. That’s good advice.”  

It’s also speaks volumes for why Furyk was one of Davis’ picks.

“That’s one of the reasons Jim Furyk is on the team,” Davis said. “He’s the experienced, veteran guy that a guy like Webb needs to go to. They will come to (Jose Maria and I) for some things, but they will go talk to the Tiger Woodses and the Steve Strickers and the Jim Furyks and say, ‘What do I do now? I don’t want to embarrass myself.’ You need those guys, that leadership.”   

Furyk agreed. 

“My job is to go out and play as well as I can and help my team in any way I can,” Furyk said. “I know it’s probably going to be with my clubs – knocking some putts in and trying to win some matches. But I would like to be a calming influence and a guy that can help out.”  

Simpson, along with Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar went a movie with Fred Couples on Monday afternoon while Jason Dufner, Furyk and Stricker rolled a few putts and got a look at the course.  

You can bet that there was a lot of counseling took place both places.  

“This Ryder Cup didn’t start yesterday for us,” Davis said. “It’s been a long process of getting guys ready, thinking about it, and getting organized.”  

And now it’s time for the golf to begin.