Azinger pleased with his underdog team

By Associated PressAugust 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Paul Azinger revamped the Ryder Cup qualifying system to get the best players, and he had no complaints with the eight Americans who earned a spot on the team.
 
But not even four captains picks to follow will change the way he sees this competition against Europe.
 
We are going to take on an underdog role in this Ryder Cup for the first time in a long time ' even on paper ' when you look at the strength of the European squad, Azinger said Monday morning after the PGA Championship. We are going to have everything to gain here.
 
Thats mainly because the Americans have done nothing but lose.
 
Europe has won the last two times by record margins ' 18 1/2 - 9 1/2 ' and has captured the cup eight of the last 11 times. Tiger Woods is out for the year because of knee surgery, so Boo Weekley essentially takes his spot among the eight qualifiers. Weekley, who closed with a 66 in the PGA Championship to secure the eighth spot in the standings, is among three rookies on the U.S. team.
 
The five veterans include Justin Leonard, who made the team for the first time since 1999.
 
Europe is led by Padraig Harrington, who won his second straight major Sunday at Oakland Hills by going 66-66 over the final two rounds and taking only 11 putts over the last nine holes. Sergio Garcia, a runner-up in the majors for the third time, sewed up a spot on the team despite losing the lead in the PGA Championship over the last three holes.
 
None of the five Americans with Ryder Cup experience has a winning record, and they are a collective 18-34-15 in the matches, a product of losing so often.
 
Ive said all along that experience, while being very important I mean, weve lost five of the last six Ryder Cups, so most of their experiences are bad experiences. So its not like experience is going to be a great help. Im looking for guys that playing well ' its as simple as that. And if its an experienced player playing well, then I think thats fantastic.
 
The eight who qualified were Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Leonard, Ben Curtis and Weekley.
 
Although he has never won a match, Leonards last Ryder Cup memory was a winning one. He rallied from 4 down with seven holes to play against Spanish stalwart Jose Maria Olazabal when he holed a 45-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole at Brookline that capped an amazing American comeback in 1999. Leonard wound up with a halve, but it was the clinching point.
 
He has not played in a Ryder Cup since then, although he has gone 5-4-1 in two Presidents Cup appearances.
 
Its nice to be known for something good like that, Leonard said of his putt heard round the world. And to be part of a winning Ryder Cup team, thats the last memory I have of it, personally. So hopefully, I can bring some of that into the locker room and have a positive influence on the event.
 
The criteria was changed to effectively base the points on money in the current year, with double points in the majors. That enabled Curtis to make the team with his tie for second at the PGA Championship, and Azinger said he was happy to have him.
 
Hes got that kind of demeanor that you need on the Ryder Cup team, Azinger said. You need a bunch of different type of personalities for a Ryder Cup team to blend, and Ben Curtis a little more stoic, a little more subdued. But I like his personality. Hes that type of guy thats going to put his head down and barrel on.
 
In past years, Monday after the PGA Championship was a time for the U.S. captain to announce his two selections. Azinger got twice that many under the new system, and he asked to wait until Sept. 2 to make his selections closer to the competition.
 
Im really happy that I dont have to pick four players this morning, Azinger said. It would have been difficult to know what to do.
 
It might not get any easier three weeks from now.
 
J.B. Holmes had a chance to earn a spot on the team with a fifth-place finish. One shot out of the lead going into the final round, he started triple bogey-bogey-bogey and shot 81. U.S. Open runner-up Rocco Mediate, who was 12th in the standings, shot 85.
 
None of that seemed to matter to Azinger.
 
If ever there was a golf course you could discount a poor round, this would be the one, he said. Would I have liked both of them to have played better? Of course. Theres three weeks to go. I like both of them a lot. So I dont think you can say that Rocco choked yesterday, and I really dont think J.B. has any choke in him.
 
Azinger said he would ask the PGA of America to continue the standings so he can keep tabs on whos playing well.
 
Europe, meanwhile, will take its top 10 players from two lists ' one based on raw world ranking points earned over the last year, the other based on a money list ' on Aug. 31. Nick Faldo will have two captains picks the next day.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry