Rookie Fowler practices with Woods, Lefty
NEWPORT, Wales – Rain cut short Wednesday’s practice rounds at the Ryder Cup, making a day short on golf action even shorter.
Most of the American team played just the back nine Wednesday, while the Europeans played 10 holes. (They quit on 11 because the 11th tee is closer to the team hotel. Back-nine practice rounds have started on 11 because of the tee’s convenient location.)
The U.S. team was scheduled to play 18 holes Wednesday, but U.S. captain Corey Pavin allowed his team to stop at the turn because of the taxing nature of playing in poor weather.
Pacing is the key to Ryder Cup week. There are three days of practice before a shot is struck that truly matters.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of use in spending a tremendous amount of energy today playing 18 holes and playing in rain,” Pavin said. “There’s still another day to prepare. I certainly don’t want to tire these guys out.”
Alternate-shot, a format with which the U.S. has struggled, was the focus of today’s preparation.
The group of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler was the only one that made the turn Wednesday. They played alternate-shot, with Fowler serving as the “middle man.’’ He was the partner for Mickelson and Johnson.
It was a big day for Fowler, who played with the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the world. Fowler played his first nine with Tiger Woods. It was the first time Fowler had played in the same group as Woods.
Fowler and Jim Furyk played alternate-shot against the formidable pairing of Woods and Steve Stricker, which went undefeated at last year’s Presidents Cup. Fowler-Furyk would seem to be a good team, pairing the steady veteran with the explosive rookie.
“Once I found out the pairing last night, I told my caddie and we were both pretty pumped to be able to hang out with those guys,” Fowler said. “I’ve done commercial stuff with (Woods), shoots, and been around him a bit in the team room and stuff. He’s a lot of fun to be around.”