CHASKA, Minn. — The Latest on the Ryder Cup (all times local):
The Europeans are the visiting team at the Ryder Cup this year, but the weather for practice at Hazeltine National Club has felt a little like home, particularly for the team members from the British Isles. The conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday have been windy and gray, with the high temperature barely reaching 60 degrees.
The course, which hosted the PGA Championship in 2002 and 2009, has been getting good reviews, though. Matt Fitzpatrick, the Englishman rookie, said the greens were “fantastic” during his practice rounds.
Henrik Stenson, the Swede who now calls Florida home, said the weather has reminded him of the 2014 tournament in Gleneagles, Scotland.
The forecasts are calling for more favorable conditions for the weekend competition, with mostly sunny skies and highs in the low 70s.
The motivational tug of war continues behind the scenes.
After the U.S. team turned to Michael Phelps for its latest inspirational team talk, Europe countered with Paul O’Connell.
The rugby union legend who captained both the British and Irish Lions before retiring may not be a familiar name on these shores. But suffice it to say when European captain Darren Clarke — who is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds — calls somebody a “very large man” and “big in stature,” we’re talking HUGE.
“But whenever Paul addressed the team, he sat down,” Clarke said. “He didn’t stand up. He didn’t feel the need to stand up and intimidate anybody.”
O’Connell was listed as 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds when he played.
Hopefully, U.S. captain Davis Love has Shaquille O’Neal on speed-dial.
The Europeans are doing a little damage control after a colorful, humorous and crude essay written by team member Danny Willett’s brother, about his excitement for the Ryder Cup and disdain for American golf fans creating what promises to be a partisan crowd at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
Pete Willett’s post on the National Club Golfer website poked fun at the American players who “need their baying mob of imbeciles to caress their egos every step of the way” to have a chance to beat the Europeans for the first time in four tries since 2008.
Willett urged Team Europe to “silence the pudgy, basement-dwelling irritants, stuffed on cookie dough and pissy beer, pausing between mouthfuls of hotdog so they can scream ‘Baba booey’ until their jelly faces turn red.”
Europe captain Darren Clarke said Danny Willett was “bitterly disappointed” in the article and planned to express his displeasure with his brother.
Clarke said he also was upset by Pete Willett’s words, an opinion “which is not representative” of Team Europe’s thoughts.
You might think Davis Love III has enough to do during Ryder Cup week, even with five assistants helping him try to win one for the home team.
On Wednesday, he added another responsibility to his role as U.S. captain: sandwich deliveryman.
Apparently even the team he called the greatest ever needs its turkey sandwiches to play great.
“If we don’t get the turkey sandwiches to these guys, they’re not going to be happy,” Love said.
It’s all part of what Love said are the shared responsibilities for himself and his assistants, which include Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson.
“Even if it’s just bring the sandwiches and the water and drive them in when they win, whatever it is, we just need to be prepared for it,” he said.
Europe’s Justin Rose says he “wasn’t bothered one bit” that records showing he received a therapeutic-use exemption were published online by hackers seeking to embarrass some Olympic athletes.
“All the boxes were ticked,” said Rose, who won the gold medal at the Rio Olympics last month.
Russian hackers who broke into the World Anti-Doping Agency database published similar records about TUEs for tennis stars and sisters Serena and Venus Williams and gymnast Simone Biles, among others.
Rose requested and received permission to use an anti-inflammatory in May to treat a herniated disk.
“That whole procedure is in place for an athlete who is having medical issues,” Rose said, “not someone who is trying to gain anything from it.”
U.S. captain Davis Love III has left one of his groups alone for Wednesday’s practice — Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar. He inserted Ryder Cup rookie Brooks Koepka into the group of Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. And he took Zach Johnson and placed him with captain’s pick Ryan Moore, J.B. Holmes and Brandt Snedeker.
European captain Darren Clarke mixed up his foursomes for the second full day of practice. Rory McIlroy and Chris Wood were with Thomas Pieters and Martin Kaymer; Henrik Stenson and Matt Fitzpatrick were with Lee Westwood and Rafa Cabrera Bello; and Sergio Garcia and Andy Sullivan were with Justin Rose and Danny Willett.
What does it all mean?
The pairings for the opening session are to be announced at opening ceremonies Thursday.
Phil Mickelson criticized another Ryder Cup captain in explaining why this American team at least will be prepared to play its best.
Mickelson was the catalyst for change in 2014 when he publicly questioned Tom Watson’s heavy-handed role as captain in Gleneagles in another American loss. That led to a task force that allowed for more player involvement.
Mickelson used Hal Sutton and his captaincy in 2004 as an example of players being set up for failure. He says Sutton only told him he was playing with Tiger Woods just two days before the start of the matches. Mickelson says he had to learn how to hit a different golf ball and it affected his preparations.
He says Davis Love III has them in a position to succeed at Hazeltine.