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Tour Report: Observations: Ryder Cup

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Phil Mickelson wasn't all fun and games on Thursday -- he got down to business, too.

Lyons/Getty Images Phil Mickelson wasn’t all fun and games on Thursday — he got down to business, too.

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

MEDINAH, Ill. — Webb Simpson did something different while practice putting on Thursday at Medinah Country Club. He used a standard length shaft.

The U.S. Open champion did not pick this week to abandon his belly putter — he just uses the standard length shaft to get a feel for his stroke. The belly putter is still in play for Simpson for the Ryder Cup.

Captain’s choice: Davis Love III is seemingly everywhere, darting around Medinah in a red golf cart. Meanwhile, assistant captain, Fred Couples, walked the rope line and graciously handed out autographs for the gallery while answering dozens of questions.

U.S. players are making a concerted effort to interact with the fans. Maybe they’re just being polite, or maybe they’re just trying to build goodwill that translates into momentum-building applause during competition.

Pace of play: The PGA is giving players a very generous 60 seconds to play each shot during Ryder Cup competition. If a player takes longer than 60, he will be issued a warning. If there is a second violation, a second warning is given. It is only after two bad times that a player will have committed a time violation resulting in loss of hole during foursome matches. They are allotting 4:06 for singles play, 4:14 for foursomes and 5:07 for four-ball matches.

Haircut: The entire golf course has been nicely trimmed. The fairways are clipped tight and the rough is just about nonexistent. Playing out of the rough will not pose a problem, but you will see lots of balls running through the grass into the trees. Recovery shots will still be needed this week. Tournament officials will not comment on green speed, only saying, “they are Ryder Cup speed,” with no further elaboration. The putting surfaces are very firm and fast. I would guess Ryder Cup speed translates to 13 to 14 on the stimpmeter.

Phil: There was nothing casual about Phil Mickelson’s practice round with Keegan Bradley. The lefty appeared to be nonchalant, chatting with fans as he left the green, but once on the tee, Phil was all work. He and his caddie Jim Mackay were serious about club selection and yardage. At one point Mickelson said, “let’s get this dialed in now Bones.”

On the playful side, Mickelson entertained fans at the 16th by hitting huge flop shots while Bradley would run and catch them like an outfielder at Fenway Park.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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