Azinger Officially Named US Ryder Cup Captain

By Associated PressNovember 6, 2006, 5:00 pm
PGA of AmericaPaul Azinger took over the U.S. Ryder Cup team in more ways than one, persuading the PGA of America to give him four captain's picks and revamping the criteria so that money and majors determine who makes the team.
 
'I'm going to get the blame if it doesn't work,' Azinger said Monday. 'I would like some of the credit if it does.'
 
Azinger, a former PGA champion and cancer survivor, was introduced as the next U.S. captain at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., where the 2008 matches will be played.
 
The changes were bold, and Azinger feels the Americans have nothing to lose. Europe has captured the Ryder Cup eight of the last 11 times, winning by its largest margin -- 18 1/2 -9 1/2 -- the last two times. Two months ago at The K Club, Europe became the first team to capture all five sets of matches.
 
Azinger wanted a qualifying process that would give him the best players, and it reflects his personality. He has often said during his 20-plus years on the PGA TOUR that he got nervous only when cash or prestige were on the line.
 
'I just felt like it was time for money to be the barometer,' Azinger said.
 
Under the new system, one point will be awarded for every $1,000 a player earns in the 2007 majors, and in regular PGA TOUR events in 2008. Two points will be given for every $1,000 earned at the 2008 majors.
 
The PGA of America took care of one arguments -- tournaments held opposite majors -- by offering only a half-point per $1,000 at those events. Last time, John Rollins nearly made the U.S. team by winning the B.C. Open, which was held the same week as the British Open.
 
Because the Ryder Cup points system was to begin after the PGA Championship in August, PGA president Roger Warren said players would be awarded one-fourth of a point for every $1,000 earned over the last 11 weeks.
 
The new system eliminates some glaring problems under the old criteria, when points were based on top-10 finishes.
 
Several players complained that they could finish 11th at the Masters and get nothing, while someone could finish ninth at the Houston Open and earn points. And with so many international players on the PGA TOUR, there were some weeks when only a couple of U.S. players earned points.
 
Warren said only 58 percent of the Ryder Cup points were distributed last time.
 
Plus, it distinguishes between strong and weak events on the PGA TOUR. Previously, a player earned as much from The Players Championship as he did an opposite-field event.
 
'The goal is to try to get to the point where Paul feels that he has the players that he needs to come to ... win the Ryder Cup,' Warren said.
 
Azinger said no one would be assured of making the team starting the 2008 season because points will have been awarded only during the majors the first year. He thought that would make players feel as though they earned a spot on the team, instead of coasting for the final few months.
 
'That's better than what we had,' said Scott Verplank, a captain's pick in 2002 and 2006 and one of the few Americans with a winning record. 'Apparently, they spent some time on this and I commend them for trying to fix it. But I don't think anything is going to matter until we figure out how to play that game as a team.'
 
'Zinger is a strong personality, somewhat of a free thinker,' he added. 'I think he'll be super.'
 
Still to be decided is when Azinger will make his captain's picks.
 
The United States has never had more than two picks since 1989, and they were announced the morning after the PGA Championship.
 
Warren said the qualifying process again will end at the '08 PGA Championship, but that Azinger would have until Monday a week before the Ryder Cup to make his four picks.
 
Part of that is a massive change in the PGA TOUR schedule. Starting next year with the new FedExCup competition, a 'playoff' series begins two weeks after the PGA Championship, with three big tournaments leading to the Tour Championship. In 2008, the Ryder Cup will be held the week after the TOUR Championship.
 
'I like the idea of being able to pick four players,' Azinger said. 'I like the idea that I don't have to pick them immediately after the PGA Championship. I have an opportunity that no other Ryder Cup captain has had, and I really appreciate that.'
 
Azinger also said he was 'awe-struck' to get the job. He played on four Ryder Cup teams and was 5-7-3, going 2-0-2 in singles while usually taking on Europe's best.
 
His counterpart at Valhalla will be six-time major winner Nick Faldo, who has earned more Ryder Cup points than any other European. Faldo and Azinger were golf analysts for ABC Sports the last two years, and they have a rivalry in the Ryder Cup, battling to a draw in a 1993 singles match that had no bearing on the outcome.
 
He was diagnosed with lymphoma in his shoulder after the Ryder Cup, and won only one more time on the PGA TOUR the rest of his career.
 
Azinger said Faldo will be under more pressure trying to follow after Sam Torrance, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam, all of whom guided Europe to victory.
 
'I've got more of an everything-to-gain situation,' Azinger said. 'There's going to be a little more heat on Nick to get it right, and I think a little more of the microscope will on Nick if he gets it wrong.'
 
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: