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Practice gets under way at Brookline

The bulk of the European Ryder Cup team flew into Boston on Monday and several of the players headed straight for The Country Club -- carrying their own bags.

Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jarmo Sandelin of Sweden arrived at the venue for this week's 33rd edition of the biennial matches between teams from the United States and Europe on Monday afternoon.

All three of the players were seen lugging their golf bags several hundred yards to the clubhouse, where they were met by local caddies. Most of the 12-man European team and Captain Mark James flew into nearby Boston earlier in the day aboard the supersonic -- and super-expensive -- Concorde airliner. Their caddies had to take regular commercial flights.

Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion and a stalwart of prior Ryder Cup teams, Jimenez and Sandelin, both Cup rookies, went immediately to the practice ground.

While Jimenez and Sandelin hit balls on their own, Olazabal took a lesson from his long-time coach John Jacobs of Britain, a former Ryder Cup player and captain.

The Spaniard, who has not won a tournament since his second Masters triumph in April, was working specifically on his driving, which has always been the weak part of his game.

At one point, while Olazabal was working diligently with Jacobs, Jimenez allowed his caddie to hit a few shots -- even giving the young man some instructions, which he obviously needed.

Several Americans also turned up at the practice area. Justin Leonard, Davis Love, Hal Sutton and Steve Pate were all casually hitting balls and chatting while the Europeans worked with far more intensity just a few yards away.

Other Americans, notably Tiger Woods, opted to practice on The Country Club's 7,033-yard course. Woods was one of four Americans who was unable to participate in a practice round on the course that Captain Ben Crenshaw had arranged for his team late last month.

Tom Lehman, who also did not play the early practice round, was also seen playing the course.

Crenshaw is on record as saying he thought knowledge of the demanding course would be very important for players in the Ryder Cup.

On the other hand, James, his European counterpart, has said his players would need only a few days to get a feel for the course, which has hosted numerous national championships, including three U.S. Opens and five US Amateurs.

At least two Europeans, however, seemed to agree with Crenshaw.

Sergio Garcia, the 19-year-old Spanish sensation who almost outplayed Woods at last month's US PGA Championship, and Jesper Parnevik of Sweden, who plays on the US tour these days, played a practice round on the course on Sunday.

Formal practice for the Ryder Cup begins on Tuesday morning.


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