Michael Jordan honorary member

MEDINAH, Ill. -- Back when they were at North Carolina, Davis Love III and Buzz Peterson would bring Peterson's roommate along whenever they'd go play golf.

Thirty years later, Michael Jordan is along for the ride once again.

Love made his old college buddy an honorary member of the American team for this week's Ryder Cup, hoping he can provide some inspiration for a U.S. team that's lost four of the past five events.

"We're going to have him in the team room if he wants to come in. Or we're going to have him hang out in the locker room," Love said Tuesday. "He's just a good motivation for a lot of these guys that don't know him. He doesn't have an official role except for he's one of our buddies and we like having him around."

Jordan can thank Love for introducing him to what's become his second favorite sport. When Peterson and Love played at Chapel Hill, Jordan would ride with them in the cart and keep score. It wasn't long before he was asking to hit a shot or two.

Now he's a member at Medinah -- not to mention plenty of other clubs -- and his love for the Ryder Cup is well-known. Jordan has attended every one since 1995, Love said, and Tiger Woods still laughs at the memory of the 6-foot-6 basketball Hall of Famer crammed into a golf cart as he followed the action at Valderrama in 1997.

But Jordan is not just another celebrity super fan (hello George Lopez and Justin Timberlake). He's one of the greatest athletes to ever play any game, and no one is as fierce a competitor.

Maybe, just maybe, some of that will rub off on the Americans.

"He has the heart, the spirit of a team player, even though, obviously, as an individual, he was an icon," European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said. "I'm pretty sure that he will bring quite a bit to the equation on the U.S. team, without a doubt."

Love might want to put someone else in charge of the drinks, however.

"The first time I had ever been around him, he fed me some beverages," Woods said, breaking into a grin as the room erupted in laughter. "The next day was a little bit more difficult than I would like it to be."

But Jordan is a special person, Woods said, and his presence means a lot.

"To have him be a part of this, it's priceless for a lot of these guys," Woods said. "Because I consider him like my big brother and have gotten to know him so well over the years, I may take that for granted. But some of the other guys who don't really know Michael, I think it's a real treat for them."