SUTTON COLDFIELD, England -- U.S. captain Curtis Strange gave a good
idea of his pairings for the opening best-ball matches Friday.
''Practice rounds are very important, and I think you should
play with who I think you might play with in the matches,'' Strange
said. ''There's an agenda out there today.''
The choice of Woods and Calcavecchia was no surprise, since they
play early morning practice rounds at most of the majors and
regular PGA Tour events.
Calcavecchia certainly had no complaints.
''Who wouldn't want it to happen? He played great again today,''
Calcavecchia said. ''There's a different kind of pressure being his
partner in the sense that you want to play so well to try to help
''On the other hand ... I don't have to take the whole load on
Toms said he anticipated playing Friday with Mickelson, the man
he beat at the PGA Championship last year in Atlanta.
''I'm the steady guy and he likes to be pretty aggressive,''
Toms said. ''You put that in best ball and it makes for a nice
European captain Sam Torrance was asked how the
lineup he expects to field for Friday's opening matches compares to
the one he had ready for the competition that was postponed last
''Impossible to say,'' Torrance said. ''I actually couldn't find
Torrance said he had last year's pairings written down and hid
them away somewhere. Trouble was, he hid them so well he couldn't
''I'm very good at hiding things and I spent three days looking
for it, and I couldn't find it,'' Torrance said.
Torrance did drop a few hints about this week's pairings. He
wants to put prospective teams in the same practice rounds.
''Obviously I'm trying to put pairings out there I'll use Friday
and Saturday,'' he said. ''They are four balls and you don't know
who is playing with who.''
Europeans take their time on first day of practice
A policy on slow play has been
introduced for the first time in the Ryder Cup. Maybe it should
apply to practice rounds, too.
Tiger Woods and his foursome played only two holes Tuesday when
they saw the Europeans chipping and lining up putts on the third
green. Instead of waiting, they cut across to the eighth hole,
returning later to play the holes they skipped.
''I asked the rest of the guys in the group, 'What do you want
to do?' And they all wanted to play at their own pace,'' said
Woods, who practiced with Mark Calcavecchia, Stewart Cink and Paul
''We play at a faster pace, plain and simple,'' Woods said. ''We
don't chip around as much. I saw Bernhard (Langer) and the guys
lining up putts on the third hole. We definitely don't do that,
especially on a Tuesday.''
The Europeans were scheduled to practice first, going off in
three groups. The Americans started about 15 minutes later.
While Woods & Co. went around them, it wasn't long before the
next American group -- David Duval, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III
and David Toms -- caught up to the Europeans.
At that point, European captain Sam Torrance came over to
''I just thought it was right,'' Torrance said of his gesture.
''I think the mistake was putting the two teams out directly behind
each other. They're going to take some time. I'm not concerned
about the speed of play.''
Neither was Sergio Garcia, who was in the European group that
was passed on a mild and sunny day at The Belfry.
''We don't need to hurry. We have all day to practice,'' Garcia
said. ''Just enjoy the day. You're not going to get many like
U.S. captain Curtis Strange wasn't surprised. His lead foursome
tends to play quickly, and that's why he put them out first.
He wasn't worried about causing bad feelings during a week
aimed at goodwill.
''You better have thicker skin than that,'' Strange said.
The U.S. team has a room where players get together
as a team, watch a little television and maybe play a video game or
There's also a ping-pong table, which so far is the happening
place to play.
Tiger Woods said he won a few matches Monday night, but lost a
Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, were also taking on all
''We have some pretty competitive guys on our team and I don't
think they ever gave up the table to let anybody else play,'' David
Team captain Curtis Strange would not say who won the match
between Woods and Mickelson, but said the fact they were playing
each other shows their relationship is not as frosty as some might
The U.S. team has three Ryder Cup newcomers in Scott
Verplank, David Toms and Stewart Cink.
It's hard for the 38-year-old Verplank, though, to be referred
to as a rookie.
''Every player on the PGA tour strives to be sitting here in
this chair right now,'' Verplank said. ''It's obviously been a
goal. And I'm thrilled, but I'm also honored to be here to do
Jesper Parnevik was roused from his sleep by the
earthquake Monday morning, and rushed onto the balcony to see if
part of his building was blown away or on fire. ''I've never been
in an earthquake before, but it was very scary,'' he said. ... Sam
Torrance resolutely denied there was a plan for the Europeans to
play slow in the '99 Ryder Cup to take the Americans out of their
rhythm. ''There will be this time, though,'' Torrance joked. ...
Lee Westwood is not playing well, but he's looking good. Westwood
has lost about 20 pounds through diet and exercise.