Love bringing Jordan along for the ride once again

Associated Press Published: September 25, 2012
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MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) — Back when they were at North Carolina, Davis Love III and Buzz Peterson would bring Peterson's roommate along whenever they'd go play golf.

Thirty years later, Michael Jordan is along for the ride once again.

Love made his old college buddy an honorary member of the American team for this week's Ryder Cup, hoping he can provide some inspiration for a U.S. team that's lost four of the past five events.

"We're going to have him in the team room if he wants to come in. Or we're going to have him hang out in the locker room," Love said Tuesday. "He's just a good motivation for a lot of these guys that don't know him. He doesn't have an official role except for he's one of our buddies and we like having him around."

Jordan can thank Love for introducing him to what's become his second-favorite sport. When Peterson and Love played at Chapel Hill, Jordan would ride with them in the cart and keep score. It wasn't long before he was asking to hit a shot or two.

Now he's a member at Medinah — not to mention plenty of other clubs — and his love for the Ryder Cup is well-known. Jordan has attended every one since 1995, Love said, and Tiger Woods still laughs at the memory of the 6-foot-6 basketball Hall of Famer crammed into a golf cart as he followed the action at Valderrama in 1997.

But Jordan is not just another celebrity super fan (hello George Lopez and Justin Timberlake). He's one of the greatest athletes to ever play any game, and no one is as fierce a competitor.

Maybe, just maybe, some of that will rub off on the Americans.

"He has the heart, the spirit of a team player, even though, obviously, as an individual, he was an icon," European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said. "I'm pretty sure that he will bring quite a bit to the equation on the U.S. team, without a doubt."

Love might want to put someone else in charge of the drinks, however.

"The first time I had ever been around him, he fed me some beverages," Woods said, breaking into a grin as the room erupted in laughter. "The next day was a little bit more difficult than I would like it to be."

But Jordan is a special person, Woods said, and his presence means a lot.

"To have him be a part of this, it's priceless for a lot of these guys," Woods said. "Because I consider him like my big brother and have gotten to know him so well over the years, I may take that for granted. But some of the other guys who don't really know Michael, I think it's a real treat for them."

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CONSPIRACY TEE-ORY: Paul Azinger had plans to move up the tees on the par-3 third hole at Valhalla, which caught Europe by surprise during the 2008 Ryder Cup.

This time, the Europeans are leaving nothing to chance.

During the first official day of practice Tuesday, they hit from the back tee on the 440-yard 11th hole. Then, vice captain Thomas Bjorn had the longer hitters stop at a forward tee that was about 350 yards away. It's a sharp dogleg to the left, and Bjorn pointed toward a tiny gap in the trees to go over on a direct line to the green. Only the front right bunker is visible.

Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia both hit big tee shots. Garcia then teed up a ball for Graeme McDowell, who would have no chance at the green. They all laughed as McDowell slightly adjusted the ball on the tee. Bjorn did the same for all the groups. Nicolas Colsaerts, perhaps the longest hitter on either team, tried to hit the green from the back tee. He smashed driver from the forward tee, too.

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