Blue Demons Score Some Ryder Cup Memories
Oct. 3, 2012
Those two DePaul golfers along with teammates John Pavelko, Moritz Ackerhans, Jan Juelicher and Moritz Hausweiler served as walking scorers during Team Europe’s improbable and dramatic comeback victory over the USA.
They inputted scores on a hand-held scoring device, and the data went immediately to the media center where it was picked up by television and the internet. Stephens said it was like loading something onto your phone.
“Our supervisor told us if we mess up, 500 million people all over the world will see it,” Stephens said. “It only took a few seconds to input a score. Then, you had lots of time to watch. You can be like a fan.
"I had opportunities to watch Bubba Watson, my favorite player, from inside the ropes. It was the first time I’ve worked at a Ryder Cup, and it was a lot of fun.”
Rory McElroy’s late arrival on Sunday caught everyone’s attention. As McElroy hastily began his final round, Budd’s face was caught on camera in the background watching McElroy’s first tee shot.
“(Ex-DePaul golfer) Maximilian Mayer Facebooked me from Germany saying he saw me on TV,” Budd said. “He asked why I was shaking my head. It was because I couldn’t believe some of these shots. I was in awe for the rest of the day.”
Being in awe didn’t stop Stephens from meeting celebrities while walking the course.
“I shook Michael Jordan’s hand,” Stephens said. “I saw him walking down the fairway. I shouted out: ‘Hey Mike,’ and he came over and shook my hand. I was a little giddy after that.
“Another time, (Olympic gold medalist) Michael Phelps walked right past me. I said: ‘How you doing?’ He said: ‘Cool, how are you?’ That was pretty cool.’”
Budd had a chance to chat with a golfing legend.
“I walked two holes with Lee Trevino and he told me some of his favorite U.S. Open stories,” Budd said. “He’s a very friendly guy. Did I think about asking him for some advice? No, I just listened to everything he said.”
Stephens won’t soon forget seeing former president George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara along with their son, former president George W. Bush. He also got a good look one of golf’s greatest, Jack Nicklaus.
“I was excited and cheering for the USA the whole time,” Stephens said. “It never felt like a job.
“We were told to stand no further than 20 feet behind the golfers. Let the cameras go by and then we go right after them. Every so often you could overhear what the golfers were saying.
“Bubba Watson is my guy. After he finished on Saturday, he walked by me and I said: ‘Nice round, Bubba.’ He gave me a wave. It was awesome to see him in person and watch him play.”
Budd and Stephens got a little golf education during the Miracle at Medinah.
“I watched Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson win their fourball match 5-and-4 on Saturday,” Stephens said. “I’m following Watson inside the ropes and can see all the smart things they both did with a golf ball. They hit every putt on target. It was inspiring.
“I was impressed with their pitching and shots around the green. They played with the same tempo, and it’s something I’m going to try.”
Budd made some mental notes to himself.
“Watching these guys for three days, you can see the tempo of their game is so consistent,” Budd said. “They never shoot too hard, and that helps with accuracy.
“Something Betty (DePaul golf coach Betty Kaufmann) always talks about is we need to enjoy golf more and just have fun. It was pretty difficult for the Ryder Cup golfers not to have fun with more than 40,000 people shouting ‘USA!USA!USA!’
“Golfers don’t react much so long as it’s a steady noise. When everything is quiet and all of a sudden a cell phone rings, you notice it more.”
Budd and Stephens were swept up in the same golf fervor that transformed the sport's normally reserved and quiet audience into a European soccer crowd. That can happen with a format pitting the best of Europe against the America’s finest in a purely team setting.
A total of 240,000 people were at Medinah from the first day of practice on Sept. 25th through the final round last Sunday.
“On the first two days of the Cup, there were only four groups on the course at once,” Stephens said. “The course was so dense and packed with people. It was denser than a crowd following Tiger Woods at the 18th hole of a major.”
Budd added: “I expected it to be crazy, but I didn’t think it would be as crazy as it was. There were just so many people out there. At every hole, there were all kinds of corporate tents.”
There was 700,000 square feet of tenting at the Ryder Cup.
“I would love to compete in an event like this with almost 50,000 people watching every shot,” Stephens said. “There was a lot of emotion. Keegan Bradley had fist pump for all his putts. The fans would chant his name and he would point to the crowd and pump them up even more. Jason Dufner would make a big putt and go a little crazy.”
Watson waved his arms at the first tee on Friday, urging the crowd to stand up and scream. When he ripped a booming shot down the center of the fairway, the fans went wild. He had a repeat performance on Saturday.
“This brought the game to a whole new level,” Stephens said. “You’re doing it for your team, your country and nearly 50,000 people. There were people already in the stands at 3:45 a.m. on Saturday.
“This was a huge event. It’s like golf’s version of the Olympics. It only happens every two years.”