Notes Tigers 9-Iron Follies Cink Stops Sergio

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- After hitting an approach shot to the seventh green, Tiger Woods asked his caddie, Steve Williams, to rinse the mud off his 9-iron.
Williams went above and beyond. Dipping the club into the River Liffey, Williams lost his balance on a slick rock. Something had to give.
'It was him or the 9-iron going into the drink,' Woods said. 'He chose the 9-iron.'
Woods and Williams laughed about the gaffe -- easier to do because Woods won his match pretty easily. He played the next seven holes with only 13 clubs.
It was only an issue once -- on 11 -- when Woods was 127 yards for his approach, 'the perfect number' for his 9-iron. He hit a choked down 8 instead and made birdie.
Later, a diver retrieved the club, and Woods got it back on No. 15.
'Stevie dried the grip, and it was fine,' Woods said.
Once again, Sunday was cruel to Sergio Garcia. Not at a major, but at his own personal playground, the Ryder Cup.
The 4-and-3 loss to Stewart Cink hardly muted his celebration, though. Garcia failed to become the first European to go 5-0 in a Ryder Cup, but his first four victories set the stage for Europe's win. When it was over, he showed no signs of being upset.
Really, there was no beating Cink on this day. He was at his best. He made four birdies over the first five holes to run to a 3-up lead. It got to 5 up from there.
'I don't think he had a hot putter. I think his putter melted,' said Garcia, who left with a 14-4-2 lifetime record at the Ryder Cup.
Cink won his first Ryder Cup singles match in three tries.
'It was probably my best match-play experience of my life today,' he said.
The Ryder Cup players weren't the only Americans with sad tales to tell from The K Club.
Bill Clinton, on hand to watch the final round of the exhibition, played here in the past and said it was a struggle.
'I know I didn't break 90,' he said. 'I think I shot a 91. I know I didn't get close to my handicap.'
The former President's handicap is reported by many to be around 12. Many theories abound, of course, about what that number really should be. He has a reputation as an unabashed mulligan taker, a guy who keeps hitting shots until he likes the result.
But he wasn't telling any tall tales about his trip around the Irish course, 'from the blue tees' -- the championship tees -- which play at 7,337 yards.
'I spent half the time trying to stay out of the water,' he said. 'Very difficult, pretty much at every turn.'
Clinton said he appreciates the Ryder Cup for the same reason most people do.
'It's because it's team, not an individual sport,' Clinton said. 'It's got variations that make it endlessly interesting -- the mix of personalities and mix of forms of play.'
'And,' Clinton added, 'this is a very hard course.'
There's no other way to put it, except to say Phil Mickelson had an awful Ryder Cup. He lost 2 and 1 to Jose Maria Olazabal on Sunday to finish 0-4-1 for the week and drop to 1-9-1 over his last 11 matches.
What happened?
'Obviously, I expected to get more points than a half,' Mickelson said. 'But I felt like we were in every match.'
Mickelson did nothing to quiet those who say he's too burned out come September to be effective in this event, or those who advanced the theory that he might never be the same after his 18th-hole meltdown at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
Like Woods, captain Tom Lehman and pretty much everyone on the U.S. team, Mickelson agreed the lack of clutch putting did in the whole team.
'It comes back down to the greens,' he said. 'It's just going to make me work harder in putting in the offseason because I just didn't make anything, and that was certainly frustrating.'
Scott Verplank already was having a good day. He was 3-up in his singles match with Padraig Harrington and on his way to winning his second Ryder Cup point when he stepped up to the tee on the 14th hole.
Verplank had the honors and hit an iron at the flag 213 yards away. His aim was true, and the ball hopped into the hole for the second ace of this Ryder Cup.
'I just turned around and then told Padraig, 'Well, it's your shot now,'' Verplank said.
Harrington had to make an ace himself to avoid going four down with four to go. He hit a good shot, but it ended up eight feet short.
Verplank halved the next hole with Harrington to win the match 4 and 3. It was a rare bright spot in a frustrating day for the U.S. team.
'Just a lucky shot,' Verplank said. 'I hit a nice-looking shot. It never left the flag. But to go in is pretty lucky.'
Paul Casey made a hole-in-one on the same hole Saturday. His was even more dramatic, though, winning the match for he and David Howell against Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson.
London-based sports book William Hill called the 2008 Ryder Cup a toss-up, offering even-money on either team. Spokesman Graham Sharpe said it's the first time the Europeans aren't being tabbed as an underdog for a Ryder Cup on U.S. turf. Odds on the Europeans fielding the same 12 players as this year were 33-1. The odds on the Americans fielding the same team two years hence? 'About a million to 1, I'd guess,' Sharpe said. ... Lee Westwood played his match against Chris DiMarco with flu symptoms. He gingerly drank from a bottle of champagne during Europe's otherwise raucous celebration. ... Colin Montgomerie improved 6-0-2 in Ryder Cup singles matches.
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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.