Montgomerie makes plea for fans

By Associated PressOctober 4, 2010, 1:28 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Colin Montgomerie wants all those European fans to take another day off.

The Ryder Cup was supposed to end Sunday, but two long rain delays forced the competition into Monday for the first time. Fearful of overcrowding, officials decided to only allow those with final-day tickets to return for the deciding matches at water-logged Celtic Manor.

Of course, some of those 40,000 ticket-holders surely had to be at work or had travel plans that couldn’t be changed. That is sure to mean smaller crowds cheering on the home team when it needs them most, a prospect that seemed a bit troubling to the European captain.

“Quite a few of them might need a sick note,” Montgomerie quipped after Europe surged into a three-point lead heading to singles with one of its most brilliant team performances ever. “We do hope that as many people as possible with Sunday tickets will turn up.”

Monty asked course officials if fans with Sunday and Friday tickets could be allowed in, boosting the potential crowd and paying back those who saw only a few hours of golf the first day (play was suspended for more than seven hours because of heavy rain).

That wasn’t possible.

“Imagine if all 40,000 today turn up and all 40,000 Friday turn up, the course couldn’t cope,” Montgomerie said. “Unfortunately, we have to limit it to people with Sunday tickets, and I think that’s only fair.”

Celtic Manor already was pushed to the brink by torrential rain that turned many of the areas outside the ropes into something more suited for a tractor pull.

After more rain pounded the course, delaying play Sunday by almost four hours, the gates didn’t open to fans until 11 a.m.

“There was a health and safety issue here,” Montgomerie said. “It was touch and go whether any spectators were out on the course today at all.”

Celtic Manor’s owner, Sir Terry Matthews, built the new Twenty Ten course mainly for the notoriety it could bring to his resort and the boost it could give to Wales, which is hosting the Ryder Cup for the first time. All that rain surely hasn’t been much of a selling point to potential tourists.

“Everybody involved in organizing this first Ryder Cup in Wales is deeply disappointed by the weather,” Matthews said in a statement, “but our biggest disappointment is for the spectators and sponsors who deserve so much better.”

Many have questioned the wisdom of hosting the event at one of the rainiest times of year in this country, but Matthews said the bad weather was simply a case of bad luck.

“We could have played this event exactly one year ago or exactly one week ago and we would have experienced no interruptions to the schedule of play,” he said. “But one thing we cannot control is the weather.”

BUZZING AMERICANS: Stewart Cink asked to have Matt Kuchar as a partner.

Good thing the captain went along.

The Georgia Tech alums and good friends were the most successful pairing for the Americans during team play, winning one match and halving two others.

Without them, the Americans would be facing an even more daunting deficit than the three-point margin they’ll have to overcome in singles Monday.

Cink’s putter has been hot, while Kuchar has steadily improved since a shaky start.

“Certainly, there’s been some good play,” Kuchar said. “I’ve been pleased I’ve kind of gotten better every day. I’m pleased with Stewart and we paired up pretty well together, took two of three points, and I feel like it’s been a good performance I put in. I feel like it’s been getting stronger.”

They won’t be able to lean on each other anymore. Cink will go out in the second match, facing Rory McIlroy, while Kuchar was placed in the fifth slot against Ian Poulter. The Americans must win 7 1/2 out of 12 points to retain the cup, a tough task playing on the road.

“We have to continue to do well in the singles,” Kuchar said.

BROTHER ACT: As the Molinaris went to the 18th hole, trailing again, they surely were aware that being the first siblings to play in the Ryder Cup since 1963 wouldn’t mean a thing if they couldn’t produce at least a half-point for the European team.

Edoardo put his wedge shot about 15 feet from the flag. His little brother Francesco stuck his even closer – just 3 feet away.

When big brother missed his putt, Francesco knew he had to come through. Plagued all day by a shaky putter, he knocked this one right in the center of the cup for the birdie that won the hole, halved the match and gave Europe a potentially important half-point.

“It was a great finish,” Edoardo said.

The Molinaris went to No. 18 one hole down, facing the prospect of being the only European team not to score on Sunday. They were playing with passion and flair, but already had lost one match and faced another defeat largely because of Francesco’s shaky putter, which missed on several short attempts.

But the Italians caught a break when Cink drove into a bunker on the par-5 finishing hole, a mistake that took him out of contention for making birdie. Kuchar had to lay up in front of the water with his second shot, and only got within 25 feet of the flag with his wedge into the green, not close enough for a strong chance at birdie.

“When Cink missed the drive in the bunker, it was two against one,” Edoardo said. “We definitely had an advantage and we were good enough to win the hole.”

With the match all-square at No. 16, Francesco elected to putt first to save par even though he was closer than his brother. The move backfired. Francesco missed another one from inside 10 feet, his brother also missed and the Americans regained the lead.

But Francesco’s putt at 18 made up for it.

“We played very well,” Edoardo said. “I think we deserve our half-point at least.”

European captain Colin Montgomerie praised the Italians more than anyone else, knowing that halving a match will surely help their confidence going into singles play. Francesco will be playing Tiger Woods in the eighth match Monday, followed by his brother against Rickie Fowler.

“To do what they did at that last hole, two rookies, two brothers coming down that last hole with everybody who plays golf in Europe watching them,” Montgomerie said. “Fantastic performance to hole that putt at the last by Francesco. Fabulous.”

CARRYING THE LOAD: One of the most overlooked members of the European team is Ross Fisher.

While players such as Lee Westwood and Luke Donald garner much of the attention, Fisher’s performance has been invaluable.

Paired with Ian Poulter in the opening fourballs, Fisher’s team lost to Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in a tight match.

Captain Colin Montgomerie then juggled his teams, pairing Fisher with struggling Padraig Harrington. The Irishman continues to have his problems, but Fisher has picked up the slack in two victories. They beat Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in alternate shot, then took out Johnson and Jim Furyk in fourballs.

“He certainly played the best golf probably anyone has ever seen in a Ryder Cup,” Harrington said. “He made all the shots, holed all the putts. He really did play awesome.”

Fisher got the Europeans going with three straight birdies early in Sunday’s match, and he made three more on the back side – including the clinching birdie putt at No. 17.

“I just had so much fun out there,” Fisher said. “Being with Paddy again, you know you’re with a great champion, a three-time major champion, and he showed his class. I got him to read my putts, and every time I was standing over a putt, I felt so confident.”

DIVOTS: The depth of the European team is evident: All 12 players helped score at least a half-point in team matches. Lee Westwood (2-0-1) and Martin Kaymer (2-0-1) lead the way, while Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher and Luke Donald have been in on two wins apiece. … Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker are the only Americans with two wins, and even that mark is tarred by the biggest loss of the team competition, a 6-and-5 blowout by Westwood and Donald. Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, who were sent out in the very first match by the U.S., are both 0-3. They lost twice as partners, then were beaten again after the pairings were switched up for the third session. … The win by Westwood and Donald was the biggest in alternate shot since Sam Torrance and Costantino Rocca beat Davis Love III and Jeff Maggert by the same margin in 1995. … Donald is 6-0 in alternate shot matches in his Ryder Cup career.

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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.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.