18 holes with ... Mark Rolfing

Think again. Thanks in part to the removal of 850 trees that limited air circulation, Medinah is in terrific shape. Its greens are smoother than a baby's behind.

"It's the best I've seen this golf course in 25 years," said Jason Kinander, a Ryder Cup chairman and husband of WMAQ-Ch. 5 sportscaster Peggy Kusinski.

Tickets are sold out, and hospitality sales are at a record level with 250 companies buying in. After initially offering 53 chalets, the PGA of America bumped that to 76. One remains available.


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Here's guessing spectators will be able to spot a certain six-time NBA champion on the grounds. Michael Jordan is a Medinah member whose love for international golf competition led him to serve as honorary captain for Fred Couples' 2009 Presidents Cup team.

Not that Rolfing is an insider or anything, but when U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III sought Jordan's cell number, he asked Rolfing. (And it was Love and roommate Buzz Peterson who gave Jordan his first set of clubs when they attended the University of North Carolina.)

Rolfing and Jordan have been dueling on the golf course since the early '90s, usually just before the annual celebrity event in Lake Tahoe.

They play an individual match and best ball with a partner; last year Rolfing brought Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Rolfing refuses to play for more than $50, but Jordan's competitive fire still rumbles like an active volcano.

Speaking of which …

"One time we're playing in Hawaii, and my ball is on the green," Rolfing said. "Michael is in the lava, and he's taking practice swings. He's hitting lava chunks to put debris in front of my ball. I tell him, 'You can't do that!'

"He takes out his phone and says, 'Hey, I'm having trouble with a ruling.' Then he hands me the phone. It's Tiger. He says, 'You're not gonna win this argument.' "

Rolfing was smart enough not to try.

tgreenstein@tribune.com

Twitter @TeddyGreenstein

18 Holes with … Mark Rolfing

Five-second bio: The NBC/Golf Channel analyst, Northern Illinois degree-holder and Michael Jordan golf buddy has relocated to Chicago in anticipation of the Sept. 28-30 Ryder Cup at Medinah.

Where: Medinah Country Club, No. 3 course (silver tees: 7,007 yards).

Rolfing's handicap: 4.

What he shot: 86.

How he describes his game: "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Rolfing."
 

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