Civility Rules at Presidents Cup

By Associated PressSeptember 21, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PresidentGAINESVILLE, Va. -- There is plenty of history at this Presidents Cup, mostly the monuments and landmarks around the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, and the roadside markers that tell about key moments from the Civil War.
These matches are mostly about being civil.
Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson
U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus jokes with Phil Mickelson during Wednesday's practice round.
``This is a game. That's all it is,'' U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus said. ``It's not a war.''
The reference was to the Ryder Cup, which took on a life of its own over the last two decades with marketing ploys such as the ``War on the Shore'' and the ``Battle at Brookline.'' It made the Ryder Cup one of the marquee golf events in the world, but brought along plenty of acrimony.
That's hard to find at the Presidents Cup.
As the sun rose over the trees behind the driving range Wednesday morning, Fred Couples was loosening up with a few wedge shots when he realized his grips were too smooth.
Standing behind him was Brennan Little, the caddie for Mike Weir of Canada.
``You want some sand paper?'' Little said.
``Yeah. Do you have some?'' Couples said, then realized he had fallen for a trick. ``Oh, I get it. There's a Home Depot down the street, right?''
Both laughed, and Little headed inside to get the sand paper.
``You're on the International side, and you're helping me out?'' Couples said, feigning incredulity.
Later in the afternoon, Nicklaus and International team captain Gary Player sat at a table with their assistants next to them to talk about the first session of pairings Thursday. Player's assistant is Ian Baker-Finch, who pulled out a stack of 5-pound British notes with Nicklaus' image on the front.
``Jack, I've got 100 5-pound notes. Can you sign them for me?'' Baker-Finch said.
``Now?'' Nicklaus replied. ``I've got nothing better to do.''
Turns out he only had 18 bills, but Nicklaus sat at the table and scribbled away until it was his turn to talk.
And how's this for everyone getting along?
Tiger Woods walked off the first tee with Butch Harmon at his side. Harmon was there with Couples, with whom he has worked the last two years; Woods and Couples will be paired in the first match Thursday afternoon against Adam Scott and two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.
The Presidents Cup once was described as the United States against a bunch of guys from Florida, which is only a slight exaggeration. Most players from the International team (every country but Europe is eligible) have homes in the United States and play primarily on the PGA Tour.
They see each other just about every week. Vijay Singh lives a mile or so away from Jim Furyk and Fred Funk in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. They will be opponents Thursday, with the Furyk-Funk team taking on Singh and Mark Hensby of Australia (who lives in Arizona) in the second of six alternate-shot matches.
But don't get the idea this is a hit-and-giggle affair, a team event in which no one cares who wins.
``Just because the match is friendly doesn't mean that it can't be intense,'' Furyk said. ``These matches have always had a great spirit to them. We all have a lot of pride. If one side is going to win this week, you can bet that one of us is going to be crowing a little bit, all winter, talking about the matches.''
There was more confusion than crowing the last time.
The Presidents Cup ended in a bizarre tie two years ago in South Africa. After four days left the teams at 17-all, Woods and Ernie Els played a nail-biting playoff that lasted three holes and more pressure over par putts than either had faced in the 11 majors they have won.
When it was too dark to continue, Nicklaus and Player agreed to a tie. But when Nicklaus gently reminded Player that the United States would retain the cup because it was defending champion, the International team revolted.
They agreed to share the cup, leaving a score to settle this time around.
The advantage goes to the Americans.
Both teams have an array of stars -- most agree that the International team is stronger than anything Europe can offer in the Ryder Cup -- but the Americans have dominated on their home course at the Presidents Cup. They are 3-0 at RTJ, and five years ago turned the biggest rout in the short history of this event, winning 21 1/2 -10 1/2 .
One reason might be that a more civil atmosphere makes the Americans more relaxed.
``Our team tends to be a little more loose,'' Furyk said. ``We have a little bit more fun during the Presidents Cup.''
The Presidents Cup still has its moments.
Woods still gets bent out of shape over his match five years ago against Singh, when the Fijian's caddie wrote ``Tiger Who?'' on the back of his cap. Most people got a laugh out of it, especially because it was clear the United States was going to win handily.
``At the time, I certainly didn't appreciate it,'' Woods said. ``I thought it wasn't real respectful. I know he tried to do it in fun, but I didn't take it that way. I went out there and beat him, 2 and 1. So that's my response to it.''
Woods and Singh likely will play against each other in Sunday singles, because captains fill in their lineups one at a time and they try to create entertaining matches.
Singh said it was no big deal, and time to let it go.
``I think the issue was in 2000, and it's 2005 now,'' he said. ``It's five years away and it's gone. I think I've forgotten about it as everybody else has but you guys. So let's just forget about it.''
After all, this is a civil affair.
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

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    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

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    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.