US better off without Woods

By Associated PressSeptember 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' No one will miss Tiger Woods at the Ryder Cup more than the Europeans.
 
Yes, the Americans will have to make do without a guy who has won 75 times around the world, 14 majors, and who has been No. 1 in the world ranking for 513 weeks.
 
But they might be better off without him.
 
For all his greatness when the trophy is awarded to only one player, Woods has compiled a meager 10-13-2 record in his five Ryder Cup appearances. He went 3-2 at the last Ryder Cup, his first winning record.
 
Phil Mickelson and Justin Leonard
Phil Mickelson and Justin Leonard practice Tuesday at Valhalla. (Getty Images)
Plus, nothing motivates European players more than beating Woods in the Ryder Cup, which they have done 12 times in 20 team matches.
 
Even so, its easy to see why U.S. captain Paul Azinger cant find a silver lining when asked if any good can come from Woods sitting this one out while he recovers from reconstructive knee surgery.
 
I cant imagine how you can argue a team would be better off without potentially the greatest player who has ever lived, Azinger said. As far as Im concerned, it really puts Europe in an advantageous place. It puts Europe in a favorite role. Theres just no question about it.
 
Europe would have been favored, anyway.
 
It has captured the Ryder Cup four of the last five times that Woods has played. And if not for the mismanagement of European captain Mark James and the fortune of Justin Leonards 45-foot putt at Brookline in 1999, it would have been a clean sweep.
 
Padraig Harrington pondered this question a few weeks ago and agreed with Azinger that there is no way you could say their team is not weaker without Tiger Woods.
 
But he also slipped in a comparison that is only laughable until closer inspection.
 
Im not saying its the same, but Luke Donald would have been on our team if he werent injured, Harrington said.
 
Donald has won four times in his first seven years on tour. Woods won four times in his first seven months.
 
Donald, however, has a 5-1-1 record in his two Ryder Cups. For Europe, he is one of 12.
 
For the Americans, Woods is THE one out of 12.
 
Woods has a larger-than-life presence wherever he plays, no matter the format. Because of his accomplishments, there is deference paid when he is in the room, an intimidation factor that affects even his own teammates. It should not be surprising that Woods had 10 partners in his first four Ryder Cups before settling in with tough-as-nails Jim Furyk for all four matches two years ago at The K Club.
 
This U.S. team is no longer Tiger Woods and 11 other Americans.
 
They are 12 equals.
 
Even though everybody likes Tiger and we get along with him, we all feel like were more similar to each other, Stewart Cink said. No matter what they say hes a different kind of dude than the rest of us because of what the Tiger Woods brand is.
 
Im hoping that our team can be a good unit, he said. Nothing against Tiger at all. I hope we can make the best of a situation in that the best player who ever played golf is not playing this year.
 
Woods can be a distraction, through no fault of his own.
 
There are special accommodations for Woods. And even though the Ryder Cup is all about team, Woods remains the focus wherever he goes. Six years ago at The Belfry, the British were outraged to find that Woods played his practice round at dawn and was off the course when fans were just arriving. Had that been Cink ' or even Phil Mickelson ' would anyone have noticed?
 
Its not just the public, Cink said. And its not Tigers fault. The PGA reacts differently to him. When 12 players walk out of a clubhouse, theres one cart to take one person, and the other 11 have to find their way. Thats the way it is sometimes. That part will be a little different.
 
Still, the biggest difference might be Woods as a rallying point.
 
The Americans feel the challenge of winning without him. The Europeans no longer have such big game to hunt.
 
There are times in sports when a team loses its quarterback or running back, and it creates a rallying point, former U.S. captain Curtis Strange said Tuesday. It doesnt last the entire year, because you need that person. But I truly believe these kids might believe that. Lets prove we can win without him, that we can do this on our own.
 
The other team is so ready and fired up to play Tiger, he said. That wont happen this time.
 
At least theres no chance of a Woods-Mickelson pairing. That didnt work in 2004 when Hal Sutton sent them out as the first match at Oakland Hills, and Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington won handily.
 
Psychologically, it was worth two points to us, Montgomerie said that day.
 
Now, its one point for one match. A victory by Ben Curtis will count the same as if Woods had won the match.
 
Whether his absence helps or hurts will never be known.
 
The only reason were considering that is because hes not here, Leonard said. If Tiger Woods was here, you certainly wouldnt say were better off without him. Any team is not going to be as strong when they dont have the best player in the world. But the fact is, we dont. So were going to give it our best and maybe rally around the fact that hes not here.
 
Woods said he hoped the Americans could win back the Ryder Cup, and he would be happy to help in any way.
 
I doubt I can do much, Woods said.
 
Maybe he already has.
 
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.