Potential picks not making Pavins job easier

By Doug FergusonSeptember 1, 2010, 3:49 am
NORTON, Mass. –Too bad Ryder Cup eligibility is based on passports instead of property taxes. There still might be hope for Paul Casey, who has been living in Arizona for most of his adult life.

Ditto for Justin Rose, who makes his home in Florida.

Alas, those English-born stars were left off the European team when Colin Montgomerie had five worthy candidates as captain’s picks and could only take three. Montgomerie famously referred to his dilemma as an “embarrassment of riches.”

For U.S. captain Corey Pavin, there’s more emphasis on “embarrassment” than “riches” at the moment.
Tiger Woods 1st round 2010 U.S. Open
Aside from Tiger Woods, Corey Pavin doesn't have any locks for his picks. (Getty Images)
Some people thought Pavin was lucky he didn’t have to announce his picks the day after the PGA Championship, instead having three additional tournaments to allow players to state their case.

It isn’t getting much clearer.

Arjun Atwal won the Wyndham Championship at Greensboro. He was born and raised in India and now lives in Isleworth, making him eligible for the Tavistock Cup, but not the Ryder Cup. Turns out Atwal wasn’t even eligible for the FedEx Cup.

Then came The Barclays, where the only Ryder Cup chatter was the coincidence of a Scot – Martin Laird – leading the tournament. The winner turned out to be Matt Kuchar, who already is on the team.

The Deutsche Bank Championship, which starts Friday on the TPC Boston, could go a long way toward helping Pavin figure out his picks. Pavin will make the announcement a week from Tuesday at the New York Stock Exchange.

It’s looking very much like a bear market at the moment.

Tiger Woods figures to be a lock to make the team, for no other reason than he wants to play. And it helps that Woods took a significant step last week toward at least starting to resemble the world’s No. 1 player. Woods spent his final few minutes at Ridgewood cleaning out his locker and going over the possibilities of Pavin’s picks.

Like everyone else, he didn’t come to much of a conclusion.

Anthony Kim, the catalyst of the U.S. victory at Valhalla in 2008, won the Houston Open and was third at the Masters. Then he had thumb surgery, sat out for three months, and has made only one cut since his return – at Firestone, which has no cut. He is all but forgotten now, although a good week at the TPC Boston might put him back on the radar screen. The Ryder Cup does not start until Oct. 1.

Most players believe Zach Johnson is the logical pick behind Woods. The former Masters champion has a splendid short game and won at Colonial, then finished one shot out of the playoff at the PGA Championship.

The rest of them?

Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover had a chance to make the team until he missed the cut at the PGA Championship. He had a chance to show he was worth picking at Greensboro when he took the lead in the final round, only to shoot 38 on the back nine.

Stewart Cink, a British Open champion and steady influence in the Ryder Cup, struggled badly with scoring earlier in the year. His game is rounding into form, but he still has only three top-10s this year.

Rickie Fowler? Really? On a U.S. team that already has four Ryder Cup rookies, does Pavin take a 21-year-old who has never won a tournament? Fowler had a chance to win the Phoenix Open when he opted to lay up on a par 5 instead of hitting 4-iron, and he failed to hold a three-shot lead at the Memorial, hitting into the water on the 12th hole. This is not passing judgment. These are facts.

Nick Watney could have earned a spot at the PGA Championship, where he had a three-shot lead going into the final round. He shot 81. Watney has two top-10s in the majors, but he has not won. Sean O’Hair is more than capable, but he hasn’t won this year, either, and hasn’t come particularly close.

Ben Crane won in San Diego and is a great putter. He has never played on a Ryder Cup team.

Can anyone find two players who stand out above the rest? Can anyone find two players who stand out at all?

The Americans were in about the same place two years ago. Paul Azinger had his eight players, and while Steve Stricker was a logical pick, no one else had really distinguished himself. Turns out it wasn’t entirely up to Azinger, anyway. He revealed later that he let his three “pods” pick their fourth player.

This time, it’s up to Pavin. He is looking more for a team of 12 than 12 players on a team.

“Whoever I choose is not a bad reflection on them if I don’t pick them,” Pavin said the day after the PGA Championship. “It’s not a slap in the face. It’s just who I think is going to make for the best team.”

Pavin invited 21 top players from the Ryder Cup standings to a barbecue during the PGA Championship, and said everyone there would get a phone call with either good news or bad news.

“I told them they all are deserving, and the hardest thing for me is to pick four and leave some guys off the team,” Pavin said. “I felt everyone in that room deserved to be on the team.”

That may be true.

But unless something changes drastically this week, no one will have much room to complain if they don’t get picked.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

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Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.