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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  • 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:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''