NEWPORT, Wales – Good thing for the Americans the Ryder Cup ultimately comes down to golf shots, not style points.
U.S. captain Corey Pavin, his voice unsteady at the opening ceremony Thursday, introduced the 11 players on his squad and was about to sit down when he realized each team had 12 to a side.
He overlooked Stewart Cink.
Then came the lineups for the opening session, with Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the third slot.
It was the first time since 1999 that Woods was not in the first match, leading European captain Colin Montgomerie to suggest the Americans were trying to hide him.
Leading off for the Americans in fourballs is Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, a big hitter whose driver broke on the range.
Asked if Europe already felt it was 1-up based on Pavin’s gaffe, Montgomerie said:
“I suppose that was a mistake. He just missed the one. He read the wrong name, but that was just unfortunate. I think he was very, very good in covering his tracks. It went very well. It was a first-class show up there.
“And yes,” he added, “we are 1 up.”
Europe had other reasons to feel confident about winning back the Ryder Cup when the matches get under way today. It has not lost on its home soil since 1993, and the crowd can play such a huge role in golf’s biggest bipartisan event.