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U.S. Seeking a Better Start

by editor2
September 22nd, 2006

STRAFFAN, Ireland, Sept. 21 — For months, “Let’s Play” has been the operative Ryder Cup slogan plastered on buses and billboards all over this country. On Friday morning, barring more foul weather, they’ll do just that at the K Club here in the Dublin suburbs.

Most of this week’s focus has been on Tiger Woods, and fans won’t have to wait long to see whether the No. 1 player in the world has finally taken on the leadership role he strangely and steadfastly avoided in his four previous appearances. A 12-time major champion with 53 career PGA Tour victories, Woods is 7-11-2 in the Ryder Cup, and he has lost his last seven matches on opening day.

Woods will attempt to reverse that trend Friday with former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk, a partner he truly likes personally and respects professionally. The pair will play in the event’s opening match in the morning better-ball session against the formidable European pairing of Scotsman Colin Montgomerie and Irishman Padraig Harrington.

Woods and Furyk, 2-0-1 when they teamed for the first time at the Presidents Cup last September, seem certain to team again in the afternoon alternate-shot matches. Their performance surely will set the tone for the Americans, just as Woods and Phil Mickelson did at Oakland Hills two years ago in losing two matches on the first day of what ended up being the Americans’ most lopsided loss ever, 18 1/2 to 9 1/2 .

Immediately following that trouncing, American Chris DiMarco forced himself to stand off to the side and watch the raucous European celebration in front of the Oakland Hills clubhouse.

“I wanted to get out of there, trust me,” DiMarco said. “It was not motivational. It was the fact we got our butts handed to us, and they were on our turf celebrating on our green. . . . I made myself watch and just basically say [to himself] that in two years, we hope to be doing the same thing to them. It had nothing to do with anything ill toward them. It’s just that we want the Cup, and we’d love to do it here.”

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