Presidents Cup spice: Tiger adds intrigue

By Doug FergusonNovember 12, 2011, 1:17 am

SYDNEY – The Presidents Cup has been looked upon as the country cousin of the Ryder Cup, an event packed with some of the best players in the world but missing the intensity of competing tours, competing continents and more than 60 years of history.

On paper, it would seem this edition doesn’t have much going for it.

For the first time since it began in 1994, the Presidents Cup will not have the No. 1 player in the world - or any of the top-3 players in the world, who are all European and not eligible. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa is the only player on either side to have won a major this year, another career-low for this event.

Eleven of the 24 players on the U.S and International teams have failed to win a tournament anywhere in the world this year.

So why is the Presidents Cup getting more attention than ever?

Tiger Woods, of course.

This sleepy little affair found itself in the middle of a minor controversy when Woods - winless for the last two years and out of the top 50 in the world for the first time since he was a 20-year-old rookie - was picked for the U.S. team by captain Fred Couples.

What’s more, Couples announced he was taking Woods - calling him “the best player in the world forever” - a month before the qualifying period ended, essentially informing the other Americans that only one spot was available if they didn’t make the team.

International captain Greg Norman added some fuel when he said he would not have taken Woods over PGA champion Keegan Bradley, a two-time winner this year who wound up being left off the team. Geoff Ogilvy caused headlines simply by saying he didn’t agree with the timing of Couples’ decision.

“Greg and Tiger have both been very good at getting themselves in the paper - Greg his whole career, and Tiger is that guy now. He isn’t even sighted and he’s talked about,” Ogilvy said.

All this took place before caddie Steve Williams’ racial slur against Woods, his former employer, during a caddies award roast in Shanghai. Adam Scott said he didn’t condone his caddie’s remark, but he chose not to fire him, either. And that only led to the juicy prospect of Scott and Woods facing each other next week at Royal Melbourne.

A golf match or a soap opera?

The lines have become blurred, which isn’t the worst thing for the Presidents Cup.

“It’s good for the Presidents Cup,” Ogilvy said. “It’s been more talked about than any Presidents Cup previously, especially outside the United States. Usually the questions we get on Tuesday are ‘Why don’t you guys win? There are probably going to be different questions.

“Any exposure for an event like that is good,” he said. “Because it’s been getting better and better every year. And if it takes a buildup to take it to another level, that’s good.”

The ninth edition of the Presidents Cup starts Thursday at Royal Melbourne, and while the attention has been centered so much around Woods, eventually it will get back to the question Ogilvy mentioned.

With so many talented players, why can’t the International team win?

The Americans have won only two of the past eight Ryder Cups, with most of the U.S. losses coming before Europe’s ascension in the world ranking. The International team - from every continent except Europe - has been loaded in years past with major champions such as Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen, Michael Campbell and Ogilvy.

But in the eight previous Presidents Cup matches, the International team has won just once. That was in 1998 at Royal Melbourne, with a moral victory coming in South Africa in 2003 when the event ended in the dark and both sides agreed to a tie.

Then again, that’s what gives the International team such hope.

The matches return to Royal Melbourne, regarded among the best courses in the world, one where local knowledge can go a long way. More than just a great course on the famous sandbelt, however, is the backing from sports-crazed Australians.

It’s no surprise that Norman looked beyond Louis Oosthuizen to use his two captain’s picks on Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby, both from Melbourne, with Allenby winning the majority of his tournaments in Melbourne.

The International team has five Aussies, giving them an even greater hometown advantage. The last time in Melbourne, the International team win was so resounding that the cup was won in the second of 12 singles match on Sunday. The result was 20 1/2 -11 1/2, the biggest loss the Americans have suffered in any cup competition.

The Americans attributed the loss to the timing of the tournament. It started on Dec. 10, back when golf essentially shut down in America in early November. They were rusty. Some were occupied with Christmas shopping. And they got waxed.

“I just remember a team that was very unprepared to play,” said Jim Furyk, who went 1-3-0 on that team. “They were a very boisterous crowd, great sportsmen. It was a great golf course. We were unprepared and we got whipped. And I remember the prime minister presenting us as the losers.”

With this global version of golf, players keep going. Eight of the Americans were at the Australian Open, with Phil Mickelson in the Singapore Open and Furyk having played the past two weeks in Shanghai.

The United States has won the past three, and there is a feeling that the International team has to win to keep interest in the Presidents Cup. And there is a deeper sense that the International side is sick of being on this end of a bad cycle.

“It stinks losing,” Els said. “We’ve lost quite handsomely the last couple of times, and it’s not a good feeling. But it’s good to have it outside of North America. We have a good team, and we’ve got a strong Aussie presence. We’re going to have a good week. It’s boiling up to a good one.”

The Aussie influence also comes from its captain.

Norman is the golfing icon Down Under, and he was on the losing side at Harding Park two years ago in San Francisco. Allenby, Scott and the rest of the Australians have said they have heard from him all year, picking their brains on what they can do to win.

Being in Melbourne is a big deal. This is not a place Norman, or any of them, wants to extend a dubious streak.

“I know we want to win it pretty bad,” Ogilvy said. “Greg is busting to win one. He’s just hyper-competitive. He didn’t win the last time. It’s in Australia, and it’s his favorite course. It’s all lined up to be a great moment at the end of Greg’s career.”

It’s shaping up to be one of the more interesting President Cup matches – at least before they get under way. One thing hasn’t changed. Most of the players – all but K.T. Kim and Ryo Ishikawa – are PGA Tour members. Some of them are neighbors.

But the headlines and talking points over recent months at least has given this a bit of an edge.

“We don’t want to get to where the Ryder Cup is,” Els said. “But we need to have a bit more needle in it. And with all those outside influences, there’s going to be a bit of needle.”

- Watch wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidents Cup live on Golf Channel beginning Monday at 6PM. Tournament air times: Golf Channel Wednesday 9PM-2AM, Thursday 7:30PM-2AM, Friday 3PM-2AM and Saturday 6:30PM-12:30AM. NBC coverage Saturday at 8AM and Sunday at noon. (Note: all times are ET)

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.

Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.