Langer Needs to Be a Playing Captain
The European Ryder Cup captain should announce forthwith to the golf world that he will be a playing captain if his record and points accumulation merits selection to the Euro team that will face the Americans at Oakland Hills near Detroit in September.
I mean how difficult can this be? This is golf. Not the science of rocketry, the physics of nuclear or the surgery of brain. Its about leadership and inspiration. And what could be more inspiring to his players than Bernhard Langer, the captain of the European Ryder Cup team, putting himself off first in the Friday morning foursomes, hanging a point on the board for his side and returning to the course to urge on his teammates?
The devils advocates will answer by saying what if Langer loses that first match and, worse, plays poorly while doing so? To which I say that will motivate his players even more. Langer has made his bones on the European Tour, maybe more so than any other player, with the possible exception of Seve Ballesteros, in history.
Ballesteros captained the Euros to victory in 1997 but his game had long since deserted him by then. He belonged on the sidelines. Langer can still play. Two weeks ago he was in position to win deep into Sunday at The Masters.
American Tom Kite was in a rich vein of form in 1997 at the time of the Ryder Cup matches at Valderrama. I honestly think he could have helped that team more with his clubs than with the keys to his cart. This is not to single out Kite. Other captains have been in the same position.
Too many of them have chosen to captain and captain only. Of course there is a ton of work involved for the captain in planning the Ryder Cup. But I have seen too many captains micro-manage this thing. Too many of them have tried to make all their players happy. Too many of them have spent countless hours drawing up different lineup scenarios.
Hey, a lot of this stuff is what you have assistants for. If I was Darren Clarke, for example, Id much rather have Bernhard Langer worrying about his game than whether my shoes and sweater vest matched each other.
Add on to that the possibility that Langer will have a lineup laden with inexperienced players at Oakland Hills. Ever heard of Carlos Rodiles?
Lets say the score was close going into the Sunday singles. The same situation would apply. Langer could put himself off first and be back on the course in plenty of time to catch most of the rest of the matches.
Langer would want to play only in the mornings, for the sake of conserving energy, which would open spots for other players in the afternoon fourball matches. This would also help him avoid the trap Euro captain Mark James fell into at The Country Club in 1999. Three members of James team didnt play until Sunday. Several of his regulars were bushed by the time Sunday arrived.
It is highly unlikely Langer will change his mind before the matches. But if there is one scintilla of doubt in his mind on the subject of whether his team will be better with him on the roster, he should choose to play.
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Day (68) just one back at Australian Open
Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.
Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)
What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.
Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.
Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.
Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.
Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball
Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.
In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.
"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’
Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.
“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.
“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’
Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.
The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving
Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.
The major championships I'm certainly proud of, but Barbara, the kids and my grandkids are the best things to ever happen to me. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/wkma1Q9LlK— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) November 23, 2017
GC Tiger Tracker:
Mixing Thanksgiving and waiting for a week from today. pic.twitter.com/u9m9WxQNYx— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) November 23, 2017
Happy thanksgiving to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends. #Thankful— Steve Stricker (@stevestricker) November 23, 2017
Was reading about Thanksgiving. Originally they ate waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. Seems a bit tastier than Turkey!— Frank Nobilo (@FrankNobiloGC) November 23, 2017
Literally food for thought.
Tyrone Van Aswegen:
Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017
Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.