PARIS — Trivia test time at Le Golf National, with the theme of Get to Know Your 2018 Ryder Cup teams. This isn’t just two dozen professionals with no handicap, or platoons of young men in coordinated outfits. These are guys with many dimensions, and quirks in their stories.
And so, 24 questions, about 24 players…
1) Who was the physics major in college?
That’d be Bryson DeChambeau, who took his grasp of science and decided it’d be a good idea to have all his irons the exact same length – 37.5 inches. He can also sign his autograph backward, with his left hand. Possibly a Ryder Cup first.
2) Who missed his first 21 cuts after turning professional?
Justin Rose. You might have noticed that things have gotten a little better after that. He just won the $10 million FedExCup.
3) Who once beat NBA player Shane Battier in a 3-point shooting contest?
Dustin Johnson. Unfortunately for the Americans, if they need a late rally Sunday, there is no 3-point arc at the Ryder Cup.
4) Who, displeased with the performance of his 3-iron, once hurled the club into a pond during the WGC Cadillac Championship, only to have the course’s big honcho send out a scuba diver to retrieve it the next day?
Rory McIlroy. The guy who hired the scuba diver might ring a bell. Donald Trump. A lot of water this week at Le Golf National, by the way. But no Trump.
5) Who is the only player here the same age as his team captain?
Phil Mickelson, born 48 years ago in June of 1970. Jim Furyk beat him into the world by 35 days.
6) Who participated in the torch relay before the 2006 Winter Olympics?
Francesco Molinari. The Games were in Torino, Italy. When someone said of Italian golf that the torch was being passed to Molinari, they weren’t kidding.
7) Who won his first PGA Tour victory with his wife as his caddie?
Patrick Reed. There they were, holding the trophy together after the 2013 Wyndham Championship. But she was on the other side of the gallery rope last April in Augusta.
8) Who could barely speak English his freshman year at Arizona State, but still managed a 3.6 grade point average?
Jon Rahm, who went almost directly from Spain to macro-economics class in Tempe. He also played a little golf there, coached by Tim Mickelson. As in Phil’s brother and current caddie.
9) Who helped solve his childhood stuttering problem by talking to his dog?
Tiger Woods. James Earl Jones, Julia Roberts and King George VI were other famous people with stammering issues, and it worked out pretty well for them, too.
10) Who once was called Jacob?
Thorbjorn Olesen, who decided to change to his middle name, since it was more unique. “There are no other golfers called Thorbjorn,” he said, “and there may not be for a while yet.”
11) Who averaged 11 rebounds a game to help his high school team in Utah to the state basketball finals?
Tony Finau. They say he’s still a pretty fair dunker, too. And his second cousin is Jabari Parker of the Chicago Bulls.
12) Who is the only golfer in Ryder Cup history to close out a match with a hole-in-one?
Paul Casey, who used a 4-iron on No. 14 to clinch a 2006 foursomes point with David Howell, against Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson. The Ryder Cup’s only walkoff ace.
13) Who, at the age of 13, won his club championship, snapping an older man man’s five-year reign?
Brooks Koepka. The five-time champion he dethroned? His father.
14) Who hit so many practice balls in 2014, he ended up with tendinitis in both wrists, and played only two tournaments all season?
Alex Noren. But maybe that work ethic got him to Le Golf National this weekend.
15) Whose young athletic career was interrupted by multiple broken bones in his foot from a dirt bike accident?
Rickie Fowler. It was about then that golf seemed a pretty good idea as his day job.
16) Who grew up near Royal Birkdale, and used to sneak onto the course with his father to hit a few balls?
Tommy Fleetwood. When he played there in the 2017 British Open, they let him come through the main gate.
17) Who attended Wake Forest on the Arnold Palmer Scholarship?
Webb Simpson. That’d be a little like an aviation student attending flight training on an Orville and Wilbur Wright Grant.
18) Who got his Internet trending numbers smoking when he stripped to his underwear to hit a shot out of the mud in the WGC-CA championship?
Henrik Stenson. “I’ll probably take that to my grave with me,” he once said. You think? But hey, what’s a guy in a yellow shirt and white pants to do?
19) Who helped Michael Jordan win some money in a friendly little golf wager?
Justin Thomas. When attending the Kentucky Derby, Jordan played golf on the Louisville course where Thomas’ father was the pro. There were usually a few dollars at stake, of course. Thomas caddied for him, but one day, Jordan asked him to be his teammate. They won, the superstar and his teenage ringer.
20) Who owns his own soccer club?
Sergio Garcia. Call up the website of CF Borriol, and there’s a greeting from the team president.
21) Who missed his high school graduation to play in the Bryon Nelson Classic?
Jordan Spieth. He finished tied for 32nd, which was a lot of pomp and circumstance for a 17-year-old amateur.
22) Who once paid the bills as assistant pro, teaching kids for one pound a lesson?
Ian Poulter. This was before he turned into the prince of darkness for the U.S. in Ryder Cups.
23) Who is the only competitor here this week named after a defensive end who played in the Super Bowl?
Bubba Watson, as in Bubba Smith. If his dad didn’t like football, he’d be here as Gerry Watson.
24) Whose golf career started in a garage?
Tyrrell Hatton. Jeff Hatton, realizing his young son’s potential, left the business world and started a golf shop in a garage. It was there that he first began refining Tyrrell’s swing.
One bonus question. How do you say four pounds in French this week? La Ryder Cup.