STRAFFAN, Ireland (AP) – The Americans arrived for the Ryder Cup about three hours late Monday, which captain Tom Lehman attributed to bringing too much luggage on the charter plane.
Considering how these matches have gone lately, he can only hope it wasn’t emotional baggage.
Having lost four of the last five times, the Americans will try to beat Europe on its home soil for the first time since 1993 when the Ryder Cup gets under way on Friday at The K Club.
Another ominous sign?
Not long after the U.S. team arrived, a weekend of gorgeous weather gave way to a downpour that drenched the golf course, making the chipping green look like a wading pool.
Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk arrived separately after losing in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship last week at Wentworth. Woods stayed in England, attending the Chelsea-Liverpool game on Sunday, while Furyk came over to The K Club to practice.
The Americans were supposed to arrive at 9 a.m., but did not land in Dublin until noon.
“We brought more than our share of luggage,” Lehman said. “We were trying to put together a puzzle, trying to fit all the stuff inside the plane. You could see the guys outside the plane in the windows going, ‘How are we going to get all this stuff inside?’ But they managed to do it. Our team is very excited we’re coming back.”
Lehman brought his team to Ireland at the end of August for two days of practice, determined to end nearly two decades of frustration in the Ryder Cup. The weather should not have been surprising, because it also rained most of those two days.
Along with extra baggage, the Americans brought a new label to these matches – underdogs.
Europe has only two rookies on this team – Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson of Sweden – and Paul Casey gave his squad an emotional lift with his victory Sunday in the World Match Play Championship.
The Americans counter with a powerful 1-2-3 punch – Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk – but have four rookies on their team, two of whom never have competed in match play.
“The European team is extremely strong, and very, very strong from top to bottom,” Lehman said. “Our team is very strong. We have four rookies that are always a bit of a question mark, although I believe that they are tremendous players. But at the end of the day, I think the European team based on the strength of their team, playing here in Ireland, would probably have to be favored.”
Woosnam and his wife, Glendryth, were at the airport to greet Lehman and his U.S. team.
The former Masters champion said in a recent Golf Digest magazine interview that one of his pet peeves was people showing up late. He was more than willing to give the Americans a reprieve in this case.
“That doesn’t count today,” he said. “The American team has had to travel from a long distance. We didn’t mind waiting. Pity it started raining just as they came off the plane, but I’m glad to see everybody got here safe.”