A Tale of Two Continents at Ryder Cup

By Associated PressSeptember 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesTom Lehman stayed up all night agonizing over his captain's picks for the Ryder Cup before finally picking up the phone and telling Davis Love III and a few others that it ripped his gut apart not to be able to take them to Ireland.
 
Ian Woosnam, meanwhile, walked into a bar and casually told Thomas Bjorn he wasn't going to be on the European team.

Oh, and barkeep, while I'm here would you mind pouring me a pint?
 
'In a bar,' a bitter Bjorn said. 'That kind of sums it up.'
 
Trouble on the European team? Hardly, because Bjorn didn't wait long before apologizing to everyone around for any disparaging comments he made about the pint-sized European captain.
 
Besides, nothing much shakes these Euros. They beat up on Tiger Woods on a regular basis, know how to play alternate shot, and don't tremble at the thought of having to make a 5-footer on Sunday afternoon with the pride of a continent at stake.
 
All good reasons why they've won four of the last five of these things, and are the favorites to be hoisting seed salesman Samuel Ryder's cup above their heads at The K Club.
 
But there's more to it than that. There has to be, because the recent European dominance of the cup makes no logical sense.
 
America has the best players in the world, including the top three in the world rankings at last glance. And Americans win the major championships, something a European hasn't done since Paul Lawrie won the British Open seven years ago.
 
Yet somehow they get drubbed almost every time they put a flag on their shirt.
 
Just how is it that Colin Montgomerie can't come close to sniffing a par from the fairway on the final hole of the U.S. Open, yet can't lose when playing for national pride? How does Sergio Garcia manage to elevate his game for his teammates when he can't do it in the final round of a major championship?
 
And how can the greatest player of his time -- perhaps all time -- play so miserably when he has to play with someone else?
 
Maybe it's because the Europeans take it more seriously than the Americans. More likely, it's because they don't take themselves as seriously as the Yanks.
 
When Woods took the rookies of the U.S. team out for dinner at a fancy steakhouse one night last month the golf world was astonished. So apparently were the rooks, one of whom, Brett Wetterich, had never met Woods.
 
Contrast that to the on-course leader of the European team. When he's playing the PGA TOUR, you can usually find Monty in the corner booth of the local Chili's. Across the pond, he's likely as not to be joining the lads in the hotel bar for an after-round libation.
 
Americans try their best to manufacture camaraderie every two years for players whose idea of conversation with each other at any other time is limited to 'You're out.' They bring in fine chefs, stock a room with every toy and game imaginable, and hope some serious bonding goes on.
 
Lehman went one step further this year, convincing Woods and Phil Mickelson to leave their private rides home and go on a charter with the team to Ireland for two days. Once there, they practiced their games, learned the names of some of their teammates, and practiced how to get along with each other.
 
With the Europeans, it's already there.
 
They know each other, socialize with each other, root for each other. Like the Americans, most of them are millionaires. Unlike the Americans, they don't act as though being rich and playing golf for a living was their birthright.
 
Most of them are stuck on a minor league tour that zigzags through Europe and Asia, playing mostly before small and apathetic crowds. The Ryder Cup is their moment in the spotlight, their time to shine.
 
They've now won seven of the last 10 of these events, which, by the way, never seemed to mean that much when the Americans were regularly whipping the British. Even Woods says -- and the oddsmakers agree -- that they will be the favorites in Ireland.
 
With good reason. Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk may be the top three players in the world but they're a combined 20-28-7 in the Ryder Cup. The current U.S. team is a pathetic 31-39-10 overall, and will start four players who have never played a Ryder Cup match.
 
The Europeans, meanwhile, are 75-42-21.
 
In the end, it's not the numbers that really matter. What matters is the Europeans understand how to take an individual game and make a team sport out of it.
 
It's something the Americans have yet to figure out.
 
And a few days in Ireland isn't likely to change that.
 
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    By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

    With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

    Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

    In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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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.

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    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

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    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.