PGA Doesnt Make Lehmans Picks Any Easier

By Associated PressAugust 20, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill -- This wasn't much help.
 
Tom Lehman's choices for his two Ryder Cup captain's picks are no clearer now that the PGA Championship is over than they were when it started. If anything, his decision might be tougher.

This was the last chance to earn Ryder Cup points or impress Lehman, but instead of bringing out their best, players still scrambling to make the team did little to distinguish themselves.
 
'I don't know what he should do, really,' said Davis Love III, one of a half-dozen players still in the mix to fill out the team, which Lehman will announce Monday morning.
 
'He doesn't really have anybody from 10 down that's playing that well. He's got a bunch of guys playing good, but they don't seem to be (between) 10th and 20th on the list. So I don't know. He's in a tough position.'
 
The top 10 in the Ryder Cup point standings after the PGA automatically make the team, and Lehman gets two additional picks. Five players had clinched their spots even before they got to Medinah Country Club, and British Open runner-up Chris DiMarco was all but a lock.
 
Brett Wetterich was 10th when he arrived at Medinah this week. He took quadruple bogeys in the first round, a 9 the second day and badly missed the cut, along with Vaughn Taylor, who was seventh in the standings, and Zach Johnson, who was ninth. J.J. Henry, who was eighth in the standings, tied for 41st at even par.
 
All will make the team anyway because no one else capitalized.
 
'The top 10 stayed the same? Well then, we're going to have some rookies on the team,' Tiger Woods said. 'I don't know what Tom is going to do with his picks.'
 
Love, Stewart Cink, Steve Stricker, Lucas Glover, Tim Herron and Scott Verplank are considered the likeliest candidates to be Lehman's picks.
 
With so many inexperienced players locked in, Lehman could go for veterans with either Love, Cink or Verplank -- or even Herron, who has four career victories, including this year's Colonial.
 
Or, if he's looking for raw talent, he could opt for Glover, who has three top-five finishes this season and three more in the top 10. Lehman also could opt for specific skills, taking someone like assistant captain Corey Pavin, known his tenacity and short game.
 
Love has played on every Ryder Cup team since 1993, the longest active streak by an American, but he said that should have no bearing on Lehman's decision.
 
'You pick somebody you think can help the team,' Love said. 'It doesn't matter how many times they've played or how many times they haven't played. Lucas Glover in match play might be a great partner. Corey Pavin might be a great partner.
 
'You've got to pick someone who's going to play well and putt well,' Love added. 'I'd pick a putter right now.'
 
Who Lehman will pick is anyone's guess, because he wasn't talking Sunday. Instead he spent the day in a golf cart, making last-minute evaluations of the guys who are still potential picks.
 
Cink faded after an opening-round 68, but he rallied with a 3-under 69 Sunday. It didn't hurt that he was paired with Pavin, either. Herron was in contention with a share of the second-round lead, but he shot even-par 72 on Saturday and 1-over 73 Sunday.
 
'It's disappointing,' Herron said. 'I had a lot going on this year -- a lot of positive things. I've had twins. I had a win this year. I'm not going to hang my head. But I just wasn't real organized. I haven't had too many top 10s this year.'
 
Glover was the first-round co-leader after a 6-under 66 Thursday, but spent the next three days trying to find par.
 
'It's been a dream and a goal of mine,' Glover said. 'It's really difficult. I hit two bad shots all day Thursday. I don't think I've hit two good shots since. I can't say if that's pressure or not.'
 
Love might have been the biggest disappointment of all. After beginning the year fourth in the rankings, the 1997 PGA champion had dropped to 15th and needed to finish eighth or better for an automatic spot.
 
Love was in position after opening with 68-69 that left him one stroke off the lead, but he limped home with a 73 Saturday, and had an even more dismal 76 Sunday.
 
'I just didn't score. I felt like I was playing well and I just didn't score,' Love said. 'This is the one time when I tried hard. Probably a little too hard.'
 
The only one who really impressed was Stricker, who has revived his career this year after finishing out of the top 150 the last three seasons and losing his fully exempt status. Stricker was tied for 27th in the rankings and needed to finish third or better to get on the team.
 
He came close, finishing in a tie for seventh after a 69. That moved him up to 21st in the Ryder Cup standings.
 
'I wish I'd gotten a little closer,' Stricker said. 'At least I gave myself a shot at it.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - PGA Championship
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.