Enjoying calm before Ryding out the storm
In the relative calm before the Europe and the United States resume their fierce Ryder Cup rivalry, players made the most of a chance to catch their breath at a sun-kissed Medinah Country Club on Wednesday.
European captain Jose Maria Olazabal put his men through a light trot, sending them out to play nine holes before giving them the rest of the day off to relax and forget about the battle to defend the trophy that lies ahead. "They saw the course yesterday, they saw every bit of it yesterday," Spaniard Olazabal said. "Now it's just a matter of taking it a little bit easier today and tomorrow because Friday, 36 holes. Saturday, 36 holes, a lot of pressure, a lot of tension.
"I want them just to take it a little bit easier than usually."
The US team put in some serious practise but by the end of the day it was their table tennis prowess that was the focus of attention.
American captain Davis Love III has stressed the need for players to have fun this week in order to defuse some of the pressure and so the ping pong tables were brought into the US team room.
Even if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson blew the competition away in tandem on the table tennis table, they were not trying to pretend they have done the same as a Ryder Cup partnership. Famously at Oakland Hills in 2004, captain Hal Sutton played the ultimate hunch by matching Woods with his long-time rival in a combination that failed miserably.
"We've not had much success together on the course but I will say that as partners on the pong table, he and I are delivering," a smiling Mickelson said.
The excitement and tension will be ratcheted up another notch on Thursday when the captains unveil the all-important pairings.
The resulting match-ups for Friday's opening foursomes have been the source of tremendous speculation since the players arrived at Medinah.