Cap'n Couples rallies rowdy singing fans on first tee

Cap’n Couples rallies rowdy singing fans on first tee

Matt Kuchar teed off in front of a raucous crowd Friday afternoon.
Kohjiro Kinno / Sports Illustrated

DUBLIN, Ohio — The first tee at the Presidents Cup is equal parts fraternity kegger, sporting event, social gathering, choir practice and comedy club.

A couple of thousand people were packed tightly along three sides of the first tee at Muirfield Village for Friday's foursomes matches. There were maybe a dozen loud, yellow-clad “Fanatics'' backing the International side. Another dozen or so were clad in red, white and blue and called themselves “American Outlaws.''

The Outlaws is a collection of soccer fans at matches involving the United States at nearby Columbus Crew Stadium. The Fanatics are rabid fans from various countries who sing their own funny lyrics to popular songs.

The Fanatics, wearing yellow T-shirts, green-and-yellow argyle socks and green hats, sang, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight'' to South African Ernie Els. They also made him laugh with their version of the Disney classic “The Circle Of Life,'' substituting the word “golf'' for “life.''

Several said they had spent Thursday night in downtown Dublin, visiting the various pubs. Dan Sullivan, executive director of the Memorial Tournament, which also is played at the course, suggested another area for nightlife on Saturday night.

U.S. captain Fred Couples played to the American fans — who wore stars-and-stripes bandanas and hats and waved several large U.S. flags — by walking over and asking them to “come up with something special'' in the way of a song or cheer. He also asked fans where they were from and what they were doing. One said he had just graduated from college and was now a caddie on the LPGA Tour.

Jack Nicklaus, the course designer and unofficial tournament host, watched the proceedings from the other side of the tee along with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.

As Argentina's Angel Cabrera posed for a group picture with the Presidents Cup before teeing off, one of the Fanatics sang, “Don't Cry For Me, Argentina'' — causing Cabrera to quickly turn his head toward the singer and smile.

The loudest laughter at the opening tee came when the Fanatics sang, “We got the whole world … on our team.''

SAMMY MOVES ON: Sammy the Squirrel had his one day of fame.

Davis Love III found the baby squirrel on the second hole Thursday and it quickly became the team mascot. Sammy even was photographed on Tiger Woods' shoulder.

Love was televised Friday morning putting the squirrel back into a tree.

Alas, it didn't stay there.

Love said the squirrel jumped off the tree and onto the shoulder of a Golf Channel camera man. Eventually, he said the squirrel was taken to a wildlife shelter.

LOGISTICAL NUMBERS: If you don't make it to Muirfield Village, rest assured there is a major outlay of people, money and resources this week for the Presidents Cup.

Just in terms of media, there are some eye-popping statistics.

Almost 1,000 credentials were issued, the media center is 16,842 square feet and the television broadcast is expected to reach approximately 800 million households around the world (in 30 languages across 225 countries and territories).

For those coming to the competition, 20,000 Presidents Cup radios were handed out to spectators, more than 100,000 pairings sheets will be printed for the week, they'll use 70,000 linear feet of rope and 50,000 linear feet of fencing for crowd control. There are more than 150,000 square feet of tents, including 14,800 square feet of merchandise space, 9,500 temporary grandstand seats, 2,312 bar stools, 2,016 chairs and 1,500 trash receptacles.

Proving that the organizing committee keeps good records, the event also requires 250 portable toilets, 120 picnic tables, 73 hospitality shuttles, 40 generators, 30 restroom trailers, 15 video boards, 12 semi-trailers full of furniture and 11 electronic scoreboards.

The Memorial Tournament, held each year at Muirfield Village, relies on 3,000 volunteers. The Presidents Cup is getting by on half of that number – then again, there are only 24 players instead of 120 players.

The caterer will supply 75,000 bottles of water, three tons of hamburger meat, 150,000 pounds of ice, 100,000 logo napkins, 10 semi-trailers of beverages (soda, beer and spirits), 500 gallons of bloody mary mix and 200 pounds of bananas.

Oh, and if they stretched all of the hot dogs that they'll go through end to end, they would stretch three miles.

DORMIE: Unlike the Accenture Match Play Championship, the term “dormie'' can be used properly at The Presidents Cup.

When a player or team is ahead in the match by the same number of holes that remain, it's called “dormie.''

The U.S. Golf Association traces the term to the French word with Latin origins, “dormir,'' which means “to sleep.'' In so many words, it means that the lead is insurmountable, so the leader can relax knowing that he cannot lose the match.

It also was used at the Match Play in Arizona, though incorrectly. Dormie can only apply when a match can be halved. At the Match Play, it can to be won, even if that meant going extra holes.

REST EASY: Jack Nicklaus met with South Korean reporters on Friday and told them not to worry about the Presidents Cup going to South Korea in 2015. It will be the biggest tournament ever in that country, and one reporter asked Nicklaus for advice.

Nicklaus is the architect at Muirfield Village and the founder of the Memorial Tournament.

“We have put on how many … 37 Memorial Tournaments? And the PGA Tour came in here like we had never put on a tournament,'' Nicklaus said. “They did what they wanted to do to put on a tournament. So the PGA Tour will guide you. And matter of fact, they will do what they want, if they think it's the right thing to do in a tournament. Korea does not have to worry about that.''

Nicklaus said South Korean officials will handle the event from a political and financial perspective.

“But the PGA Tour, from an organization side, will do it all for you,'' he said. “Even with as much experience as we have, they wanted to do most of all of it themselves.''

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