Hamilton a Ryder Cupper

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2004, 4:00 pm
TROON, Scotland -- Todd Hamilton left Royal Troon with the silver claret jug.

Hal Sutton left with a dilemma.

Hamilton's playoff victory over Ernie Els made for a great story, and Sutton was there to tell it as an analyst for ABC Sports. He watched a 38-year-old journeyman hit remarkable shots, show incredible poise and stand up to the challenge of two of the best players in golf -- Phil Mickelson on the back nine, Els in a pressure-packed playoff.
Hamilton is a worthy British Open champion.

But does that mean Sutton wants him on his Ryder Cup team?

The U.S. captain already had his hands full waiting to see who will show enough game to make the team on his own. The guys from No. 9 to No. 14 in the standings have not won this year, nor has any of them come particularly close. Sutton has been leaving letters of encouragement in their lockers all year.

Odds are, Hamilton never got one of those letters.

He wasn't even a card-carrying member of the PGA Tour until seven months ago. Since then, he birdied the last two holes to beat Davis Love III in the Honda Classic, and he shot 69 from the final group and beat Els in a playoff for his first major championship.

Sure sounds like Ryder Cup material.

Hamilton's victory was worth 300 points, enough to move him up to No. 15 in the standings.

'To be honest, I haven't thought anything about it,' Hamilton said Sunday evening. 'I hadn't played well for a couple of months. I don't even look at the standings. I know Tiger is usually top and all the other normal guys that are on the team are always up there. Hopefully, this bit of magic will continue.'

If Sutton were to leave Hamilton off the team, that would mean five of the last nine Americans to have won majors would have to watch the matches on television -- Hamilton, Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA), Ben Curtis (2003 British Open), Rich Beem (2002 PGA) and David Duval (2001 British Open).

The only other player in recent times to win a major and get left off the Ryder Cup team was John Daly, and it happened to him twice -- after the 1991 PGA Championship and the 1995 British Open.

Daly was so unpredictable -- on and off the course -- that the captains never took any grief for leaving him off.
Europe probably won't have any major champions on its team, so this is a good problem for Sutton to have.

An unpleasant problem might be if Fred Funk makes the team.
Funk, No. 9 on the standings, chose not to play in a major championship so he could try to get Ryder Cup points against junior varsity competition at the B.C. Open. He tied for 40th, so it became a moot point. Still, several of his peers thought it smacked of a guy ducking a challenge.

Is that what you want on a Ryder Cup team?
'You would never see me backing down from a major,' said Jerry Kelly, who is 11th in the standings.
All this will be sorted out over the next month as golf heads into the homestretch.
The PGA Tour season doesn't end until November, but interest starts to wane after the PGA Championship, then returns for one weekend in September at the Ryder Cup.

Phil Mickelson looks like a lock to win PGA Tour player of the year, and the way his season has gone in the majors, he probably will be the betting favorite at Whistling Straits to win the PGA Championship.
It's hard to believe Mickelson has won only two tournaments -- the Bob Hope Classic and the Masters. But he leads the money list with $5.4 million, not quite half of that coming in the majors.
If not for missing two putts inside 5 feet -- on the 17th hole of the final round at the U.S. Open and on the 13th hole of the final round at the British Open -- he might be headed to Wisconsin for a shot at the Grand Slam.
Still, Lefty has 1-2-3 finishes in the majors, and that's tough to beat.
Unless Tiger Woods wins a couple of World Golf Championships and their $1 million-plus payoffs, the only player who seems capable of winning the money title is Vijay Singh.

But then, Singh no longer looks like the same player he was in the spring.
Gunning for his third consecutive victory, he was within one shot of the lead at the Wachovia Championship until a bogey-double bogey finish. He shot 78 in the final round at the Nelson Classic, 78 in the final round of the U.S. Open, and 76 in the third round to fall out of contention at the British Open.

'I just have to rethink what I need to do,' Singh said as he left Royal Troon.

Els is having a spectacular season and could replace Woods at No. 1 in the world by the time they arrive at Whistling Straits.

Then again, he might need to be suited for a strait jacket after having three excellent chances in the majors and coming away empty. Particularly crushing was the British Open, where he missed four putts inside 15 feet on his final five holes.

As for Hamilton?

He could win the PGA Championship and make a strong case for player of the year with two majors.
That also would put him on the Ryder Cup team, and then Sutton wouldn't have to worry about leaving the British Open champion off his squad.
Related Links:
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.