|Who does Ryder Cup course favor? Well, the fans|
|Posted 9/27/2012 1:11 PM ET|
MEDINAH, Ill. -- Keegan Bradley broke out into a huge smile.
"I love it," Bradley said.
The young bomber was talking about the No. 3 course at Medinah Country Club, host of the 39th Ryder Cup that begins Friday. He was simply giddy about the length of the course, the lack of rough on the course, and the firmness and speed of the greens.
"I love it where I can just go up to the tee and bang it," Bradley said. "A lot of the bunkers are 285 yards out and you can just bang it over those. We should be able to make a lot of birdies."
That's what U.S. captain Davis Love III wanted when he had a hand in setting up No. 3 to his liking. The course, which has hosted a U.S. Open and two PGA Championships since 1990, is a bomber's paradise with generous fairways, the aforementioned lack of rough and open spaces in the woods as hundreds of trees have been removed.
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"I just don't like rough," Love said. "I think the fans want to see excitement. They want to see birdies. We want to let these unbelievable athletes freewheel it a little bit and play. Medinah is such a big, long golf course.
"I think fair and fun and exciting for the fans on TV is the way to go."
The most challenging aspect of the course is the end of each hole -- the greens. Golf course architect Rees Jones has redone every green on the course -- 11 since Tiger Woods won the 2006 PGA Championship here. He also won the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah. Because of the changes, no player holds an advantage on the greens.
As far as the rest of the course, if backed up to the tips, it can be stretched out to 7,668 yards. However, especially with the drivable par-4 15th, which can be played at 391 yards or 285 yards, the course will probably play anywhere from 7,300 to 7,500. Whatever the length, Love thinks the course favors his red, white and blue troops, especially his bombers -- Bradley, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
"I like a course where you can hit driver all the time," Johnson said. "It's going to be nice to do that."
Added Watson: "No matter what team is playing, no matter what (format) it is, the course is set up for the fans to enjoy the game of golf. You're talking about no rough. Some of the trees are missing, so you're looking at great golf out of the trees when you hit one wayward. Everybody has the ability to hit the shot out of the trees. Let's see the big hook, the big cuts, over trees, under trees, around bunkers to make birdies. I think these great shots that you're going to see from all parts of the golf course are going to be great."
But does the course give the USA an advantage on Europe, which has won six of the last eight contests, including in 2010 in Wales. All 24 players on the two teams are in the top 35 in the official world golf rankings, including nine of the top 10. Three of this year's major champions are playing -- Watson, Webb Simpson and Rory McIlroy. Only four of the 24 haven't won an official event somewhere in the world this year, and three of those â?? Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer â?? are major champions. And the FedExCup Playoffs champion, Brandt Snedeker, is playing.
"I've played (in the states) pretty much all year, and I haven't seen a golf course that's had no rough and no rough around the greens," Europe's Lee Westwood said. "This is not a golf course that either team is particularly used to, and I can't see how it suits one team or the other, to be perfectly honest."
Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal said the course favors only one group of people -- the fans.
"The golf course is the same for everyone," Olazabal said. "You have 24 of the best players in the whole world and they can adjust to any situation. I don't know if it favors any team in particular. But what it does, I think, is that players will be more aggressive on the golf course. I think you're going to see a bunch of birdies this week. I think it's going to be a great show in that regard for the crowds. You're going to see holes tied with birdies. You'll have a few holes where anything can happen, like 15, 16, 17; risk-and-reward holes. I think it's exciting.
"I think the way the golf course is setup is great."
|Posted 9/27/2012 1:11 PM ET|