Azinger reveals Ryder Cup secret

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2008, 4:00 pm
ATLANTA ' Just as captain Paul Azinger promised, the Americans partied into the morning hours after winning the Ryder Cup.
 
Egged on by his teammates, Boo Weekley told the story of the time he was a teenager in the Florida Panhandle and paid $5 on 10-to-1 odds that he could land a punch against an orangutan. Weekley finally regain consciousness in the back of a pickup truck.
 
That was hilarious, Anthony Kim said. I could hear that story 100 times and keep laughing.
 
Keeping to tradition and class, Team Europe joined the Americans in the team room, and the Americans paid their victims tribute by singing Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, the European soccer song they had heard while losing the previous three times.
 
They celebrated as a team of 12 following a week in which they were three teams of four.
 
It was an intriguing concept that Azinger spent nearly two years cooking up. He built his team by doing personality profiles of three dozen potential players and grouping them accordingly.
 
The aggressive personalities were Kim, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan. The Kentucky group featured Kenny Perry, J.B. Holmes and Weekley (a southerner) along with Jim Furyk, the misfit of the group who provided leadership. The emotionally quiet featured Steve Stricker, Ben Curtis, Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell.
 
They stuck together for three days of practice. Pairings came only from inside their pod.
 
Azinger gave them ownership of their group, building team spirit within small groups. But it went beyond the players. He also assigned an assistant captain to each group ' Raymond Floyd got the aggressive bunch, Olin Browne had the Southern group and Dave Stockton was with the other pod.
 
Azinger rarely saw any of them hit a shot, relying entirely on his assistants for updates on how they were playing, and who might need a lift. The captain zipped over to the seventh fairway when hearing Cink and Campbell dunk shots in the water during the opening session.
 
I told them theres good news and bad news, Azinger said. The bad news is you just made a 10. The good news is you only lost one hole. Now they have everything to lose, and you have everything to gain. Play the next shot. And they came back and won.
 
There was a feeling the Americans were more of a team without Tiger Woods, the dominant figure in golf. Looking back on how Azinger built his team, one suspects Woods could have easily fit into this concept.
 
Assuming Campbell would not have been on the team, Woods likely would have been part of the Kentucky group, providing leadership and experience. He probably would have been paired with Weekley, leaving Perry and Holmes together. Furyk would have moved into the quiet, unflappable group.
 
Azinger shed a little light on his concept during the closing press conference, but still gave credit where it was due.
 
In the end, the players did it, he said.
 
RYDER CUP PERKS
 
Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger was so emotionally spent after the U.S. victory over Europe that he turned down offers to be on the TV late shows.
 
But there is one appearance Azinger would love to make.
 
I want to throw out the first pitch at a Rays game, he said.
 
Azinger grew up south of Tampa, Fla., and still makes his home there.
 
PAYNE STEWART AWARD
 
Davis Love III keeps his trophies from the PGA Championship and THE PLAYERS Championship separate from his 16 other victories on the PGA TOUR. But hes about to add another one to the elite collection.
 
Love was honored Tuesday with the Payne Stewart Award, given to a PGA TOUR player who reflects Stewarts respect for tradition, charity and presentation through dress and conduct.
 
The award has been presented each year at the TOUR Championship since 2000, a year after Stewart perished in a plane crash on his way to the PGA TOURs season finale.
 
Payne was a great competitor and a great friend of mine, and to have my name on the trophy is going to be quite an honor, Love said.
 
He recalled the last time they played together, in the opening session of the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline.
 
Before we went out there, he goes, I want something a little more out of you than Ive been seeing in the past, Love said.
 
On the 17th hole, Love hit a poor shot into a bunker.
 
We were walking up to the green and I said, Payne, you get it on the green and Ill make it, Love said. He hit it out and I had about a 15-footer. He came over and I said, Ive got it.
 
Love holed the putt, and he said Stewart ran over and jabbed him repeatedly in the chest saying, Thats what Im talking about.
 
He challenged me, he inspired me and pushed me, Love said.
 
NO LOVE
 
Davis Love III, a former PGA champion who has played on six Ryder Cup teams, is a lock to be the U.S. captain one of these years. But it doesnt sound like 2010 will be it.
 
I would consider myself too young and too interested in still playing, said the 44-year-old Love.
 
Azinger said he has not thought about being captain again, even if he is asked. The heavy favorite would be Corey Pavin, because Fred Couples will be the Presidents Cup captain next year and most other candidates are on the Champions Tour or too young.
 
Thats not to say Love is not interested. He said if PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka called with an offer, Wed have a conversation.
 
Id love to be considered, he said. But Id love to play, too.
 
DIVOTS
 
Among the text messages Tiger Woods sent Paul Azinger at the Ryder Cup: You will win tomorrow because only Americans win on that course. Valhalla previously hosted the PGA Championship in 1996, won by Mark Brooks, and in 2000, won by Woods. David Duval tied for 22nd last week at the Viking Classic, his best finish on the PGA TOUR since a tie for 16th in the 2006 U.S. Open. Davis Love III plans to play five out of six Fall Series events. The PGA TOUR is wrapping up its 2009 schedule, still uncertain whether to play four consecutive weeks next year in the FedExCup.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
 
The TOUR Championship has only 15 of the top 30 players in the world ranking.
 
FINAL WORD
 
This is like the California Penal League softball championship. ' Eric Larson, caddie for Anthony Kim, on the intense, partisan cheering as he walked off the first tee at the Ryder Cup. Larson spent 11 years in a federal prison on a drug conviction.
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Report Cards
  • European Report Cards
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.