Mayer's Memos From The Ryder Cup - Day 4
Oct. 1, 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 fourth installment of "Mayer's Memos From the Ryder Cup"...
For your information the leek is the national emblem of the Welsh, but perhaps the national slogan should be the "leak".
The obvious reference is the seemingly never-ending amount of water that falls from the sky here. If you saw any of the telecast earlier you know that rain came down in buckets at the the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor Resort today -- but I must admit, I added a little to the deluge. Watching Jeff tee off on the first hole in his first Ryder Cup was an absolutely incredible and emotional experience. And when he putted in from off the back edge of the green on hole-one it was difficult, if not impossible, to keep my emotions in check.
The day started early and wet, but Jeff was at top form on the range during his warm-up session. It was a carry-over from how he hit the ball during the final practice round on Wednesday which was, as they say over here, brilliant. During the ride over from the driving range to the first tee Jeff seemed relaxed and focused. During our brief conversation I really sensed that he was ready to partner with Bubba Watson and take down the European pair of Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington.
Jeff's first drive, in absolutely miserable conditions in front of a packed grandstand full of rowdy Euro fans, split the center of the fairway. His next shot covered the flag, but trickled over the back edge leading to his dramatic chip-in for the opening birdie. Jeff also split the fairway on the par-five second with a nearly 300-yard drive. What a way to start your first Ryder Cup!
As Jeff's instructor I was given inside-the-rope credentials for the first three practice rounds allowing me to walk the fairways and greens of the beautiful Welsh links. No such credentials for today, but as fate and luck would have it, as I was standing near the second tee the approriate badges were miraculously delivered, and I was back inside the ropes.
My grin is just getting bigger and bigger.
While the tabloids have been exceedingly complimentary to Jeff's girlfriend Christina Zimmer here, they have been brutally harsh on Jeff. One Welsh tabloid called him "without a doubt America's weakest link;" while another stated that Overton had no chance at any success and deeply criticised Captain Corey Pavin's decision to play Jeff in the opening round.
Believe me, there is no one questioning Jeff's ability after his performance here today. Except for one shot, an errant drive on the par-four fourth hole, Jeff shot-making was absolutely spot-on.
The locals were rowdy before the over-seven-hour rain delay, but after play was resumed they were nearly deafening. I can only assume that a few in the crowd spent the down-time at one of the many concession areas around the course (all of which offer a variety of locally brewed beverages). I must say that the Hoosier Nation held its own against the locals. Hoosier chants and counter chants from the Euro fans were frequently heard around the course.
Jeff's match was stopped, as most of you probably know, on the ninth hole after he stuck a gap wedge to about 18 inches for a gimme birdie. Donald, a Northwestern grad, knocked his approach shot to about six feet and will have that, at 7:45 a.m. tomorrow morning, to halve the hole and keep his duo only one down.
Spoke with Jeff briefly in the clubhouse at the end of the day. It took a while, though, as he was in high demand for interviews from both television and print media. I had a brief interview of my own with NBC, Golfworld and Golf Channel's Tim Rosaforte. Rosaforte just penned a fairly lengthy article on Jeff in the latest edition of Golf World and I have talked with him on quite a few occasions. He wanted to know my assesment of Jeff' performance which was an easy question for me to jump right into.
They just announced a dramatic change in the format the rest of the way. But, truthfully, I haven't had any time to analyze it. If what I understand is correct, it means that Jeff Overton will play in every match in this Ryder Cup. In a word -- BRILLIANT!
Good bye from Wales where I hope the sun will finally shine tomorrow -- but I'll take my unbrellas and rainsuit just in case the leak opens again.
Check back soon