Langer Could Pair Ryder Cup Rookies

By Brian HewittSeptember 1, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupUnwittingly, American Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton gave us the best hint that European captain Bernhard Langer was going to pick Englands Luke Donald with one of his two discretionary selections.
The tip-off came during a press conference at the PGA Championship last month when Sutton was talking about who his captains picks might be. Sutton went to great lengths to tell reporters that the Ryder Cup venue at Oakland Hills, in his opinion, favored a certain kind of player. That kind of player, Sutton said, did well on par-3s and par-4s.
If you wanted to know who he might favor, Sutton recommended, check out the par-3 and par-4 stats. Oakland Hills, he reminded everybody, has only three par-5s. (Actually, it has just two. But that made Suttons point even more.)
He wound up tabbing Jay Haas and Stewart Cink. Sunday Langer named Colin Montgomerie and the 26-year-old Donald. Donalds rank on the PGA Tour this year in par-3 birdie leaders is eighth. His rank on the PGA Tours par-4 performance category is 12th. He is 30th in driving accuracy and 14th in greens in regulation.
If you are playing a course where par has value, then Luke is the player you want on your side, said Pat Goss after Langer announced his choices. Goss coached Donald at Northwestern University and still serves as his teacher when Donald returns to his stateside home near Chicago.
Even more interesting is the possibility that Langer may pair Donald with another Euro rookie, fellow Englishman Paul Casey. Casey and Donald have terrific history together. Most notably they were Walker Cup teammates on the 1999 GB&I team that defeated the Americans in Scotland. Casey and Donald played together and won both of their foursomes matches. They also won both their singles, compiling a combined 8-0 mark between them.
Langer, Donald, Casey and Goss are all well aware that there is a world of competitive difference between the Walker Cup and the Ryder Cup. But rookies need something on which to hang their hats. Moreover, Casey and Donald are not ordinary rookies. Casey ranks 28th in the world, Donald 47th.
The conventional wisdom says you dont pair rookies in Ryder Cup foursomes or fourballs. In each of the last seven instances a European captain has thrown rookies together, the pairing has failed to produce a full point.
But Langer has a long memory. In 1981, Langers rookie Ryder Cup year, Euro captain John Jacobs paired Langer with fellow rookie Manuel Pinero of Spain in the Saturday morning fourballs. They beat Ray Floyd and Hale Irwin, 2-and-1.
Goss says Casey and Donald get along famously and their styles complement one another. He believes they are well-equipped to transcend the notion that rookies should not play together in the Ryder Cup.
If he (Langer) is ever going to take a chance pairing rookies, Goss says, this would be the time.
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Related links:
  • European Ryder Cup Team

  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team

  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.