Tomorrow is the big day for the Commonwealth as the Ryder Cup kicks off in Louisville. What has been great for a native Kentuckian such as myself is just how much good publicity has been generated for my home state, and no person has projected himself as a bigger fan of Kentucky than the Zinger. Time after time, Paul has talked about what a great place Kentucky is and how he feels as if it is a second home. That feeling was showcased tonight as he showed up on 4th Street for the “Ryder Cup Pep Rally” with the USA team and was…..well to be kind, seemingly a bit “intoxicated” with spirit. After getting the microphone from Mayor Jerry Abramson (and his mammoth head), Azinger proceeded to tell the crowd that “you can cheer if they miss a putt” (a shocking quote), began chanting “13th Man” inexplicably” and let out a set of noises that would have made Howard Dean blush. The whole performance was beyond bizarre and I hope that someone has it on video, as it would be one for the YouTube record books. He then brought out the entire USA team (at 9 pm….late if you consider they have a 5:30 am wakeup call) and we saw some strange sights. (1) Phil Mickelson in night time reading glasses (2) Anthony Kim pull his shirt up over his nipples and (3) the many bald heads of the team without hats. All in all it was a strangely surreal experience that may have been the most absurd thing I have seen in sports in sometime. It looked as if everyone had gotten into the ceremonial wine and you would have never believed a match actually begins tomorrow. But it does, and I will be there, walking the course with Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk and the Sergio/Westwood pair. Come out and give Sergio a hard time….it is your Kentuckian duty.
To the news….
(1): On a day where my focus has been elsewhere, the news has still hit with reckless abandonment. Deniz Kilicli announced he was coming to Midnight Madness, ramping up the Turkish count to one and making the celebration an international one in Lexington on October 10th. While rumors of his interest of Kentucky (and vice versa) are all over the map, I was told two days ago that he was a “real option” for UK and that they were hoping to get a good read on his game over the next couple of weeks. From those that have seen him (of which I am not one), I understand that Milicli is a classic Euro big man, but one that is a better defender than most at his position. That better be the case if he is to play under the Gillispie system. Either way, increase the place settings at the Midnight Madness dinner table by one, and throw in some extra goulash (or whatever Turkish people are fond of).
(2): On the football side of things, Larry Vaught is reporting that Terrence Jones and Chris Goode have left the team. This opens up the potential for some new scholarship offers and was likely the best move for both young men as they were not seeing their playing time increase. It is amazing to watch UK have to part ways with good players thanks to their increased talent….but we are seeing it more and more.
(3): Rob Gidel reported on here earlier today about the potential decomittment of Justin Jones, a TE prospect from Georgia, who may be looking at the Gamecocks of South Carolina. If that happens, I expect Ed Hazelett to get a call from the staff, as he has been interested in the Cats for sometime. Again, such decommitments are never positive, but this one isnt the end of the world as the depth of this class is such that if another TE can be found, he will be replaced fairly easily.
(4): The Cats fan presence at Valhalla is truly extraordinary. Everywhere you look, Cat fans are standing, wearing their UK gear and chanting “Go Big Blue” at JB Holmes and Kenny Perry. Walking around, you would feel like it is Rupp Arena North as Cats fans line each fairway. In the press area, the talk about the Kentucky fanbase has been nothing but positive, with many writers from Europe talking about doing stories about the Kentucky fans and their connection with the in-state guys. A shining few days for the University and its fans and hopefully it will continue to look like that over the next couple of days as well.
We will have more all day, as I report live from Valhalla and Beisner, Evan, Mosley and others keep you up to date on all other things UK. If you are wanting to apply for the “Who Wants to Be a Blogger” contest, remember that final submissions are due at [email protected] by 11:59 pm on Sunday night. Stay tuned for what should be a GREAT weekend for Kentucky…..
Terrence Jones and Chris Goode