Europeans Make Strong Ryder Cup Showings

By Associated PressMay 11, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupIRVING, Texas -- A birth certificate from Sweden isn't enough. Neither is putting the Union Jack on your golf bag. Want to play for Europe in the Ryder Cup? Come play in Europe.
 
Ryder Cup players must be a European tour member, a policy that already knocked Jesper Parnevik out of the mix. The Swede doesn't want to spend at least two months hopping from Scotland to Ireland to Holland to play his minimum of 11 tournaments, just so he can even be considered for a captain's pick.
 
'It's tough to alter your whole year just because of one week,' he said.
 
Luke Donald of England might be faced with the same decision.
 
The former NCAA champion at Northwestern has made the PGA Tour his home since turning pro. Already a winner on tour - something neither Colin Montgomerie nor Padraig Harrington has done - Donald believes he is being punished for choosing to play against better competition for more money.

'Europe might not get the best team, which is a shame,' Donald said.
 
Oh, as if that ever mattered.
 
Europe supposedly has had the lesser team for the last two decades, but it has won the Ryder Cup six out of the last nine times. The Americans have Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III. Europe counters with Ignacio Garrido, David Gilford and Phillip Price. No contest.
 
The reason for this policy is to protect the European tour. Already, some of its best young players have become regulars in the United States - Donald, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose - and the tour would suffer immensely if its stars only made cameo appearances at home.
 
'What's working against them is the strength of our tour, the allure of our tour,' Brad Faxon said. 'If you want to be considered a top player, you have to come over here and play a lot.'
 
What makes this a good policy is that it protects the spirit of the Ryder Cup.
 
'At the same time,' Faxon continued, 'the Ryder Cup always surprises you, doesn't it?'
 
Faxon, who played in the '95 and '97 matches, was beaten in Sunday singles at Oak Hill in 1995 by Gilford, an unheralded Englishman who hasn't been heard from since. It was one of five pivotal matches decided on the 18th hole, four of them in Europe's favor, allowing it to win the cup.
 
Price, a Welshman who was No. 119 in the world ranking, battered Mickelson in a Sunday match that was crucial to Europe's victory at The Belfry. The winning point came from Paul McGinley, who took down Jim Furyk.
 
This is what makes the Ryder Cup so compelling.
 
Woods is best buddies with Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn, but for the most part, the Americans don't socialize with the Europeans because they don't see them very often.
 
If the Ryder Cup ever gets to the point where Europe's best players are spending the majority of their time on the PGA Tour, the Ryder Cup runs the risk of becoming the Presidents Cup: the United States vs. Orlando.
 
'It's much more of an 'Us vs. Them' than the Presidents Cup,' Jay Haas said. 'The Presidents Cup is almost exclusively guys that play the U.S. tour. The European team is a mix of guys who play over here, but there is always half of their team you don't get to see a lot.'
 
Philip Walton comes to mind. He's the Irishman with a beet-red face and squeaky voice who scratched out a bogey on the 18th hole at Oak Hill to beat Haas and give Europe the winning point.
 
'I don't want to say they have a chip on their shoulder,' Haas said. 'But they have something to prove.'
 
Europe already has made one compromise for the Sept. 17-19 matches at Oakland Hills outside of Detroit. The top five players will come from a world ranking points list. The next five will come from a European tour money list that began in September. Bernhard Langer gets two captain's picks, as long as they are European tour members.
 
Lee Westwood of England has been among the most vocal critics of the membership rule.
 
'The last time I checked, the Ryder Cup was between Europeans and Americans, not the European tour and the U.S. PGA Tour,' Westwood said.
 
But in some respects, it is the PGA Tour against the European tour. That's why there is so much pride, not to mention pressure, riding on every shot at the Ryder Cup.
 
It's not asking too much for European-born players to get in their minimum 11 tournaments. If they're good enough, they should be eligible for the four majors and three World Golf Championships, which count as European tour events. That leaves only four regular tournaments to fit into their schedule.
 
The problem for Parnevik and Donald is that neither qualified for the Masters or the Match Play Championship, and both still have to qualify for the U.S. Open and British Open.
 
'When I look at the big picture, top 50 in the world is the number,' Donald said. 'And if I'm not in the top 50, I'm not good enough to be playing in the Ryder Cup, anyway.'
 
Instead of Jesper Parnevik, Europe might have Raphael Jacquelin, Brian Davis or Carlos Rodiles. They will be on the team because they're playing good golf.
 
Besides, history has shown it doesn't matter whom Europe brings to Oakland Hills.
 
Related links:
  • Current Ryder Cup Standings
  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup

  •  
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    Getty Images

    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

    Getty Images

    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

    Getty Images

    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

    Getty Images

    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.