Paper Games at Oakland Hills

By Brian HewittSeptember 14, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. -- Buy into this conceit at your own peril:
The Americans are the favorites to win the Ryder Cup. The latest edition begins Friday at Oakland Hills Country Club. And the Europeans want everybody in America, including U.S. captain Hal Sutton's players, to believe that the lads from across the pond don't even have a puncher's chance in this latest renewal of golf's heavyweight championship.
Swallow this load of corn whole and you may wind up choking on the kernels.
Is the American side better on paper? Sure. Four of the 12 American team members are ranked in the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Only one of the Europeans can say the same.
European Ryder Cup TeamBut remember, the Ryder Cup is played on grass, not paper. And the Europeans have won or retained the coveted Cup six of the last nine times they've staged this thing.
Are the Americans better suited to the U.S. Open style golf course at Oakland Hills? Sure again. The last time a European won a U.S. Open Woods hadn't even been born.
'Definitely,' said EuroStar Sergio Garcia, moments after stepping off the team plane Monday at Detroit's Metro Airport. The question? Is his team the underdog.
'Always,' added EuroForce Darren Clarke.
'They're better than us, at least on paper (there's that paper thing again),' Garcia said. 'We know that to have a chance we need to give it our best shot.'
Flair has always become Garcia much better than modesty.
Adding injury to the insult is the stance taken by Scottish golf writer John Huggan. Writing a guest column in the Detroit News, Huggan opined: 'The relative callowness of their (Europe's) lineup will this time find them out come Sunday singles. America by six.'
What the Europeans never say publicly (almost never) is that they believe the American Tour pampers it players and fosters a lone wolf mentality that flies in the face of the chemistry needed for team golf.
Irishman Paul McGinley, who made the putt that clinched the Ryder Cup for his team two years ago in England, reportedly said this about that: 'The American Tour is a lonely tour. It's not the glamour tour it's made out to be. There's no (camaraderie) at night time. You come down in the morning, it's not unusual to see them sitting at different tables. I'd never sit on my own at breakfast.'
OK, so now we're getting to it. The Euros want us to believe they're the underdogs. But when it comes to bonding and bonhomie, deep down they believe they've got a big edge.
While this may not exactly be bulletin board stuff for the Americans, it gives pause.
But here's a flash for the Euros:
The Ryder Cup isn't won at breakfast any more than it's won on paper.
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  • Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

    Getty Images

    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.