Europe has the cup and wants to keep it

As if recent history wasn't enough, Europe showed just how tight a grip it has on the Ryder Cup.

U.S. captain Tom Lehman gathered his team on the 10th tee on Thursday for the official team photo, which lately is the closest the Americans ever get to posing with the Ryder Cup trophy.

The Europeans didn't even allow them that luxury at The K Club.

Whether it was a harmless oversight or not-so-subtle message about the true ownership of the shiny gold chalice, captain Ian Woosnam neglected to turn over the trophy even for 15 minutes of a photo opportunity. It was the first time since 1985 coincidentally, the start of European dominance in these matches that the 17-inch (43-centimeter) trophy was not part of the official team photo.

"I wasn't aware of that," Lehman said. "I have no idea what the protocol is or isn't, so I can't even respond to that."

All he cares about is posing with it on Sunday.

After four days of glitz and galas, topped off by an opening ceremony that celebrated Ireland's biggest sporting event, the Ryder Cup was set to begin on Friday with both sides sending out their best teams.

Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk faced Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington in the opening fourball match, a sign that both captains were intent on taking control as early as possible.

"We've got two of Europe's best on the first day," Woods said.

Woods has lost seven straight matches on opening day at the Ryder Cup, dating to his debut in 1997, and he rarely looks like the world's No. 1 player in these team events. On the other end is Montgomerie, winless in 60 majors, yet a stalwart in this event.

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