Ryder Cup Produces New Stars

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2008, 4:00 pm
LOUISVILLE, Ky. ' The Ryder Cup used to be far more meaningful on the other side of the Atlantic.
 
One reason the Europeans play with so much passion and purpose is because they represent their tour, not just their continent. For years, they were coach to the PGA TOURs business class. Padraig Harrington referred to the European Tour as country cousins, and the Ryder Cup was a stage for its players to prove themselves as equals.
 
This time, however, it was the PGA TOUR desperate for a victory.
 
American golf has been flat over the last three months, dating to a shocking announcement that Tiger Woods would miss the rest of the year due to reconstructive knee surgery.
 
Television ratings have plunged. Grandstands look half-empty (although the Tour would say they are half-full).
 
This would have been a good time for Phil Mickelson or Sergio Garcia to fill the void, but neither has won a tournament since Woods went on injured reserve. And even if they had, they would not have received as much credit. Someone would have mentioned an asterisk.
 
But it sure was hard to ignore Anthony Kim in the Ryder Cup.
 
U.S. captain Paul Azinger sent out the 23-year-old Kim in the first singles match Sunday against Garcia with words that stuck with Kim throughout his 5-and-4 victory.
 
You have a lot of game, so just go out there and let the whole world see it.
 
What everyone saw was one of the most explosive talents in golf. Kim beat a strong field at the Wachovia Championship by five shots. Two months later at storied Congressional, he won the AT&T National by closing with a 65 to become the first American under 25 since Woods to win at least two PGA TOUR events in the same year.
 
But was anyone really watching?
 
Will they remember Kims two victories this year, or how he handed Garcia his worst loss ever in a Ryder Cup? Kim was so fired up that he didnt even realize after an 8-foot par putt on the 14th hole that the match was over.
 
It wasnt just Kim.
 
Hunter Mahan received fleeting fame last summer when he won for the first time and busted out a few scores in the low 60s. If anyone outside golf recognized his name, he was the guy who criticized the Ryder Cup largesse without having played in one.
 
They might look at him differently now.
 
Mahan tied a record for most points by a U.S. captains pick when he went 2-0-3, the only player at Valhalla to play all five matches without losing. It was his clutch tee shot and approach on the par-5 18th that secured a valuable halve in the final team match Saturday, and he secured another half-point when he holed a 60-foot putt across the 17th green Sunday.
 
Fans might now flock to Boo Weekley like they once did to John Daly.
 
No one knows what might come out of his mouth, whether its tobacco juice or homespun talk about chasing bunnies around the dog track. He kept his teammates listening because no one was sure what he would say next.
 
Has anyone seen a golfer gallop off the tee using his driver as a toy horse?
 
Couldnt stop laughing, Jim Furyk said.
 
By the way, Weekley also came up with one clutch shot after another, from his approach out of a fairway bunker to 2 feet to a pair of birdie putts from off the green.
 
J.B. Holmes used to show off his power only outside Phoenix, where he twice won the FBR Open. But no display was more memorable than his tee shots on the 16th and 17th, setting up easy birdies that allowed him to win the pivotal match Sunday.
 
The Ryder Cup gave them all a chance to shine. PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem was among those paying attention.
 
I thought the Ryder Cup was a major impact on bringing some new stars to life for the future of the PGA TOUR, Finchem said Tuesday. When you just look at the way Mahan, and Kim in particular, J.B. Holmes and Boo Weekley played I think some of them were already reasonable stars, but they all took a major step up in terms of their notoriety with our fan base.
 
And thats a good thing.
 
They are not Tiger Woods.
 
Kim might have the best chance to audition as Woods next rival, but even he says hes not at that level right now.
 
Nobody is going to knock Tiger off anywhere. Thats a given, Kim said. Hes staying there until somebody starts giving him more of a challenge on a week-to-week basis, and thats my goal.
 
Worse than Woods missing the last half of the year is the reminder that he is closer to the end of his career. He is 32, coming off his third knee operation in six years, closing in on Jack Nicklaus record 18 majors. Woods playing into his late 40s is about as likely as Nick Faldo conceding he made a mistake.
 
While we miss Tiger'and everybody misses Tiger'it does give us this window of players being able to get more attention, Finchem said. That certainly was evident at the Ryder Cup.
 
There are plenty of personalities on the PGA TOUR. Golf managed to survive before Woods came along.
 
It took the Ryder Cup to bring some of them out.
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Report Cards
  • European Report Cards
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

     

     

    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.