With perfect playing conditions and great weather predicted at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, Illinois, the 39th Ryder Cup promises to be one of the most exciting in recent years.
European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal is predicting a lot of birdies.
“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,” said Olazabal.
Medinah is no stranger to crowds. Since it opened in 1924, Medinah has hosted two U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships, the U.S. Senior Open and three Western Opens. Tiger has won two of those three PGA Championships, one of them against a 19-year-old Spaniard whose performance that year electrified the crowds and earned him the nickname "El Nino."
Olazabal is hoping that Sergio’s past performance and memories here at Medina will help the Europeans retain the Cup.
“This golf course has wonderful memories for him. Both times that he has played here, he has done well, and he feels comfortable on this golf course. So hopefully that will help him to perform well this week.”
Tiger Woods has fond memories here too. Followed by his new swing coach, Tiger shared a practice round with Jim Furyk and “Fluff” Cowan, his famous mustachioed caddy that was on his bag until just before Tiger's win here at Medinah.
The course was already long back when Tiger won his second professional major here. At 7,600 yards, it is even longer. However, according to Olazabal, wider fairways and little rough are going to allow the players to be aggressive -- birdies won’t be enough to win.
“You're going to see holes tied with birdies,” warned Olazabal. “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 set up is great.”
Olazabal is confident in his team and doesn’t think that either team has a home course advantage—other than perhaps the crowds. He sees both teams being aggressive, which is going to cause a lot of shifts in the matches.
“So I don't know if it favors any team in particular. But what it does, I think, is that players as I said before, will be more aggressive on the golf course.”
Stephen Moskal is currently the Director of Instruction for Golf Swing Exchange, an innovative on-line coaching platform whose goal is to revolutionize the ability for people to learn golf. A former professional golfer in Europe, Moskal turned pro in 1993 as a member of the French National Circuit and also spent time on the United Kingdom Mastercard Tour and the European Challenge Tour. Following a seven-year professional career, Moskal turned to teaching full-time in 1999. A 1990 graduate of Furman University with a degree in philosophy, Moskal was a four year letter winner with the Paladins and was a member of the academic honor roll. Most recently, Stephen studied under Top 100 instructor Mitchell Spearman, best known for working with major champions Nick Faldo and Ian Baker Finch. Stephen is also the Head Golf Coach at Marymount University in Arlington, VA.
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