Mailbag Ryder Cup Debate Continues
It was a debacle for the U.S. And the readers are still writing. So many suggestions. Here are a few along with appropriate reaction:
Reader: How about you guys giving credit to the Euros for outplaying the Americans??? How about the fact that the American tour is way, way overrated? Why all the excuses? Why all the analysis? Did an overtaxed Hal Sutton make bad choices? This was a match play event which is not really reflected in the rankings or the points. We should have more match play tournaments, maybe convert the PGA to a match play format.
Hewitt Comment: ABC Sports pioneer Roone Arledge is spinning in his grave.
Reader: It is not unlike the way the English always believed that they had the best national soccer team in the world only to inevitably be beaten by some lesser nation and instantly start campaigning to fire the manager but at least in their case they had actually invented the game!
Comment: America has won more Ryder Cups than World Cups. Thankfully.
Reader: My Big Theory--The PGA should stop conducting Ryder Cups at U.S. Open Venues. The players have a mind set that pars win on those courses. They do--in U.S. Opens. They do not in Fourballs. They can in Foursomes--sometimes.
Comment: Luke Donald is a terrific par maker.
Reader: Have you noticed there is no 'i' in Europe and their players exhibited their tremendous team play with incredible efficiency. To develop a sense of team play, perhaps we can lobby for a name change and drop the 'i' in America. How about 'Ameraca'? or 'Uncle Sam's Men'? or 'a-mer-E-an'?
Comment: There is, however, an i in win.
Reader: Any two-year system of ranking any sport is INSANE. Our Cup teams should go right off the world ranking which should be a sliding scale going back one year with a decreasing multiplier so that the last tournament gave full points, gradually reducing to only 5% of points from a year ago. And major points should only be about 30% more than regular tournaments. Not only do we not field our best team when the cup actually happens, the world rankings erroneously give us the added pressure. Add on the media whose number one agenda is reporting train wrecks, looming over their shoulders constantly, so our guys get so beaten down they withdraw in all ways for weeks following the cup. Let's close this paragraph with more insanity: They have to choose afternoon teams during the morning matches! What an unbelievably bad joke.
Comment: Langer didnt seem to mind.
Reader: I commend you on your analogy that the Americans 'look forward' to the Ryder Cup but the Euros 'live' for the Ryder Cup. Nothing could be closer to the truth than that. The Euros are constantly bringing up new, young talent. Nurturing them, teaching them, exposing them to the pressure cooker that is Ryder Cup play. The Americans on the other hand, keep resting our hopes and dreams on the 'old war horses'. We keep saying, 'he's battle tested', 'he lives for these moments', 'yeah he's older but remember when he... There is far too much of that going on. We need to get some younger talent fired up about these matches. The only fire you ever see from Tiger is during the singles matches.
Comment: Oakland Hills was Tiger Woods fourth Ryder Cup. He has been the youngest player on the American team all four times.
Reader: Can you imagine Chris Riley telling Ben Hogan that he was too emotionally tired to play the afternoon match? The American team is just too soft and it appeared to me that some of them did not care about playing for their country. The next Ryder Cup captain needs to be Bobby Knight. Then we would see who wants to play and who doesn't. No one would tell Bobby Knight that he was not going to practice with the team or that he was too tired to play 36 holes.
Comment: The best part about Bobby Knight coaching the U.S. Ryder Cup squad is Charles Barkley wouldnt be a Captains pick.
Reader: I think that coach Sutton had the right idea but, players like Woods, Mickelson, Haas, DiMarco, Toms and Love don't need a college football coach mentality to inspire them to play well. Pride for their country and the belief in their own abilities should be motivation enough.
Comment: Guess that leaves out Lou HoltzBy the way, Sutton talked for two years about heart and pride. So much so that I thought his Captains picks were going to be Dudley Hart and Dicky Pride.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
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.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
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
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
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.
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."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
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.
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.