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“No, I don’t think so,” Pavin said. “I think the military awareness in the United States is probably at an all-time high. And I think people, certainly in the States, and over here, appreciate the military and what they do for our freedoms, and that’s what that was good about.”

Just what Rooney told the team that will help them play golf this weekend wasn’t exactly clear. Players talked about being spellbound in the room, and Bubba Watson said he cried because his ailing father served in the military and now he feels he is serving his country much like his dad.

If they were supposed to bond as a team, they probably did, at least for the night. Whether that means they’ll make more putts on Friday than the Europeans because of it is doubtful.

Indeed, Euro coach Colin Montgomerie pulled off a tearjerker of his own, putting his team on a conference call the same night with Seve Ballesteros, the great Ryder Cup player and captain who is battling brain cancer but was still able to urge them on to victory.

Both captains, of course, are pulling out all stops, trying anything to get an edge in an event where the buildup is so immense that nothing that happens on the Celtic Manor course during the three days of competition can possibly live up to it. European team members even donned McIlroy-like wigs Wednesday before heading out in the rain to practice in support of the young Irish star for not backing down in his desire to play Woods.

That was in fun, and there apparently is some fun going on this week, particularly on the pingpong table in the American team room. There, Ryder rookie Matt Kuchar reigns supreme while Woods and Phil Mickelson trade barbs over their planned best-of-five match scheduled for after the closing ceremonies Sunday night.

On a day that was filled with talk of war, they were welcome reminders that golf is still just a game.


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)