Lack of European ties hurt Knox's Ryder bid

By Doug FergusonAugust 30, 2016, 8:41 pm

NEW YORK - A top European Tour official waited patiently as Russell Knox wrapped up his duties from winning a World Golf Championship. He wanted to introduce himself to Knox and share details on how to become a tour member.

Ten months later, Knox had reason to feel like an outcast.

The 31-year-old Scot easily would have qualified for the Ryder Cup if he had been a European Tour member when he won the HSBC Champions last November. Even without those valuable points, Knox had all the credentials to be at Hazeltine.

He has two PGA Tour victories this season. He was runner-up to Rory McIlroy at the Irish Open, to Branden Grace at Hilton Head and he lost in a playoff to Graeme McDowell in Mexico last fall. Knox was No. 4 when the FedEx Cup playoffs began, one spot ahead of Jordan Spieth. He is No. 20 in the world, the sixth-highest ranked European.

That wasn't enough for European captain Darren Clarke to take him to the Ryder Cup.

Clarke used his three picks Tuesday on the Ryder Cup experience of Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, and the raw talent and recent form of Thomas Pieters. He said the phone call to Knox on Monday was ''probably one of the toughest'' of his career.

But not the longest.

''We spoke for 20 seconds,'' Knox said. ''It was obvious by the way he said, 'Hello' that it was bad news. I didn't ask any questions. I wasn't going to ask who he picked or why not me. After the bad news, it was get off the phone as quick as possible.''

The disappointment in Knox's voice was evident, even though part of him had a hunch this was coming. He felt as though he deserved to be on the team because of his performance. He also knows that a captain can choose whomever he wants, ''and I gave him that choice by not making the team outright.''

Think back to his victory at the Travelers Championship at the start of the month, when Knox holed a 12-foot par putt on the 18th hole and threw his cap across the green in celebration. Much of that emotion was that Knox felt certain he had done enough to lock up his spot in the Ryder Cup.

''Sadly, it wasn't,'' he said.

He said Clarke and assistant captain Ian Poulter encouraged him to play the Wyndham Championship, his final chance to earn points. Knox declined. He would have needed a fourth-place finish, and to play the Wyndham would have meant playing seven times in nine weeks going to the Ryder Cup and ''I probably would have been burned out by the time I got to Hazeltine.''

Did that hurt his chances? Probably.

Pieters made his case by shooting 62 in Denmark while playing with Clarke - it was no accident they were paired together - and going on to win the tournament. Knox was impressed with what Pieters did in Denmark, and who Pieters is as a player. He had no complaints with the Belgian being picked.

Even so, Knox was left to wonder how much he was seriously considered.

Knox was born and raised in Scotland. He claims Florida as home from having lived there since college.

He has never felt European.

Clarke hinted at Knox being an outsider when he said Tuesday the Ryder Cup is about more than just playing. ''It's about the team room and the dynamics and everything that's involved in it,'' he said.

Knox was hard-pressed to think of another European who played primarily in America. He said he barely knows Clarke or the assistants. That includes Poulter, even though they've had the same agent for years.

''Ultimately, I had that going against me,'' Knox said. ''I don't even know Paul Lawrie. Sam Torrance seems like a legend - I don't know him. I played with Thomas Bjorn once, and we didn't speak one word. I don't have relationships with anyone. I'm not really close to anyone on the team.

''If I would have been picked, it could have been 100 percent different.''

While saying he was disappointed, Knox also acknowledged it was time to move on. He changed the screen saver on his phone Tuesday to show the FedEx Cup, which he said he will look at for motivation. He would love to win one of these next three playoff events to show Clarke what he is missing.

He respects the choices the captain has to make.

Someone always gets left behind. Making an argument for one player is to devalue the merits of another.

''I might be a story today,'' Knox said. ''But in a couple of weeks' time, nobody is going to remember - except for a couple of Scottish people - that I didn't get picked.''

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?