Ugly Weather Ugly Americans

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- There are times when the Americans just can't win, such as the Ryder Cup.
 
And sometimes, they don't even have to wait for the matches to get under way.
 
The weather turned so nasty Wednesday morning, with 40 mph gusts that toppled a few trees and brought the rain sideways, that The K Club was closed to the public for nearly three hours. U.S. captain Tom Lehman sent his players back to bed, and only later did both teams believe it best to play for thousands of spectators who eventually got onto the course.
 
But it was no time to take golf seriously, not with the wind blowing the ball all over the place.
 
Lehman fulfilled a prediction he made in February by creating what was believed to be the first 'twelvesome' game in Ryder Cup history, his entire team playing nine holes on a gray, miserable afternoon.
 
But there was a twist.
 
They worked on their short game, starting each hole from about 120 yards away. The gallery wasn't aware of this, so when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and the rest of the Americans walked from the fourth green, past the fifth tee and kept marching down the middle of the fairway, the Ryder Cup got its first dose of booing.
 
'You don't give a damn about Ireland's public,' shouted one man behind the tee, and hundreds of others nodded.
 
Another man asked Jim Furyk to stop for a picture. He walked over to man's wife, put his arm on her shoulder and posed with a smile.
 
Walking back toward the fairway, Furyk said, 'I guess we're just the ugly Americans.'
 
Lehman later asked for a mulligan.
 
He realized his squad should have performed at least on the first tee, where the grandstands were packed with people. And when he caught up with his team on the seventh hole, he told them to tee off on No. 9, the only drives they hit all day.
 
'We walk down the first hole to about 120 yards short of the green and started from there, and kind of left everybody sitting in the stands by the first tee waiting,' Lehman said. 'That was a mistake. We should have hit a tee shot at least on the first hole. To all of those fans left waiting, I apologize. That was my mistake.'
 
There's always something at the Ryder Cup.
 
Woods riled the English fans at The Belfry four years ago when captain Curtis Strange allowed him to practice at 6 a.m., as he normally does, finishing about the time fans were just showing up.
 
Last time outside Detroit, the Americans were criticized by their own gallery for not signing autographs during the practice rounds. There was a policy against autographs, which the Europeans gladly violated with hopes of winning favor on foreign soil, and it worked.
 
Lehman's apology was sincere, but he had no regrets about what unfolded on The K Club.
 
Furyk recently described the Americans as looking 'constipated' when they get to the Ryder Cup, but not on this day. Asked to describe what kind of game it was, Scott Verplank replied, 'Fun.'
 
It was quite a scene, the 12 Americans and their caddies on the same green, all dressed in black rain suits (an appropriate color).
 
Each player put $100 into the pot on each hole, and formed teams for an alternate-shot match that started within about pitching wedge range except on the par 3s. In case of a tie, there was a chip-off on each hole to determine the winner.
 
Verplank and David Toms were formidable, although don't read too much into that pairing.
 
Verplank won a chip-off on the third by pitching from a knoll beyond the green, over a bunker to within a foot. On the next hole, the par-5 fourth, the players started from 240 yards away, and Woods, Furyk and Brett Wetterich were the only players to reach in two. No matter: Toms chipped in for eagle and the other guys missed their putts.
 
The drama came at the par-4 seventh, a peninsula green.
 
Not only did Lehman have them stop short of the pond, they had to skip the ball off the water and over the rocks rimming the green, similar to a tradition during practice at the Masters.
 
Verplank hit a masterful shot that skipped off the water, over the rocks and banged hard enough into the slight slope that it rolled about 20 feet away from the pin. J.J. Henry and Zach Johnson hit shots that plopped and sank. Chad Campbell was last to hit, and he skipped it over and up to within 3 feet. Wetterich, his partner, knocked in the putt with the entire team watching.
 
Chris DiMarco gets into the Ryder Cup, even in practice.
 
He won a chip-off from the bunker on No. 8 by blasting out to 15 feet, while Wetterich left his in the sand. It must have been the first skin for DiMarco, because he instinctively raised and shook his fist, looking at the fans for some cheers, not realizing they didn't care.
 
But there was banter along the way, even with the caddies.
 
Mike 'Fluff' Cowan was walking to the eighth tee when he spotted an Irish teenager wearing a New York Yankees cap. Cowan has roots in New England, and he couldn't resist.
 
'Name me one player on the New York Yankees. Just one,' he challenged him.
 
The kid shrugged his shoulder and Cowan walked away in mock disgust until the kid returned the challenge.
 
'Name me a Kerry footballer,' he said.
 
'Ian Coughlin,' Cowan replied, choosing two common names from this part of the world.
 
Then they headed off to the practice range, where the Europeans worked quietly. There wasn't much time left, for the black-tie gala dinner was to start at 7:30 p.m.
 
'We took a day that could have been not a whole lot of fun out there -- grinding it out, putting for pars and bogeys and not making very many birdies -- to having a good time,' Toms said. 'That's what we've been stressing to each other. Enjoy the competition, and I thought we did some things where the fans seemed to be enjoying what we were doing.
 
'Plus, I won some money,' Toms said. 'So it was good.'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup Matches
  • Getty Images

    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

    Getty Images

    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm