Notes Verplank MIA Miller Irritating US

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- Scott Verplank must be wondering why Tom Lehman picked him for the Ryder Cup.
 
After not playing on the first day of the matches, Verplank -- an alternate-shot specialist because he is among the straightest hitters in golf -- was sent out in a fourballs match Saturday morning. He and Zach Johnson produced the only U.S. victory.
 
Then Verplank returned to the bench.
 
'I would be lying if I told you I wasn't disappointed and feel like I shouldn't have another chance or two,' Verplank said. 'But I'll have another chance tomorrow, and hopefully ... we'll still have a chance as a group to win. That's what we're all here for.'
 
Even so, it was peculiar.
 
Only one other American to make the team as a captain's pick has played only one team match -- Paul Azinger in 2002, the year the Ryder Cup was delayed one year because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
 
Stranger still was that Lehman told Verplank on Thursday night that he would not play in either match Friday, which would indicate it didn't matter how anyone performed in the opening session.
 
Verplank finished 20th in the Ryder Cup standings, so it was considered a bold move for Lehman to take him.
 
'One of the things that I think our team needs is somebody who can really putt and really can chip, who can drive the ball, put it in the fairway, who is a tough, tough, tough competitor, who will never quit, never give up,' Lehman said of Verplank the day he picked him.
 
Apparently, that didn't come with a guarantee to play.
 
Johnson made all the birdies in their 2-and-1 victory, although Verplank's contributions were quiet. He was in virtually every hole, assuring the Americans no worse than par.
 
'It was a team effort, regardless of what anybody says,' Johnson said.
 
Verplank said Lehman approached them on the 13th hole to tell Johnson he would play in a foursomes match Saturday afternoon.
 
'I said, 'Am I playing this afternoon?' And he said, 'No,'' Verplank said. 'And I said, 'We're going to win this match. I'd like to play.' But he already had it set. And fortunately, we won the match.'
 
Verplank tried to say all the right things, although it was an awkward handshake with Lehman after his fourball victory, and Verplank walked away shaking his head.
 
After a team meeting Saturday evening, Lehman said Verplank was fine.
 
'I'm sure he's disappointed -- or was disappointed -- and that's what makes him such a great competitor,' Lehman said. 'I simply felt that this afternoon, we needed to put what I considered to be our best teams out there.'
 
Verplank said ultimately he cared only about winning. A captain's pick in 2002, he played both foursomes matches and went 2-1 in another U.S. loss.
 
'If we win the Ryder Cup, captain Lehman is going to look like a genius,' Verplank said. 'And that's what I'm hoping.'
 
DRESS CODE
Ian Woosnam and Tom Lehman have to guess how the other captain is going to arrange his team for each session of matches. Apparently, they don't trade secrets on uniforms, either.
 
Both teams arrived on the first tee Saturday morning wearing dark slacks and blue shirts, and the only way to tell them apart was when the Americans put on their black sweaters.
 
The Americans kept their same uniforms for the afternoon, while the Europeans switched to a lavender top.
 
SMALL MAN AND A BIG HEART
The sure sign Europe is in the lead is when Colin Montgomerie turns into a standup comic.
 
Sergio Garcia was asked about the attributes of captain Ian Woosnam, especially after Europe built a 10-6 lead.
 
'He might be a short man, but he's got a huge heart,' Garcia said.
 
Monty interrupted.
 
'He IS a short man,' Montgomerie said of the 5-foot-4 captain. 'There's no question about that, Sergio. He is a short man with a very, very big heart.'
 
'But I think he's grown about 3 inches this week,' Garcia countered.
 
MILLER TIME
Johnny Miller might have been getting on the nerves of U.S. players without even knowing it.
 
Ryder Cup officials made available NBC Sports' raw feed, which included the chatter during commercial breaks. Miller had no shortage of material, whether it was Tiger Woods' sloppy game or Scott Verplank needing to 'wake up' because his partner, Zach Johnson, was making all the birdies.
 
Once it was pointed out the raw feed was going to the U.S. team room, it mysteriously ended.
 
There was talk the U.S. players decided not to speak to NBC, but Chris DiMarco said that wasn't the case and that players weren't even listening.
 
'We don't flatter him that way,' he said.
 
Miller's most infamous line at the Ryder Cup was in 1999, when it was suggested Justin Leonard should have sat out a team match Saturday when Europe was dominating. Miller said Leonard should have stayed home.
 
The Americans rallied around that remark, winning at Brookline when Leonard holed a 45-foot putt on the 17th.
 
'Since then, nobody really hears anything he says,' Verplank said. 'I don't think he's important enough to inspire Tiger or Phil.'
 
JUNIOR CHEERLEADERS
The gang in U.S. team clothes hanging around the 16th green Saturday morning was doing its best to cheer on their fellow Americans.
 
It was the junior Ryder Cup team, just back from their matches in Wales, and they were determined to make their voices heard over that of thousands of European supporters in the nearby bleachers.
 
The crowd had been serenading the Europeans with a rousing 'Ole, Ole, Ole,' and the U.S. juniors tried to come up with their own version of the song. Failing that, they reverted to a basic 'USA, USA' chant.
 
That's what greeted Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood as they arrived at the green with Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. The group kept it up as the two Europeans arrived at Clarke's ball, which was just off the back edge of the green only a few feet away from them.
 
Then they stopped, except for one unfortunate cheerleader who kept going.
 
'Didn't you get the memo?' an amused Westwood asked him.
 
Clarke wasn't exactly intimidated. He walked up to his ball in the muddy rough and calmly chipped it into the hole, sending the crowd into a frenzy and giving the Euros a win.
 
Next to the green, though, things grew suddenly quiet.
 
DIVOTS
Zach Johnson made seven birdies as he and Scott Verplank won their fourballs match Saturday morning. That's more birdies than Chris DiMarco and Phil Mickelson made combined in their two fourball matches at the Ryder Cup. ... Mickelson now is 1-7-1 in his last nine Ryder Cup matches. ... Europe's captains picks (Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood) have contributed half of Europe's 10 points. ... Sergio Garcia didn't play Tiger Woods on Saturday, but he still took a shot at him. Asked why the Europeans got along so well, Garcia said it was important to laugh about bad shots and give encouragement. 'You don't give them any weird looks or anything like that,' he said. It was a reference to the last Ryder Cup, when Woods looked disgusted after his partner, Phil Mickelson, hit a 3-wood on the final hole at Oakland Hills that one-hopped off a fence and cost them the match.
 
Related Links:
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


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    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


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    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''