For Americans, a double-edged sword?
NEWPORT, Wales -- Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but since the PGA Tour instituted its FedEx Cup format in 2007, adding several meaningful events after the PGA Championship, the United States has gone 3-0 in international competition.
That's two victories at the Presidents Cup and one at the Ryder Cup.
And Phil Mickelson said he believes it is not a fluke.
"In the past before team events, we would have six weeks off after the last major championship, the PGA, where guys would kind of shut it down," Mickelson said. "With the FedEx Cup, it's kept our games sharp, and so the byproduct has been we've had great performances in the last three team competitions.
"But more than that, the FedEx Cup has brought the best players together to compete against each other four more times a year and has kept golf in the spotlight throughout the end of the summer, and I think that's been a real plus for the game."
It is true that before the FedEx Cup began, American players typically scattered after the PGA, with some playing limited schedules.
The FedEx has forced them to keep going. Nine of the American players competed last week at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. And the three who didn't -- Tiger Woods, Stewart Cink and Rickie Fowler -- competed in the first three playoff events.
"It's one of the best things that's ever happened to the U.S. Ryder Cup team," said Tom Lehman, who captained the 2006 squad and is an assistant to Corey Pavin this year. "They've been able to stay sharp. Playing right up to the Ryder Cup is very important."
The possible downside: fatigue.
Matt Kuchar admitted after the Tour Championship that he was running on empty, and his play suggested as much. He tied for 25th along with Steve Stricker in a 30-player field. Dustin Johnson tied for 22nd with Bubba Watson. Jeff Overton was 29th.
Overton, in particular, has struggled of late. Since a tie for sixth at the Bridgestone Invitational, he tied for 56th at the Barclays, missed the cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship and tied for 57th at the BMW Championship before finishing next-to-last in Atlanta.
All those players made the U.S. team based on their play before the FedEx Cup playoffs.
There is no rest for the weary this week. The Ryder Cup is full of activities, with practice rounds for three days after flying overnight to get to Newport, Wales, on Monday.
"I'm not worried about it at all," U.S. captain Pavin said. "I think having a week off before the Tour Championship was very helpful, and I've talked to the guys probably for the last month, to talk to them about planning their weeks and their energy level.
"And we talked about it this week to be aware of their emotions and what they are feeling out there and not to try to over-practice, especially after flying over."
Pavin said he is giving the players the option to practice only nine holes on Thursday if they believe that is in their best interests.
"It's all about being ready on Friday," he said.
The Ryder Cup bid
Upon arriving at Celtic Manor, it becomes quite clear why the Welsh resort was selected as a Ryder Cup venue. It has little to do with the Twenty Ten course, everything to do with the size and scope of the property. It is, in a word, massive.
Topics: The Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup heads to Medinah, where the U.S. will try to win back the cup from Europe. ESPN.com Topics has full coverage. The Ryder Cup »
And that is the point.
Ryder Cups are big business, especially in Europe, where the European Tour derives a healthy share of its operating income from the staging of this tournament on the continent every fourth year.
Whereas the PGA of America actually pays venues in the United States to stage the event, the European Tour extracts a fee from the host site. And it is substantial.
Reports have placed the bid for the 2010 Ryder Cup at 60 million pounds. It is complicated, because so much more goes into that figure. Part of the fee constitutes a title sponsorship of a European Tour event (the Celtic Manor Wales Open is played here annually) and support of a Challenge Tour tournament (think Nationwide Tour in the States).
Still. 60 million pounds? That's about $100 million. And that does not include the revenue -- shared or otherwise -- derived from television rights, merchandise and ticket sales, hospitality venues and the like.
"From scratch, we built a facility and a course specifically for the Ryder Cup," said Sir Terry Matthews, a Welsh billionaire who owns Celtic Manor. "Who else has ever done that? But if the Ryder Cup carries on growing as it has done, this will probably become the norm. This facility will set a new standard for future Ryder Cups. Going forward, they will have to house 50,000-plus per day. They can't go back to 15,000. It can't go backwards."
Well, perhaps not in Europe. They won't be packing those kinds of numbers into Medinah in two years, when the Ryder Cup returns to the United States.
But a similar arrangement has already been forged for 2014, when the Ryder Cup will be staged at Glenagles in Scotland. Right now, bids are being studied from venues in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain for the 2018 Ryder Cup.
So you want to play ...
Celtic Manor. The Ryder Cup venue is here because the owner of the resort, Terry Matthews, paid dearly for the privilege of promoting it. There are three courses on the property, all open to greens-fee-paying guests: the Twenty Ten course, where the Ryder Cup will be staged; the Roman Road; and the Montgomerie, in honor of the European captain.
The Twenty Ten course was built specifically with the Ryder Cup in mind, with several risk/reward holes, some drivable par-5s and a par-5 18th that should prove interesting if matches make it that far.
Greens fees on the Ryder Cup course peak at about $300, but the other courses are far less expensive. There are also package rates for stays at the resort.
The Twenty Ten course measures 7,493 yards and plays to a par of 71. For the past three years, the course has been home to the Wales Open, which was won earlier this year by U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell.
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.
Birdies And Bogeys
BIRDIES1. Jim Furyk. Not only is he the 2010 FedEx Cup champion but Furyk, for the first time in his career, has won three events in the same season after capturing the Tour Championship.
2. Matt Kuchar. He didn't capture the FedEx Cup after leading the points race heading into the Tour Championship, but it's been a phenomenal season. And a second-place FedEx finish -- along with a $3 million bonus -- is a pretty nice consolation.
3. Jim Mackay. The caddie for Phil Mickelson gave up his business-class seat on the team charter to the Ryder Cup -- and took one in coach -- so Joe Skovron, Rickie Fowler's caddie, could sit up front. "I knew how excited I was for my first one in '95," Mackay said. "I would have been bummed if I couldn't have ridden with the rest of the team, and I wanted him to have the full experience."
1. Corey Pavin. Nice man, but the U.S. Ryder Cup team captain is a bit too serious.
2. Tweet-gate. Are the captains really fretting over something like this?
3. Kevin Na. His burst of anger on the 18th tee at East Lake on Sunday was embarrassing as he took a divot in anger.
• The Ryder Cup captains have come to an agreement about pace of play, allowing for a maximum of 60 seconds for a shot to be played. A violation can result in loss of hole. It will be interesting to see how -- or whether -- this is enforced.
• The format has been changed this year at the direction of the home captain. The Friday and Saturday morning sessions will start with four-ball, or best ball. Foursomes, aka alternate shot, will follow in the afternoon.
• With his victory at the Tour Championship, Jim Furyk is the only player on the PGA Tour this year with three wins.
• Only two European Ryder Cup team players competed last week, both with good results. Luke Donald was second at the Tour Championship. Padraig Harrington -- with a final-round 64 -- tied for eighth at the Vivendi Cup in France.
• Paul Casey has won more than $3.6 million on the PGA Tour this year, the third-highest single-season total for a player without a victory.
• There have been five players who have qualified for the Tour Championship in all four seasons of the Fed Ex Cup: Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan. Furyk is the only one to win the FedEx Cup.
• The PGA Tour's Fall Series of five events kicks off this week with the Viking Classic, where Arjun Atwal returns after winning the Wyndham Classic. Atwal was ineligible for the FedEx Cup.
"I'm on a 9:15 British Airways flight to London. They didn't even have room for me in the toilet." -- England's Luke Donald, the only European Ryder Cup team member to play at the Tour Championship, when asked whether he would be joining the American team charter for the trans-Atlantic trip to Wales.