By Adam Harris-
MEDINAH (CBS) Thursday was just a warm up, and the United States and Europe took different approaches to their practice holes at Medinah with a main contrast in attitude.
My observations saw the United States team as more up tight and tense. Besides an attempt by Keegan Bradley to pump up the crowd on the beautiful par three 17 green, there was little fan interaction and minimal smiles. Tiger Woods finished hole 15 and took a golf cart past fans who waited all morning for a glimpse of the super star, and began again at hole 1.
Paired in twos, the Americans powered through their practice round with a serious and intimate feel. Maybe the pairs were concentrating extra hard for the upcoming Ryder Cup Championship. Maybe I am mistaking intensity and tightness for study and deliberation. Either way I saw nothing care free about it.
The European team was loose. In groups of four, their laid back attitude was seen by yelling across fairways to each other, smiling and interacting with fans. Granted, they are the visiting team, thus there is less support from the gallery to pay attention to, however the relaxed golf they played screamed confidence.
Phil Mickelson did not look good. On the par three 13th, Mickelson hit a tough shot just beyond the green which he could chip on and par. At the par four 14, Mickelson was in a sand trap, just left of the green. He chipped out, but did not like his shot, and proceeded to dislike his next two practice shots out of the bunker.
On the long par four 16th, with a tight dog leg left, Mickelson put his second shot in the front right sand trap and had a tough out. But the topper came on the par three 17th where Mickelson put his tee shot short of the green and into the water.
Tiger Woods put two of his tee shots on hole 7 into the crowd. From what I heard around the course, Woods did not swing well all day, and he looked displeased when I saw him.
The only upside I witnessed for the Americans was 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley. Bradley showed off his distance on 15 when attempting to drive the green on the par 4, 391 yard hole. He was 10 yards short but looked confident in his swing. On 16, Bradley cut the dog leg left by hitting over the tall tree on the bend, and then put his second shot five feet from the hole. I watched 12 golfers on 16 and saw no one except Bradley attempt to drive the ball over the tree on the bend and into the fairway. On the long, 245 yard, par three 13th, Bradley stuck his tee shot on the green and within striking distance of the hole.
With the Europeans’ history in this event, and their relaxed attitude, it would not be a venture to say they will dominate this Ryder Cup at Medinah. So, that is my prediction: European victory where Sunday might not be as drama filled as a golf fan, or a general Chicagoan might have hoped.
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