The Ryder Cup at beautiful Medinah Country Club is only four months away, but who's counting?
Curtis Tyrrell, for one.
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Ryder Cup watchWith the Ryder Cup coming to Medinah Country Club Sept. 25-30, here's a look the contenders for the two teams, according to the current standings:
U.S. team: Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley, Ricky Fowler and Steve Stricker, plus plus four captain's picks.
European team: Rory McIlroy, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and Nicolas Colsaerts, plus two captain's picks.
Online: Visit rydercup.com/2012/ for the qualification process.
And who can blame him?
After three-plus intense years of preparation by Tyrrell and his staff, including surviving everything Mother Nature could possibly throw his way, the director of Golf Course Operations, now in his fifth year on the job, is ready for Medinah to assume the spotlight as host for one of golf's biggest international events.
Q. Now that you are only months away from the Ryder Cup, what's the prognosis?
A. The prognosis is we're in excellent shape. We're right where we want to be for this time of year, and our targets and goals are going to be met when the Ryder Cup gets here.
Q. In layman's terms, what exactly have you done to the course?
A. We replanted all of the greens and 11 of them were rebuilt to USGA specifications, which means they were basically rebuilt. The contours within the greens were changed by our architect, Rees Jones. We added more movement and made them a little more interesting.
The purpose of all this work was agronomic infrastructure, to provide us the opportunity to grow the right type of grass and get it to perform to meet the expectations of our members and guests, and then also to prepare for major championships such as the Ryder Cup.
Q. Are you at the point now where you just need a nice, normal summer and you'll be all set?
A. Absolutely. We're hoping for that, but the course has gone through construction and the growing phase and has done that through two really tough summers in 2010 and 2011. So it's made it through the hardest part of its establishment period and it's much more mature.
We're very confident it can handle the stresses of the summer and it'll be ready for the tournament. It's in great shape now and it's well prepared for to take whatever Mother Nature throws at us.
Q. Could you have gone through two worse summers?
A. That's the worst I've seen in my career, and I've been doing this for 20-some years.
Q. Did it slow down the process or just make you guys work that much harder?
A. It delayed the time that we were able to reach the maturity that we'd hoped for.
The reason that we planned our project for the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2010 was that we knew we needed three full growing seasons to be ready in the fall of 2012.
Had we had excellent weather in 2010-11 we would have been there sooner, which would have been great for everybody, but we planned for the worst and we ended up getting the worst, and as a result we're right on schedule.
Q. And just how bad was the worst of it?
A. On July 23 of 2010 and 2011 we had 7-inch-plus rains, and Medinah is in a flood plain and we're in the basin of a 4-square mile watershed, so you take 7 inches on this property and that's a lot of water flowing through here for a number of days.
It was our 100-years-plus rain events. I hope we don't see another one for another 100 years.
Q. Where do you turn to for your weather information?
A. We use WGN's online and mobile app and we also use a weather service called Grass Roots Weather -- it's a meteorologist by trade who provides site-specific forecasts for golf course superintendents. He provides long-term forecasts (three weeks) and does real-time updates for me.
Q. So you're a Tom Skilling fan?
A. He's the man.
Q. Do you even try to figure out what the long-term forecast will be or do you just focus on those three-week increments?
A. Well, I certainly can't resist the urge to look at them, but … we know what normal is and we know what some of the deviations from normal have been … something in the middle would be just fine (laughs).
Q. How does the redesigned 15th hole look?
A. It looks great. Rees created the quintessential risk-reward hole and I think it's really going to entice a lot of guys because it is reachable.
Q. Have you tried to reach the green?
A. I grow turf for a living, so it's pretty irrelevant (laughs). There's members of our club that are scratch golfers and single-digit handicaps who have reached the green. Our captain, Davis Love, has been out and has reached the green as often as he wants to.
Q. You seem pretty relaxed, but how nerve-wracking has this whole process been?
A. I've been on the edge of my seat for four years now, the last six months I've been charged with adrenaline.
This is obviously the highlight of my career to this point to do something of this magnitude. It's not just me. I have an incredible team of guys who have been working hard with me over the last four years to make this happen.
The Medinah membership has been just unbelievably supportive of all the projects and all the things we've had to do to get it ready.
I'm just glad that we're here and we're doing it and not just talking about it anymore. I'm ready to go. It can't come soon enough.