Notes Couples Cup meeting Scott misses cut

By Doug FergusonMay 8, 2009, 4:00 pm
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The PlayersPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Listening to Fred Couples talk about his first meeting with potential U.S. players for the Presidents Cup team gave some insight into how different he will be as a captain.
 
It went well, he said Friday. I talked, they listened. Which is the way youre supposed to have it.
 
The PGA Tour invited the top 30 players in the Presidents Cup standings for a Wednesday afternoon meeting in the clubhouse at The Players Championship.
 
That should answer Kevin Sutherlands question as he read the invitation and wondered if he was supposed to go (he is No. 30). And it explains why Scott Verplank (No. 40) jokingly said to Couples after running into him at dinner Wednesday night, Thanks for the invitation.
 
Not every eligible player attended the meeting, the most noteworthy being Tiger Woods. Couples and Woods exchanged text messages after the meeting, which according to Couples went like this:
 
Couples: You hurt my feelings.
 
Woods: Im on the boat. You should have had the meeting on the boat.
 
Couples: Youre right. We could have fit 40 (players) on the boat.
 
Woods: Im watching a movie with my baby on my lap.
 
Couples: OK. Thats a good spot for you to be.
 
Also at the meeting was assistant captain Jay Haas, who gave a short speech. Couples, meanwhile, said his speech mainly focused on apologizing for wasting their time. There are still three majors and a World Golf Championship before the top 10 players earn a spot on the team, and the two captains picks will be announced after the second FedEx Cup playoff event.
 
I think I know most of them well, Couples said. I dont think there was anything said. We talked about the 11th and 12th spot, and how anything could go.
 
The team uniforms already have been selected.
 
Couple of suits, seven pairs of pants, seven shirts, some sweaters, rain gear, Couples said, keeping it simple.
 
The matches will be held Oct. 8-11 at Harding Park in San Francisco.
 

 
CHOPRA'S RUN: Daniel Chopra was so furious after his opening 75, especially with two balls in the water on the 17th, that he was ready to pack his bags. Good thing he stuck around.
 
First, the Swede matched the course record by becoming the 10th player to shoot a 30 on the back nine at TPC Sawgrass. Three holes, and three birdies later, he was thinking about the course record of 63 held by Fred Couples (1992) and Greg Norman (1994).
 
Chopra already was 9 under with six holes to play.
 
And even after a bogey on the fifth hole, he answered with a birdie to stay in the hunt for a course record. But he pulled his tee shot on the 240-yard eighth hole and had to scramble for a bogey. Then came the par-5 ninth. His plan all along was a 3-wood off the tee because it was difficult to reach the green.
 
You only get so many chances to shoot 62 or 63 around here, Chopra said.
 
He hit driver into the rough, laid up, then hit his wedge heavy enough to find the bunker. He wound up with another bogey and a 65, that took him to 4-under 140.
 

 
NOT SO GREAT SCOTT: Adam Scott has never missed more than four cuts in any season as a PGA Tour member. Despite chipping it for eagle on the final hole Friday for 74 at The Players Championship, he missed his fifth consecutive cut.
 
Scott has not made a cut on the PGA Tour since his runner-up finish at the Sony Open in January. His two pay checks since then have come at World Golf Championships, which have no cut.
 
The 28-year-old Australian had a knee cap injury during the offseason, but most of his woes stem from his swing getting so far out of sorts that it feels as though he is going through a change just to get back to where he was.
 
At times, he hits the ball beautifully. Other times, he hits it off the course ' literally. On Thursday, his tee shot on No. 4 went so far right that it found a water hazard on the adjacent Valley Course.
 
Scott is headed to his home in Switzerland before returning to the Byron Nelson Championship and Colonial.
 
I feel like its close, but I need to let you between the ears, Scott said. I cant do any worse than some of these shots.
 

 
DRIVER WANTED: Rod Pampling hit his last shot with a driver on the practice range Friday morning when he noticed the top of his driver had a 2-inch crack. Trouble was, he didnt have a backup driver handy, and his tee time was 15 minutes away.
 
Pampling made like Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open last year, playing the second round without a driver.
 
And he said he felt like Tiger Woods.
 
Youd get up to this beast of a hole and you could hear the fans say, Why is he hitting a 3-wood, Pampling said.
 
It wasnt all bad. The crack occurred with enough time before his round that the Australian could get his mind ready to play without a driver. The difference in length is about 25 yards, so Pampling had to play the par-5 11th as a three-shot hole.
 
Pampling shot 73 and was at 1-under 143.
 
His lone birdie came on the par-3 17th with the island green. No driver was necessary.
 

 
END OF A RUN?: Along with being a Masters champion, two-time Players Champion and former No. 1 in the world, Fred Couples is most proud of being consistently good for so long. Even with a suspect back the last 15 years, he has finished out of the top 125 on the money list only twice in his career ' including two years ago, when he played only three events.
 
He missed the cut Friday after rounds of 80-71, and Couples never had a chance.
 
After playing in South Korea two weeks ago, practicing hard for The Players Championship, he was putting his clubs in the car to drive to the airport when he tweaked his back. Two hours later, he was on a flight to Atlanta.
 
I got off the plane and should have just gone home, he said. I couldnt move and I felt terrible.
 
The 49-year-old Couples will join the Champions Tour later this year. For all the highlights he has provided, was this his last appearance in The Players Championship.
 
Maybe not.
 
If I stay in the 125, Ill play next year, he said.
 

 
DIVOTS: Rory McIlroy finished with a double bogey for a 77 to miss the cut by seven shots, the first time he has missed the cut in seven starts this year on the PGA Tour. The cut was at even-par 144, with 83 players making it to the weekend. Andres Romero celebrated his 28th birthday by putting his tee shot in the water on the 18th hole, making bogey and missing the cut by one.
 

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    Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

    Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

    Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

    Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

    Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


    FALLING

    Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

    Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

    Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

    Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

    Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.