Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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I was on the first tee before 7 a.m. today, and at almost 7 exactly, the European fans started their ``Ole-Ole'' song, with American fans trying to then drown them out with chants of ``U-S-A.''
Think these guys get nervous on the first tee of the Ryder Cup? Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell both snap-hooked their drives.
And by the second hole of that first match, we had our first contentiousness. McDowell's tee shot came to rest in front of a sprinkler head. He asked for relief. Furyk told him it was a ``20-80'' proposition at best, while McDowell and his partner, Rory McIlroy, argued that it was a 50-50 call.
The rules official did not give McDowell relief, and, after an indifferent chip, the US won the hole on Brandt Snedeker's par putt.
The Europeans seemed disappointed that Furyk would question their complaint. Someone in the group said, ``We've been friends a long time.'' Furyk told them, ``It's my responsibility as someone playing against you'' to question the unwillingness to play from that lie.
The morning is foursomes matches, or alternate shot. At the moment, the US is up one hole in the first two matches. The US players have placed a great deal of importance on getting off to a good start to win crowd support.
Let me tell you, it's crowded and loud here. Hazeltine will be a great scene when the Cup comes to Minnesota in four years.
-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 today from Medinah.
Arrived at the Medinah Country Club this morning. Wrote about U.S. captain Davis Love III for the Thursday paper. First impressions from the Ryder Cup, which will visit Hazeltine National in 2016:
-Once I've covered this Ryder Cup, and the one in Minnesota, I won't have too many sporting events left on my bucket list. I want to cover a British Open. And I'd love to cover a championship event in Minnesota, involving a Minnesota team. I was covering the Vikings in 1991, so I watched the World Series on TV.
I've always loved the Ryder Cup. I love seeing independent contractors thrust into a position where they know they're playing for team and country. It's remarkable to see how handles that well and who doesn't.
-Can't get used to everyone calling him ``Captain Love.'' Makes him sound like a KISS song.
-Medinah is big and burly and impressive, but my first day here didn't bowl me over. It's a traditional parkland course. The clubhouse is impressive in a brick-and-mortar sort of way, but I can't say I find it attractive. I don't like golf clubhouses that are imposing; I think they should be inviting, even quaint.
The course is beautiful, but I don't find it unique. I think we'll have to see a lot of key shots on three holes in particular to come away with a positive impression of the court.
No. 13 is a 245-yard par 3, a remarkably difficult shot over water. Phil Mickelson said he thinks it will be a key hole because just about every match will go at least 13 holes, and it's such a difficult shot it brings all kinds of scores into play.
No. 15 is a par 4 that is listed as 391 yards, but can be played as short as 280 yards or so. Par 4s that can be reached from the tee can be fascinating, and it's clear Medinah wants No. 15 to play a pivotal role in these matches. Mickelson, for one, said he thinks the tee shot is too difficult and risky to be inviting, because of the pond to the right of the green. He predicted almost everyone will turn it into an easy two-shot hole instead.
No. 17 is a 193-yard par 3 that looks, to the eye, like it's about 400 yards. I stood on the tee today and was reminded that there are two things in the sports world I just can't comprehend: How an NFL quarterback sorts through the noise and flying bodies and delivers a strike to a sprinting receiver 40 or 50 yards away, and how a pro golfer hits some of the shots he is required to hit.
I can't imagine standing on that tee under pressure and hitting the ball anywhere but in the water. For the pros, I'm sure we'll see a number of birdies. These guys are amazing.
-Eight of the European Ryder Cup players belong to the PGA Tour, and most of them have homes in America. So Ian Poulter was asked whether the rivalry has become less personal.
``There’s something about Ryder Cup which kind of intrigues me: how you can be great mates with somebody, but, boy, do you want to kill them in Ryder Cup?” Poulter said. “The Ryder Cup means too much to us for it ever to lose that edge.”
American players were asked about the comment on Wednesday, but downplayed it. Mickelson, after answering questions from a European reporter, said, ``Nice try!''
-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 and 6:40 on Thursday.
-My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
Instead of covering another Twins loss or NFL concussion, I was assigned to cover the Swarm game on Saturday night.
The Swarm lost, 15-3, to Edmonton.
If this were a major Minnesota sports team, I would be critical of this performance, but my willingness to criticize local athletes and teams is directly proportional to their earning capabilities and potential. I'm not going to pick on the little guys.
If you care about the Swarm, I can tell you they have 12 rookies and a bunch of high draft choices next season, and that they had the executive and coach of the year this year, and that the games are pretty high-energy. I have friends who like going to the games.
I played lacrosse in college and at the club level and have an appreciation for the skill of indoor players. Outdoor players get to shoot at a 6-by-6 goal with a goalie wearing minimal protection. Indoor players shoot at a 4-by-6 goal with a goalie who looks like the Michelin man guarding it. It takes a lot of skill and precision to score in the indoor game.
I have a column on the Swarm in the Sunday paper.
Tomorrow, I'll be back covering the Twins, starting the morning with the Ron Gardenhire Show at 9:30 on 1500espn, and followed by Sunday Sports Talk. We plan to have Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony, a Vikings executive and ESPN personality Michael Collins, a former caddy who's covering the Players Championship.
Antony is always good on the state of the Twins and the minor-league system, and Collins is a blast. And I'm sure our Vikings guest will be in a very good mood.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Amazing how our quiet, borderline-depressing sports scene continues to make news. A month ago, I feared a summer in which the Twins were irrelevant and the NFL was dormant.
Now I expect the Twins to play meaningful games all season, the NFL to start on time, and the Wolves to be much more interesting by this fall.
I'm not sure what they're thinking.
They pushed Jacques Lemaire out. Lemaire's message may have gotten old, but he's a hockey genius. They replaced him with Todd Richards. Fine, you went with a young coach and planned to be patient while he developed. But then you fired him after two years, probably just as he was adapting fully to the job.
And then you went looking for a veteran coach. Craig MacTavish? Sounds good. Ken Hitchcock? Love it.
Now, I'm not predicting that Yeo will fail. Maybe he'll be a great coach, and Chuck Fletcher has made a brilliant, insightful, move. That wouldn't be shocking.
But this is a strange progression, from veteran brilliant coach to long shot to...long shot.
Because what Fletcher doesn't know about Yeo is exactly what he didn't know about Richards - how he would react to the pressure, the speed, and the players of the NHL.
This smells like a money-saving move. Yeo is thrilled to have the job. MacTavish and Hitchcock would have wanted money and influence. For a franchise needing credibility and a way to keep fans interested, this is a puzzling move.
Whatever the Wolves' problems, they may be close to passing the Wild in terms of intrigue and watchability.
-Wolves' exec Tony Ronzone told our Jerry Zgoda and other reporters today that the Wolves plan to hold onto the No. 2 pick and take the best player available. That is exactly the right approach. Derrick Williams is the right choice at No. 2. He might be talented enough to make Ricky Rubio look good.
After speaking with a few people around the NBA, I believe that if the Wolves take Williams, they'll need to trade Michael Beasley. Beasley is a nice enough guy, and he can score, but he doesn't play defense and doesn't get his points in a structured, reliable, way. You don't want Williams having to share shots with him. Williams could become a star.
-I'm rooting for Rory McIlroy. Golf needs a magnetic, charismatic, brilliantly-talented star to capture the imagination. Martin Kaymer doesn't cut it. And Phil Mickelson looks like he'll never win another major.
-Joe Mauer spoke today. He looked lean and tanned, and he handled the tougher questions very well.
He was asked about people who have criticized him for an unwillingness to play hurt. He called the critics, ``Misinformed.'' That's a logical response, but what he should know is that his slow recovery created critics not just in the media, but throughout his organization and in his clubhouse and among former players.
The percentage of Twins' employees rolling their eyes about Mauer's timetable was about the same as the percentage of fans screaming about him.
-Wrote my Friday column on the Twins' latest improbable victory, and Ozzie Guillen's latest nickname for their lineup. I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 Friday.
-My prayers go out to E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who is recovering from a stroke. I listened to a bunch of hair bands with my high school buddies until one day we were driving around, and this sax break played over the radio, interrupting a song featuring lyrics about life, and death, and redemption, and I could never listen to Styx again.
Clarence played that sax, and as much as I love Springsteen, the best moments of his glorious concerts always feature Clemons, as soloist or foil. I stopped listening to ``Jungleland'' years ago...except for Clemons' amazing, emotive, expressive solo, during which, in concert, Springsteen always walks around the stage, pumping his fist, leading cheers for the Big Man. As it should be, and I hope someday will be again.
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