Notes Ryder Cup Fatigue Bubble Boy

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill ' The Americans could be worn out when they get to the Ryder Cup two years from now, and PGA of America officials are blaming the new FedEx Cup competition.
 
The FedEx Cup starts next year and is the PGA TOURs attempt at a playoff system. Its a season-long points race for $10 million, in which top players will be expected to compete in six of the final seven tournaments, ending in mid-September at the Tour Championship.
 
In 2008, the Ryder Cup will start five days later.
 
One week, Tiger Woods & Co. will be playing for $10 million. The next week, even more will be at stake playing for their flag.
 
Weve made it clear to the PGA TOUR we are not happy with the scheduling for 2008, that we were not able to achieve a one-week gap between their big Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup, which we dont think is good, said Joe Steranka, the PGA of Americas chief executive officer.
 
We would prefer to have one week between, and I think thats in place for the subsequent years, he said. How players react to the new PGA TOUR schedule remains to be seen, were going to watch it. If it has an impact on the Ryder Cup that we think we need to address further, well address it.
 
There might not be anything the PGA of America can do.
 
PGA TOUR spokesman Bob Combs attributed the timing to NBC Sports, which televises the final three tournaments of the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup. He said the tour was able to negotiate a one-week gap between the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup in five out of the six years, the exception being 2008.
 
We agree there needs to be at least a week break, Combs said. It really was an NBC television issue that could not be resolved. I believe everything is locked up from a television perspective.
 
Steranka was clearly annoyed, however, choosing his words carefully when he spoke of the goodwill between both organizations.
 
Thats not the spirit of the relationship, he said. We dont agree on everything. But this is one thing they felt couldnt change, and we felt it needed to change.
 
PGA president Roger Warren said the 08 Ryder Cup was locked into Sept. 19-21 dates.
 
Were concerned about the impact it might have on the players, he said.
 
Still, no one is sure how the FedEx Cup will unfold. PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem has said players likely will have to play the final four weeks to have any chance of winning the $10 million prize, although its mathematically possible that Woods, Mickelson or another hot player could skip a week and still win the cup.
 
As much money as the players already make, some might even skip events to have their game ready for the Ryder Cup, which is on the same scale of a major championship.
 
Asked what he thought about the situation, U.S. captain Tom Lehman said I want no part of this conversation.
 
Its not optimal, he eventually said.
 
ON THE BUBBLE
Brett Wetterich seems to be a poster boy for whats wrong with the new Ryder Cup qualification system, perhaps because not many people are familiar with his name, much less his game.
 
But theres a reason Wetterich is No. 10 in the standings.
 
He tied for fourth in New Orleans, and two weeks later captured his first PGA TOUR victory by holding off Adam Scott and Trevor Immelman at the Byron Nelson Championship. Then he went to the Memorial, where he tied for second.
 
Even so, Wetterich has gone through the last month coping with questions about whether he belongs on the team.
 
I guess people think we should have the same guys every year, like Davis Love, Fred Couples and Chris DiMarco, he said. Maybe it would be good to give some new guys a chance.
 
This is only his third major championship, and the first one with more than winning a trophy on his mind.
 
If he doesnt finish in the top 10 at Medinah and earn Ryder Cup points, hell have to watch the scoreboard and hope that no one behind him earns enough points to knock him out of the top 10 in the Ryder Cup standings.
 
Ill try not to think of it, but Im sure it will be in the back of my mind, Wetterich said. I want to make the team and get in by myself. I dont want to wait and see how other people are doing behind me, needing someone to make bogey or something.
 
CLARKE MEMORIAL
An hour before the PGA Championship gets under way Thursday, there will be a memorial service outside the clubhouse for Heather Clarke, the wife of Darren Clarke, who died Sunday of cancer at age 39.
 
Tom Lehman, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, will deliver the message.
 
I really dont know why they asked me, Lehman said. Theres a number of people who could, but maybe they are just so emotional about it and so close that they would prefer to let somebody else say a few words. Of course, Im honored.
 
Lehman is not an ordained minister, but he has experience.
 
He delivered a moving eulogy and prayer before the 1999 Tour Championship for Payne Stewart, the U.S. Open champion who was killed in a plane crash.
 
PLAYING CAPTAIN
Tom Lehman came awfully close from going from Ryder Cup captain to Ryder Cup player.
 
Maybe.
 
Lehman lost in a playoff at the International to Dean Wilson.
 
Had he won, Lehman would have gone to No. 7 in the Ryder Cup standings, virtually a lock to earn a spot among the top-10 qualifiers. But he didnt say whether he would have become the first playing captain since Arnold Palmer in 1963, and he wont say what he will do if he earns enough points this week to make the team.
 
Lehman believes his team should be filled with guys who have great short games, and he doesnt like the way he is putting. Then again, Chris DiMarco cornered him Tuesday and told him he would be on the team if he finished in the top 10, no questions asked.
 
I go, Well, thats really nice, but Im the captain, Lehman said.
 
If he finishes in the top 10, Lehman could either choose to play, or take himself off the team and take the player at No. 11, which could free him up for another captains pick.
 
Its all conjecture, and something well actually talk about if it happens on Sunday, he said.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
     
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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

    Getty Images

    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."

    Getty Images

    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.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    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.