Fix Problem Thats Not Broken - Yet

By Associated PressAugust 1, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesTwo players who will be wearing U.S. uniforms at the Ryder Cup won tournaments last week, a development that would have thrilled Tom Lehman except for one minor detail.
They were his assistant captains.
Corey Pavin won his first PGA Tour event in 10 years at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. Across the ocean, Loren Roberts captured his first major by winning the Senior British Open in a playoff at Turnberry.
Both are expected to be carrying radios, not golf clubs, at The K Club in September.
As for the 12 Americans who will try to end two decades of European dominance, that remains a work in progress.
There is no shortage of suggestions how to fix a new selection process that some see as a big problem, although shouldn't we wait until the matches are over before deciding whether it's broken?
This is the 21st time the criteria for the U.S. team has been changed since the Ryder Cup began in 1927, either an overhaul or minor adjustment. What the PGA of America did this time was reward those playing the best golf in the year leading up to the matches. The current year was worth four times as many points, majors counted double and there was a 75-point bonus for winning.
It sounded good on paper.
But it supposedly became a problem when Brett Wetterich got hot in May, winning in Dallas and finishing second at the Memorial.
J.J. Henry, who previously tied for second in Phoenix (seven shots behind) and tied for fourth in Atlanta (14 shots behind), then won in Hartford and climbed all the way to No. 7.
Panic really set two weeks ago when John Rollins cracked the top 10 by winning against an ultra weak field at the B.C. Open, earning more points than Chris DiMarco got for finishing second to Tiger Woods at the British Open.
Even the captain has his doubts about the new system.
The PGA of America awards points only through 10 places on the PGA Tour. Because of the burgeoning number of international players on tour, Lehman has been keeping his own chart the last two years that lists only how the top 10 Americans fared.
'With 90-plus international players, the downfall is that all of our points don't get given out,' Lehman said. 'Some weeks, there are three American players in the top 10. Sometimes, it's five or seven. No weeks are all in the top 10. There's a huge difference when you include the top 10 Americans versus just top 10.'
Pebble Beach winner Arron Oberholser is 18th in the Ryder Cup standings. But if he were awarded points compared with other Americans in the field, he would be No. 7. One spot behind him would be Stewart Cink, who is 19th in the real standings.
That, too, sounds good on paper.
But it's not like the international players showed up overnight. The PGA of America considered foreign influence when it revamped the points system in 2004, and president Roger Warren came to a sound conclusion.
'The reason we reward points in the top 10 is it becomes difficult to look at a player who finishes 24th and 25th,' Warren said. 'And if there's a lot of European players in the field, those are the players they're going to compete against in the Ryder Cup.'
If the Americans can't beat these guys during the season, why should they get points? So they can lose to them in the Ryder Cup?
The last thing golf needs is for mediocrity to be rewarded.
'Play harder. Play better,' Warren said, and he sure didn't invent that cliche.
If we learn on Sept. 25 that the system is broken, there are a couple of alternatives.
One is to use raw world ranking points (very little math involved). Not only would that account for the strength of the field, it would award points beyond the top 10; 11th place would get a fraction less than 10th, instead of nothing. Europe uses this format to determine five of its 10 selections.
The second option is to use PGA Tour earnings. The most important tournaments have the largest purses, and the range of other PGA Tour events is $4 million to about $6 million, not enough to skew the standings. Opposite-field events only pay out $3 million.
The problem? That's how the Presidents Cup team is selected.
The PGA of America would rather give up their team uniforms than copy anything from the Presidents Cup.
The only other choice is to allow Lehman to pick his entire team -- that's right, 12 captain's picks.
Put your best guys on the field.
To help Lehman along, or perhaps to annoy him, 18 golf writers were asked to select who they thought were the 12 best Americans to play in the Ryder Cup.
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, David Toms and Chris DiMarco were named on every ballot, while Chad Campbell and Scott Verplank were named on 16 ballots. The rest of the team was Cink, Zach Johnson, Fred Couples and Davis Love III, with Oberholser and Lucas Glover tied for the 12th spot with nine votes each.
That team sounds as good as any.
Henry received two votes, Wetterich got one and Rollins got zero.
Then again, Love and his experience (he has played every Ryder Cup since 1993) was left off the ballot by eight writers, and there were a total of 27 players mentioned on the 18 teams.
Even though they were not tied to a point system, more than one writer came to this conclusion while struggling to fill out the final four spots on the 12-man team.
'We're going to get hammered, aren't we?'
But if the Americans win, the new points system undoubtedly will be the best ever.
Related Links:
  • U.S. Points List
  • European Points List
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup Matches
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

    With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

    Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

    In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

    Getty Images

    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.