The Front Nine: Only the groundskeepers are up earlier than us. Each morning this week, we’re first off the tee with a front nine-worthy collection of helpful pointers to get your Ryder Cup day started. Fore!
1. Today’s weather
The clouds should break and the winds will die down beginning Thursday. Instead of British Open weather, it will feel more like a less-humid PGA Championship with highs expected in the upper 60s.
2. Times and tickets
Gates open at 7:30 a.m.
Practice rounds begin at 8 a.m.
The opening ceremonies are scheduled for 4 p.m. on the south end of the practice range. Here, captains Davis Love III and Darren Clarke will reveal the pairings for Friday morning’s matches.
The Golf Channel will air player interviews Thursday scheduled for the following times:
9 a.m.: Martin Kaymer, Thomas Pieters Rafa Cabrera Bello
Noon: Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed
1 p.m.: Chris Wood, Danny Willett, Lee Westwood
5 p.m.: Davis Love III
5:30 p.m.: Darren Clarke
Grounds tickets for practice days and the three-day event sold out after a lottery drawing last year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the action at Hazeltine. The PGA Tour’s Sirius/XM satellite radio channel is running advertisements for Stub Hub a few times an hour. On the secondary market seller Seat Geek, tickets for Thursday’s practice day are going for as low as $37. As of Wednesday afternoon, the cheapest ticket to the first day of Ryder Cup competition Friday was $240. Saturday tickets could be found for $291 and Sunday entries were as low as $216
3. Morning reading
What's in a captain? Every move from Davis Love III and Darren Clarke will be scrutinized this weekend but how much difference does the Ryder Cup captain make from year to year? Jerry Zgoda talked to both sides.
Peter Willett is not at the Ryder Cup, but he was all the talk Wednesday afternoon: That's because Englishman Danny Willett's brother authored a scathing rip job on Americans that forced a chorus of apologies at Hazeltine.
It’s Oldtimers Day at Hazeltine. Past U.S. and European Ryder Cup captains will compete in a nine-hole exhibition. The scramble will be played on holes 1, 2, 3, 4, 14, 15 and 16. After a team photo at noon, the pairings are:
12:05 p.m.: Colin Montgomerie/Tony Jacklin vs. Dave Stockton/Lanny Wadkins
12:20 p.m.: Paul McGinley/Ian Woosnam vs. Hal Sutton/Ben Crenshaw
5. Course tip: Where to go
No one ever said viewing at the Ryder Cup was easy – and it’s sure not. On Wednesday, crowds stood four deep next to the 18th green stretching to get a look at Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson finish their practice round – with vice captain Tiger Woods nearby to grow the intrigue. When Johnson announced, “Hey! We’re playing another nine!” fans stampeded back to No. 1 for a look. To avoid a crush such as this during Thursday’s opening ceremony you might want to grab a spot along the pavilion walkway, the blue carpet area that runs parallel to the driving range. You should get a good view of the spectacle from there. And if the sound tests Wednesday are any indication, hear every last word.
6. ‘How does this work again?’
For the final day of practice rounds, players in groups of four will head out to the course to work on certain aspects of their game. They might only hit wedge shots or hit several shots out of the sand at a time. They’ll play one hole or all 18 – or more. Once play gets underway Friday, here’s how the tournament works.
7. Rules of the day
PGA officials estimate upwards of 40,000 spectators hit the Hazeltine grounds Tuesday and Wednesday. More are expected in the coming days. The large crowds mean added security and measures. No foot or bicycle traffic is allowed near the course, nor can spectators be dropped off. All fans must park at Canterbury Park in Shakopee and take shuttle buses. Plan accordingly: Large backups have been reported on Hwy. 169. And be patient: Twenty buses leave every 5-7 minutes during peak times.
Phones are allowed but here are some items that you will lose if you try to bring it to the course: Backpacks, bags larger than 10x10x10, computers/laptops/tablets, drones, selfie sticks, weapons (even with permit), banners/signs (flags are OK), coolers, food/beverage (one sealed bottle of water per person is OK) and golf clubs.
8. Star Tribune coverage
Watch for updates throughout the day. Our team includes reporters, bloggers, columnists (yes, Sid plans to stop by) photographers and videographers. Find our stories on the golf page, our photos here and follow our on-site writers on Twitter: Jerry Zgoda, Jim Souhan, Patrick Reusse, Mark Craig, Brian Stensaas and Michael Rand
9. Final shot: Sign here, please
Signatures rule during practice rounds (heck, the 49,000 square foot merchandise shop sells flags, oversized golf balls and Sharpies for this very reason). But Wednesday two autograph sights stood out.
Looking for a unique autograph? Try your luck behind the Golf Channel set. Former world No. 1 and two-time Ryder Cupper David Duval was seen signing for fans during commercial breaks
Finally, an ode to Arnie. Signatures on the Arnold Palmer poster tribute outside of the merchandise tent aren't worth a dime. But it also doesn't cost a cent to add your name to the massive show of thanks to the golf legend, who died Sunday.