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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    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.

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    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

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    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."

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    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.