The rules for this golf match were decidedly more relaxed than what’s to come later this week at Medinah Country Club.
Stars like Bill Murray donned loud golf pants, comedian George Lopez smoked cigars and yelled for onlookers to bring his team some Budweisers, and fans gently chided Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps on his novice game.
Hundreds turned out for the inaugural — and lighthearted — Ryder Cup Captains and Celebrity Scramble. The 10-hole event paired sports and entertainment stars in foursomes with past USA Ryder Cup captains.
Before the match even began, fans showed huge interest in meeting celebrity idols like Phelps and singer Justin Timberlake, who is also the first Ryder Team USA liaison. Children and teens especially swarmed the players, since Tuesday allowed Ryder ticketholders to bring children for free.
Throughout the day, high school student Cody Lewis of Bartlett followed the team that won with 9 under par, which included Phelps, Lopez, 2004 captain Hal Sutton and 1995 captain Lanny Wadkins. Followed by friends and fellow golf fans Adam Vimarco and Nico Minerva, he said the goal was to snag some autographs.
“Some kids at school know what the Ryder Cup is, and others are like ‘Huh?’” Cody said. “But when they hear about who was here today, they are going to be jealous.”
And that’s the point, fans said.
“It’s important to grow the game, (because) golf is a game you can really play at any age” said Ryder volunteer and former Medinah Country Club employee Dave Kloss, of Glen Ellyn. ‘The more ‘Caddyshack,’ the better.”
“Caddyshack” star Murray was, indeed, a crowd favorite Tuesday, donning pants featuring designs of women on the fairway, a plum vest and — in a nod to his hometown — a tie adorned with a map of the Chicago Transit Authority “El” trains.
Fans cheered as he and second-place teammates Timberlake, 2006 captain Tom Lehman and 1991 captain Dave Stockton traveled toward every hole. They scored 6 under par.
Male fans even cheered for Timberlake’s fiancee, actress Jessica Biel, shouting, “We love you, Jessica!”
Murray said his sneak peek at the golf course that lies ahead for the Ryder pros on Thursday gave him some insight to their challenges.
“It’s really going to be all about who can make the putts,” he said. “Whoever can make the putts will be a happy man.”
The day’s third-place team included Chicago Bear Robbie Gould, former Chicago Blackhawk Stan Mikita, and 2010 and 1985 captains, respectively, Corey Pavin and Lee Trevino. The team also scored 6 under par and Gould filled in for former Chicago Cub Ernie Banks, who was at the match but did not play.
A song from fans couldn’t help the final team that scored 2 under par and featured former Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen, former Chicago Bear Richard Dent, 1997 captain Tom Kite and 1999 captain Ben Crenshaw.
Because it was Pippen’s birthday, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to him before the rounds began.
Pippen said it’s that kind of spirit that makes this the best place possible for the Ryder Cup to happen.
“Chicago is a great city for it because it has great fans,” he said after the match. “I don’t think there is a better place for this to happen because it’s such a great sports city.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.