Mahan learns tough lesson on Ryder Cup comments

By Associated PressAugust 5, 2008, 4:00 pm
Follow the 90th PGA Championship all week on GOLF CHANNEL. Click for our TV schedule!
 
2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' He complained about the money, control, time and extravagance at the Ryder Cup, some of the same issues that David Duval raised nine years ago without ever having played in one.
 
At least Hunter Mahan did not call it an exhibition.
 
The 26-year-old American has a lot on his plate at Oakland Hills this week. Mahan is trying to validate his potential by winning the final major of the year. He is No. 10 in the Ryder Cup standings and needs a strong week to qualify. And he is busy making the rounds with PGA of America officials, apologizing for critical comments about an event he has never played.
 
Hunter Mahan
Hunter Mahan is two spots from earning an automatic berth onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team. (Getty Images)
They took it personally, and I dont blame them, Mahan said after meeting with PGA president Brian Whitcomb and CEO Joe Steranka. I deserve what I get. I take full responsibility for what I said.
 
Mahan brought the wrong kind of attention to himself with an interview in Golf magazine in which he was asked to explain why the Americans keep losing the Ryder Cup. Among other things, he said the PGA of America could care less about winning because they decide where it is played based on where it can make the most money.
 
And from what Ive heard, the whole week is extremely long, Mahan said in the interview. Youve got dinners every night ' not little dinners, but huge, massive dinners. I know as players, thats the last thing we want to do. We want to prepare ourselves. Thats part of the whole thing: Youre just a slave that week.
 
Mahan thought the interview, which took place in late spring, was going to be about his love for cars, especially with the PGA Championship coming to Motor City. Only when he read the interview did he realize there might be a problem.
 
Then my dad called and said he heard it on the GOLF CHANNEL, Mahan said. I guess they hammered me pretty good, and it kind of erupted from there.
 
Give him credit in one respect. In an age when athletes routinely blame the messenger, Mahan never said he was misquoted or taken out of context. He immediately called U.S. captain Paul Azinger to apologize. Whether it hurts his chances of being a captains pick if he doesnt qualify remains to be seen, although Azinger said he wasnt losing sleep over the interview.
 
I want guys playing good, he said. Im not going to hold a grudge over that.
 
Next up came Mahans meeting with the PGA of America brass, which accepted the apology but still sent a message.
 
It was a chance to enlighten him about the Ryder Cup and PGA of America activities, Whitcomb said Tuesday morning. We saw a talented young man who would like to play in the Ryder Cup and knew he had made a mistake, and was looking to amend those mistakes. I appreciated that.
 
Steranka felt like he had been through this before.
 
Those comments sounded like they were 9 years old, he said. Because they are not relevant to what the Ryder Cup is today.
 
Mahan knows what Ryder Cup competition is all about.
 
He was in the gallery at Brookline in 1999 after being invited to play in the Junior Ryder Cup. Oddly enough, that was the year Duval and Tiger Woods led a mini-revolt over Ryder Cup income that led to each player being allotted $200,000 for charity.
 
It was intense, Mahan said. The crowd, you could hear it a mile away. We had to sit at one hole and wait for people to come through, and it was just crazy. You could see the energy on everybodys faces.
 
Perhaps thats why he was so disappointed to hear chatter that the Ryder Cup wasnt what it appeared to be for all the players.
 
From what Ive heard, the Ryder Cup just isnt fun, Mahan said in the magazine interview. The fun is sucked right out of it. Thats the word I hear a lot.
 
Thats what should have stung the PGA of America the most.
 
Some of the most significant words in his interview might have been, From what Ive heard. Mahan, who hasnt caused any problems in his five years on tour, didnt come up with stuff on his own. He developed these Ryder Cup opinions by listening to those who have played in them, and one can only assume this gripe session took place in the team room at the Presidents Cup.
 
The question was, `Why has the U.S. lost?' ' Mahan said. Just from the Presidents Cup, having such a good time it was disappointing to hear about the Ryder Cup, that it wasnt as much fun. I was disappointed to hear that about an event I had looked up to as a kid.
 
Mahan was wrong to say what he did in the interview, and he knows it.
 
But that doesnt mean the issue will go away for the PGA of America, for its clear that some U.S. players still feel that the Ryder Cup is overcooked. And even though Mahan had no business asking, its a fair question. Of all the great courses in America, why is the Ryder Cup going to Valhalla, a course the PGA of America owns?
 
Then again, most criticism tends to be directed away from the real problem.
 
Even if players had to attend a gala dinner every night instead of just Wednesday, even if the Ryder Cup generated twice as much income, would it not be more fun for the Americans if they were winning?
 
Europeans wear tuxedos, too.
 
I should have said in the article how much I want to change the culture of the Ryder Cup and start winning, Mahan said.
 
No one would criticize that.
 
Related Links:
  • Full PGA Championship Tee Times
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

    Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

    Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

    Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

    “At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

    Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

    “I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

    Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

    Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

    “As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

    Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

    Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

    Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

    Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

    Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

    There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

    “I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

    Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

    The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.