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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports golf

Column: IU grad looks to help US Ryder Cup team

When the 2010 Ryder Cup tees off Friday, the United States team will be in a familiar situation — the underdog on foreign soil against a loaded European squad.

The Europeans will be playing in a home environment in Wales with a 12-man roster so deep that the No. 7 player in the world, Paul Casey, has no spot on the team.

For the United States, the usual suspects are there but with some unusual flaws.

From a dysfunctional Tiger Woods to an arthritic Phil Mickelson, the Americans will be looking to win the Ryder Cup across the pond for the first time since 1993.

The U.S. will also be counting on a Hoosier — 2005 IU graduate Jeff Overton.

Born and raised in Evansville, Overton will don the red, white and blue for captain Corey Pavin.

“There are a few rookies on the team, and we definitely have had some small meetings,” Overton said. “I think the team really came together well, and it’s going to be neat to bring some energy to the table because I’m sure it will be rowdy over there.”

For Overton, a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup was not even in the realm of possibility during the early part of the 2010 season.

He had missed four cuts and had recorded just one top 15-finish until placing second at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on April 25.

Overton’s success in New Orleans jump-started the former IU All-American’s season as he added four more top-three finishes and was the third-lowest American finisher at the British Open, tying for 11th.

“I was struggling a little bit, and I was frustrated,” Overton said. “I took two weeks off and got with coach and switched the driver and my caddy. I refreshed the whole system, and next you know, it seemed like I was going to win four or five times.”

As Overton continued his hot play, he began to accumulate enough points to earn one of the eight automatic spots on the U.S. team.

“This just opens up a new chapter in Jeff’s life and shows that he has arrived on the scene,” IU golf coach Mike Mayer said. “The opportunity, at his age, to represent his country is, I know, a dream come true for Jeff and for me too. To make it on points is hard to do, and Jeff made it the hard way and earned it.”

While in college, Overton gained valuable international experience while playing for several winning U.S. teams.

The 2005 Walker Cup, known as the world’s most prestigious amateur team event, pits the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland.

The outcome rested in the hands of Overton as he was the last match on the course at Chicago Golf Club.

Having lost the previous three Walker Cups, the U.S needed Overton to defeat Nigel Edwards in order to win. With the other matches finished, the entire gallery and both teams converged on the 18th hole as Overton won 1-up to seal the win.

“When you get that many people following one hole, it is probably the only experience that will compare to anything like what I am going to face over there,” Overton said.

However, the role Overton will play on this U.S. team is yet to be determined. He is one of five rookies on the roster, and Pavin has kept his pairings very close to his vest in the weeks leading up to the Ryder Cup.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what he does with Jeff,” Mayer said. “I don’t know what Jeff’s role will be with this team. Hopefully, Jeff will get the opportunity to show himself because if he does, I think he will shine.”

One thing that Overton does know is the juices will be flowing when he steps on the opening tee box this weekend.

“The first hole is definitely going to be a little nerve-wrecking with all of their fans hooting and hollering,” Overton said.

I think I speak for all Hoosiers when I say good luck Jeff. Bring the Ryder Cup back to American soil.


E-mail: kdbowen@indiana.edu

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