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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Medinah gossip
Iain Carter
By Iain Carter at Medinah
BBC Five Live golf correspondent

Our man inside the ropes on local favourite Luke Donald, Chris "non, je ne regrette rien" Riley and the Haas family head-to-head.

LOCAL LUKE'S COLLEGE BEST

Luke Donald's encouraging start gave British fans plenty to cheer on the first day but his popularity stretches far further.

Luke Donald
Hemel Hempstead's very own Luke Donald is a big noise in Illinois
Local supporters here are right behind the 28-year-old from Hemel Hempstead because he's long since been a resident of Chicago.

As a star pupil of the city's Northwestern University, Donald was the 1999 NCAA champion and voted top collegiate golfer in the US.

Little wonder then that the Chicago Sun-Times refers to him as "the pride of Northwestern" after his first-round 68.

Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam will be cheering on Donald as well because he still has work to do to secure his place in the team to face the US at the K Club.

If Sergio Garcia performs better than the American-based Brit this week the Spaniard would effectively knock Donald out of the 10 automatic spots.

FOOTBALL THREADS THRILL FANS

Former Open champion Ben Curtis isn't lacking crowd support, indeed he never does when he plays in the US.

Curtis has a clothing contract that requires him to wear the colours of NFL teams. He began the championship wearing an orange shirt, navy trousers and visor with the trademark C of the Chicago Bears.

Hearing shouts of "C'mon da Bears" has got to make a refreshing change from idiotic "get in the hole!"

Curtis doesn't tire of the shouts. "I'm used to it," he said. "I get it every week, once in a while it gets a little old but for the most part it's been a lot of fun."

Especially when the sponsorship cheque rolls in, I'd wager.

RELUCTANT RILEY'S BABY BLUES

Chris Riley, the American who cried off playing two rounds in a day at the last Ryder Cup, says he has no regrets over being reluctant to do a full stint of national duty.

Chris Riley
Riley catches some z's during a lull in the play at Medinah
Riley had just partnered Tiger Woods to a 4&3 fourball victory over Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter when his skipper asked him to head back out on to the Oakland Hills course for the afternoon foursomes.

"Me and Tiger had a pretty good chemistry out there," Riley recalls.

"But I've never played alternate shot. All I said (to captain Hal Sutton) was, 'I'll go but I'm a little tired.'

"I had a baby the week before that and with a baby you don't get too much sleep. I've got no regrets."

One would assume Riley also has little chance of getting one of Tom Lehman's captain's picks on Monday.

IT HAAS TO BE YOU

Jay Haas was a wildcard pick for the last match at Oakland Hills. Here he's in the headlines because the 52-year-old isn't the only Haas in the field.

Jay has been paired with his brother Jerry, the 42-year-old coach at Wake Forest University and one of the 20 club pros in the field.

And it was the younger Haas who assumed the early bragging rights carding a two-over-par 74 to Jay's 75.

PUTT-PUTT PERFECTION

Bragging rights in the Five Live team go to summariser and former European Tour player Jay Townsend.

His commentary duties mean he rarely picks up a club these days, but Jay sneaked a round on the eve of the championship at a local course and carded a three-under-par 68.

It was his first round since March and included seven birdies.

Asked whether he was contemplating a comeback, Townsend replied: "That's a resounding no!"

He also didn't take too kindly to the rest of the team asking how he fared on the windmill hole.


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SEE ALSO
Medinah gossip
17 Aug 06 |  Golf
Medinah gossip
16 Aug 06 |  Golf
Medinah gossip
15 Aug 06 |  Golf


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