Mayer's Memos From The Ryder Cup - Day 3
Sept. 30, 2010
NEWPORT, Wales - Indiana University head men's golf coach Mike Mayer made the trip to Wales for the 2010 Ryder Cup, serving as Jeff Overton's instructor for the competition. Coach Mayer will be providing IUHoosiers.com with a daily blog during his entire trip.
Overton played at IU from 2002-05 and is making his Ryder Cup debut, playing for Team USA. Here is the third installment of "Mayer's Memos From the Ryder Cup"...
Greetings once again from Wales where the amount of rainfall, and the number of consonants used in the Welsh language, seem to be never ending.
So much to talk about and so little space in this blog -- where do I begin? I could start with the unbelievable and emotional Ryder Cup Opening Ceremony this afternoon or I could write about Jeff's pairing with Bubba Watson in tomorrow morning's final fourball match. But I think those must wait as I back-up to last night's "Welcome to Wales" Ryder Cup Gala at The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
I've been to a few "dress up" events in my time, but they all paled in comparison to this extravaganza. For example the menu included Ysgwydd Cig Oen Cymreig. Oops, sorry, slipped into a little Welsh there, which is nearly a second language to me after four days in this country. Let me try again -- for example the menu featured Braised Shoulder of Welsh Lamb. Seated at my table were long-time IU Athletics staples Dr. Larry Rink and Mark Tatman. The entertainment at the Gala was as equally impressive as the food with numerous talented Welsh performers, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, being featured. The Ryder Cup teams wore black tail and were introduced on stage along with their spouses/girlfriends. Jeff looked great in his tux but was definitely shown up by his girlfriend Christina Zimmer who was simply radiant. The team had dined earlier in the evening with the Prince of Wales himself, Prince Charles, at the Cardiff Castle. Prince Charles also joined the team at the Gala making a very eloquent speech about the Cup.
Christina, an opera singer, is a huge hit in the tabloids over here and there is a stunning picture of her in today's edition of The Independent. Columnist Lisa Marwell's describes her this way: "Top of the leader board is Christina Zimmer, girfriend of Jeff Overton. She is beautiful and elegant ... she may be the most Elin-esque of the pack." An obvious reference to Tiger's former wife Elin Nordergren. Tiger, by the way, went un-escorted at the Gala!
Back to golf. Some miscommunication between me and Jeff caused a little hiccup in our plans this morning. He was scheduled to meet me early at the driving range, but was diverted to the first tee by playing partner Bubba Watson without warming up. As luck would, once again, have it I was promptly given a ride out to the group. This time by Assistant Captain Davis Love III. Davis was very accomodating and complimentary -- and yes the grin is still on my face.
I was very pleased to see Tom Lehman still sporting his IU/Jeff Overton hat for the second straight day. That hat has been all over the place here in Wales and the Hoosier Nation, who are all wearing their hats, is well known all over The Twenty Ten Course. I even heard the IU fight song on two occasions on the links today -- simply brilliant. Lehman has made a very special connection with Jeff and has been an oustanding mentor to him during the proceedings. Tom is such a nice guy that I will have to forgive my wife, Kim, who admitted to me on the phone last night that she has had a long-time crush on Assistant Captain Lehman. When I relayed that story to Tom on the driving range today I got a nice smile and perhaps even a little blush out of him.
Jeff was paired with Watson and Hunter Mahan for today's practice round and, very truthfully, I don't know if I've ever seen Jeff hit the ball any better. Watson is an extremely jovial guy who likes to pull numerous pranks on his teammates. He's "punked" Jeff more than a few times on this trip. Here's an example: Bubba came up to Jeff during the team-only reception at the Atlanta airport before we departed for Wales. Watson convinced Jeff that the internet was full of stories about him not being able to play in the Ryder Cup because of a back injury. Jeff dimissed this notion, but Bubba convinced him to google "Jeff Overton's bad back" to find out for himself. After Bubba walked away Jeff's curiosity got the best of him and he whipped out his Blackberry and started typing away. Watson then snuck up behind him, peered over his shoulder and announced to the entire USA Team: "Look Jeff is googleing himself, isnt' that special." The room supposedly errupted in laughter knowing that Watson had gotten yet another victim.
Don't know what to say about the Opening Cermony except that seeing Jeff up their with his USA teammates was very emotional for me. I was sitting, in the fourth row, with Jeff's wonderful parents, Ron and Sharon. Very proud parents and a very proud golf coach. To cap off the event, the pairings were announced and, although I had a suspicion that Jeff was going to play, it was unbelieveable to see Jeff's name on the big screen paired with Bubba Watson. And it's going to be a Big Ten match of sorts as the USA pair will take on Luke Donald (Northwestern) and Padraig Harrington. Ought to be special.
From Wales, yes still with the big grin, it's time to say goodbye!
Check back soon