Ryder Cup captains hit from skyscraper
CHICAGO -- The first shot of the 2012 Ryder Cup didn't come at Medinah Country Club, but from the 16th floor of Trump Tower in downtown Chicago.
Captains Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal stood in a makeshift teebox on a patio and took aim 220 yards away at a custom-built, floating green on a 35-foot by 75-foot barge in the Chicago River.
Neither captain was able to make a hole-in-one, or even stick the green. Both Olazabal and Love had shots that hit the green, but they rolled off into the river.
The City of Chicago raised the Michigan Avenue bridge for the event, but the captains almost didn't get to tee off due to the wind and weather conditions.
"It was pretty close (to being called off). A gust of greater than 25 (mph), we would have probably shut it down," said CFD First District Chief Tony Vanbuskirk. "We were somewhere between the 15-20 range."
With vehicles and pedestrians in close proximity on Michigan Ave., the concern was that an errant tee shot could have caused damage or injury. Rain also started to fall right as the players took their shots.
Both Olazabal and Love tried several clubs because of the weather. Love said he started with a 4-iron on his first shot and hit a 7-iron on his final attempt.
The captains were each allowed one practice shot, then three shots to try and hit the green. Had either captain made a hole-in-one, the PGA of America and Ryder Cup Magnificent Moments fundraising campaign would have doubled their $100,000 donation, which will benefit the Illinois PGA Foundation and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana.
"The proceeds that we will receive are helping us build the largest Ronald McDonald house in the world just a few blocks away at Grand and St. Clair," said Doug Porter, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities. "It's great that the money will help us build this house that will host 86 families every night whose kids have serious medical issues. It's a great thing for them to think of us."
The 2012 Ryder Cup matches will take place Sept. 28-30.
Matt Lo Cascio is a contributor to ESPNChicago.com.