Captain Lehman Says to Ignore Current Form

By Associated PressSeptember 19, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- The Americans didn't exactly arrive in the best of shape for the Ryder Cup.
 
The best any of their five players managed at the final PGA TOUR event before the matches was Chris DiMarco in a tie for 39th at the 84 Lumber Classic, 11 shots out of the lead. Only two others even made the cut.
 
Over in England, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk both were soundly beaten in the first round of the World Match Play Championship, not what anyone expected from the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the world.
 
Then they arrived in Ireland on Monday -- and it started raining.
 
It was enough to dampen brown tweed coats, but not enough to bother U.S. captain Tom Lehman.
 
'I've always contended that the best player always plays best in the biggest events,' Lehman said Monday after his team checked in to their rooms at The K Club to start a long week of practice and galas, before the Ryder Cup gets under way on Friday.
 
'I know from personal experience,' he said. 'I've played in the B.C. Open the week before the Ryder Cup and missed the cut by about 10 shots, then went out and had a great Ryder Cup. It's so easy to look beyond what you're doing last week to this week. So I don't put a great deal of significance in the fact a guy may not have played his best.'
 
Nor does he put much stock in Paul Casey winning at Wentworth, or Padraig Harrington and Jose Maria Olazabal finishing in the top 10 at the Madrid Masters, where Darren Clarke also posted two rounds in the 60s at his first tournament since his wife died.
 
The buildup begins Tuesday, when both teams begin to practice on what is now a soggy K Club.
 
Not only did the U.S. team fare poorly last week -- at least the seven guys who played -- it had a rough time getting to Ireland. The charter plane with nine players was delayed three hours because of excess luggage.
 
Considering how these matches have gone lately, Lehman can only hope it wasn't emotional baggage. Having lost four of the last five times, the Americans will try to beat Europe on its home soil for the first time since 1993.
 
'We brought more than our share of luggage,' Lehman said. 'We were trying to put together a puzzle, trying to fit all the stuff inside the plane. You could see the guys outside the plane in the windows going, 'How are we going to get all this stuff inside?' But they managed to do it. Our team is very excited we're coming back.'
 
Lehman brought his team to Ireland at the end of August for two days of practice, determined to end nearly two decades of frustration in the Ryder Cup. The weather should not have been surprising, because it also rained most of those two days.
 
Along with extra baggage, the Americans brought a new label to these matches -- underdogs.
 
Europe has only two rookies on this team -- Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson of Sweden -- and Casey gave his squad an emotional lift with his victory Sunday in the World Match Play Championship.
 
The Americans counter with a powerful 1-2-3 punch -- Woods, Phil Mickelson and Furyk -- but have four rookies on their team, two of whom never have competed in match play.
 
'The European team is extremely strong, and very, very strong from top to bottom,' Lehman said. 'Our team is very strong. We have four rookies that are always a bit of a question mark, although I believe that they are tremendous players. But at the end of the day, I think the European team based on the strength of their team, playing here in Ireland, would probably have to be favored.'
 
European captain Ian Woosnam said his players would still feel as though they have something to prove, but he sure didn't make them sound like anything but the favorites on home soil.
 
'We've got 12 great players this year, and this is probably the strongest team we've ever had,' he said. 'A lot of people have said their team is one of the weakest they have ever had, and I just don't agree with that. Guys that are on their team deserve to be on it. And you know what rookies are like. They come out and have nothing to prove.'
 
Europe knows what from experience.
 
Their rookies went 6-6-1 last time, getting clutch performances in team play from David Howell, Luke Donald and Casey.
 
Think back to 2002 at The Belfry, when Phillip Price knocked off Mickelson in a crucial singles match and Paul McGinley delivered the cup-clinching putt. Or to 1995 at Oak Hill, when Philip Walton and David Gilford won matches on the 18th hole that proved decisive.
 
'I think it's going to be a close contest,' Woosnam said.
 
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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.