“It would be nice to take down one of
their top guys, and I think that is some-
thing to do with my character,” he said. “I
want to play the best player on the team.
I would love to play Tiger.”
How’s that for the confidence of youth?
There is a great dynasty of Irish
Ryder Cup players and McDowell and
McIlroy are well aware of their place in a
star-studded history. There was Christy
O’Connor’s 2-iron in 1989, Philip Walton’s
broom-handle putter in ’95, and Paul Mc-
Ginley winning putt in ’02. Not forgetting
David Feherty, Eamonn Darcy, Harrington
and the emotional Darren Clarke at the K
Club in ’06, just six weeks after his wife,
Heather, died of cancer.
“Irish players have such an affinity with
the Ryder Cup,” McDowell said. “That’s
probably one of the reasons I love it so
Feel the emotion.
THIS COULD GET WEEPY.
This is the
end of the road for Colin Montgomerie and
Corey Pavin, two Ryder Cup warriors. This
could be rehabilitation for Tiger Woods,
playing for his country and hanging with
the guys. This is the beginning of a new
generation. On the tee: McIlroy, Martin
Kaymer, The Flying Molinari Brothers,
Ross Fisher, Dustin Johnson, Rickie
Fowler and Matt Kuchar.
Woods might think in private. Mickelson
is about to play his eighth Ryder Cup to
equal the U.S. record held by Billy Casper,
Lanny Wadkins and Ray Floyd. Europe’s
Nick Faldo has played the most, with 11
“I knew I had played a lot but didn’t
know about reaching that number,” Mick-
elson said, pretending he didn’t know.
“It’s an honor and I’ve enjoyed every one
That was probably a little white lie,
too. He has only two team victories and
not one in Europe. His individual record
is won 10, lost 14, halved 6.
“That’s not too good, is it,” he said
smiling, or maybe it was a grimace. “I
guess we’ve played a lot of good European
teams. I need to work on that to see if I can
get a few more points in that W column.”
The first W came in his first-ever match
on his debut at Oak Hill in Rochester,
N.Y., in 1995. His partner that day has
become a close friend. Mickelson went
out with Pavin in the afternoon Four-Balls
against Bernhard Langer and Per-Ulrik
“It was so nerve-racking. I had never
experienced anything like it,” Mickelson
said. “You always get nervous on the first
tee but this was a different level.”
He pulled his drive into the first cut
“I have such a bond with Corey.”
– Phil Mickelson
And then there’s Phil Mickelson.
It’s always weepy around Phil. He is
now 40, elder statesman of Team USA,
and the on-course leader despite what
“It was no big deal. Corey made about
a 60-footer on the first for birdie and we
went on to win 6 and 4. I have such a bond
with Corey now because of that,” Mickel-
son said. “The emotions and experiences
that you share at the Ryder Cup create
Where once Pavin looked after Mick-
elson, the world No. 2 now seems to be
relishing his senior role. He has adopted
Dustin Johnson and lobbied successfully
for Rickie Fowler to receive a wild card.
Perhaps he sees a little of himself in
these kids. Perhaps they remind him of
the gung-ho, 25-year-old rookie that he
once was in 1995.
“They play without fear. They attack
pins, they play to win, as opposed to let-
ting others make mistakes,” Mickelson
said in admiration.
He recognises their DNA. Unlike
Woods, Mickelson has always been a
people-person – Arnold Palmer to Tiger’s
Jack Nicklaus. Which is probably why he
has always enjoyed the camaraderie of
match-play team events from his college
days to the Walker Cup as an amateur,
then graduating to the Dunhill Cup, Presi-
dents Cup and Ryder Cup.
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