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updated: 9/28/2012 7:41 AM

Tiger feels at home with Ryder Cup in Chicago

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  • Tiger Woods, left, and Steve Stricker shared a practice round Tuesday at Medinah Country Club. The two Team USA members could be paired in matches this weekend.

       Tiger Woods, left, and Steve Stricker shared a practice round Tuesday at Medinah Country Club. The two Team USA members could be paired in matches this weekend.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • With a sea of camera-toting fans behind him, Tiger Woods watches a tee shot during practice Tuesday at Medinah Country Club. Woods has a solid record in singles matches, but has struggled with partners in past Ryder Cups.

       With a sea of camera-toting fans behind him, Tiger Woods watches a tee shot during practice Tuesday at Medinah Country Club. Woods has a solid record in singles matches, but has struggled with partners in past Ryder Cups.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

With five wins at Cog Hill and a pair of PGA Championships at Medinah, Chicago has been a special place for Tiger Woods the last 15 years.

Maybe that will turn Woods' fortunes in the Ryder Cup. To this point, the U.S. has gone 2-5 vs. Europe during the Woods era -- and he missed the victory in 2008 at Valhalla after knee surgery.

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Wood's only experience with a Team USA win was in the "Battle at Brookline,'' where the U.S. mounted a miraculous Sunday rally.

"I enjoy playing in Chicago, and for some reason I've just had a lot of success here,'' Woods said Tuesday. "I don't know what it is. But I seem to be very, very comfortable here.

"I've been here (at Medinah for) two PGAs, and it's a different golf course again. I'm going to need to do my homework so that whoever I go out with I'll be ready to contribute."

Woods is 13-14-2 in Ryder Cup play. He's played well in singles, but he said he needs to be better in pairings.

"I am responsible for that because I didn't earn the points that I was put out there for,'' Woods said. "I believe I was out there in five sessions each time and I didn't go 5-0 on our side.

"I certainly am a part of that and that's part of being a team. I needed to go get my points for my team and I didn't do that. Hopefully, I can do that this week, and hopefully the other guys can do the same."

In fairness to Woods, he's also had some bad partners. Woods is 4-1-1 in Ryder Cup singles and 9-13-1 when he's paired with a teammate on Friday and Saturday.

His last defeat in singles was in his first Ryder Cup in 1997 at Valderrama. He's also 5-2 in Presidents Cup singles.

"I don't know that Tiger's mind set as a golfer really lends itself to team play," said NBC analyst Roger Maltbie. "Johnny (Miller) has referred to it many, many times. It's the lone wolf mentality.

"Tiger is his own entity, and I think mixing into a team format was difficult for him. I don't read too much into who is a good partner for Tiger or who is a bad partner for Tiger.

"I think it had more to do with how he viewed the game, how he approached the game, how he approached his career, and what he wanted from the game."

Like Mike

Michael Jordan is once again part of Team USA as something of a mascot in charge of late nights and laughs, something Tiger Woods experienced years ago.

"The first time I had ever been around him, he had fed me some beverages and the next day was a little bit more difficult than I would have liked," Woods said with a smile. "But I still shot some really good numbers that day and made an eagle on the last hole to win."

Jordan's function now is to talk to Team USA about pressure, how to handle it, and how to enjoy what should be one of the greatest experiences of their lives.

"This is one of the greatest athletes to ever live, and he wants to be a part of golf and share with us what he's been through," Wood said. "It's priceless for a lot of these guys. I guess for me, because I consider him like my big brother, I may take that for granted. But for some of the other guys who don't really know Michael, it's a real treat for them."

USA pairings

Davis Love might have to hurt some feelings if he wants to win the Ryder Cup, according to Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee.

"The U.S. side is getting let down by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and certainly Jim Furyk,'' said Chamblee. "Tiger Woods, I think it's for a different reason. I think he just intimidates everybody."

Furyk, in his eighth Ryder, is 1-8-1 in four-ball and 3-5-2 in foursomes. Mickelson, in his ninth Ryder, is 2-5-4 in foursomes and 5-8-2 in four-ball.

"I wouldn't pair Phil Mickelson in the foursomes. I certainly would not pair him in the foursomes the first day because it hurts morale," Chamblee said. "And I would be very careful about pairing Jim Furyk.

"The Ryder Cup is a different animal. I don't know who Phil Mickelson is in the Ryder Cup and I don't know why he doesn't play very well. When the U.S. won in 2008, he was 1-2-2. In 2010, he lost every single team match he played. I don't know what that is."

Sight seen

On the 17th and 18th tees, Matt Kuchar inviting children inside the ropes during Team USA's practice round, signing autographs and handing out Ryder Cup pins.

Nice.

Range reunion

Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake shared a hug and a few laughs early Tuesday on the range.

Crowd control

If the first practice day is any indication, Medinah may reach the 270,000 projected over six days. Crowds arrived early Tuesday and had the par-3s surrounded by 9 a.m.

Best in golf

Of the top 10 ranked players in the world, nine will be at Medinah. Australia's Adam Scott (No. 6) was not eligible.

The quote

Graeme McDowell: "There's something interesting about missing a putt and having the cheers go up. That's something we are not used to."

And finally …

Davis Love: "Players are always complaining about, 'It's too hard or the pins are too tough or the greens are too fast.' I've never heard a player come in and go, 'Well, the golf course was way too easy.' "

brozner@dailyherald.com

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him on Twitter @BarryRozner.

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